After a four year furlough, Curren$y and Alchemist are back at the business of the heist. 2011’s “Covert Coup” was a peek into the mind of two of hip hop’s smokiest figures. It was a stylish glorification of the paper chase. Crime, cars, big G’s and little workers. Sitting at ten tracks even, it didn’t overstay its welcome. It was created for two reasons: to ride out to, and to blow the loudest bud to.
In that way, Andretti and Alc’s latest, “Carrollton Heist”, is an extension of that formula. Which is in no way a bad thing. For their sophomore turn, the duo take a more visual approach; similar to genre classics like Cuban Linx and Marcberg. This album is lightly conceptual, collaging numerous images into a tapestry that explains a lifestyle. Compared to their debut, it conjures a Curren$y with a stronger hand in the mean street of the Bayou State. The allure is on full display. As evidenced by standouts like “Smoking In The Rain” and “Vibrations” with its assertions that in order to make something out of nothing you— keep your block on fire, remain a G, don’t cry or suffer. Just handle your business. A motivational mantra backed by the constant question of whether “you understand?” Meanwhile, themes to thug it to like “93 AMG” and “Cartridge” sound like evolutions of the Greneberg formula (also not a bad thing.)
Like any good crime novella, the duo brought in a couple stalwart specialists to make sure the job goes over. Styles P turns in an energetic performance on “Disappearing Ink“. The Chong to Alan’s Cheech, Action Bronson makes an appearance. There’s even a surprisingly capable guest shot from former running mate and Young Money bossman Weezy F. Tunchi’s verse is worth hearing if only for the crude ’08 Carter-grade punchlines. Its tendency toward short stories and breezy vignettes means this album slips stagnation. Plus Alchemist’s soundscape is so cohesive it’s easy to overlook the brevity. The instrumentals on here resemble a gangster’s idea of easy listening. The samples are warm with swooning horns, reverberating vocal fragments, stabbing pianos and meandering synth lines. Wafting walls of sound whisk listeners from track to track like a string of blaxploitation flashbacks.
Spitta’s bars are consistent as usual. His mush mouthed flow is measured as usual. He’s not known to get too excited, still, he’s always in control of the scenery he’s painting. One moment you’re embroiled in murder plots soundtracked by Hendrix and Nature’s For All Season, the next moment, rainy nights reminiscing on old flames. It’s a trip well worth taking.
Carrollton Heist finds Curren$y and Alc sticking to the script, but it’s a script good enough to get the green light. It doesn’t take chances, and it doesn’t need to. Sometimes a tighter version of the initial thing is ultimately the best thing. This is Covert Coup refined. It has more of all the things that made that record standout. More potent images, more blitted beat work and stronger connections to its themes make it one to keep coming back to.