The state of Gangsta rap has recently been under a lot of scrutiny but maybe that’s the lack of aggressive content. Since dropping their critically acclaimed Don’t Feed Da Killas series, Chicago duo L.E.P. Bogus Boys has been supplying speakers with enough morbid street tales to go up against a Donald Goines novel. Fresh from their successful DJ Drama hosted Don’t Feed Da Killas Vol. 3 last year, Moonie and Count return with another dosage of quality street music on their latest mixtape, Now Or Neva.
Hosted by DJ Green Lantern, the project opens up with a chilling news report before quickly transitioning into the menacing, “Amerikkas Most Wanted.” “I don’t give a fuck, nigga I don’t give a fuck/Could have a burner on his waist, I’ll still stick him up,” snarls Count who goes in for the kill on the opener. ”Could be a 20 year nigga, I’ll still cock it back/Could be begging for his life, I’ll still pop his ass.” Moonie finishes the job sneering, “Last night I wrote a letter to the government/And it read you don’t know who you fucking with…Whole hood saying a nigga too sheisty, bad thing about is there’s a million just like me…”
The cold-heartedness continues on the trembling block anthem, “25th Hour.” The eerie J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League production allow perfect legroom for the duo to display their hunger for more by any means necessary. “I aint slept in four days, I aint took no showers, Cause out here being broke is for cowards…I rather push weight than be pushin’ up flowers.” Much is presented on the stellar “Rush Hour” again featuring brooding production by J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League. The Meek Mill collaboration showcases a fluid chemistry between the trio.
From the brash boasting, “White House” to the bass-nodding “Claim My Shit”—here Moonie and Count bully the fugazi-inspired studio gangsters— and the fiery street sweeper “Baghdad,” the Bogus Boys stick to the script wielding their supply of raw, vivid, and edgy street tales into a gritty yet impressive body of work. Among the 19 tracks, one of the weakest is found on the lighthearted after club, “I Just Wanna,” which features Shawna and the Boys laying their sexcapades on wax. Although not a bad listen, the semi-bubbly track shifts the tape from its dark, baleful mood.
Despite all the guts and glory raps don’t think for one bit that’s all the duo is capable of. Amidst the crime-wave anthems, Now Or Neva is nonetheless a narrative of the Bogus Boys’ struggle at overcoming the odds given to them growing up in the blood-soaked streets on lower end of Southside Chicago.
One of the many highlights is found on the somber “Closer,” that finds Moonie and Count recounting their stress-drenched days while pouring out emotions. “I need a shrink I’m on the brink of insanity/I don’t think its safe to go around my own family/They think I’m crazy, that’s what the streets made me/My mind going flatline now you can’t save me.”
Overall, DJ Green Lantern and L.E.P.’s Now Or Neva is more appetizing than redundant, a street album filled with more wins than duds. Who said gangsta rap was dead? —Ralph Bristout (@RalphieBlackmon)