The Steak & Shrimp rap aficionado cooked up another project for what seems to have become a summer ritual releasing his third installment of the E36 series.
LE$, a Houston-based underground rap artist brought DJ Mr. Rogers back for another ride with a tape well fitted for any candy painted slab, stanced-out bimmer, or even your daily driving Prius hybrid. Midnight Club might take name after the nostalgic game series that was all about speeding to the finish line but this album puts the style back in enjoying the ride.
A 10-track project with a special guest collab by OddFuture’s Domo Genesis opens up with Speedin. LE$ drops a smooth melody of “speeding too fast, I can’t slow down” to set up the scene while Rogers’s production is less pedal to the metal and more stay on the right lane for the smoothest drive. If you had your ear to the streets when Top Down, the second track on the album, dropped back in October you knew that LE$ and Rogers had to have been cooking something up for the summer. The song samples a classic summer anthem from Kool & the Gang’s, “Summer Madness”.
For my San Antonio people who haven’t gone to Houston and driven through 45 south to visit family with that one favorite crazy cousin, I-45 is the equivalent of I-35 here where you can more than likely follow the south route and end up arriving at a similar destination.
If you haven’t caught notice of Rogers sample heavy tunes, 45 South, the third track, borrows two classics. The base of the beat takes the trippy guitar riffs from Bootsy Collins, “I’d rather be with you”, all while a country rap vocal sample is overlaid borrowed from Outkast’s Aquemini’s “West Savannah” where Big Boi raps, “…flyin’, or floatin’, a Brougham is what I’m sportin’, Sade is in my tape deck, I’m moving in slow motion, boi”. LE$ takes this track to readdress his commitment to the rap game spitting, “I’m just sittin’ back peepin’ this shit, I got sick of talkin’ bout it, started being the shit…” and how it takes more than talking to be in his spot.
50 cent might have made being a “p-i-m-p” mainstream back in the early 2000s but if you’re familiar with country rap tunes, then you know that 8 Ball and MJG’s 1993 “Coming Out Hard” project had a play by play on how to be a trill ass pimp. DJ Mr. Rogers brings us 8 Ball’s “Pimps” lesson number 2, “Never let a b#tch know, how you make yo cash flow.” on Neva, the fourth track.
Earlier this week, LE$ put out a couple teasers on social media that included visuals directed by his right-hand man, Jorge Casanova aka JorgeyFilms (See Below).
Jorgey captures car culture, Rogers flaunting in his cherry drop top Bimmer, and LE$ laying down vocals in a purple-lit room. The question, however, was, what song is that playing over the clips? Track number 5, Switch’d. If you thought LE$ was just going to talk about chillin’, laying back and taking his time well, you might discover that to be true until you reach the mid-point of the album with this track. Rogers must have been thinking redline 6th gear on this one because production wise there was enough bump and slap you might have thought Three Six Mafia was going to come out the gate spittin’ a classic verse. Instead, it’s LE$ that’s “in and out of traffic switchin’ lanes on em.” This track is a warning shot with energy and LE$ backs it up with lines like, “I’ve been dodging every demon in form of distraction, I done gave ’em fair warning it’s over, I’m blacking.” and “Lately shit been getting crazy, they energy shady, I keep my hand on my .380, that’s my lil baby.” Whoever the message was intended for, best believe they better move out the way.
Track 6, The Mindst8, slows the tempo down and brings a west coast feel into the mix. LE$ is known for making ridin’ music and he always delivers a song dedicated for the moment you pull up in the parking lot trying to stunt on whoever is in the way. On the project that started it all, E36, Cruise Control was the cue for the summer and on the sequel, E36: Techno Violet, 4th Gear (Akina Rain) was next up on the playlist. You don’t have to be in California rolling around with the fuzzy dice or have your car seats wrapped in silk to enjoy The Mindst8. The hook itself provides enough gangsta strut, “Now I done kept it playa for a long time, a long time, See I done did it major for a long time, a long time.” This track is perfect for when you’re on the Westside cruising down Culebra looking for that raspa fix. (Hit up R.J.’s Snack Shack for that!)
LE$ moves one deep for the majority of the Album but as we continue to roll through the Midnight Club scene it’s only right we scoop the homie Domo Genesis up for track 7, Bimmers X Jeeps. Genesis leads the way with a graceful verse that drops gems like, “I be zoning, bring a cease to opponents cuz they don’t want it, finger roll it if they came at me foul, then we in the bonus.”LE$ follows up right after stating notable lines such as, “Like a Glock with a beam, can’t miss, red dot on the top, one shot bet I come and get my spot.” If you’re familiar with the film, Paid In Full, then you know the movie had a tough BMW product placement. There’s a scene where Mitch is fresh out of jail and Ace pulls up in a cherry drop top bimmer (We see you Rogers!). It doesn’t take Ace long to put his homie back on and just like that moment in the words of the great Mitch, this track is, “…very fresh, very fresh, I see you doing good things.” Production wise the East Coast influence is evident with the boom bap drums laid over another set of impeccable samples that include Biggie’s “Juicy“, “Now I’m in the limelight, ’cause I rhyme tight.” and Nas lines from “Life’s a Bitch“, “Now it’s all about cash in abundance, Nig%as I used to run with is rich or doin’ years in the hundreds.” (Fun Fact: The producer for that legendary track goes by L.E.S, no direct connection though.)
A lot of tourists come down to San Antonio to see the Alamo and take pit stops at the Riverwalk. But, for most locals, the real treasure is taking a trip through the drive-thru at a Whataburger. (If you haven’t been at a Whataburger window at 3 in the morning itching for a honey butter chicken biscuit fix, what are you doing with your life?) Track 8, In the Whataburger Drive Thru, LE$ takes us down to 3rd gear and flows over a beat well fitted for a Screwtape. LE$ lets us know that even though success doesn’t happen overnight it happens and you don’t gotta be fake about it, “Took me a minute and I figured it out, really embody the shit that they about, really be living the life that they rap, only the beats and the mic is my trap.” Next time you find yourself at a Whataburger drive-thru just keep it playa and order a #13, honey mustard on the side with a Lemonade.
You ever get that call from your day one asking where the hell you at, and you know you’re at that one girl’s place but try to play it off? That’s exactly what’s going down on track 9, Laid up. LE$ finds the “…type of girl I’m gone write a song about.” and drops an I’m still a playa but you might change that track. Rappin, “Netflix chilling, we alternating shows, put me on a couple imma put you on some mo’, running through snacks, ice cream Oreos, order take out then we right back home.” You know there’s nothing better to do in the summer than just chill, laid up with a pretty young thing.
By now, we’re ridin’ on E and we’ve arrived at the end of the album with track 10, Dreamin. We’ve all experienced that auto-pilot moment where you’ve been driving for some distance dreaming about what you can be and then you hit traffic and ask yourself, “How the hell did I not kill somebody.” For most of us, we stay dreaming but for LE$, dreaming isn’t enough. This track is a blend of 95 octane and motivation with a simple message, “You want it, you gotta go and get it.” LE$ takes the chance to spit some real game with a notable line, “Never blame the circumstance, I don’t play no victim, they can try to ride the wave, but they can’t flow with em, what’s the use of having goals if you won’t go get em.” If you’re reading this and you got a dream, stop wasting time dreamin’ and make it happen! This might be the end of the Midnight Club but for LE$, it’s just a continuation of the journey he’s been on for a minute, “Gas loud, motor staying supercharged, fill er up because we bout to take it far, til’ the wheels fall off.”
LE$’s flow and delivery are effortless on this album. His rap style continues to have glimpses of southern rap legends like the late Pimp C, Big Mike, with a hint of that Louisiana, No Limit, 400 degreez swagger. Who knows if this will be the checkered flag to his E36 series but one thing we know for sure is that LE$ has fully developed his own lane, driving at his own pace and he’s bringing us along for the ride.