April 25, 2024

Jermaine Dupri & Curren$y: “For Motivational Use Only, Vol. 1” Album Review

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Curren$y has been a mainstay in the Southern rap scene for over a decade. Covering the moody landscape of Southern rap, he’s known for his clockwork output and swaggering verses. The New Orleans-born artist has been collaborating with underground artists throughout his career. Some of his most notable collaborations have been with The Alchemist, Freddie Gibbs, and Wiz Khalifa. He remains a household name in the Southern rap scene with a fifteen-year career.

As for The Alchemist, the two released Continuance back in 2022, their third studio release as a duo. Polishing their past sound, many held that Continuance was one of the better rap projects in 2022. With For Motivational Use Only, Vol. 1, Curren$y is wisely sticking with iconic producer collaborations. This time, it’s with music legend Jermaine Dupri. The So So Def icon has produced hit records for artists such as Mariah Carey, Usher, Ludacris, Jay-Z, and LL Cool J.

Curren$y’s collaboration with Dupri has been years in the making. About teaming up with him, he said, “I had my mind made up even since the ‘Jump’ remix by Kris Kross and SuperCat that I wanted to work with him. I’d crossed paths with the legend from making moves with Lil Wayne, but it was clearly not my place to introduce myself. I had to play my part. The universe is the universe though, and it makes things right when it’s the right time.” In retrospect, it’s good to see the dedicated MC get his mainstream shine.

The EP Blends Southern R&B & Trap Styles

At its core, For Motivational Use Only, Vol. 1 is an ode to Southern rap. In an interview with Rap Radar, Dupri stated, “Part 1 is a real southern record that the south really needs.” The producer and Curren$y team up for 22 minutes of braggadocios verses and colossal beats. A true summer-time jam, the booming 808s are perfect for a warm weather drive. While much of For Motivational Use Only, Vol. 1 shoots for a trap-heavy sound on the likes of “Off the Lot,” you also have your cuts such as “Fortune 500,” which edge towards more of a lo-fi quality. Dupri showcases his ability to produce in various soundscapes, solidifying why he remains one of the most in-demand producers in hip-hop.

Curren$y spends much of the project flexing his wealth. Driving around in a fresh Cadillac, he doesn’t shy away from hyping himself up with bars such as “My diamonds are brighter than yours” or “The quarterly projections lookin’ like a straight blessing” on “Never Enough.” However, he isn’t surface-level in his description of wealth. As he puts it, it took years of hard work and suffering. He references his impoverished circumstances and his mother’s tireless work ethic throughout the record, stating, “Mama worked like a slave, that’s I work so damn hard when it come to getting paid” on “Never Enough.” His pen game is laid back yet hyper-focused from start to finish. For Motivational Use Only, Vol. 1 is a celebratory ode to where he’s currently at in life.

Curren$y Recruits Heavy Hitters

Additionally, For Motivational Use Only, Vol. 1 features fellow Southern MC counterparts 2 Chainz and T.I. They pop up on “Never Fall Off” and “Off the Lot,” two of the better cuts off of the EP. Surprisingly, it’s the first time T.I. has appeared on one of Dupri’s beats. Curren$y is one of those MCs that warrants more respect in hip-hop circles than he does in the mainstream. It explains why he’s consistently able to garner big-name features on his projects. Founding Jet Life Recordings back in 2011, he also references his wide portfolio throughout the EP.

As implied by the record title, there’s more to come from the Southern duo. In a quote from Curren$y’s Instagram, he stated, “We have a zillion songs recorded at this point, but we have selected 7 to form an EP and drop at midnight.” A successful first installment in the duo’s series, it will be exciting to see how they build on the sound of For Motivational Use Only, Vol.1 for future records. The duo hinted at a heavier feature list featuring the likes of Nas for the next volume.

In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if Volume 2 of this series grows on the grandeur soundscapes of the first volume. More time spent in the studio between the two Southern counterparts should enable them to continue to pick at the margins of their respective potentials. With Curren$y existing in the pocket of psychedelic jazz beats over the past few years, For Motivational Use Only, Vol. 1 signifies a bold departure from his usual comfort zone.

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