First Spin: Pepper Boy’s ‘Days Of Grace’ EP and ‘My World’ Video
The New South's sincerest voice comes equipped with an old pro's soul and a Lil B mixtape shout-out
“Stay humble,” “keep it real,” etc. are core values tha tevery rapper has internalized. For Pepper Boy, however, they’re the only ones that seem to matter. On his new EP Days of Grace, the Little Rock, Arkansas, rapper is exceedingly humble and nobly sincere, lacing his street tales with an inviting kindness that always take care to steer clear of cynicism and cruelty. Opening track “Change Gonna Come” is Pepper Boy as world-weary moralist, espousing all-American ideals like the importance of family and respect for the military. Yet, there’s something hesitant in his voice that makes sure to communicate that sometimes, even that shit isn’t enough to make things work out. “Child Soulja,” whose beat chipmunks the Cutting Crew, is an immersive, should-be-ridiculous, legitimately moving, high-concept, first-person rap from the perspective of an AK-toting kid forced to fight in Joseph Kony’s army. Listening to this guy just makes you want to be less of a jerk, you know?
The model here is the pained sincerity of gangsta wailers like Lil Boosie, Khujo Goodie, and early Master P, back when the Ice Cream Man seemed stuffed to the gills with regret (Days of Grace features a remake of Master P’s 1997 track “Smokin’ Green”). There’s also some of Lil B’s starry-eyed utopianism (“My World” is a rap over Lil B’s “I’m God”), as well as the “hustling sucks, dude” attitude of Main Attrakionz (“1st Offense” features Main’s Squadda B). Rapping over Clams Casino’s beat is a rite of passage for young, interesting rappers these days, but Pepper Boy’s connection to Lil B is stronger. On “My Life,” from last year’s Bitch Mob mixtape, the Based God rhymed over Pepper Boy’s 2010 song “Tha Parts.” At the start of “My Life,” as the wheezing, slow-crawl beat builds, B exclaims, “Shouts out to Pepper Boy in Arkansas!”
Days Of Grace will be available for download over at Pepper Boy’s Bandcamp next Friday, but you can stream it below, exclusively at SPIN: