Hip-hop fans have an uncanny knack for being critical of their favorite artists changing sounds or styles.
The phrase, “I miss the old *insert rapper name*” is littered throughout any and every hip-hop music video’s comment section on Youtube. After relative radio silence since 2015, when he released three mixtapes, East Atlanta’s quintessential mumble rapper, Rich Homie Quan, returns to true form and addresses nostalgic fans with his most recent mixtape Back to the Basics.
That is – the fans that he still has left.
The past couple years have been a rollercoaster for Quan. A string of troubling accusations about some of his lyrics, including rape-related themes and intimate relations with a cousin, unnecessary beefing with Ralo, messing up Biggie lyrics at the VH1 Hip-Hop Honors show, and a falling out with his Rich Gang partner Young Thug, have pushed Quan to the outskirts of relevancy.
After rumors that he was blacklisted from the rap game, Quan seemingly fell off in 2016. His releases were delayed, and Quan had just one significant collaboration, an underwhelming feature with Future on DJ Esco’s latest project.
Rich Homie Quan solidified himself in the Atlanta hip-hop world back in 2014 with the explosion of his track “Lifestyle.” Unfortunately, the split of Rich Gang left Quan in search of greatness while his partner Young Thug soared to success. Quan’s talent for writing hooks has kept him afloat in his absence of creating a project of any substance.
Hits like “Type of Way,” “Walk Thru,” and “Flex” have created a lane for Quan in the trap-rap scene that has yet to be realized as his listeners still await his debut studio album after over five years of uninspiring mixtapes.
Fortunately for Rich Homie Quan fans like myself, Back to the Basics gives reason to believe that Quan has returned.
Recently, Quan signed to Capitol and Motown Records and released six videos to accompany the mixtape, it seems as if Quan is gearing up to progress to the potential that I know he’s capable of achieving. His debut studio album is expected to release this summer, but until then Back to the Basics will continue to be in my rotation.
The mixtape covers Quan’s struggles as he ascended into the spotlight from the rugged streets of Atlanta. Quan strays away from the radio-friendly sound that he’s found success with; instead he follows a more personal route with highlights like “Heart Cold,” “Back End,” and “Str8.” The production throughout plays merely a supportive role but hard-hitting beats aren’t a necessity for Quan as his ability to create a captivating melody has an addictive quality that keeps me returning on a daily basis.
Back to the Basics probably won’t convince anyone that Rich Homie is at the top of the rap game, but it should breathe life into his withering following and motivate prospective listeners to stay tuned for his upcoming album.
Noah Simpson, who writes this article, is a KCPR DJ and Cal Poly political science sophomore. He spins his favorites on Saturdays from noon to 2 p.m. on KCPR San Luis Obispo 91.3 FM and KCPR.org. Kelly Chiu is a KCPR staff member and Cal Poly art & design senior. She created the illustration.