Sometimes artists develop a signature style --a distinct sound in music, a unique voice for a writer, a look or point of view from a photographer. Othertimes, artists choose to reinvent themselves, with musicians switching genres, writers changing mediums, and photogs shifting perspectives.
San Diego rap godfather, Mitchy Slick, has done a little of both on his recent "Call of Duty" mix tape. In terms of perspective, Slick stays true to his Southern California gangster roots with stories of urban survival ("Klack Back") and weed anthems ("Power").
But it's on songs like "Coulda Been You" and "Get Away" where Mitchy Slick shows some of the latter. Switching up his point of view from block soldier to offering a, rather down-to-earth, peek into what's it's like being a high profile rapper from Southeast San Diego. His strong suit has always been story telling, painting vivid pictures of turf wars, hustling and street life. But on this outing, it's his level of self-awareness that takes front and center.
"Get Away" finds Slick reflecting on the dark side of success. The side where old friends expect new handouts, trips to the mall are a no-no, and young approaching fans require split second decision-making skills. But while "Call of Duty" is an intense offering, it isn't all paranoia and over-the-shoulder glances either. "She Active" is a mid-tempo Bonnie and Clyde-type narrative about a young women who doesn't stress Slick, keeps a pistol at her side, eats good, and hits the gym -- serving as the perfect riding companion for Mitchy as he weaves through back streets dodging cop cars and the long arm of the law.
Futuristiks provide the majority of production on the mix tape, handling five out of eight songs. Where some of Slick's other work is steeped in West Coast g-funk (think "Triggeration Station" or "Yellow Tape" synth lines and squeals), Futuristiks offer a much different musical palette. Channeling the best bits of Just Blaze with hard hitting drums and large sounding samples, it's a nice fit that allows Slick to stretch and showoff his range.
With over a decade making records under his belt, this new release finds Mitchy Slick in familiar, street corner territory but it also reflects a tremendous amount of growth, both musically and in terms of content. There aren't too many successful rappers that reveal the personal trappings of success like he does here. While most are content to hide behind champagne and celebration, Mitchy does something a little different. "Call of Duty" isn't a complete reinvention or transformation -- but it is an impressive, honest outing that reveals all that glitters isn't gold. Sometimes, in fact, it's just plain old pyrite.