Over the past two years, Taylor Gang’s Chevy Woods has gradually built up his name with mixtapes like Red Cup Music and The Cook Out. Progressing with each release, Wiz’s budding sidekick has shown he can hang high without resting on the back of his co-pilot. On his latest offering, Gang Land, Chevy flies high and gives the world an in depth look into his life as a Taylor Gang aviator.

Much of the tape focuses on living the TG lifestyle: rolling and blowing large amounts of expendable greenery; purchasing three 'Raris instead of one; and of course, bragging rights. The irresistible head-jerker “Home Run” finds Chevy and Wiz playfully describing the way they live, while on the refreshingly smooth and soulful “Vice,” featuring Juicy J and Wiz, Juice and Chevy crack short jokes on the short money of their haters.

With the exemplary cuts “Shine” and “Ace N Mitch,” however, Chevy justifies his nonchalant, “I could give a fuck attitude,” by describing his self-made journey as a Taylor Gang hustler. What can be appreciated about Gang Land, in comparison to its predecessors, is that Chevy offers a more insightful and introspective side than he has before. On songs like “Circumstances” and “Be Real,” the Pittsburgh rappers gives listeners a panoramic view into the degenerative ways of he and his closest friends and the forces that drove their behavior. The unforgivably brief, but powerful “Still Survivin,” featuring Nikkya, describes what happens when money hungry youngsters are looking to alleviate their hunger pains. Here, Chevy delivers perhaps his strongest verse on Gang Land, as he gives his keen observations with lyrics like, “And that’s how it goes where a nigga from/Before they can read a book, they can shoot a gun/Think about it, that’s damn near 1.5/Grams going for the fifty just to get them by.”

While records like “Still Survivin” are a mark of Chevy’s growth, he does recede into complacency by shelling cliché-ridden tracks that reek of his affluent cologne. None show this more than “Cah” and “Hop Out,” which both feature Juicy J and Soulja Boy. The punch drunk cut “12 Rounds” ultimately fails due to a lackluster beat and lightweight punchlines. It’s because of these records and a few other extra pedestrian tracks that prevent Gang Land from being a truly remarkable project.

Production from Cardo, Slegren, ID Labs, Ritz Reynolds, Harry Fraud, Lex Luger, Sonny Digital, Key Wayne and more make the production palate immaculate throughout. The beats are well strung together without sounding repetitive, and the beatsmiths ensure that this tape becomes essential vibe out music.

The main thing that holds Gang Land back is its length, which by a few tracks (there are 23 total that clock in at nearly an hour and a half), and it could have benefitted from some trimming. Even so, Chevy is steadily proving that he’s much more than Wiz’s weed-carrying co-pilot and an artist in his own right, eager to soar above the clouds, as well. —Robert Baker