As long as he’s been a known figure in the rap sphere, Victor Vazquez has been subverting the mainstream in favor of something a little more absurdist and self-aware. On the newest joint mixtape from Vazquez’s weirdo-rap alter ego, Kool A.D., and friend and fellow West Coast export Kassa Overall, the meta becomes the mega, as inside jokes dominate the entire record. Whereas the duo’s first effort, Peaceful Solutions, featured a heavier dose of Overall’s influence, Vazquez controls the tone this time around.
Remixes fill half of Coke Boys 5’s track list, with the two taking on Young Thug’s “Stoner”, Wu Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.”, Drake’s “Started from the Bottom”, and the eternally remixable “U.O.E.N.O.”. The rest of the tape is split between two original tracks and two radio interview samples, a time filler that Kool and Kass are staking a claim to and making work consistently with their tapes. On Peaceful Solutions track “Thank You Jesus”, they used an 11-minute clip of Bizzy Bone basically losing his gourd on the radio, stretching the already thin premise to its breaking point but still keeping it tolerable by using something so far out and funny. This time around, they keep the samples more succinct but maintain the jocular tone, aiming their sights at a bizarre Xzibit conversation and a Drake interview with Hot 97’s Cipha Sound that finds the Toronto rapper drunk with delusions of grandeur and referencing his origins in a way that truly lends credence to Vazquez’s inquiry on the Wu Tang redux, “How come Drake say he ‘started from the bottom’ but, um, he really didn’t, though?”
The Amaze 88-produced “Arts and Leisure” starts off with a slick bass line and a sample of Vazquez holding a conversation with a Spanish bandleader before kicking into what will likely be the best rap song using a flute in 2014. It also utilizes what has become Vazquez’s je ne sais quoi of sorts, his willingness to recycle his old material into fresh new product, seeing as the track’s title is ripped from an album highlight off Kool A.D.’s feature on Action Bronson’s Blue Chips.
On previous efforts, Vazquez found comfort in flipping hip-hop and pop music tropes on their ears and using them for his own pleasure, like his confounding/amusing adoption of “Bieber” as his catchphrase for his series of San Francisco bus line-named mixtapes, or Das Racist’s excessive use of air horns to the point of either infuriating or delighting their listeners to no end. With Coke Boys 5, Kool & Kass take popular producer drops and beat them into the ground like a kid playing Whac-a-mole after eating half a dozen jumbo Pixie Stix. Not even “Damn son, where’d you find this?” is safe from the skewering on mixtape closer “Saucier”, a spacy joint produced by Kassa’s brother Carlos Overall that ends with the drop dueling it out with “DJ Khaled”, “Trap-a-holics”, and “Maybach Music.” The last two minutes of the mixtape are a perfect microcosm of the whole: a hallucinogenic exercise in Fair Use, the art rap equivalent to what Shia LeBeouf wishes he could achieve with his “art,” and further proof that recycling is good for us all. Now we wait to see what French Montana names his next mixtape now that his CB bloodline is severed.
Essential Tracks: “C.R.E.A.M.”, “Arts and Leisure”, and “Saucier”