Above all things, Starlito is a writer and deliverer of words. For years, he and his career have dwelled in the fringe, staying away from the mix of trends in music, reliance on others or anything that could be qualified as camaraderie. He’s gone the road alone with no other consistent physical presence assisting him on the mic or production. His only constants remain his penchant for introspection and the always-present paranoia peppered throughout his music.
As with all of his projects, the title usually serves as the theme and Star continues the trend. The actual meaning of Cold Turkey waivers between ‘Lito’s long drawn out decision to leave the streets behind (“Ain’t For Everybody”) or him considered quitting music entirely in mid-2011 because “he’s too real for this rap shit” on (“Cold Turkey (Intro).” The latter doesn’t come off as a boast made by a superstar MC or a defeated mad rapper. Instead, the Nashville-based poet sounds like someone who’s tired of all the shenanigans associated with making the trip towards success.
Then, why is he still rapping?
Because making music seems like a form of therapy for ‘Lito and his raps play as confessional that become his way of releasing pent up thoughts and everyday frustrations. Even though the theme of distrust is a recurring one, Star knows he can trust in his abilities to deliver music that people who like rap like to hear.
On Cold Turkey, his first for-purchase release of 2013, Star gives fans what they’ve come to expect from him. There is his loose, unpredictable flow that can go from riding a beat until he’s almost an extension of the bassline on “Ides Of March” to free-flowing to the point where his lines sound more like conversation that conventional raps (“About A Bitch”).
And even though he usually goes about his work solo, there are the usual handful of features that give ‘Lito a moment’s rest while old friends like Young Dolph and newcomers Petty and Kevin Gates handle the show. With “One Long Day,” Petty especially seems to ignite a fire behind ‘Lito, pushing him to bear down and rhyme. Gates, too, leaves an indelible mark with his soulful, crooning chorus on “Long Haul” and to the point where he’s given his own solo shot on “Luca Brasi Speaks.”
But, as expected, it’s frequent Stepbrother Don Trip who brings the best out of Star on “No Rearview” by matching his level of introspection and lack of fear in terms of revealing himself. With Trip spilling his guts about infidelities of the road, Starlito has to keep pace by speaking of his own relationship woes.
The missing link to Cold Turkey may be the one aspect where Starlito doesn’t have as much control: the production. Whereas his usual mixtape and free albums contain uber-lush melodies or hard-driven beats that best accentuate his flow, the production on the album languishes and never does enough to match the rapper’s emotion or energy. “Family Ties” and “Dumb High” both fall flat and stand as songs not worth repeating if other than for the verses. There’s also a lack of continuity, an idea likely due to the use of over 10 different producers on the album’s 15 songs.
Then, too, the overwhelming number of features distract from the main attraction, which should be the MC himself, and probably would’ve served better on later projects or even given to the other rappers themselves.
Still, Cold Turkey will find a home in all diehard fans’ libraries. As it goes with ‘Lito, each project forms a chapter in his overall novel. Sure, skipping pages is an option, but with the way Star’s able to generate tension and drama, why would anyone want to miss even a small piece of the action?
Label: Grind Hard | Producers: Lil Lody, Trakksounds, D. Rich, Don Lee, B-Nice, Young Ladd, Mike Laury, Celsizzle, Free P, Fate Eastwood