Curren$y’s name might as well be Con$i$tency at this stage in his near 20 year career. He not only has the distinction of being one of the city’s biggest artists/entrepreneurs, he’s also one of a select few with direct connections to the biggest movements in New Orleans’ hip hop history. Starting off under his brother Mr. Marcelo’s label, Tuff Guys Entertainment, Curren$y seamlessly shifted to C-Murder’s TRU Records, Master P’s New No Limit Records and Lil Wayne’s Young Money imprint before creating his own Jet Life conglomerate.
The Jet Life empire, as its come to be known, is now arguably the hottest collective still firmly rooted in the Crescent City. This longevity and success is attributed to a number of different business-savvy moves but what keeps it moving forward, above all else, is Curren$y’s sheer talent and vision. As skilled and marketable as he is and has been though, the “Hot Spitta” faced label politics that delayed a formal debut for nearly 10 years. The question eventually became…will he ever release an official album?
It was this external turmoil that prompted Curren$y to start his own venture and distribute music independently and at leisure. His first few releases were successful enough (especially from an independent standpoint) but the best was yet to come. Traditionally, the only free music released were exhausting mixtapes where the featured artist simply hopped on other rapper’s instrumentals for a verse or two. The songs were nothing more than short teasers, crowded with DJ drops and skits.
To satisfy fans’ demands and flood the digital market in a more aggressive manner, Curren$y began releasing entire, original albums for free. Sure, it’s commonplace now, but back in 2011? That wasn’t the case. It was this blitzkrieg release schedule that essentially changed the way labels operated. It kept their name buzzing while also providing a superior product that was easily accessible.
Today, Newtral Groundz celebrates one of Spitta Andretti’s earliest gems, a project exclusively produced by The Alchemist, titled Covert Coup. This soulful collection was released on April 20, 2011 and helped firmly plant the Jet Life flag; a flag that still stands tall 8 years later.
Covert Coup begins with “BBS”, a spacey intro with wailing guitar licks and a sparse bass line. Curren$y reels the listener in with tales of the high life before smoothly departing just as you realize the song is over. The Alchemist provides a cool 70’s blaxploitation feel for “The Type”, a song cut from the cloth of Prodigy’s critically-acclaimed comeback album, Return Of The Mack. And speaking of Prodigy, he shows up for the 2nd verse, adding a cherry on the top of this perfectly-crafted number.
The cleverly titled “Blood, Sweat & Gears” introduces ex-No Limit Soldier, Fiend, to the fold but you wouldn’t know it after the first listen. Those expecting his rowdy, in-your-face delivery will be pleasantly surprised by the versatility shown with this melodic flow. The song itself is another smoke-filled, easy listen that keeps you pressing repeat. “Life Instructions” is more like life’s reflections, as Curren$y reminisces on “8th grade highs” and fallen friend, Soulja Slim, among other experiences:
“The game I got was raw and given to me by Slim…
Referring to himself in the 3rd (person), when he on them herbs”
The production plays like a live session and benefits from a refreshing Smoke DZA verse. Spitta’s self-described “lifestyle rap” is most prominently on display on “Smoke Break”, a blend of early 80’s soul with some wavy bounce sprinkled in. His relaxed voice blends perfectly with The Alchemist’s production – a one-two punch that makes this album as great as it is. Freddie Gibbs makes a worthwhile appearance on “Scottie Pippen”, one of three singles released from Covert Coup. Curren$y’s flow picks up pace on this stormy instrumental, while Gibbs rides it like an old school Cadillac, stealing the show in the process:
“I’m gang bang affiliated, federal investigated…
Self-educated, all my co-conspirators catching cases
I dropped straight out of college, and I majored in home invasion
Believe I got the balls to clear up all of my altercations”
“Ventilation” appropriately follows the former’s lyrical exercise by returning the album to its core – a relaxed, fogged out absorption of the good life. Gentle harmonization provides a calming backdrop for Curren$y to “crack the sunroof and let a cloud out it.” The east coast-feeling “Double 07” lifts just enough of “Brite Eyes”, from the Robinson Tate Band , without over-sampling. Spitta is in fine form here, dedicating this number to his “2 ounces and 7 grams”, all without missing a beat. “Success Is My Cologne” pushes the project forward with Spitta’s calm demeanor vaguely masking clever word play throughout. Make no mistake, Curren$y is a lyricist; his coolness just doesn’t permit it to be shoved in your face:
“Get your floaties up, kiddie pool niggas ain’t really that cool….
Can’t follow these moves, you need more expensive shoes”
“Full Metal” caps off Covert Coup on a high note, featuring triumphant horns and what sounds like live drums. Curren$y’s careful with the timing of his flow, tip-toeing over the instrumental with a perfect cadence; his voice and delivery alone make you want to roll one up and drop the top on a summer afternoon.
When assessing this project objectively, it’s obvious early on that Covert Coup is Curren$y’s strongest project to date. Sure, each song probably could’ve been a little longer but it’s concise nature is what makes this album a pristine entry in his catalogue. It has incredible replay value, sounds as relevant as the day it dropped and is a must-have for any hip hop connoisseur or collector.
Overall Vibes: 8.5/10