The proprietor of everything cool is back at it again, with more laid back rhymes told through a thick cloud of weed smoke. Yesterday, he released the excellent Covert Coup EP via his imprint Jet Life recordings, on Warner Bros. Records. I was going to review this EP but decided I’m utterly incapable of giving an objective review to anything he does. It’s a phenomenal album, so go download it: its free! Instead, this is a loving tribute to one of the few artists in the rap game, who did things properly and never fell victim to the major label rat race. That artist is of course the main pilot of the "Jets", Curren$y.
Curren$y came into the game way back in 2002 when he was signed to Master P’s label No Limit Records. After a couple of guest features for No Limit artists, Curren$y signed to New Orleans (his hometown) based label, Cash Money Records and Lil’ Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment. In 2006, he was set to release his debut album but due to multiple pushbacks he decided to part ways with the label and do things independently. He was already hooked up with skateboarder Terry Kennedy, with whom he created Fly Society, through which he released 8 mixtapes (that’s right 8 mixtapes!) in 2008.
After hearing “Kicks, Video Games, Movies and Chicks,” back in March 2009, I backlogged his entire catalog and listened to nothing but Curren$y for months (my roommates at college could attest to this). His raps never told grandiose tales of crime in the ghetto but were more of a guide on “how to be cool”. In almost every 3-minute track (he does have some more serious songs), he talks about everything from weed, to sneakers, to video games, to muscle cars, to bad bitches or anything else he feels like talking about and by the end you feel a bit dizzy but you’re sure of one thing; Curren$y is the coolest motherfucker on the planet. This line from the Welcome to the Winner’s Circle mixtape says everything you need to know about Curren$y in one sentence: “Sitting in my living room high, listening to Jamiroquai, I’m just an ordinary guy, but I dress extraordinarily fly.” His nonchalant attitude is infectious and just listening to Curren$y automatically makes you feel 9x cooler.
"Reagan Era" off of the Independence Day mixtape. Go ahead, listen and feel 9x cooler.
In 2009, the DIY work ethic continued, as Curren$y released two full-length albums through Amalgam Digital and two more mixtapes. One of these mixtapes, “How Fly” was a project done with fellow major label outcast Wiz Khalifa. Wiz Khalifa went through a similar situation at Warner Bros. where he was forced to leave after his debut album was pushed back multiple times. Around this time, Curren$y having gone through this shit before, took Wiz Khalifa under his wing and the two took their love of weed to the studio and created “How Fly”. Under the tutelage of Curren$y, Wiz Khalifa did the independent thing, releasing mixtapes on his own as well as a few full-lengths through Rostrum Records and low and behold, 2 years later he’s finally releasing his major-label debut. Without, Curren$y, Wiz would still be swimming around the independent music abyss with no lifeboat. But under the guidance of a seasoned veteran, he was back at the top in only 2 years.
Around this time, Curren$y relocated to New York City where he hooked up with Damon Dash, Jay-Z’s former partner at Roc-a Fella Records. Together at Dash’s DD172 studio in Tribeca, the two started a whole movement of independent music being made in what they referred to as the dojo. The movement, featured legends like Mos Def and Ski Beatz along with up and comers like Jay Electronica, Stalley (now signed with Rick Ross) and Big K.R.I.T. (getting major love on Pitchfork). DD172 was responsible for a library’s worth of amazing music, including two more LPs from Curren$y (Pilot Talk and Pilot Talk II). These albums, coupled with an official remix of Rick Ross’ “Super High” and another stellar mixtape (Smokee Robinson) finally brought the attention Curren$y deserved and in 2011 Curren$y was back at a major label. Only this time, he has his own imprint and without forgetting where he came from, he plans to release music from fellow “jets” Trademark Da Skydiver and Young Roddy. And if that wasn't enough, Curren$y said fuck the money on his first release and offered Covert Coup as a free download. Curren$y is one of the few rappers who actually lives up to what he rhymes about: “jet life ‘til the next life.”
Throughout his arduous journey in the music biz, Curren$y never lost track of his artistic ideals and lived up to his word that he “could do it independent, fuck a deal.” He's been fucked over by plenty of people in this business and never started "beef". He's helped young artists like Wiz Khalifa and Dom Kennedy navigate the muck and mire and has been the backbone of the independent rap movement at DD172. All the while he looked out for #1 and now he's finally got his.