It was around December of 2012 when I first heard Ice Cold Perm, a mixtape from a then-19-year-old Berkley, Ca emcee calling himself 100s. The cover art for the 14-track debut paid homage to Snoop Doggy Dogg‘s 1996 sophomore release, Tha Doggfather — complete with the all black backrdop, the S. Niil Fujita title font, and the young rapper’s mug framed dead center with the same stoic look and straightened mane as on the original. I was sold from the opening track, “My Activator,” which begins with a sample from Keenan Ivory Wayans‘ classic Jheri Curl scene from the 1987 Robert Townsend comedy, Hollywood shuffle. But beyond any gimmicks, the song itself was incredibly immersive from the jump off; a silky iridescent beat gradually bubbling up and crystalizing around the confident,effortless flow that pierced through its center.
Many of 100s tracks seem to freeze time with their beats, almost breathing, as he zips through a glass wind tunnel, skimming the surface on a light cycle. The production work by Joe Wax is incredibly impressive and forward-thinking. In fact, it could easily be argued that he’s the real star of the project, if the vocals weren’t so clearly capable of holding their own. Wax is a fellow Bay Area resident who’s also produced for the likes of Main Attrakionz and is around the same age as his rapping cohort. What I love the most about the album is that the duo manages to really create a whole new mood and environment that, at once seems comfortable and familiar, while simultaneously presenting an incredibly refreshing and inspired vibe, like nothing else that I’ve quite heard before.
The duo definitely possesses and displays some recognizable elements, but there’s something unique about these kids that makes me excited about future collaborations between them and that really allow them to standout; both from their contemporaries, as well as those who may have inspired them from the past. Most people that hear their work are bound to instantly categorize it as “pimp rap” — I’ve explained it that way myself — and the subject matter of fucking “bitches” and playing “hos” (and not loving them, of course) does everything in it’s power to reinforce that impression. Likewise, the beats typically supply a smooth laid back groove for the silky-locked rhyme spitter to unfurl his mack game and drape it across like a velvet carpet. But while predecessors like Oakland‘s legendary Too $hort made careers out of churning out grimy verses about getting their dick’s sucked over basic, semi-relaxed skronking laser funk bass loops, 100s tends to deliver something smokier, more intoxicating, and seductive. His gators are radioactive and his hoopty hovers like he carjacked a Neutrino from TMNT. He lays out his verses with the confidence of an OG, but in a chamber equipped with Zero-G. His delivery is hypnotic and the songs mesmerizing, mirroring the caliber of hustlers featured in the Hughes Brothers documentary American Pimp, wherein the vulgarity and subject matter takes a back seat and becomes somewhat of a non-issue, because the presentation is so charismatic. And If it’s true that Joe Wax is relying primarily on Fruty Loops Studio to craft his beats, he’s definitely managed to find a voice with that program, even mixing those quick trademark Three 6 Mafia-style rolling trap snares with shit that sounds like it could have been ripped from early 70s Krautrock releases from acts like Harmonia, Klaus Shultze, and Cluster. There’s actually some pretty brilliant stuff on there.
As somebody that runs a website, I feel kind of shitty about never posting anything about 100s and the Ice Cold Perm mixtape until now, because I’ve been listening to it religiously for a year-and-a-half by this point, myself. I’ve turned a few people onto it directly, who also quickly became fans, yet… still nothing on the site. In that time, I’ve heard that one of his cuts has been used for one of the radio stations in Grand Theft Auto V and even caught a quick glimpse of him at the beginning of an Apple iPhone 5C commercial (along with Squadda from Main Attrakionz). He’s one of those artists that I just assumed was bound to catch on and blow up, but it’s hard to anticipate exactly how long something like that is going to take, or even to what degree. In posting this, I even found an interview that was conducting by VICE that features a comment section of people bitching after discovering that he wasn’t a “real pimp,” although, I don’t believe that he ever really claims to be anything other than a player in his lyrics anyway. But… people are gonna hate, regardless, and if people are hating on you, it still means that they know that you exist (feel free to use that logic against me, if I ever finally breakdown and post anything about my true feelings for Macklemore, in depth).
At some point last year, we also received an announcement that 100s had signed to A-Trak‘s Fools Gold records and would be releasing new material through the label. That might have been the moment to post something about him on the site, but it didn’t happen. Now it’s been announced that he has a new EP titled IVRY (most likely as a reference to his days living on the Ivory Coast in a boarding school) being released next month and that the first single has been made available, so… this seems like as good a time as any to finally pull our shit together. The following track is called “Ten Freaky Hoes” and, although I still not convinced that that’s the grammatically correct plural usage/spelling for the word “ho,” I’m happy to know that he’s still continued working with Wax for this one. Presented with an image of the Berkley artist rocking the turtleneck and chain combo, this latest cut showcases a fairly noticeable departure from the Ice Cold Perm album, with a much more classic G-Funk sound, complete with Roger Troutman-style vocoder and chunky keys. The idea that he would venture into this direction of a slightly heavier hitting bug-zapper funk groove, at some point, even temporarily, is no surprise — 100s has actually credited Mac Dre‘s “Gumbo” as the song that really prompted him to try his own hand in the rap game.
Look for the IVRY EP in March 2014 from Fools Gold records.