Curren$y is a curious paradox. His voracious appetite for new collaborators suggests a creative restlessness, but his dogged commitment to a single, chilled-out aesthetic betrays a resistance to change. The weed-mellowed Louisiana rapper has released a staggering eight albums in just a little over three years, and most of them have followed the same formula: Curren$y hunkers down with a single producer, or very small circle of producers, and mines them for the smoothest grooves they’ve got. Since Curren$y didn’t veer from his usual lane on last year’s Weekend At Burnie’s, it seemed as if he never might, but his follow-up for Warner Bros. is a genuine shakeup. The Stoned Immaculate pairs the rapper with a revolving door of 10 producers (13 in the deluxe version), including Hot 100 regulars like The Neptunes and J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League. As the album-opening verse from underground expat turned Maybach Music Group chart-conqueror Wale makes clear, this is Curren$y’s pop grab.
The Stoned Immaculate tests the theory that there’s no producer Curren$y can’t tune to his wavelength. Even with so many different hands at work, it’s an impressively cohesive listen, with the same laid-back and leisurely vibe that characterizes all of the rapper’s releases. The difference is that, where choruses have typically been an afterthought for Curren$y, taking a backseat to his slow-reveal verses when he bothered to include them at all, they now carry his songs as never before. The stronger hooks prove welcome additions. Marsha Ambrosius and Estelle take center stage on “Take You There” and “That’s The Thing,” respectively, and their posh voices smartly complement Curren$y’s ’70s luxury-life fantasies. Only Pharrell’s oddly Auto-Tuned moan on “Chasin Paper” breaks the mood. Much better is the tag-teamed chorus from Curren$y’s Jet Life protégés Young Roddy and Trademark Da Skydiver on the intoxicating hustle anthem “Armoire.”
On their own recent crossover albums, guests Wale and Wiz Khalifa sometimes used pop polish as an excuse to phone in their performances, but Curren$y remains sharp throughout The Stoned Immaculate. The punchier production has done nothing to rush his unhurried verses. “I chase that money down like it say something about my momma,” he rhymes on “No Squares,” “I chase that money down like I think it took my wallet / I chase that money down like it key-scratched my Impala / I chase that money down, pile it up, and climb on top it.” On “Showroom” he relishes a first-class flight with typical attention to detail: “I’m Words With Friends whole time / in-flight wireless / email full of condo prices / marble or granite / kitchen islands / home stylings.” Over eight albums he’s covered all of these themes exhaustively, but Curren$y has such tight control over both his deceptively casual flow and his overall artistic vision that it’s still an absolute pleasure to hear him work his zone.