FEATURE: Curren$y, Money On My Mind

Rain tempers Mardi Gras celebrations along Bourbon Street, confining the debauchery inside bars and strip joints. Miles away in Metairie, LA., Sante “Curren$y” Franklin doesn’t participate in the festivities. Driving his massive, black Dodge pickup truck that engulfs his 5-foot-five-inch, freshly dressed frame — head to toe in 10 Deep clothing — he’s headed to the recording studio.

After locating a joint in one of the many Nike boxes that fill the cab of his truck, he lights it and turns on the stereo for a listen of his new album, This Ain’t No Mixtape. Fittingly, he skips to the fourth track, “Elevator Muzik.” The chorus blasts through the speakers: “This is elevator muzik, all we do is ride around and get high to it.”

Throughout the ride, he nods his head to the music in approval. “It’s like Charles Barkley’s ring,” he says of his body of work. Unlike the basketball legend who failed to win a championship, Curren$y has accomplished the one thing he’s had “hanging over [his] head” — releasing his debut album. More importantly, he’s done so on his own terms.

His pursuit of rap success is also a mission to prove his independence. “Without having to deal with any of the politics of the industry, I can do this shit myself and be on the same level as the major players,” he says confidently.

Curren$y’s earned the right to boast. Some circles go as far as labeling him “the best rapper from New Orleans.”  It’s a bold statement considering Lil Wayne, the best-selling artist of 2008, also claims the N.O. as his hometown. Yet, with his smooth but complex polysyllabic rhymes, Curren$y a.k.a. Hot Spitta proves it’s within reason.

Record labels spotted his talent early, his first deal coming with No Limit records in 2002. However, their crowded roster left little room for his album. In 2004, he joined another New Orleans-based label, Weezy’s Young Money Entertainment. After appearing on Wayne’s breakthrough, Tha Carter II,  he seemed next in line to drop an album of his own, but it never materialized due to a failed first single (“Where Da Cash At”) and the label’s focus on Wayne. And so, in December 2007, as Wayne was prepping Tha Carter III, — the triple platinum LP that would elevate him to superstar status — Curren$y left.

“You’re not gonna work at Burger King if you can go open your own and make [similar] money,” said Curren$y late last year of his decision to try the independent route. “I can make hamburgers, too, so I got my own thing.”

In March 2008, he resurfaced with a free online mixtape appropriately titled, Independence Day. Releasing tapes monthly until October, Curren$y gained national exposure — via the Internet — for the first time.

Eventually, he landed on XXL’s “Top Freshman of ‘09” December 2008 cover alongside nine other up-and-coming MCs. Among the class, five were signed to major labels at the time. By April 2008, only two remained unsigned — Cory Gunz and Curren$y.

“The music that I make is more of what people want to hear, not what they’re forced to hear,” Curren$y offers. He prefers “Elevator Muzik,” a combination of the laid back, stoner-rap vibes and synth-heavy beats tailored for booming car sound systems. “[It] emulates his persona to a tee,” says Trent Clark. “Fly, spaced-out, and carefree. That’s Curren$y all day.”

In his own words, he’s a “modern day hippie.” “I just like to be around positive vibes, good weed, and good music — to just keep easy,” he says. However, it’s the very reason he’s not cut out for the cutthroat record industry.

“I definitely know the politics of the industry aren’t for me so that’s why I keep to myself and try to handle everything on my own,” he says. Thus, he chose to release his album as a payable download through online distributor Amalgam Digital, forgoing a traditional deal.

“He isn’t willing to settle,” adds his friend Michael Brown. “Curren$y knows what he feels he is worth as an artist and is willing to take a risk on an independent and make more money. I think he knows if he sells a certain amount independent, it will get the majors paying attention and he’ll get what he feels he is worth.”

“We’re not going through the same channels as everybody else,” admits Curren$y. “A lot of people would’ve stopped running after this many hurdles. A lot of people expected me to stop. I think I proved to them that I knew that I could do it on my own and that they’re people out there really listening to me because I wouldn’t have [made an album] if I didn’t feel like there was a market.”-Devin Chanda

  • Cashkidd

    Im glad Currensy is getting some more light This Aint No Mixtape is my favorite album right now I keep it in rotation.

  • Teddy

    currensy then 50 everyone is on drakes dick with this my mixtape is not a mixtape its an album shit

    • n8

      It’s not a mixtape. That’s the point of the title, the dude’s put out countless mixtapes but finally he got an ALBUM.

    • brook

      that homo drake slept with dr. dre , lil wayne and many others to get where he is at in his life, so big ups to those who havent sold there souls for success!

  • Brandon

    currensy has a reason to do it… hes indepentdent.. 50 just does it cause he knows his non exsistant buzz is dieing out

  • YepYep

    This Aint No Mixtape is my favorite album of 2009. It definitely made me a fan of Curren$y after not really paying him much attention

  • MF BENZO

    MY NIGGA CURREN$Y DID ALL THIS SHIT ON HIS OWN..CANT NO ONE FUCK WIT HIM. AN HE IS DA BEST OUT DA N.O. HANDS DOWN. FUCK WAT THEY SAY.

  • bennn

    curren$y is keepin it real. keep on spittin out those tapes.

  • http://twitter.com/SOUPERVILLIAN SOUPERVILLIAN

    JETZ NIGGA’ WERE HAVEN’T WE BEEN YET?

  • Guccirubberduck

    Spitta is that nigga and he has been making moves but it’s koop to c my nigga gettin tht light that he deserves

  • http://www.twitter.com deeziejf89

    I’m glad he was able to bounce back after wayne. I been following him since he was with YME. I personally thought he was the best one after wayne. & then with the mixtapes dropping every month he gained an even bigger following. Im proud of hommie. He did it by his self. I just don’t want him to be one of those acclaimed underground artist that never get the big break, cuz if he made it BIG he would change shit in Hip-Hop.

  • suneet67

    I saw curren$y live in austin and i was not very impressed whatsoever; as headliner he performed a 20 minute show before bitching about how he forgot his beats. i was really pissed at that rookie acting like a premaddonna.

    That said i still think he’s in the top half of 09 hip hop class; This aint no mixtape is a fantastic album that showcases his range. ‘What Mean the World to Me’ is my personal favorite track and if he continues writing such deep lyrics no doubt will his flow carry him to the top.

  • neoninja

    I been watchin Curren$y since he started…I got all his mixtapes…paid to download his album…this nigga is tha TRUTH! I hope people stop sleepin on this brutha

  • Young Jae

    FINALLY MY NIG GETTIN THE LIGHT SHINED ON HIM I BEEN TELLIN PEOPLE THAT THIS DUDE IS THAT DUDE AND HE GOT IT THIS AINT NO MIXTAPE IS THE SHIT F.S. JET SET WHERE HAVENT WE BEEN YET

  • fireforreal

    I’m glad he left Young money and still has that drive. Yes being with lil wayne would be dope if he spent as much time promoting them as he does himself. He’s had this young money lable for 4-5 years and has yet to release anything. So why have a lable with lots or any artist’s just to hold on to them not release them than fuck the buzz up that they once had ? The only good Rapper ceo’s are Jay-z.Dr.dre and Rza. The rest spend more time just doing them instead of taking care of there lable.

  • Fireforreal

    Lil Wayne: young money est 2004
    LL cool J: Rock the bells est 2002
    Nelly: Derrty ent. Est 2003 (murphy lee released an album in 2003)
    R.kelly: rockland est 1998 (released sparkle debut 1998)
    Usher: Us records est 2004(released soundtrack to the movie in the mix)
    Nas: Ill will ent est 2000(released Q.B’s finest Comp)
    The Game: Black wallstreet est 2004(several mixtapes no albums)
    Young Buck: Cashville records est 2006
    Lil kim: Queen Bee records set 1999(Lil cease album 1999)
    Juvenile: U.T.P records est 2004

    Where are the albums at ? why even say you have a lable ? lol

  • MF DRAPE

    Formally DetroitDraper

    Damn I guess the Commission dont fuck wit Curren$y. I do though his music is good..it has that laid back blowin while im drivin literally feel lol.

  • DetroitDraper

    Damn I guess the Commission dont fuck wit Curren$y. I do though his music is good..it has that laid back blowin while im drivin literally feel lol.

  • james dean

    the folks over at nahright…(ESKAY) did say he was the best rapper from the N.O……that has got to tel you something……to many are still sleepin on him

  • http://bustedquad.com/forums young pt

    spitta not only the best in the NO, he’s the freshest breath of air in the whole game right now. someone needs to sign him, pharrell where you at?? this dude would go platinum with neptunes

  • Ez

    This dude is a problem!!! for real

  • amsterdam

    AMSTERDAM NEEDS THE JETS

  • freakzilla504

    That boy is the truth, fuck Drake!!

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  • El Tejano

    Freakzilla is right, FUCK DRAKE!!! He is a swagger jacking man-diva! The problem with Kanye is that he set the standard for these type of cats. To his credit though, he HE HAS changed music, but didn’t become so incredibly arrogant till after he put in the work. You think Jigga would have given him any shine if he would have seen him throw one of his little “mantrums”? Hells-to-the-nah, he would have have told Dame,”Get this fruit outta here, but tell him to leave the beat-tape.” Drake’s delivery, flow and fake-swag, all scream,”I’m all on Yezzy’s balls!” Even down to the way that Kanye flails around when he’s performing (Jesus Walks anybody?)like a rythm-less preacher at a sermon. His mixtape “So Far Gone” should have been titled “808′s and HeartDrake”, cuz that’s exactly what it sounded like. There was nothing new or innovative about that mixtape, it was all Kanye, down to the auto-coon, I mean auto-tune. LOL!!! Then this cat has the audacity to say shit like,”Girls will buy my album for the picture, guys will buy it and say it’s for their sister.” GET THE FUCK OUTTA HERE! XXL’s next month’s “Negro Please” column should be completely dedicated to the dumb shit that comes out of this ignorant fuck’s mouth! Besides the aforementioned statement, another thing that is funny is this “supposed” bidding war for him. Look, if your “connections” to Kanye can’t get you on G.O.O.D. Music, or your relationship with Jay-Z can’t get you on the Roc, then there really isn’t no bidding war. In hard economic times like these, NO ONE is selling. So for him to say that he turned down $2 million dollars, he’s out of his motherfucking mind. Plus, it’s not always about the short-term big score. Look at 50, he ONLY took a million dollar signing bonus, but he snatched the moment and the opportunity to allign himself with Em and Dre, to become this 3-headed monster. And that, ladies and genlemen, is how he was able to capitalize on opportunities to make HUGE money, away from music. Cats like Drake are taking shine from true talent like Curren$y! Where is his deal? Because “This Ain’t A Mixtape” easily blew the doors off of Drake’s shit. Anybody that doesn’t have it, needs to do themselves a favor and cop that shit, IMMEDIATELY! Which brings me to my next question, is Lil’ Wayne ever going to be a credible label exec? Cuz if he was dumb enough to not jump off Curren$y’s career, then any artist signed to Young Money, better believe that there isn’t much hope for their career under his guidance. Thank you guys at XXL for spotlighting Curren$y on-line, but can we get a feature article in the mag, with true artists such as Hot-Spitta, or The cool Kids? PLEASE do so, cuz I see someone in your rear-view mirror that seems to be trying to make a comeback for the title of #1 hip-hop mag, The Sauce.

  • Rahim

    Hi Hot Spitter,I been waitin’ for your shit since I ever heared your first verse.For We all got u.
    I’m writing straight from Cameroon,Africa.
    Peace

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