Spyanage, “J.F.T.F.O.I. 4: The Sneak Attack 20 Yrs in the Makin’” (Independent)

“Just For the Fuck of It” may be his crew, his mixtape blueprint, and his motto, but local rapper Spyanage (that’s pronounced Espionage to you) has built four solid albums around that work ethic, real hardcore shit, since we’re talking loosely, that walks a fine line between reprimanding the hood for eating its young and calling out the record industry for exploiting those select few that make it through. But on part four, it sounds for the first time like his bounce-y, R&B-inflected trap has started to be compromised by more immediate concerns. Personal concerns.


After starting off strong with “The Declaration,” Spyanage mostly turns to the subject of what it means to find somebody down—which not only means a lot of sex raps about “hittin’ it like UFC” but also a lot of reflection on what devotion means in the inner city. There’s nothing wrong with that—not in a world where even Jay-Z just dropped a brilliant album about being a better husband—but in a city that’s literally drowning, Spyanage’s flow is becoming depressively utilitarian. It’s hard to pull off the self-righteousness of an anthem like “Babylon Beware” when you spend most of the rest of your time testing your country/wodie delivery on trying to get paid and laid. He didn’t invent that conundrum—but he’s not really addressing it, either.