Bed-Stuy rapper Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire slings satirical lyrics laced with gangsta rap machismo and a touch of humor akin to Ol’ Dirty, Eazy-E and fellow contemporary Brooklyn rapper/sometimes collaborator, Ease DaMan. While listing Four Loko, Mega Man X2, Vanilla Ice (in TMNT 2 and Cool As Ice), and St. Ides as his influences on his Facebook page, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn he reads Dostoyevsky and plays a little violin on the side, too.
Just a year ago eXquire’s video for “Huzzah” went viral and he became an Internet sensation. The song appeared on his free mix tape Lost in Translation, released in September 2011, with a remix, “The Last Huzzah,” featuring well-known underground rappers El-P, Danny Brown, Despot and Das Racist.
During a panel at SXSW last March called “The Importance of Online Video & Social Media” eXquire announced he had been signed to Universal Republic. And on November 6th came his major label debut.
The EP, called Power & Passion, kicks off with a rhyme about red wine, steamed fish and the diet that’s changed his life. Whatever that diet is,(Georgi and cranberry and whatever the fuck they’re cooking in the “Huzzah” video?) it’s worked. The song “Cari Zalloni” begins with finger snaps and chanting while eXquire rhymes about making his way up the ladder and getting out of the projects. Once he’s out a beat kicks in and he’s wearing Cari Zallonis on his face.
Later he tells a bit about his secret to success during a little spoken word: “Stop standing on the corner wasting your time and being a fuckin target… All or nothing I ain’t doing no onions!” eXquire wastes no time, if you want something, get it. If you want to be a rapper be a rapper, write rhymes, do the work, make it happen. No doing stupid shit and going to jail. Pretty simple. Ever see Goodfellas?
The EP is made up of five songs, and a spoken word bit, all with stripped down production that sets it aside from other major label rap releases. eXquire raps about real life and seems like he’s gonna keep it that way, as he implied in an interview with Vice. (Scroll down to the question that starts “Over the last year and some change…”) He’s funny and clever. He doesn’t need to pretend he drinks Ciroc and gets chauffeured around in a limo with 5 models to crossover into the mainstream, even if that’s what he’s going to be doing soon.
There’s also a certain darkness in the production that’s a nice contrast to his rhymes about sandwiches, Alex from A Clockwork Orange, his Tupac hat, and “Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty if you ain’t watch wrestling, you ain’t get that.” His balance between humor and seriousness is perfected here and his skills are pretty much impeccable. Gucci Mane appears on “Telephuck” and spits a bit about Hamburger Helper. Also El-P and Harry Fraud take turns on some producing.
The one downfall of this EP (and a lot of Mr. eXquire’s music) is when he is degrading women or being homophobic. There are so many differences that set eXquire apart from other rappers–but this definitely is not one of them. I don’t know if it’s to maintain some sort of cred or what, but I hope he moves forward and purges it from his music. It’s easy to continue the trend of calling people fags and objectifying women, but it’s not easy to make original music and be yourself. eXquire is definitely unique, talented, and smart–let’s hope he cuts the bullshit.
“The Message Pt. 1 & 2” ends the EP and kicks in sounding like it may be an old-school hip-hop sequel to Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message.” On one of the catchiest tracks on the album, he tells off the media and industry bigwigs who don’t get him at all. He even speaks to Obama: “Sorry Mister President, I’m living with a death wish, all these cracker ass bloggers try to downplay my intelligence. Fuck em.”