Friday, November 17, 2017

LIFESTYL, "Deep In the Game" (1997)

Deep In the Game is the first of three LPs from the Galveston-based duo Lifestyl. Cousins Tommy G. and Pancho Villa, along with producer Jay Da Sinista, bring thirteen tracks of raw Latino gangster grape. That I was able to write about nine of them is a minor miracle.

The cover of Deep In the Game is a contrast between wild riches and wild poverty. The rapper's faces--well, half of each rapper's face--are pushed to the sides, allowing us to view a busy overpass and a body of water which is either composed of large $100 bills, or in which large $100 bills are floating. I would have loved to have seen some diving gear, maybe a boat, something to suggest the entrepreneurial spirit of these two young men.

Lifestyl broke up after the cousins were sent to prison on drug trafficking charges. (As far as I know, both men are now free--in fact, one is currently the CEO of Salty Water Records, the label that released Lifestyl's music.) So you can't tell me they weren't about that submergence life.

"Cutthroat Island"--'Cause they sure as fuck weren't about that art life. I don't know which rapper is which--not racist, although Latinos saying the n-word might be--but the first guy at least plays with his flow a bit, and I appreciate that. Otherwise, it's sinister keys and empty threats.

Tommy and Pancho trade lines for verse three. Styles and Jada, they ain't. Kid and Play, they ain't.

"Tragedies"--Starkly animalistic. Shrouded in paranoia. Boring as hell.

"The Feeling"--Lifestyl made an album just to make an album. Their aesthetic is more in tune with the West Coast than any Southern style of hip-hop, and their mimicry is subpar.

"O Baby"--Take the missing letter from the group's name and the missing letter from this song, and you have my opinion.

"Confianza"--I'd rather eat the cardboard box this album was recorded inside than keep listening.

"Killas & $ Billas"--The 379th song (at the time) to sample "Shook Ones, Pt. 2)." Lifestyl probably fancied themselves the Latin Mobb Deep, and I wish someone had recorded those smoky in-studio pep talks.

"Deep In the Game"--Never be afraid to be great.

"Haters"--Fantasy Land gonna hate on Chutes N Ladders.

"So Many Ways To Die"--Add "waiting for this album to get good" to that list. Those drums make Swizz Beatz sound like J Dilla.



Four more songs follow: "Smoked Out," "Fast Eddie," "Roll 'Em Up," and "Pop Pop Pop." I hate to tap out, but I hate uninspiring music even more. Nothing about Lifestyl wants me to keep listening. No personality, no cleverness, no insight into their shared situation.

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