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To hear Big Bossin’ Vol. 2 on a sunny day, you would think that the album had been handcrafted in the ’90s by only the finest Los Angeles gangsta rappers. You might be surprised, then, to learn that it was actually the brainchild of a Midwestern duo, Payroll Giovanni of Detroit rap crew Doughboyz Cashout and Minnesotan producer Cardo, whose beats have soundtracked hits from the likes of Wiz Khalifa, LA stalwarts G Perico and Dom Kennedy, and his now-native Houston’s own LE$. Songs like “Rapped My Way” and “Good Day To Get Money,” simply put, slap. There’s just no other way to describe the easygoing pace of Cardo’s drums’ swing and Payroll’s confident, self-assured lean into the pocket of each. The album even features West Coast rap legend E-40 on money-getting diatribe “Mail Long.”
And there’s no fancy group name for this power-packed duo. That’s how they like it: Stripped-down, raw, and organic. Big Bossin, their debut album on Def Jam Records (and follow-up to their cult classic Vol. 1), displays the absolute peak of this approach. The beats are melodic and spare, with a funky bounce that, as Payroll says, speaks to the listener’s ears of sunshine and freshly-washed cars cruising on a lazy day, providing enough groove to float off the vibe but enough punch to support Pay’s gruff, measured, unadorned delivery. He doesn’t dress up the rhymes, so to speak. He cuts right to the point; whether boasting or admonishing, he doesn’t mince words or obfuscate his point. He says exactly what he means, as much as Cardo crafts beats designed solely to bolster his gangster communiques and relax your conscious mind into its most receptive mode to partake.
Combined, the pair is equal parts witty, playing off each other to hilarious comedic effect, and sincere. When they talk about their creative process or their plans for the future, they are complimentary towards each other in a way that seems unpracticed and unpretentious, simply stating facts as they see them. Over the course of the interview we conducted by phone, they remained magnanimous and patient, even when the call dropped midway. It’s just the way they are — unshakeable, self-possessed, and utterly, completely themselves, which is what makes Big Bossin Vol. 2 one of 2018’s must-listen hip-hop albums.
When I listened to the album I was transported to a different time in my personal history, to the late ’90s West Coast. Very G Funk feel, very traditional authentic sounding West Coast. What is it about that LA sound that drew you guys to it, made you want to create such an authentic sounding album of LA sounds?
Cardo: It’s really more my music. We were really… even though they have similarity between LA and the Bay, but we were more influenced by the E40, the Click, Mac Dre shit, you know what I’m saying? It’s just something that we grew up on, me and Payroll both. Both of us coming from the Midwest, we were always surrounded by music coming out of the Bay, or just the West Coast period, that we enjoyed because of our parents or our older cousins and siblings and whatnot. So that’s pretty much where that came from.
We were really trying to dig and find a sound because before that, me and Pay were making a whole other type of music. We were in between that shit, but it was a little bit more energetic, you know, because we were working with Jeezy, so we were kind of surrounded by other kind of different energy. We finally hit it off 2015, and I just started creating a whole new bounce of things and sent it over to Pay, and the rest was history. That’s how Big Bossin’ was kind of created.
Payroll: To everybody else, it sounds West Coast influenced, and like it come from LA, but to me, that’s like a Detroit sound because if you listen to the earlier Detroit music it had like Cali influences on it because the Bay and Detroit is real close knit together. Our music is similar and we grew up off E40 and B-Legit. B-Legit damn near lives in Detroit. The earlier Detroit rappers was getting game from the Bay and Bay rappers was getting game from Detroit. So it all sounds the same to me.