Since XXL premiered Big Baby Gandhi’s new EP earlier this week, everyone on the Internet’s been cyber-yelling that Gandhi’s — who famously quit rap in January to go back to school and get his degree — back. But, to be clear, the Queens-bred Bangladeshi rhymer is not back, he just put out a new project (which is only new because it’s new to listeners). With that said, his “new” EP with producer Yuri Beats is really, really good.
What made Gandhi great when he came out with a quick 1-2 punch of mixtapes in 2012 was his raw energy, unique voice and affinity for weird beats (think Danny Brown if he’d grown up on Wu-Tang). With the five-track America Eats Its Babies, he perfects that formula, only this time sticking with a sole producer in Yuri Beats, who sounds like a direct descendant of Statik Selektah and Alchemist, with some hints of weirdness like his contemporary Steel Tipped Dove.
What makes Gandhi’s story so interesting, is the fact that so many kids who grew up on hip-hop wish they could rap, but when they figure out they can’t they settle on reasonable career choices. Meanwhile, BBG can rap really, really well, but he’s preemptively chosen to leave rap behind for a reasonable career choice. Power to him, but listening to this mixtape just feels like watching Batman take a nap while the Joker burns all of Gotham’s hospitals down to the ground.
“Mr. 718,” which sounds like classic Gandhi, is definitely the album’s high point. On it, you can tell this isn’t the Gandhi who has a budding new career and goals. This is a younger Gandhi, who effortlessly and existentially rhymes, “Late at night, head out to grab a Sprite/Mix it with the OE, I don’t have a life.” According to Yuri Beats, America is a collection of stories from different characters, but on “718″ it’s hard to tell if BBG is playing himself or an over-the-top gritty New Yorker. And after a few listens, you realize that it doesn’t really matter.—Dan Buyanovsky