MUSIC

Curren$y Returns To Burnie's Like He Never Left

The album reaffirms Curren$y's lyrical consistency, and reminds us of his monumental prowess in 2019

C.J. Wallis

In 2011, Curren$y's album Weekend at Burnie's was one of the dignified emcee's most cohesive projects.

Curren$y - Still feat. Trademark & Young Roddy (Official Video) www.youtube.com

It was still a Curren$y record at its core, with the rapper continuing to exemplify a proficiency in woozy, nonchalant narratives. "Them haters tryna deplete my shine like Venetian blinds," he rhymes, "but son do what the sun do: rise." However, Weekend at Burnie's awoke the mainstream public to the prolific talent of Curren$y. It was the rapper's fifth album and fourth release of 2011. Every single project was critically lauded and slowly chipped away at the presupposition that "Spitta Andretti" was merely a weed rapper. "To focus on [Curren$y's] cannabis appetite is to ignore some of the things that make him one of the more dependable working rappers," wrote Pitchfork.

Over the last decade, the veteran emcee has only ramped up his musical output and workload, even after becoming a parent last year. On Back At Burnie's, the long-awaited sequel and eighth Curren$y outing of 2019, the rapper closes out his decade with a project that is both equanimous and stately. Curren$y sounds right at home, his Hip-Hop anecdotes remaining equivalent to an insouciant shrug. But a lot has changed since 2011, and Curren$y knows that is worth noting. "My first ride in a phantom was with my homie Lil Wayne," Spitta reflects on "All Work." "Now I got one myself, and I'm ridin' in my own lane." 2011's "Money Machine" found Curren$y asking politely to be invited to the party and to "reserve him somewhere" to park, but on 2019's "Money Is a Drug," Curren$y acknowledges that eight years later he can "park his sh*t anywhere." The perks of fame are pedestrian to Spitta, his lucrative lifestyle so normal now that's it's barely worth the commentary. "Pinky rings, diamond chains, just a gang of players having things," he says with composure on "Arrangement."

Curren$y - Money Is A Drug (Audio) www.youtube.com

Spitta Andretti remains as accredited, if not more so, than a majority of today's most elite rappers, but he has adamantly avoided the mainstream spotlight that has shone on a countless number of his friends. But he's forever remained in their confidence, offering his wisdom, collaborative kinship, and car advice whenever they need it. He was one of Cash Money's original members and has worked with everyone from Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dogg, Juicy J, and Rick Ross to Westside Gunn, Freddie Gibbs, and Madeintyo.

Over a decade later, he remains a monumental presence in Hip-Hop, and on Back At Burnie's reminds listeners of his unshakeable authenticity: "I never switched the sauce, been myself from square one." But fret not, as it wouldn't be a Curren$y album without its moments of quirky syntax. "I talked a mermaid out of the water the other day," he flexes on "Nautica." "All on my yacht, we lit up the pot, floated away." Maybe it's lyrical honesty, perhaps it's just intelligent story-telling, but regardless, when Curren$y says it, he always means it.

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Detroit-based emcee Tee Grizzley collaborated with Queen Naija and the Detroit Youth Choir to craft a melodic ballad that attempts to open up a dialogue with police. Meanwhile, alt-Jazz pioneer Terrace Martin took a different approach in his collaboration with Denzel Curry, Daylyt, G Perico, and Kamasi Washington, with "Pigs Feet" being more of an angry f*ck you than an attempt at communication.

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MUSIC

Jet Life's Creative Director Clears the Air

C.J. Wallis talks Mac Miller, new projects, and how he connected with Curren$y

Susan Maljan

During a relatively tame performance at 2011's Rock The Bells in Los Angeles, New Orleans-based rapper and JetLife CEO, Curren$y, stepped off the stage to greet his legion of fans.

As he stepped down, he tangled his foot in speaker wires and cracked his ankle in three places. Ignoring the pain, Curren$y jumped a barrier to get even closer to the crowd and broke it again in another 8 places. He finished his set and hopped off stage to go to the emergency room. "That was my first day on the job," said C.J. Wallis, JetLife's creative director. "They jumped in a van and took off and just sort of left me there. I realize now I was just the filmmaker for the day, but at the time I felt like Scorsese going to film The Last Waltz." Despite being disappointed by how the day had gone, Wallis realized he was the only one with footage of the performance, and he tracked the rapper down. He met up with a member of Curren$y's team at the hospital and talked for hours in the waiting room while they awaited news. "I felt like I fell into the family right away."

10 years later, Wallis has established himself as a sought-after creative icon in the Hip-Hop industry. He has curated visuals for everyone from Fiend to Wiz Khalifa and Ty Dolla $ign, and has crafted an infinite amount of content for the JetLife CEO himself, including album covers, documentaries, and of course, music videos. "JetLife is like a football team that just functions really well," Wallis said. He's also filmed a plethora of feature films. His last documentary, The Perfect Bid, which tells the story of "The Price is Right" superfan Ted Slauson, went on to win Best Documentary at the Orlando Film Festival.

While Hip-Hop's inner circle knows Wallis well, the general public was first introduced to him when he announced his intention to film a Mac Miller documentary earlier this month. "So, over the next year I'm going to start collecting interviews & content to make the definitive Mac Miller documentary for his family, friends & fans," Wallace tweeted on June 3. The tweet made headlines everywhere, and fans of the late rapper took it to be confirmation that the project was underway. Later that day, Wallace retracted the statement after speaking respectfully with Miller's estate. "To say that I was putting it together in any sense is a bit crazy, really all I did was message 4 or 5 people," Wallis said. "I know what my intention was, but what was frustrating was the family getting hounded by the headlines. The tweet was never a pitch. Maybe I worded it wrong initially, but I didn't think I would have to justify it in this way two weeks later."

Fans accused Wallis of mishandling the artist's legacy, and the director realized the quickest way to quell the growing backlash was to initiate conversations with the disappointed fans. "I'm a public company, so when someone has something to say about me or my work I wanna know about it," Wallis said. He found that the more he engaged, the quicker the trolls began to understand and back down. "People like to start stuff on the internet thinking there are no repercussions, and I wasn't gonna get steamrolled by the internet over good intentions."

The blowback reignited a contentious debate surrounding creative liberties taken with posthumous artists. Who should be allowed to detail an artist's legacy? Do posthumous releases benefit the memory of an artist or are they just cash grabs? XXXTENTACION's album SKINS was highly publicized before its release but was deemed by critics as an "aimless" and "structurally unsound" project that did more harm to his legacy than good. Avicii's posthumous release, TIM, received similar backlash, as it was released by the same label who Avicii's step-father says pushed the DJ to suicide. Mac Miller's first song since his passing premiered last week. "When Prince died there were three months where there was no copyright over him, and everyone was just cashing in on the dude," said Wallis. "So when someone passes away, it should be up to the family or whoever is in charge to decide [what to do next."

For now, Wallis is ready to put the experience behind him and get back to work. He is currently working on his next film, Frank Flood, a narrative feature surrounding the early days of the infomercial world. Despite it all, Wallis still feels confident in his ability to tell Mac Miller's story when the time is right for all parties involved. "I have a certain way I approach my projects that come from a very unjudgemental [sic] and compassionate point of view," Wallis said. "[Mac Miller's] story definitely deserves that."

For more information on C.J. Wallis, visit his website. Also, be sure to follow him on Instagram and Twitter.