First Spin: 8Ball’s ‘Life’s Quest’
The latest from one-half of a Memphis rap institution
Life’s Quest, the new album from pimp-rap legend 8ball is the kind of rap record I was blabbing about a couple week ago in regards Too $hort’s No Trespassing: Don’t let these well-crafted, worker-bee rap releases from legacy artists sneak by, unheard! More cohesive, and a bit more radio-friendly than 8ball’s March mixtape Premro, Life’s Quest arrives around the same time as Nas’ Life Is Good, another middle-aged rap album from a golden era veteran. While this newfound maturity and comfort with age marks something of a sea change for Nasty Nas, it has been 8Ball’s approach since day one. He has always seemed like a wizened veteran, even on 1993’s career-starter with partner-for-life MJG, Comin’ Out Hard.
Single “Good Girl Bad Girl” and “Don’t Bring Me Down” featuring 2 Chainz and a hypnotic stop-start beat, are low-stakes sex and party jams, respectively. While “Lucky’s Theme” is an novelistic piece of hip-hop storytelling, detailing one d-boy’s robbery at the hand of two other d-boys. It moves from Donald Goines gritty to a Peckinpah-like tale of revenge (“911 ain’t the number to call / I know who done it, I ain’t have to involve the laws”), briefly becomes coke-rap fable (“After that I never touched another brick of work / Took it as a sign because it could’ve been worse”), and yet, it still forces the listener sit in the ugly aftermath of the cruel robbery, which has left the narrator and his girlfriend traumatized. It’s classic 8Ball.
Angie Stone guests on the title track, a modest look back at 8ball’s life and career (sort of the polar opposite of Nas-gone-Sinatra on Life Is Good’s “No Introduction”) and following 8ball & MJG’s appearance on Live From The Underground’s single, “Money On The Floor,” Big K.R.I.T. returns the favor, producing and doing the hook on “We Buy Gold.” These three need to do an entire album together. I’d love a Big K.R.I.T. x 8Ball & MJG collaborative album like my buddy Chris Weingarten would love a Baroness x Big K.R.I.T. rock-rap collabo, which is to say, very, very much. 8Ball’s Life’s Quest is out next Tuesday, but you can stream it below, exclusively at SPIN.