It’s been almost 10 years since Curren$y rapped alongside Lil Wayne and Remy Martin on his single, “Where The Cash At.” It wasn’t a huge hit, only receiving moderate radio play, but I remember it for being the first time Curren$y stepped into the forefront, he wasn’t just another feature verse, this was his song, this was his moment.
Back in 2006, Young Money was still in the early stages of its industry domination. Before Drake was singing on every hook, before Nicki was the world’s favorite Barbie and before Wayne achieved any real success, Curren$y was there. He was the hot spitter. Back then I considered him a good rapper that delivered good verses but I never foresaw the hot spitter catching fire, especially after “Where The Cash At” came and went. His star didn’t shine bright enough, especially since he was rapping with Wayne, he was a human in the company of a Martian, he was like Krillin fighting alongside Goku, the difference in strength was too large.
That’s why I was surprised when he left Young Money. Even if his solo career wouldn’t be the biggest, he was on the ground floor of a growing empire. Wayne was destined to be a giant in the industry. Instead of standing alongside his shoulders and marching to the promised land, Curren$y gambled on himself.
After Curren$y departed, Young Money started to develop into a powerhouse, the label would go on to birth three of rap’s biggest superstars of my generation, the trifecta is a huge example of success: rich in wealth, millions of albums sold, trophies, plaques and almost every rap accolade imaginable. Despite the dark history of Birdman’s thievery and an extended roster full of artists that couldn’t break out of a cereal box, the label went a distance that was hard to predict when it was just Wayne, Mack Maine, Gudda Gudda, and Curren$y. While his former label relished in the limelight, some assumed that Curren$y was done for, I’ll admit, I believed the odds were against him.
Sometimes it takes impossible circumstances to bring out the best in an artist. Spitta went underground, separated from Wayne, disconnected from the label, he was without a crutch, with no one to lean on it forced him to walk and eventually lead him to fly higher than the clouds. His star started to shine brighter than ever before. His story is one of rebirth, perseverance and accepting that the easiest route isn’t always the most rewarding. By changing his course from the majors to the underground, Curren$y risked his music not being played on the radio like Fetty Wap, risked his album not selling like Drake and don’t hold your breath awaiting the GRAMMY’s to present him with a Gramophone award. Despite sacrificing these achievements, Curren$y is silently one of the most successful artists of today. In the underground, he found a goldmine.
During his press run for his latest album, Canal Street Confidential, Curren$y has been very open about his past, all the way back when he was signed to No Limit Records in 2002. Going from No Limit to Cash Money, both situations had one thing in common, Curren$y was making music that reflected the people he was surrounded by. Independence allowed him to find himself, embracing his interests and turning a lifestyle into a rap career. Good weed and Jordan sneakers, '90s sitcoms and lowriders, getting fly and getting fly women, great production and a relaxed stoner flow, and when Curren$y found himself he also found his fanbase. He rose from the ashes and he took Wayne’s flood tactic, developed a brand that people could connect with, and created music that brought the brand to life.
Starting with the 2008 Independence Day mixtape through today, he has cultivated an audience of Jet Lifers that are truly dedicated like a cult of stoners. A large part of his success has been due to his consistency. The lazy stoner stereotype isn’t fitting for Spitta, he releases music like it was speed not weed that he had a fondness for. Most of his releases have been free, he used the blogs as the middlemen to the people. Blogs were beginning to be major in breaking new artists, believing in the internet and not pushing toward radio made a huge difference in helping him break into new terrain.
If you heard his interview on The Breakfast Club, Spitta speaks on how free music is instrumental in his strategy. It’s a two-step method, give away the music for free and collect your money from touring. From Vince Staples to Chance The Rapper more and more artists are embracing this mentality. The money isn’t in the album sales, but how many seats you can fill across the nation. The reason why Curren$y stays on the road and fans continue to see him despite his high volume of shows is that he has an immense catalog of music to perform. With every new project, it's new material for people to see live. It’s incredible to see how his output changed in comparison to the years that he worked under Young Money’s umbrella. He only released one mixtape during his short time there, he was active but as an artist on the label and not a solo act. It was a very slow, persistent, building that allowed Curren$y to turn his lifestyle into a profitable means of living. He admitted how when he and Wiz recorded their classic How Fly, both artists were dealing with empty pockets and growling stomachs. It’s interesting that you can look at the two now, how different their paths are and yet they both have achieved a level of success that they dreamed of.
While Wiz is in a class of rappers that are Forbes rich and TMZ famous, Curren$y is in a rarer class of rapper that has acquired a unique level of fame and wealth. Rappers with niche followings exist in their very own universe, they're like Superheroes that are larger than life but only within their world. Outside of that universe, they aren’t as known. Batman can't enter Metropolis and expect to be a bigger hero than Superman. Curren$y isn’t going to be hounded by TMZ reporters or be forced to join a reality show because he’s struggling to stay afloat. He understands the formula that allowed him success, he operates within this market and doesn't force crossing over. You see the same kind of careers in Yo Gotti and E-40, two rappers that haven’t been in the national spotlight for some years but are incredibly active. They cater to the fans, the people that still come to see them at shows, that buy their merch, that watch all their videos, that hang out during their club appearances and they are able to enjoy the fruits that come with this cycle of laboring.
It’s possible that Curren$y is one hit away, that the right opportunity will present itself and he’ll be able to enter into that next class, but I don’t think he is fueled by the same ambition that causes some artist to desire recognition. I can’t remember a rant where he complained about being overlooked or attempting to appease people that don’t exist within the Jet Life universe. A true stoner that could probably be happy with good weed, a good woman, and good weather. He has built a throne and empire for himself in the underground, he is the silent king that demands nothing and embracing whatever he receives. It’s incredible to watch his success knowing there was a time where things didn’t seem so promising, he truly worked to reach this plateau and no one can take that from him.
Honestly, the niche successful rapper seems to be the ideal life. You make music, you tour, sell some merch, and do it all again while enjoying your life in-between. Spitta is probably one of the most successful and happy rappers in the game. It hasn't been the smoothest career, I'm sure his jet has experienced some serious turbulence, but he is currently soaring. It seems so simple, maybe it is, or maybe Curren$y just makes it look so easy.
By Yoh, aka Middle Class Yoh aka @Yoh31.