Weekend At Burnie’s


    First things first: there will not be an album in 2011 with a better title than Curren$y’s Weekend At Burnie’s. This is complete, 100 percent indisputable fact. In addition to being one of the most winkingly goofy titles in the history of recorded music, it’s a pretty great name for a Curren$y album – for him, every day is a weekend, and if you removed every single reference to weed on this album it would be reduced to a beat tape with a couple of mumbled adlibs. It’s a title that perfectly explains the album’s basic imperatives. On the whole, Weekend At Burnie’s is what it is – it’s not great, and it’s certainly not essential listening, but it’s a record with a clear thematic focus that accomplishes its goals.


    At his career’s inception, Curren$y was sort of forced into the drug-rap game, first as one of the few dutiful No Limit Soldiers who didn’t get shot and/or ended up in jail, and then playing second banana to Lil’ Wayne as a Cash Money Millionaire. After freeing himself from Cash Money Records, Curren$y hit the mixtape circuit with an ardor that contradicted his reputation as an extreme marijuana enthusiast, switching lanes and ensconcing himself in a state of permanent chill. His previous two albums (the excellent Pilot Talk I and its sequel Pilot Talk II, which is so good that it is basically the Godfather Part II of weed rap) refined his new style, as he used his thin, nasally voice to lithely skate over a hazy, midtempo thump provided by reinvigorated vet Ski Beats. Curren$y tried to expand his palate with the recent Covert Coup EP, which served as the paranoid, nervy comedown to the Pilot Talk albums, tackling a cadre of Alchemist beats with varying degrees of success.


    Unlike contemporaries like his smoking buddy Wiz Khalifa, Curren$y is out there. He’s half Wiz, half purveyor of bohemian lifestyle-porn, using the word “behoove” on record and wondering why his Al Jarreau references are bombing. I’m pretty sure if you gave him a million dollars he would buy a cabana in some place that’s always warm, a bunch of Marvin Gaye records, and enough cheeba to kill a horse. Curren$y seems fascinated by truly utilitarian shit: sitting in chairs, wearing socks, and using Twitter on a cell phone all get transmogrified from the realm of the blasé into superhuman exploits worthy of the listener’s envy, even awe, when Curren$y raps about them. His rapping fits this persona perfectly: he spits with a cadence that suggests he’s sitting in a Lazy Boy, with an adaptable flow that owes more than a little to fellow pothead Devin The Dude.


    As a rapper, Curren$y is not going to win any awards for writing drum-tight verses or snarling anybody off the track. He’s not about that, though. His lyrics are abstract. They meander, never seeming to make that much of an impression upon the listener, but that’s not the point. Curren$y’s lyrics are secondary to the mood of his music, the warmth of his voice and the ease with which he raps simply adding another layer to the atmosphere. Weekend At Burnie’s is Hip-Hop Yacht Rock, Steely Dan with a sack of quantized drums.


    The beats, provided almost entirely by his homie Monsta Beatz and Rahki (the latter of whom only produced “#jetsgo”), are perfect for Curren$y. They take the lush sonic template established by Ski Beats on the Pilot Talk records and strip them of all nonessential instrumentation. Many of the beats consist of a few keyboard squiggles, some drums, and that’s it. They’re truly ambient – robbed of their drums and rapping, it’s not hard to imagine tracks like “She Don’t Want A Man” or “JLC” showing up on a record by someone like Cleveland, Ohio synth-droners Emeralds. “This Is The Life” gives off some vague House vibes with its piano-laced beat, and “Still” (which features Trademark and Young Roddy, two of the most superfluous rappers in a universe full of very superfluous rappers) burrows its way into your mind with some of the most chilled-out siren sounds ever on record. This album, much like recent releases from guys like Main Attrakionz and Lil B, is something to let wash over you.


    Curren$y is billing the album as an alternate soundtrack to Weekend At Bernie’s, but given this set’s lack of ’80s throwback vibes, it comes off more like an alternate soundtrack to “Weekend At Burnsie’s,” the Simpsons episode where Homer gets prescribed medical marijuana. Curren$y is a lot like Homer Simpson, actually. Where Homer’s got his Duff, Curren$y has the stickiest of the icky. And on Weekend At Burnie’s, Curren$y has crafted a record he’s probably chilling out to right now.