Named after a track from Austin rapper Western Tink's 2011 album Hard to Keel Vol. 1, the new mixtape Mobbin' No Sobbin' has been almost two years in the making. Perhaps, producer Beautiful Lou's slowly rising profile — two tracks on A$AP Rocky's breakout mixtape Live.Love.ASAP ("Trilla" and "Kissin' Pink"), work for Kitty Pryde (“Okay Cupid”), and Heems (“Running Thru the Jungle”) — is to blame. Or maybe it's because Tink has been, like so many interesting members of the Internet's New Underground, floating around without a place as of late because Internet rap is now either sent straight to the radio (A$AP Rocky, Trinidad Jame$) or sent off to the Siberia that is "real hip-hop," whether they actually fit there or not (Big K.R.I.T., G-Side's ST 2 Lettaz). Either way, Mobbin' No Sobbin' is finally here, and it's one of the few truly eccentric rap releases we've heard this year.
Western Tink raps in the same roving, rambling, first-thought-best-thought style of Lil B. And Mobbin' No Sobbin' feels a lot like the most inviting and cohesive Based God releases, like Illusions of Grandeur or I'm Gay. Goofy throwaway lines like, "She a freak in bed but she wear grandma panties" from album-ender “Fancy Schmancy” speak to the IDGAF fun being had. That this markedly solid mixtape ends with a song called "Fancy Schmancy" pretty much says it all about where these guys' heads are. Beautiful Lou's production is often categorized with once-nascent “cloud rap,” but it's important to realize that Lou is a Texan, which makes his druggy DJ Screw moves more lived-in and organic. The beats here chisel off the most jagged and ugly pieces of Screw's sound — the bass blow-outs, the awkward smeary moments where voices stop sounding like voices — and leaves something with even more roving menace. Especially "Short Texas," which combines tinny 808s claps with a Pimp C sample and cheapo Mike Post-sounding TV comedy horn. A bunch of exploitation-flick music names that don't have too much to do with hip-hop also come to mind listening to Lou's beats: John Carpenter, Brad Fiedel, Fabio Frizzi. Or, for real, the most noise-and-pathos-caked moments on My Bloody Valentine's return record.
It helps too that Tink understands that even weirdo rap works best when it's loud, simple, and fun to yell along with: "Bounce Back" has the stop-start chanting of a trap-rap radio hit; "Swangin' & Bangin'" is a late-album scream-along. Yet, Mobbin' No Sobbin' is also loopily profound. "Today" is a world's-closing-in-on-me anthem in which everything — the Texas sky, the city lights, the bathroom lights — has Tink "feeling smaller than a bitch." The overarching theme of the tape is a post-grind sense of perseverance because, well, you got to do something with your life, right? Interludes swiped from movies underline that theme a few too many times and distract from the record's forward lurch, but they add personality, too. The Mobbin' No Sobbin' outro is a clip from Sylvester Stallone's return to boxing flicks, Rocky Balboa. It's telling that Tink seems to identify with a weathered old fart still spouting platitudes about going out there and doing it for yourself no matter what. Hardly impervious, Scarface tough guy-isms, you know?