03 Greedo and Kenny Beats spend quality time together on ‘Netflix & Deal’

Monday, November 25, 2019 - 4:15pm

NOSELL

Alamo Records

I have something to admit. I may be 03 Greedo’s biggest fan. He’s my most listened to artist of all time, according to Last.fm and Spotify. Ever since I first heard “Mafia Business” on Vince Staples’s SEABS radio show back in 2016, I’ve been hooked. I can’t get enough. Something about Greedo and his style just resonates with me. He used to rap over only his own rudimentary Frooty Loops experimentations and, somehow, it worked. His voice isn’t the best and the bars are pedestrian at best (and non-existent at worst), but he has endless charm and creates an atmosphere that no one else can. Greedo describes his music as “emo music for gangbangers,” suggesting he makes music that will resonate with everyone, even the most hardened individual. He’s often pigeonholed into the “so bad it’s good” category of rap a la Blueface and Lil B, but I have to disagree with that sentiment. Greedo can’t play any instruments, is an unconventional vocalist and barely a producer, but he has a musical mind. He knows what he wants and knows how to execute his vision. So when I heard Greedo was collaborating with Kenny Beats, the nascent producer known for perfectly executing his clients’s visions, I knew I was in for a treat.

Netflix & Deal is Greedo’s second full-length (and fourth overall) release since he was sentenced to prison for 20 years for firearm possession and drug trafficking. With such a bleak future looming, Greedo kicked into overdrive, recording vast amounts of high-quality music to ensure that his family would be supported while he is locked up, and the final products have been nothing short of phenomenal. His collaborators really care about preserving Greedo’s vision and are willing to take any measures necessary to do so. 

From the get-go, Greedo is deep in his bag. “Traffic” is textbook Greedo. His froggy voice slinks across a cosmic CaptainCrunch-assisted Kenny beat like liquid mercury. Greedo bends his voice at will, switching from staccato bursts to limitless croon with ease. Every vocal inflection is unexpected and wonderful, perfectly in time with the rumble of an 808. His dreamy flow provides an interesting contrast to lines about his rough upbringing. His unease and weariness are palpable as he warbles lines like “Crippin’ with the war wounds, told my momma I was tired of cartoons / Jumped off the porch / I’m in the field, call the same with the rings and the torch” and “Either you get killed, go to jail or have a jump spot / Focus on your skills, boy, you know you only got one shot.”

If “Traffic” was Greedo in his comfort zone, “Disco Shit” is him at his most creative. Kenny provides what may be one of his most surprising beats, defined by disco-inspired keys and off-kilter bass hits, and Greedo brings the firepower. He doesn’t rap much here, instead opting to sing with pure soul, littering it with references to “Blow,” his all-time favorite movie. Despite Greedo and Kenny’s outstanding performances, Freddie Gibbs, another Kenny Beats regular, steals the show. Gibbs’s voice is drenched in autotune, yet he still raps with surgical precision, starting with sing-song, T-Pain-esque flow which quickly returns to his trademark spitfire delivery.

With such a strong opening run, it seems inevitable that Netflix & Deal will eventually lose steam and land as yet another front-loaded hip hop release. Not the case. Kenny and Greedo display their unparalleled chemistry across the entire album, and the album’s guests bring their A-game, too. How could they not? Sharing a track with a personality like Greedo demands it. Notably, Maxo Kream softens his typically gritty and grizzly style on “Beg Your Pardon.” However, 03 Greedo shines brightest when it’s just him and Kenny Beats. 

On “Life,” Greedo elevates. It’s the full package. He’s charismatic, emotional and sentimental on this track, thanks to Kenny pulling a sample of Dire Straits’s “Sultans of Swing” out of left field. Greedo tackles matters regarding his lifestyle and life choices, his friends and family and his accomplishments. The track feels a bit like a bittersweet victory lap when Greedo’s circumstances are taken into consideration, an idea that aligns well with the chorus: “Feelin’ like Carly Rae, they offerin’ all the days / They tried to say that I had a lil baggage I might make the holidays / I’m flyin’ all the time, I done did all the crime / Life, life, life made me lose my mind.” Greedo knows he’s down now, but that’s a part of life’s ebb and flow. He’ll be back on top soon.