Cleveland, Ohio’s Chip Tha Ripper has been quietly carving a niche for himself in hip-hop in recent years. From touring with Kid Cudi to memorable mixtapes like The Cleveland Show, he has steadily been building a following. With the release of his latest mixtape, Tell Ya Friends, already boasting impressive download numbers in the week since its release, the laid back rhymer inches closer to becoming a household name.

Throughout Tell Ya Friends, many of the topics are expected (women, weed), but a combination of catchy beats and hooks elevate the release from being a quick throwaway. Songs like “Passin Out Money” and “Pocket Full” would easily be avoidable if left to another artist’s creation, but Chip chisels them into memorable moments that hold up beyond the first spin. Other cuts like “Boomshakalaka” featuring Bun-B and “Stay Sleep” featuring Krayzie Bone benefit from Chip’s ability to pair up with legends and still have the songs come across as his own. Sometimes younger MCs cater their music to the guests that they're with, but the Cleveland native remains his own and his guests blend in perfectly.

There are still some drawbacks to the mixtape. The majority of the beats on the 22 tracks are down tempo, and could be passed over by a listener unfamiliar with the catchiness that is embedded within the songs as they build. With a greater variety and more up-tempo beats, it would be nearly impossible to not listen to Tell Ya Friends from start to finish. Plus, the nearly two dozen songs prove to make the tape a bit too lengthy.

With Tell Ya Friends, Chip Tha Ripper is inching closer to being part of rap's mainstream. From a flow akin to pouring maple syrup, to catchy hooks that rival most of the songs dominating the pop charts today, Chip has the talent to get to where he dreams of being. If he can vary his production a little more and jump on some more up-tempo tracks, he'll continue to grow. —Matt Wright