In late September, Houston rapper Maxo Kream dropped his second mixtape, Quicc Strikes. His first tape got some shine due mainly to his more-than-competent take on the flow and instrumental for Kendrick Lamar’s tongue-twisting “Rigamortis.” His newest comes after a couple of impressive music videos dropped over this summer, now a full three months after his hauntingly hi-def video for “Lewinsky.” Three months is – I’m assuming – considerably longer in internet time, and much of the attention that came from shooting a vivid music video portraying illegal activities has died down. Maxo’s unleashing of 14 MP3s hasn’t grabbed rap fans by the collar, but they are a strong collection of raps during a time when anyone featuring dudes with money symbols in their name can barely decide where to draw a Basquiat crown.
With the love for Supreme snapbacks, A$AP Marginalia and a Björk sample on the album, he seems to be positioning himself for a certain subset of fans (he did do an interview with Vice). However, unlike Joey Bada$$ or fellow Houstonian Travi$ Scott, Maxo Kream positions himself as an intimidatingly ravenous son of his city. While many of the young rappers from around internet have been borrowing carte blanche from the H-Town sound pioneered by DJ Screw, there is not much of a rap scene left in America’s fourth-largest city. Maxo is trying to fix that alongside hometown rappers like Doughbeezy and Lyndo Cartel.
From the opening song on this anticipated mixtape, it’s clear he isn’t a true Swishahouse revivalist nor the leader of a new movement. “YMG” (short for Yung Max God) is pretty much straight up Lil B karaoke, complete with the rhyme structure and flow of so many Based God songs, while his voice is screwed over spare, dragging drums. But as becomes clear on songs like “Whitney Houston” and “Silentgr52ve,” Maxo’s got a flow elastic enough to double-time these Southern-influenced beats without ever sounding like he’s auditioning to be the new member of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. If he’s not quite in the direct lineage of DJ Screw’s Screwed Up Click, he’s certainly a better city representative than A$AP Rocky mixtape cuts. Maxo has a strong enough persona that when a member of his Kream Team crew or someone with a dollar sign in their name raps alongside him, they mostly fade into the background. There’s more than enough filler on the tape, especially the Three 6 Mafia-influenced seven-minute “Get That $hit/Maxo 187,” but there’s also good reason to look back at Houston now. Even more so if he drops another visual with an expensive video camera.
Quicc Strikes is available for stream and download on Live Mixtapes.