Say what you will about Curren$y and his musical output, but the credibility from his consistency has allowed him to immerse himself in the universal hip-hop sphere, easily acquiring great producers, like Harry Fraud and The Alchemist, for his projects. It continued to show throughout 2021, as he dropped six projects – ending on Christmas Eve with the fourth installment of his acclaimed Pilot Talk albums. Unlike past Pilot Talks, the fourth is produced entirely by Ski Beatz, producer of illustrious tracks like Jay-Z’s “Dead Presidents” and past tapes. His production is on full display while riding a vibe that gives Curren$y a level stage to deliver solid tracks buoying on his lyricism.
Pilot Talk IV is jazzier than most of Curren$y’s projects this year; it adds definition to the percussion with luminous and lax vibes, along with the array of layers from the horn and wind sections makes the album a smooth flight from start to finish. It emboldens its cultural influences, which derive from prominent music in Louisianna – particularly, NOLA. Though, I’m not here to proclaim Pilot Talk IV is some immaculate album, as it still bleeds the typical Curren$y-Andretti colloquialisms and poor choruses. We hear it prominently in his intros, which lack energy, unlike his tracks that switch fluidly between intricate flex raps and introspective-musicality. The same goes for the integrations of the instruments and style that come from Ski Beatz. Ultimately, what we receive is better than an average Curren$y album.
After opening with two wind-centric beats, Ski Beatz reinvigorates the boom-bap style and adds that stoner touch to the BPM on “Non Fungible.” Curren$y plays on NFTs, turning his flexing to slight cautionary tales as he looks at the value of things in short. Like NFTs, there is a niche sense of serotonin due to the originality, but it’s only short-sighted. Curren$y raps: “We did the money dance in the Bentley store/I got an eye for the hundreds and a fast car/A passport, an ounce full of killer in the bag/We mad smart, showed up hella high/Dress sharp, front row, game four at the playoffs/Money in the bank ain’t safe at all/Money in the bank any day could be lost.” Though he notes that banking isn’t safe, he shows us how the glitz and glamour can swing by swiftly before reminding us of the tried and true shoebox system – storing money in a shoebox under the bed.
The transitions are seamless, even as it goes from an overly jazzy-brass core in “The Scene” to the soulful-percussion centric “Memory Lane,” which sees Curren$y reminding his listeners and fans of his purpose for this musical production – think 2016 when he dropped a mixtape every month for a whole year. Curren$y wants us to eat, and “Memory Lane” makes that known as he raps: “Uh, them niggas couldn’t afford a floormat in my car/’Cause they don’t work this hard/I didn’t get in this shit to be a star/I got in to start a war/And show my loved ones how to live large.” Curren$y is an artist who sticks to his guns, even when most tracks don’t land with the flair, but it camouflages itself to allow for one seamless listen without skipping a beat. It’s predominantly the case here, with a few decisions leaving me bewildered.
One decision came on the second track, “AD6,” featuring Jay Electronica. There are no qualms with the feature outside of how it sounds. It isn’t the first time they did a track together, previously joining forces on the first Pilot Talk. However, on IV, Jay’s verse sounds like it came from a phone and is barely polished to make it sound clearer. It sounds like a right swipe to get it flowing for a release date, but it doesn’t completely take you away because the verse isn’t poor. Jay Electronica understood the assignment, and Curren$y matches him bar-for-bar. It’s not a knock against Curren$y, but Jay Electronica can take things in peculiar but pertinent directions, elevating his lyricism to a higher plateau than Curren$y. Jay Elec raps: “From Tchoupitoulas to Napoleon, Desire, North Miro/Me and Spitta spit a flame of magic that’s uncontested/Jet Life, Roc Nation, can see the planes, it’s so majestic,” reflecting on the strength of their collaborations as two real MCs from New Orleans – note the people he mentions.
Throughout Pilot Talk IV, you’ll continue to find its footing because it doesn’t steer away from a Curren$y album, or project, checklist. It has a breezy stoner coating on intricate and luminous production, keeping us flowing from start to finish. It’s to Ski Beatz’s credit, as he never fails to impress, even when it takes a minimalist approach on “Workers and Bosses.” It translates well with the final track, “Finger Roll,” which flourishes with a back-spotlight on the electric guitar, allowing it to feel fresh with Curren$y adding that essence of unity by flexing and smoking with his homies.
Pilot Talk IV ends a great year for Curren$y, even when it’s just placed upon a pile of a plethora of albums/mixtapes/EPs that stay in constant rotation. You can claim that it can get repetitive but at times, you break apart the complexities between his music, his fan base, and his consistent stylistic choices that keep him on a plane all his own.