The first cut off the second Xperiment, “Sparks When My Pen Starts” is pure hype–bragging lines about coloring outside of the lines, claims of being “here to upgrade rap and save the world later”–and it’s the perfect intro to this year’s model of Hollywood FLO$$. That’s “F L O dollar sign dollar sign/Because money’s always on my mind.”
You may remember my interview in January with Houston’s own Hollywood F.L.O.S.S. (Flawless Lawless Opposing Stagnant Situations)), or perhaps the fact that I picked his “Art of Fi$cal Intelligence” mixtape as the sixth best album of 2009. Well, this year is the year of FLOSS. He’s exploded, inundating the world with three mixtapes and an album out on iTunes titled “House of Dreams.” So the obvious question is: Can he sustain it? The answer is yes.
Let’s start with House of Dreams, since that’s a proper album. It’s got Hollywood’s hypeman flow, which you’d expect, but then there are innovations like the title track, in which he raps over bird whistles. That’s right, birds. Sweet gentle birds. This track is in direct juxtaposition to the majority of cuts on the record, which are mostly hard and aggressive. In fact, almost everything HF has put out this year hits hard. He’s punching listeners in the face, coming on with rugged aggression–more LL Cool J than backpacker. It’s a new sound for him, and like I said, it permeates all he’s doing this year. Both of his “Xperiment” mixtapes are riddled with his “tough” voice–he’s released two of them, in an attempt to “build my catalog and get out rough versions of ideas i had in my mind”–apparently taking lessons from Lil’ Wayne. But he’s damn good at it, and he’s careful not to lose track of his ability to flow smooth, on cuts like “To New Beginnings” and the drum-soul driven “When The World’s Against You.” FLOSS is clearly experimenting–not just on the two mixtapes, but on the House of Dreams album as well. He’s showing much broader range, using a wide variety of beats, tones, and rhythms, and generally selling himself on versatility.
Is every song in this avalanche of music good? I’m not sure it matters. Even FLOSS himself admits that the explosion of material in the two Xperiment mixtapes is completely unfiltered–“its up to you to pick which one you like or don’t like,” he says. And he’s clearly saved the best for his album–as he should have. Who else in rap can rhyme mannequin with Anakin (Skywalker)? Hollywood’s extensive vocabulary and verbal playfulness ensures he’s constantly surprising, firing rapidly, never repeating his rhymes and verses.
House of Dreams gets my recommendation, for sure. It wears its influences well, which include OutKast, Lupe Fiasco, Jay-Z . . . It’s smart, funny, wise and crisp. The Xperiment mixtapes are worth getting, but you’ll want to cull out about a third of the material. And that’s the point–you can make your own album!
Go to iTunes and buy House of Dreams. Support this artist, if you believe in hip hop’s future as being something other than copycat commercial trash.
THE BEST OF HOLLYWOOD F.L.O.$.$.
Art or Fi$cal Intelligence is five bucks at bandcamp, and it’s worth every goddamn dime. Believe that.
Sparks When My Pen Starts. From his X-Periment 2 mixtape, this is an example of HF’s edgier flow, where he breaks like a “rap antihistamine.” A great example of his creative word choices.
(Get the whole mixtape here.)
Daydreamin-Hollywood with Kidd the Great. Over the classic Lupe Fiasco joint, HF proves he’s not just a great producer (he makes most of his own music)–he can jack beats, too. From his “The Prequel”–the mixtape before his first proper album, House of Dreams.
(Get the whole mixtape here.)
Get it on iTunes and support this fantastic new artist!