In review: Playboy Tre – “Liquor Store Mascot”
Have Pitchfork got around to reviewing this yet? I dunno, I haven’t bothered reading it since Nick Sylvester got sent down for a ten stretch. If they have, or if they eventually get round to it, however, you can probably set up an in-office sweepstake amongst your co-workers for how many paragraphs into the review it will take Ian Cohen or whoeverthefuck to get around to describing Playboy Tre as “the Craig Finn of rap”. Awwwwwkkkkwwwwaaarrrrdddd.
I mean, the argument can be made, sure: like the best of The Hold Steady’s material, “Liquor Store Mascot” flits back and forth between being thinking man’s drinking music and drinking man’s thinking music. The album touches on moments of braggadocio, self-doubt, righteous anger, confusion, frustration, attempts to set the world right, thoughts of dead relatives, God, Jesus, and weed: so technically, that is what the two have in common. But then again, any good 12-hour long drinking session will also flag those topics up as well, especially if your local Wetherspoons’ has Peroni on tap. That’s some good summer drinking right there, imo.
Playboy Tre then: a lot of the resignation and blue-collarness that comes across on this album has to be as a result of the hours the man’s put in the rap game: well over a decade, from his late 90s conscious rap backpacker period, through to his time spent as a reserve team standout for the crunk (ask your grandparents) movement, through to his current position as maybe the only man capable of making the Zshare rap movement palatable. Although don’t think there’s anything XXL cover about this guy: despite the fact that dude is clearly an intelligent and perceptive cat, he lives and dies by his hooks. Indeed, he’s eked out coin over the past few years by writing hooks for major label rappers, and “Liquor Store Mascot” has more hooks than a Family Fortunes survey asking 100 people to name their least favourite Bob Hoskins movie.
So much greatness though. The title track where he sets his stall out perfectly (“I do it for the have-nots and keep an ice cold beer like the liquor store mascot”) over plinky strings and anthemic stabs. “Living In The Bottle” incorporates a Gil Scott-Heron sample as smooth as Long Island Ice Teas over a tale of alcohol dependency rougher than potcheen. “Moving Dem Keys” does the “key can mean a number of different things” thesauruscore that Pusha T and Malice have made a career out of post-“Lord Willin’”, and yet still manages to make a line like “When I spit, keys move like Alicia’s fingers” seem utterly essential. “Oh My Lord Freestyle” is even prefaced with an apology to his grandmother for what he’s about to do: he then goes on to spit fuck bitches drink 40s rhymes over a gospel choir. I mean, really, the only place this goes wrong is when for some reason he decides that what his tale of ghostly revenge and racist murder (“Remember Me”) needs is an Evanescence sample. I know, right?
So anyway. “Liquor Store Mascot” is something truly amazing, a mixtape that honestly works as a straight-up album on all identifiable levels, a great piece of work from a truly talented artist, something different in what’s rapidly becoming one of the worst times for breakthrough rappers in history, and maybe if I listen to it enough I’ll eventually learn to stop spelling it as “Liqour”. Good work all round.