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Artist: STS

Album: Gold Rush

Label: self-released

Review date: May. 1, 2012


Sugar Tongue Slim - "Cut Me Off (feat. Schoolie V)" (Gold Rush)


Gold Rush has been out for over a month, but even though rapper Silver Tongue Slim is by his own admission having a laugh here, you’ve got to feel for the lack of attention he’s received. I don’t even mean the Interscope-funded XXL snoozefest that was their “Freshmen Class” feature, I mean anywhere.

After stepping out from behind the boards with the campaign that ultimately willed Demand More into the world in early 2010, STS has been at a low hover on the buzz scale: always consistent, never peaking. Last year’s The Illustrious was popular around these parts but hardly noticed overall. He’s not jumping on everybody’s remix, taking the sensitive sad bastard approach, or brown-nosing Maybach Music. Perhaps naively, he believes his music is strong enough without those crutches.

He ought to be right. Gold Rush is the packaging of a 10-week operation Slim did in late 2011 that flipped Top 40 samples from Britney Spears and Coldplay as well as lesser names like Kavinsky and The Band Perry. The beats vibe like the backpack-friendly lemonade rap that owned the friendly summer of 2009, but STS has more to talk about than barbecues and getting high (though there is plenty of the latter). He’s got a background in pimping and slam poetry, not to mention industry experience, and he’s stringing it all together for these vignettes. It’s a fun listen from a fecund imagination because it doesn’t sound like he’s holding anything back for a free mixtape on either the musical side or the lyrical side.

The biggest guest spots are from A$AP Ferg (best known for the Aaliyah-sampling “Death B4 A Million” early this year, I guess) and Kardinal Offishall, the most are from fellow Philly resident Dosage, and STS associate Schoolie V also turns up on “Cut Me Off.” In other words, this is Slim’s show from start to finish. His swagger is evident on songs like the title-track and the appropriately titled standout, “Out of Control,” but his braggadocio is peppered by the same self-awareness that bogged The Illustrious down — it’s clear he’s good and he knows it, but he also knows he just isn’t flooding the market (or can’t) the way hip hop’s most successful names do in a post-Weezy world. “Apologies for the hold-up,” he offers right at the top in “Goldrush,” going on to explain that it’s on him that The Illustrious didn’t catch on. But he’s hardly been away — that’s the pace we’re at with rap right now and it worries him. Slim was quiet just long enough to be lost in the mire of everybody else’s mixtapes. If you heard this when it came out, it may even be possible that you’ve already forgotten it yourself.

“All I wanna do is set the world on fire,” he sings on “If I Die Young.” This is the second most poignant moment on a mixtape full of curiously touching snapshots and asides. STS has a gift for taking a beat with a Houston roll just the same as an uptempo electro number and making it his own. Gold Rush flips Drake and Rick Ross and fucking Gotye and Foster the People. It shouldn’t be this hard! But somehow, it still is. The most poignant moment on Gold Rush, by the way, is also its most telling. “One for the money and two for the fame / ‘Cause make sure niggas remember my name,” he pleads on “Out of Control.” But before repeating the line once more, he prefaces with careful instruction for our benefit: “Say it slowly...”

By Patrick Masterson

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