There’s a reason fans flock to a cardboard cutout of 03 Greedo with such devotion in his recent “Trap House” music video. He is a vanguard of Los Angeles hip-hop, and the inventor of creep music. He draws on sensibilities of the blues and trap to steal our hearts and makes some of the most inventive pain music in the city.
Despite his physical absence due to a 20-year jail sentence, Greedo’s presence in LA has not dissipated. Late last year, he was rapping next to Freddie Gibbs in the “Death Row” music video; earlier this year, he was cruising through the city in a drop-top with Buddy in “Cubicle.” Hardly has a month gone by without a new verse, video, or hook being released from the vault, keeping calls of “Free Greedo” ringing through the city.
Which side of 03 Greedo will appear on his newly-released collaborative album with Mustard, Still Summer in the Projects? At only 11 songs, the project is sure to breeze through my speakers in a flash compared to his previous albums God Level and Wolf of Grape Street, which clocked in at 27 and 21 songs, respectively.
As eccentric as Greedo is, will the most unique voice in LA be able to fit everything he’s grown accustomed to including on an album into only 37 minutes?
In usual 1-Listen fashion, the rules are the same: no skipping, no fast-forwarding, no rewinding, and no stopping. Each song will receive my gut reaction from start to finish.
1. “10 Purple Summers”
Let’s get to it. This soundscape is so warm, I’m smiling already. Greedo sounds so bright over this beat, he and Mustard are a match made in Heaven. They’re bursting into the spotlight. I’m from California so I don’t know what winter feels like, but this seems like the first song you’d play on that anxiously anticipated day when warmer weather has finally arrived. The bounce is so infectious. He’s giving life to the people in his hood now. Man, I can’t get over this hook. I’d be running this one back already if there were no rules in place. This feels like excellence, I suddenly don’t have a care in the world. Fantastic start, will be in rotation all summer.
2. “Bet I Walk”
It’s much darker now, that was a fast switch up. These keys! I feel like I’m tiptoeing through a haunted house. These beats are so rich, I want spend the night peeling these layers back. Ha, I love that P. Diddy line. The bounce is strong and this bass is pounding. These are rich man raps. "Free 03, free 03, they keep saying." He’s talking his shit now, he’s his own hype man. "Niggas hating on the king of the West Coast, I’m more than that." The confidence in his boasts is moving me, I’m poking my chest out.
3. “Twisting The Lens”
Hmm, this is my least favorite hook—so far. The first two hooks were overflowing with energy, but here, he's more restrained and empty. This is the clearest his voice has sounded. Okay, he’s hitting his stride with these melodies. Greedo has such an uncanny knack for uncovering new textures in his voice. The first verse was catchier than the hook, I don’t quite know how to feel about that. "Twisting the lens like my camera, that means I stay focused." A little corny, but I’m a fan. More punchlines, please. The first two songs set a towering bar, this one didn’t quite match up.
4. “Trap House” ft. Shoreline Mafia
Ahhh. Here we go, he hooked me back instantly. I don’t know anyone else whose voice is so mournful yet so soothing at the same time. Rob Vicious just entered, he sounds husky compared to Greedo. Love the dynamic, they complement each other beautifully. Greedo’s hook shines so brightly, this is PCH-cruising music. Ohgeesy! I like Shoreline here, but every time one of them raps I’m just waiting for Greedo to reenter. His voice slides so perfectly over that synth, it’s LA at it’s finest. Love the outro, it winds down beautifully.
Oooh, this is different. This is either about to be a love song or an outpouring of his inner demons. Lawd, his crooning is so distressed. Greedo packs so much emotion into his singing; it doesn’t even feel like he’s singing, his voice is just another instrument blending into the scene. This singing almost feels emo, it’s reminiscent of something Lil Peep might have done. Man, the production on this album is blowing me away; Mustard came correct for Greedo. Those jumbo-sized Crayola boxes wish they had this much color.
6. “Gettin’ Ready”
I can’t believe this album is already halfway over. Ten to 12 tracks has always been the sweet spot for ideal album length, but this could go for at least 20 and I wouldn’t be complaining. Dreary production, but the drums help to keep the record going; he’s soundtracking a girl getting ready for a night out, "I bet she play this song when she putting on her clothes." The storytelling is so vivid. I don’t even know this girl, but I want nothing but the best for her. The tempo slowed a bit, but I’m here for it.
7. “Change Your Mind”
This melody is interesting. Mustard has been a wizard so far, I can’t picture anyone but Greedo on this beat. This feels like one long ad-lib. There haven’t been too many bars on this album that have truly hooked me; his singing has been better than his rapping so far. These keys are so icy, I now understand why he’s wearing the fur coat on the cover. "If you ever change your mind, bitch use your brain." He’s stretching the first half of that bar into eternity; you can tell he wanted this line to stick. You’re looking for a rapper who knows how to use tricks, 03 Greedo knows.
8. “In The Morning”
Okay, this feels like a spark plug. Excited for what’s coming next. This build-up is giving me life. Hmm, I thought that would drop a harder but I like where this is going. They seem to be veering toward a laid-back vibe, especially with this recent stretch of songs. These keys are so majestic, I feel like I’m strutting through my castle in a royal robe. I can’t say enough about Greedo’s singing. Will certainly be returning to this one when I'm allowed.
9. “Wasted” ft. YG
These violins are just so angry, my mean mug is in full effect. DAMN! The drums just kicked in with more force than an MMA fighter. I wish opportunity knocked as hard as this beat. This is Greedo’s best rapping. I hear YG coming. 4 HUNNID! He knows what to do here. His delivery is so exciting. "These ain’t off brand, lil mami these prada-da-daaaas." He accentuates that line so well at the perfect time, this is a veteran verse. Solid.
10. “Grapevine” ft. Trilliano
"Heard it through the grapevine, you’re trying to disrespect me." Ooh, he’s coming with a vengeance. I’m a fan so far. "Cause I got the cash money, I’m the ‘03 Juvie." HA! Best punchline I’ve heard on the album. I love this verse. I don’t think my head has stopped bobbing. These beats are bouncing out of the STAPLES Center. Trilliano’s here, I can hardly tell if these are inflections or voice cracks. He’s adding so much energy, though. I wish his verse was longer. This one is among my favorites, will be adding to my playlists shortly.
Oh, the guitars. Greedo! "Hope I make it out of this prison, I’ll be coming back with a vengeance." Man, this is such a sharp switch up. I’m here for it. This is tender, endearing. Greedo just snatched my soul, and I don’t want it back. It’s better off with him. He’s always been soulful, but he’s tapping into another element. This instrumental break is a nice touch, they’re pushing the emotion hard here. Collect call incoming? I’m ready for the tears. He’s talking from jail now, oh boy. They need to free this man. This is a beautiful addition, it just made the tape that much more real. A 10 out of 10 ending.
Final (First Listen) Thoughts on Still Summer In The Projects:
I came for 03 Greedo, but I stayed for Mustard. The arrangements on Still Summer In The Projects are so intricately woven that each song builds upon itself to take on a life of its own. The beats are at their best when at their most colorful, drawing out feelings of warmth with a brightness that could make the gloomiest day in February feel like the peak of summer.
Greedo was certainly no slouch above the album's impeccable production, though. His singing feels entirely effortless as if he simply walked into the booth and channeled the music underneath him into that final puzzle piece to fill out the landscape. Each time his raspy vocals ascend to that gorgeous, melodic pinnacle, it’s like the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae, striking an emotional chord and emphatically restating why he’s such an irreplaceable figure in Los Angeles.
The majority of the album feels relaxed—at times, perhaps, too relaxed—but the duo always manages to bring the energy back before it reaches the brink of drifting too far.
Greedo digging deeper in his raps beyond attention-grabbing punchlines would have been a welcome addition to Still Summer In The Projects. Still, there’s plenty to love about this joint effort from two LA kings and plenty of reasons to return once summer officially arrives.
If Still Summer In The Projects is only the appetizer from 03 Greedo's grand vault, I’m already lining back up to be served the full entrée.