Sometime last year, around the same time I first heard his stuttering foghorn bass-tones on Kitty Pryde and Riff Raff’s “Orion’s Belt,” I jumped on Twitter to say that Beautiful Lou was better than Clams Casino. This was kind of a ridiculous thing to say; the young Texan producer Beautiful Lou doesn’t quite work in Clams Casino’s cloud-rap style, though there are commonalities. Lou, from San Antonio, must’ve spent a lifetime absorbing DJ Screw psychedelia and Swisha House plastic churn, so the elemental gasping tempos that seem vaguely studied in Clams come naturally to Lou. And it’s hard to imagine Lou putting out instrumental mixtapes the way Clams has done. He makes rap beats, beats that will always sound better when people are rapping over them. They don’t hang in the air like Clams beats do; they move and thump and bleep at you restlessly. And on Mobbin’ No Sobbin’, Lou’s new tape with the Austin rapper Western Tink, he’s made something like a party-rap record; I don’t think Clams will ever do that.
“Party-rap” is too limited a term here, though; Lou’s tracks sometimes bring real beauty, and Tink brings a certain struggle-rap gravity to tracks like “Hi-Roller.” Mostly though, this is fun and breezy rap music, music intended as something to drink or smoke to. “Short Texas” sample Pimp C’s iconic “Texas, motherfucker, that’s where I stay.” “Blow My High” is readymade screwed-and-chopped. “Bounce Back” has a chorus that nods toward New Orleans bounce music, which is several worlds removed from most of what’s been called cloud-rap in the past. Throughout, Tink sounds cool and unflappable, winding his voice throughout Lou’s sonar pings and washes of bass without ever treating those tracks like they’re a big deal. Like about a million ’90s rap albums, this one fills up spaces between songs with snatches of dialog taken from forgettable movies (Blow, Rocky Balboa). Tink and Lou spent a couple of years making the tape together, but it has a carefree, unstudied sense of fun; it sounds like something a couple of friends could’ve knocked out in a weekend.
Tink is a solid presence, but Lou’s jittery and headblown beats are the real draw here. The tape’s best moment also comes from Lou, but it’s not one of the beats. On tape highlight “Short Texas,” Lou gives himself one of the only non-Tink verse on the tape. (Shady Blaze, impressive as always on “Made Man,” gets the other one.) And Tink’s rapping style is a thing of wonderful — an ambling conversational take on the slurry bounce-rap of a Juvenile or a Mouse On The Track. Listening to Lou slurring his voice all over the track, calling himself “Louie Lou” and savoring the taste of the word “motherfucker,” I mostly just wish he’d record his own completely solo tape, handling all the verses himself. If that ever happens, it’ll be great. Until it happens, this will do quite nicely.
Download Mobbin’ No Sobbin’ for free here.