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Mixtape Review: GrandeMarshall, Mugga Man

In the past few years, Fool’s Gold Records has emerged as one of the premier independent labels for breaking critically acclaimed underground hip-hop acts and helping them transition into commercially viable talents (see Kid Cudi and more recently Danny Brown.) By the sound of Mugga Man, the label may have “struck gold” again with 19-year-old Philadelphia upstart GrandeMarshall.

Mugga Man, a 21-track- follow up to GrandeMarshall’s 2012 debut 800, is a release of minimal features and a small group of talented, trusted beat makers. With a calm and confident deamanor, GrandeMarshall gravitates over this tape’s consistently soulful and cinematic production. There are long winding and methodically delivered verses that range from honest and vulnerable to those showcasing Marshall’s own brazen and endearing brand of smooth, slick-talking bravado. The latter is best demonstrated on a trio of records, “Superleggera” “Full Court Press” and “Head to Feet,” which all share a common feeling that conjures up vague but palpable reminders of golden era shit-talking Beanie Sigel and State Property Philly rap.

On the whole though, Marshall’s style will likely remind of the smoked-out, detailed, lifestyle rap that’s been championed by the likes of present day Curren$y and 2009 Wiz Khalifa. But that’s somewhat of a general and lazy grouping. Besides a mellow delivery and mutual love for smoking weed, Marshall and Spitta don’t really have much in common and Marshall’s sound is still a distinct one that refrains from becoming boring at any point throughout the tape’s 21-tracks. There are songs that highlight Marshall’s reference-heavy POV, retellings of hustlings and growing up in his hometown of North Philly and then there are songs like “PMS”, by far the tape’s most aggressive, which serve as a nod to trap music.

However lengthy, (Marshall may have benefited by spreading this out over two 10/11-track releases) Mugga Man is an exceedingly impressive effort from an artist who’s proving that he’s right up there with some of today’s blossoming youngsters to look out for. It would be easy to relegate Mugga Man as a mixtape meant to set the mood for this past weekend’s 4/20 holiday, and that wouldn’t be false. But it’s also one of the better, more complete rookie-driven releases to come out this year.—@WavyDaveWilliam