CyHi The Prince is an amazing rapper. I praise Kanye West for signing him to the G.O.O.D. Music imprint. It is another of those overly intelligent that he tends to do.
Although he is one of the few members of G.O.O.D. Music who hasn't put out a studio album, it doesn't mean he is lazy by any scope of the word. Mostly he's been doing features and mixtapes. I liken it to training before a major title fight. Given my general love for his mixtapes Jack Of All Trades and Royal Flush 2, it is my humble opinion that he's ready. Give either mixtape a thorough listening and tell me I'm wrong. At this point I'm not keen on waiting on you to get up on something like this. Do it on your own time. Let's call it homework.
As I said, CyHi isn't lazy. Because of that he has given us another mixtape to cut out teeth on while we wait hungrily for his first studio album. The title this time is Ivy League Club. Between the samples from such films as School Of Rock and Lean On Me, there are tracks that reinforce the theme and others that bolster the mixtape itself. What it comes together to make is quite wondeful. Now, if you'll allow me, I'll show you my tour of the Ivy League Club.
It does my heart well to hear "Crazy" Joe Clarke from Lean On Me on "Intro". It's that scene where he makes those boys sing the school song in the bathroom. I also loved how "Ivy League" and "Prynceton University" played well into the title, Promise being featured on the former. "Honor Roll" does a lot of the same thing but with a twist. Here the term 'honor roll' is a reference to rolling weed. I heard it and was amazed at how clever that is. As with any Atlanta rapper (or any rapper, honestly) there is the obligatory song to represnt your hometown. Enter "A-Town", a rousing track set over the familiar chant of the Atlanta Braves. CyHi is joined on the track by heavy drums, B.o.B., and Travis Porter. It is a war chant, an anthem that the album needs. I loved it. "Slick" and "Real Talk" add an element of the streets to the project, the latter featuring rapper Dose.
Now, I know I'm walking a little fast so I'll slow down enough so you can catch up and catch your breath. We'll pause on the "Ivy League Skit" with its sample of Jack Black and Miranda Cosgrove from School Of Rock.
And we're walking...
"Food Savers And Scissors" is a song about selling weed which, truth be told, is a part of the college experience. Even in the Ivy League, I imagine. ScHoolBoy Q is featured on the track and the two play well off of each other.
"Tool" is a contradiction...maybe. Do you remember that Sade track "Smooth Operator"? That's the sample for this one. It seems momentarily contradictory to sample that song for a track about shooting people or rather defending yourself. But looked at another way, maybe a smooth operator in the tense this song uses it in is something akin to regulators of Warren G's "Regulate". You know, regulating any stealing of his property...only with self-defense. This track ("Tool", not "Regulate") features fellow Atlanta rappers Pill and Trouble, who seem to agree with the idea and expound on it well.
"Drank And Smoke" is that cool vibe track about good weed, good drink, and generally feeling good. For this track it is a Southern collective. He teams with Alabama native Yelawolf and Mississippi born Big K.R.I.T. for this theme for the decadence of drinking and smoking. "Bachelor", the next track, strikes as a man's desire to have someone special in his life. It's easily relatable to most men who've gone through this.
This brings me to my favorite track on the album, a song called "Tomorrow". This is a love song, pure and simple. The line he [CyHi] spits here are beautiful and clever. All this is over a beat produced perfectly for the sentiment. The message? Let's love each other now because tomorrow may never come for us. It's something good men dream of telling the woman they love.
"Grits" is an ode to my Southern women. Don't get me wrong, as a heterosexual male I have love for the female gender as a whole. But it's something about Southern girls that just does something to me. And it is apparent by the track that CyHi agrees in that opinion.K-Camp and Stuey Rock join in and honor our Southern women they way they need to be honored. "Feet Up" is another good sample, this time sampling Anita Baker's "Sweet Love". It's a simple song about his life and just relaxing with his feet up. I could see myself sipping a glass of something and vibing to this.
Need another rest? Take it...but hurry. We're almost done with the tour. Just be patient.
"Can't Stand Y'all" is basically for the haters. CyHi is just telling the busters, suckers, haters, clowns, and other negative titles that he personally cannot stand y'all. Being honest, neither can I. Sorry. "100 Bottles" originally appreared on Chris Brown's mixtape Boy In Detention. As with anything, remixes will happen. This one include CyHi and label mate Big Sean. I loved "100 Bottles" when I first heard it but the addition of those G.O.O.D. Music boys hits an amazing new chord.
Aother sample, kids. "Summer Madness" is heavy throughout "Lives", a rather smooth track featuring Kris Stephens. It is a man speaking on life. Another of those songs that make your head nod. The hook is well placed with the verses and the result is magical. "Entourage" features producer/rapper Hit-Boy, sampling "Mountain High, Valley Low" to perfection. This track shouts out to the G.O.O.D. Music family. Hit-Boy is on point alongside CyHi talking about their label family. What more can I say other than outstanding?
"Changed" is a song for those people who say that CyHi has gone Hollywood and sold out. Here he says that because of his changing situation, he is changed. Moreover he says he changed for the better, something that the people you sometimes leave behind don't get.
Finally, we reach "Outro". It ends how it began with Stand By Me. This well thought out album ends with the soulful singing of Eastside High's school song.
And that ends out tour. I ask you earnestly not to allow me to be your tour guide. Return on your own, look around. I promise that it's worthwhile.
Lucius Black for Royalty Magazine