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More than a rapper, Curren$y is a vibe. Few rappers are as prolific as Spitta, the stoner-rap kingpin — Fire in the Clouds is his 23rd mixtape since 2016, and 56th mixtape overall — but when easygoing flow fueled by a couple Ls is all you need to roll out a smash, no wonder he can pull off so many.

Curren$y has evolved into a rap OG over the past decade. In the ’00s he was considered one of the prime new-school rappers, signing with Master P’s No Limit and Lil Wayne‘s Young Money Records without anything more than features and mixtapes to show for it, before finally launching his first studio albums on Damon Dash’s DD172 in 2009 and 2010. He later founded his own Jet Life Recordings, which has become a force for the stoner-rap community.

Fire in the Clouds has been more anticipated than most of Curren$y’s recent mixtapes. It comes as he’s started slowing his spree of musical output (only four mixtapes this year, less than usual), and the announcement also came with a twist — a contest for fans to submit artwork inspired by nothing but the name (he used the winning artwork for the release!). That slowed process has resulted in an uptick in quality; whereas most of his recent mixtapes have featured hits and misses peppered throughout, Curren$y comes up really strong on this one, lyrically and in terms of production.

Highlights include the breezy album opener “A Sign of Things to Come,” the money-touting “Never Stop,” and the Drupey Beatz-produced “Specialist” which takes his signature eliding flow to the max with overdub vocals contorting throughout each other. It’s somewhat ironic that when he was first popping off, Curren$y was getting clowned by some fools for his somewhat-mumbly flow, yet in a world of mumble rap, he’s become an emblem for the early tenets of the scene.

If you’re just getting into Curren$y for the first time and don’t know where to start, his most enduring works are the Pilot Talk trilogy of albums, which refine his sound: start there. During an interview with HYPEBEAST earlier this month, Curren$y confirmed that he plans to continue the Pilot Talk series with an emphasis on the newer generation of rappers: among others, he spoke highly of Rich the Kid and Lil Yachty in the interview, saying about the latter, “That’s fuckin’ the homie and I feel like he can rap. Lil Yachty can rap, you have to listen to it. When you play it back and hear the structure of shit, dude can spit.”

Fire in the Clouds is out now on Jet Life.

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