ALLEY BOY - Purgatory
The best time in Alley Boy's career was 2011. Taking place between his first steps as a rapper, in Gucci Mane's shadow – he had featured on Chicken Talk 2 in 2008 – and The Gift of Discernment in 2012 – his most exposed and visible project, at least here in France – that year had been some kind of turning point. In 2011, indeed, the Atlanta rapper had released two great mixtapes: the second edition of Definition of F#ck Sh*t and, a few months before – but much later after it had been heralded – Purgatory: The Story of Judas, a collaboration with DJ Drama.
In a true Southern tradition, this title smelled of Bible and religiosity. It looked like the same old story again, the one about a sinner seeking redemption. As a matter of fact, Alley Boy had really lived in the purgatory, i.e. the ghetto, the urban jungle, a place where you can get lost, but which you hope to escape nonetheless. He used to be a drug dealer before trying to turn into a rapper, and his mother, a crack addict, had been killed by this substance. While some tell creepy stories about the streets, Alley Boy had experienced them for good. It was not just an act.
Hence his blend of street rap, full of struggles, frustrations, and petty ambitions; hence his very visceral lyrics, stronger and more pronounced than with any other trap rapper; hence the cacophonic gun sounds and barbaric shouts. Alley Boy was a savage, he rapped with his guts. This was why he needed to be distinguished, in the much crowded Atlanta rap scene. This was why his songs were anthems.
And when they were not anthems, they were melodies, aimed at underlying his torments. They were hooks, sung by Alley Boy or by others, like with "Lowdown", "Spray", "Damn Right", "I Wish", "Trust Issues", "True Story", "Everyday Routine", "Lift the Load", and "I Don't Wanna", with Gucci Mane. They were nice music, like on the excellent "Payback", with Alley Boy's most talented collaborator, Trouble.
And when the songs were neither anthems nor melodies, they were good anyway, like with the xylophone on "Gangsta Hustla", the Blaxploitation-sounding "Pocket Full of Money", the R&B "Alright", the funky "Friendship Ends", or the New-York-influenced "Double Up". These tracks were maybe not the best on Purgatory, but they were necessary pauses in a formula so intensively trap music: Alley Boy's.
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