An 03 Greedo project produced by DJ Mustard seems like it’d be an obvious win. But it’s shocking, truly, just how good this thing is. On paper, Still Summer In The Projects sounds like a match made in heaven — which should just be another name for the sun-soaked shores of LA in the summertime — but in practice, it turns out Mustard is the most perfect possible foil for someone like Greedo, whose slurry warble is reminiscent enough of Young Thug that it’d be easy to forget that he was born and raised in Watts, California if he didn’t make it a point to shout out Grape Street and his native Jordan Downs housing projects located thereon.
It’s a project that, by all means, shouldn’t exist under normal circumstances. But Greedo has always been an uncommonly prolific producer of new music. Collaborators have commented that, unlike his frequent collaborator and fellow incarcerated rapper Drakeo The Ruler, Greedo is about as close to satisfied with his work as it gets the moment he steps out of the recording booth. Where Drakeo spends hours tweaking and fine-tuning each song to make sure it sounds just right, Greedo thinks everything sounds just right as soon as the words cross his lips.
That’s where DJ Mustard comes in. Upon finding out about his impending 20-year sentence in the state of Texas for gun and drug possession, Greedo determined that the best course of action was to ensure that there’d be plenty of material for his fans to groove to in his extended absence. He sought out collaborators with whom he felt he could work at his usual frenetic pace and entrust with his verses, choruses, and concepts until such time as they could be released to the care and critique of the listening public. Long Beach producer Mustard, who’s landed hit after hit on the charts with almost frightening accuracy, fit the bill. Alamo Records founder Todd Moscowitz noted that, compared to his usual rate of production, Greedo’s work ethic ahead of his incarceration date was even more heightened than usual. The result is one of his most focused, urgent-sounding projects to date.
Where Greedo’s 2018 projects God Level and The Wolf of Grape Street were sprawling projects that demonstrated his wide-ranging experimentalism and dizzying charisma in sporadic bursts, but meandered due to their length, Still Summer clocks in at a trim eleven, consistent-produced tracks, all produced by Mustard featuring his signature, stripped-down, syncopated, post-Hyphy G-funk. Most of the songs are only around three minutes in length, with clearly delineated hooks and verses, which are sometimes in seemingly short supply on Greedo’s other projects, with his sing-song delivery occasionally blurring the line between the two.
Content-wise, Still Summer contains all the lightweight trappings of the west coast-centric party rap that hallmarks most of Mustard’s output; behold his playful ignorance on YG-featuring strip club anthem “Wasted.” What lights up his straightforward, four-track beats is Greedo’s crooning, which runs counter to most of the rappers who’ve previously flexed on Mustard’s production. Instead of the clipped, aggressive deliveries we’re used to hearing on this type of music, hiding his witty wordplay inside his drawling hooks and hypnotically garbled flow. On the winding “Twisting The Lens,” he flip the titular bar with a pun, explaining, “That means I stay focused,” later even acknowledging the common comparison between himself and his Atlanta analog: “She say I’m like Thugger / She know that I’m thuggin’.” And while he sings about his “Trap House” with fellow emerging west coast vanguards Shoreline Mafia, he keeps the material about as lighthearted as it gets, focusing more on the extracurricular sexual activity going down than the illicit pharmaceutical sales and shootouts that usually accompany such fare.
But the standout is “Visions,” the final track, which is like the hungover moment of clarity the morning after the party is done. The beat slows down to a guitar-strummed ballad — perhaps an entry to the burgeoning canon of country-trap — to let Greedo ruminate on his upcoming enforced vacation. It’s likely the most introspective he’s ever been on a record to date, reminiscing about the penitentiary chances he’s taken and the ones that finally caught up to him: I was stuck in the pavement / While them peoples in the grave / So much sh*t we got away with / Make me wanna get saved / I been prayin’ on my knees / Since they shot me in the leg.” The song concludes with nothing more or less poignant than Greedo’s muffled voice, recorded via from the Potter County Texas Adult Detention Facility.
He speaks on the perception that will likely haunt him in all future coverage of his music and his works, that he was a ne’er-do-well drug dealer who got what he deserved, in a prescient soliloquy that serves as a reminder of just how ahead of his time he’s been: “I ain’t talkin’ ’bout no positive sh*t ‘bout gangbanging, no selling dope in my music. I’m talkin’ ’bout the past life, you feel me?”
Then he promises he’ll leave prison a millionaire and delivers his de facto mission statement for the time he’s facing, claiming that his legendary work ethic will never fade: “I’ll be back sooner than May, they callin’ it 20 on paper, but I’ll be right back sooner than you think. Ayy, that sh*t gonna be hard, niggas gonna be like, ‘This n—- a fool. You tryna, you tryna hear some bars while you out here? You tryna rap some sh*t?’” The answer will be “yes” as long as summer comes to the projects.
Still Summer In The Projects is out now via Alamo Records. Get it here.