Review ·

Listening to No1 2 Look Up 2, the second mixtape from 21-year-old Queens rapper/producer/pharmacology student Big Baby Gandhi, it’s hard to imagine major label rap mattering in any real way anymore. Here we have an Indian kid with a voice that makes Waka Flocka Flame’s seem like a varied instrument. He spits filthy verses with references to All Dogs Go to Heaven, Lil B, Oprah, and being brown in a city (New York) that ain’t over scrappy, urban decay beats, and it’s one of this year’s most vital, and totally fun rap albums. And it was released to the Internet for free, with no label backing except for support from Himanshu Suri’s Greedhead label. Can you even imagine a major label trying to sign someone named Big Baby Gandhi, and then giving him money to sample St. Vincent for a song (at least partially) about the immigrant experience in America? Welcome to the new world order.

On his 2011 mixtape, Big Fucking Baby, Big Baby Gandhi crowned himself as “the best rapper,” spitting laugh-out-loud verses over lo-fi scrappy beats, and having the temerity to rap about getting his money right over an Arcade Fire sample (“Get My Money Right”). On a gut level, No1 2 Look Up 2 is more of the same, but the marked difference—apart from the thrilling and varied production by Hot Sugar, Steel Tipped Dove, Mike Finito and Gandhi himself—is Gandhi’s increased confidence. He might say to “turn my voice down, no one should hear the words that I sayearly here, but he’s clearly enamored with the possibilities of doing this full time: “I ain't have an ego till Heems said I was a phenomenon/ Now I’m blowing up like Ramadan/ Fast.” Whether he’s unleashing invectives on the skin colors of all the women on the different trains in New York who scoff at him (“Drink A Lil Pepsi”), or trading raunchy sex raps with newcomer Chippy Nonstop (“All Over These Titties”) this is Gandhi’s coming out party, the tape that finds his supreme confidence matching up with the results. He might still be an inveterate shouter, but get past the unpolished vocals and you’ll be treated to a rapper with big ideas and big jokes.

Being that this is a Greedhead release, Das Racist and associate Lakutis run through No1 2 Look Up 2 with thrilling guest verses. Lakutis calls himself “Tombstone Pizza Pierre” on another instant classic guest appearance; dude’s year in guest verses has been flawless (just check his verses on Nehru Jackets for further proof). Das Racist appear on the first proper track, and album highlight, “Blue Magic,” with Heems rapping about racism, the TSA, and the band Heart, while Kool A.D. breaks down who he’d collaborate with for the right price (half of you, for a rack or two) while assuring his “verbal Ebonics are low on demonics and trans fats.” But Gandhi steals the track in his first verse, calling out waves of rappers by deriding them as sounding “like Coldplay.” Shots fired, clearly. But serious question: Is there a crew in music right now, rap or otherwise, that is as consistently entertaining as the Greedhead collective?

For all the potential of this being a “Year of the Free Mixtape,” where it seems like every five days yields another trip to LiveMixtapes and into the recesses of a new rapper’s sonic space for a few days of obsession (or a few minutes, if you downloaded Bogota Rich), No1 2 Look Up 2 is, like Nehru Jackets before it, a tough one to parse out. It tackles big topics—having to deal with looking like what every racist thinks a terrorist looks like, the lack of inspiration/motivation for the millennial generation, when/where your next blow job comes from—but wraps up it up in a discordant, jarring, sometimes byzantine referentially, rap album that is heavy on one-liners. “Only real rappers be Gandhi and Lil B,” he says here, and with No1 2 Look Up 2, Gandhi makes that boast become close to reality. 

***

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/bigbabygandhi

Download the album: http://www.mediafire.com/?kisk9msr1381za8

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