A couple of years ago, Drakeo The Ruler looked like the future of West Coast rap. Drakeo had made a huge impact on the LA underground with his weird, sidelong half-muttered flow and with his cutting sense of gallows humor. Right now, though, Drakeo is in jail, awaiting trial for murder — a crime for which he’d already been acquitted. (The critic and journalist has done great work tracking the Drakeo case, an on going and infuriating story.) In recent months, people like Earl Sweatshirt and Danny Brown have helped keep Drakeo’s name front-and-center, rapping on remixes of his songs. But now Drakeo has found a new way to release music: Over the jail phone.
Next week, Drakeo will release the new mixtape Thank You For Using GTL, 18 tracks of raps from prison. Drakeo used GTL, the telecommunications system for his jail, and worked with producer JoogSzn to record these tracks. Today, he’s shared two tracks, “GTA VI” and “Backflip Or Sumn,” that’ll appear on the tape.
On those two songs, Drakeo’s voice is distorted, but he’s able to actually rap on-beat, something that almost never happens when imprisoned rappers phone in verses. The two tracks actually work as songs, and they show that Drakeo’s charisma is still intact. I especially like the bit at the end of “GTA VI” where he clowns his fellow prisoners. Listen to both songs below.
Thank You For Using GTL is out 6/5.