This year marks 8Ball & MJG’s 20th anniversary in the rap game. Knowing that, it’s kind of hard to fathom that one of the members of the revered Memphis rap duo hasn’t ever dropped a solo mixtape throughout all these years. All that changes via 8Ball’s new, Premro, his first solo mixtape. Hosted by producer Drumma Boy, Premro is titled after 8Ball’s government name, Premro Smith.
The mixtape’s opener, “Drought,” has 8Ball ferociously setting the tone, spitting, “Hard from the start, I ain’t never been no fucking lame, one of the best to do this, since the first day I touched this game/With my hand, ink pen, write down what I’m thinkin’, straight from my soul, people who get it, been where I been.” His longtime patna in rhyme, MJG, only appears on the strong, “Showed Up.” But 8Ball has plenty of good company on this mixtape, collaborating with 2 Chainz and Yung Joc on the the enthralling, “Em Down,” and Waka Flocka and Yelawolf on the hard-hitting, but stirring, “Immaculate Perception.” Styles P and Trae Tha Truth assist the protagonist on “Put That On Everythang,” while XXL Freshman Don Trip is featured on “No Pain.”
“I talk it just how I see it and since the versions never surfaced, it seems like the lack of love I get in the industry be on purpose,” 8Ball raps on “Allergic,” paving the way for solid verses from Bun B and Killer Mike. “I brush my shoulders off and keep it unique whenever I speak, somebody must like me because every album I did got leaked/Content harsh, my heart won’t let me talk soft, you niggas are radio friendly, find something else to talk about!”
Usually a mixtape collabo is as easy as a phone call, but listeners will get the authentic feel of adulation and respect from many of these featured MCs that jumped on 8Ball’s first solo mixtape effort. The Memphis vet returns the favor spitting the kind of raw, real and hard rhymes that made him and MJG rap legends. Premro might be a mixtape, but it definitely borrows the song format of an album, spelling an extra large listen.—Mark Lelinwalla