Now Brandon B‘s a guy who’s been on my radar for ages and ages. Often billed as one half of Trunk Drank with Eddie K, he’s been a perpetual guests on tapes and CDs I’ve been copping for decades. Naturally, these include Sacred Hoop‘s Go Hogwild, Mutual Daps and several On Tilt albums. But I’ve also got him on releases by Young Joseph, Rap Camp, Grand Invincible, Z-Man… in fact, he was actually an official member of the Arizona-based crew Supermarket, who made the underground classic album Dump Koch in ’96. Clearly, at some point after that he made his way to San Francisco to work with all these Gurp City guys. But despite his extensive track record appearing in my collection, this is actually my first proper Brandon B album: 2021’s Expensive Habit.
There’s a healthy and welcome supply of guests on hand, including most of the dudes you’d expect: Luke Sick (on three songs), Z-Man, Eddie K, QM, TopR (who’s going to be the topic of a future post in this little run) and Dev Rambis, who made an album called West Club Binge with him a couple years ago. Equipto from yesterday’s post is on here, too; and it’s all produced by The Bootleg Friday team, which I’m pretty sure is mainly Brandon himself (especially since he mentions “I produce my own shit” on the opening track) with another guy named Elliott Lanam. And if you’re ready for somebody you didn’t expect… the cuts are provided by DJ Pause, of Cold Comin’ Up/ The APG Crew(!).
It’s all super slick, stylish production and hedonistic rhymes. “Lately I’ve been thinkin’ ’bout gettin’ more bent. Ain’t givin’ up shit because I don’t do Lent,” as Dev opens up “Thursday Night.” Every track bumps and every verse is a smooth ride over it. “Cherry Spades” has a crazy “(Nothing Serious) Just Buggin'” loop mixed with a funky electro vibe. “We Control the Dice” has Pause scratching up a bunch of classic vocal samples (including, of course, Mantronix) on the hook, while “That’s a Fact” takes chances with big 80s electric guitars, but they make it all fit. It took me back to “Rock De La Stet,” even with that subtle Miami Vice vibe running through this whole album. It’s sometimes funny, like “Whatever With Your Church” or “Over Under,” about being taken for a cop:
“‘Ey yo, check this out:
Your criminal behavior I could give a shit about.
Your concern with my career?
What the Hell is that about?
I’m only here for a couple a’ beers, and then I’m out.
What gave you the impression that I was a fed, bro?
Some of you degenerates are so judgemental.
You’re an unarmed male who tried to sell some D.
If anyone’s going to jail, it’s gone be me.
If I was undercover, why the fuck would I play
‘Fuck the Police’ by NWA?
It’s like this dark-ass bar; I know you’re thinkin’ I’m sketch,
But my name ain’t Jake and it sure ain’t Fletch.
Callin’ me a cop is a bit of a stretch,
As a matter of fact, you kinda match the compository sketch.
I don’t give a damn about your scam, bro,
And who I am, you don’t need to know.”
And the hook goes, “if I was a fed, I’d be in shape.” It never gets deep or introspective. Drinking is forever celebrated here with no thought given to the risk of alcoholism. This is Friday night at your favorite spot, let another rapper tackle the hangover. Even the title track, which seems to hint at one downside of excessive drinking, actually cheerfully handwaves how it’s not a problem at all since he’s so successful with his music. “Costs a little somethin’? But you know I have it. No chance of rehab for my expensive habit.”
This is just an endlessly relistenable album I feel like I could pop on in any company any they’d enjoy it. Only “Time Is Too $hort” drags the album a bit by featuring extended skit-like dialogue where Brandon plays a strip club DJ riffing on the track before finally rapping on it for the last minute. Oh, and “Mel’s For a Beer,” which is a straight up skit/ jokey commercial for a local bar. Those two joints are gonna have me reaching for the skip button anytime I’m with company.
And there are one or two weird technical glitches, like on TopR’s guest verse, he starts to say a word and then it clips and instead he says a new line, “I’m more like Bobcat ’cause I talk different. Ev — — Any dude in a shirt that says ‘Stop Snitchin’ is the first one to talk if he gets caught slippin’.” Like, what was that? A broken punch-in maybe? I don’t think I’ve ever heard one on a finished record before. Edit: Or maybe it’s just my copy? See the comments!
But apart from those little flaws, it’s a downright perfect album. Expensive Habit is a very limited edition CD; apparently they made a run of just 50. But there are still four available at his bandcamp as of this writing. I guess I haven’t been alone in sleeping on Brandon B, but damn this one is fresh!