Those familiar with Starlito's - strong - latest releases might have noticed this: the Nashville rapper frequently teams up with a man called Mobsquad Nard. He featured on several of his projects, Manifest Destiny, Hot Chicken and Funerals & Court Dates 2. His very first appearances, though, predated these collaborations. The Jacksonville rapper, actually, started being noticed with his song "Right Ni", in 2015. And afterwards, he's been taken in charge by Cinematic Music Group, the subsidiary of Sony already supporting rap luminaries like Joey Badass, Mick Jenkins and G-Herbo, which allowed the young man to start being covered by the media.
Consequently, in February 2016, Mobsquad Nard released Everything Clean But Da Ashtray, a mixtape with A-list guests such as 21 Savage, Big K.R.I.T., Trae The Truth, G-Herbo, and Starlito of course, plus a few unknown members of Mobsquad, the collective Nard himself co-founded.
With his second project, though, the young man from Florida proceeded in a more personal way. Released in October, Nardo DaVinci only features two famous collaborators - Zaytoven's production work put aside: Lito, as always, and Boosie Badazz, whose intense street rap and peculiar voice are obvious influences to the Jacksonville rapper.
Nardo DaVinci is a strong release, with a few anthological songs: "Itz Dat", his collaboration with Boosie – that man would transcend any track he would participate to, anyway; the swirling and intoxicating "All Traps Closed"; the indolent "Cant Fool With Me", with the full Mobsquad crew; the implacable "Peephole"; and most importantly, the well-named "Fukk It Up", a frenzied song declaimed in a possessed way by Nard and his pal Lil Tee on a naïve melody.
This track was already on NardoDaVinciOTW, a mixtape he distributed a bit earlier. That peculiar release was supposed to be an appetizer, but it is almost as remarkable as the official one. It is a traditional mixtape, compiling hastily a few unreleased tracks with freestyles delivered on Rob Stone's "Chill Bill", Fat Joe's and Remy Ma's "All The Way Up", Kodak Black's "Tunnel Vision", and Playboi Carti's "Magnolia". But urgency and spontaneity are the best ways to enjoy the haunted and fast flow of Mobsquad Nard.
He is at his best when he switches Playboi Carti's rumblings and onomatopoeias with his verbose kind of rap. The way he takes possession of "Tunnel Vision" is impressive, as well as what he does on the fiery "Freeze Me" with Mobsquad Scoobie, on "Still Plugged" with Killa Keys, or on "See Ya".
Both releases are to be enjoyed jointly. They are complementary. Altogether, they show that, in 2017, the rappers of Jacksonville, North Florida, are as relevant as Kodak Black, Koly P, and all others, residing South of the Sunshine State.