Fiend is living proof that you can age gracefully in hip-hop. The New Orleans rapper came up with Master P’s No Limit Records in the late 1990s, but dropped off the radar once the NL tank ran out of steam. He reemerged last year as a member of fellow N.O. native Curren$y’s JETS crew, with a considerably smoother style than before.
On Life Behind Limo Glass, Fiend’s previously trademark “WHOMP WHOMP” shouts and gangsta talk are gone, replaced by a laid-back flow that fully utilizes the spitter’s Barry White baritone. Curren$y’s lifestyle music is an obvious influence but Fiend, rechristened International Jones, brings an added gravitas to his rhymes. His raps about business class flights, fine weed and dime pieces float gracefully over beats smoother than Stacey Dash’s skin. The woozy horns on “Made In America” set off a perfect pairing with Strong Arm Steady, and his reunion with Mia X on “Feels So Good” is Skinemax-worthy, backed by a killer Harold Melvin loop. “Street Knowledge” sums up the tape’s appeal in just over two minutes, as Fiend drops gems and a few nostalgic “WHOMP”s over percolating Afrobeat.
The tape’s rhymes won’t jam your rewind button, but between Fiend’s unforced delivery and the project’s lush production, Life Behind Limo Glass can be a soundtrack for long, lazy summer days. —Aaron Matthews