Remember Mystikal? He was perhaps the most visible member of New Orleans' No Limit crew--save, of course,>"/>
Remember Mystikal? He was perhaps the most visible member of New Orleans' No Limit crew--save, of course, for Master P and his spit-shined gold fronts--and one of its finest MCs, right up there with the woefully underappreciated Young Bleed, both of whom made Lil Wayne look like the pubescent pipsqueak he was back then.
Before his conviction on sexual battery charges and subsequent term in prison (he was released in January), Mystikal, like all No Limit "soldiers," churned out record after record (or tape after tape, which is how we bumped that shit during No Limit's '90s heyday) via an assembly line method that saw artists sharing song themes (smoking weed and ghetto life, most prominently), as well as cheesy, graphics-based, cut-and-paste artwork. This down and dirty marketing strategy, while effective for a time, ultimately served to diminish the quality of much of No Limit's output by reducing otherwise important art to mass-produced product.
Like Young Bleed, Mystikal stands out because he managed to overcome Master P's militant insistence on sameness, especially on the bona fide Southern rap classic Unpredictable (1997). Mystikal's rapid-fire delivery and emotive growl--think Freeway with a Southern twang and a quicker draw--felt like a call of the wild direct from the blood-soaked Louisiana swamps.
His lyrics were smart, profane, absurd, violent, and funny, often all at once: "I'm here to tell it!/Stomp through this motherfucker like elephants/Spring at you bitches like apes/Fly by you bitches like pelicans/Put a crack in your exoskeleton/Shake this bitch like a bowl of gelitan," he raps on "Ain't No Limit," the video for which is featured below. It's that combination of putatively competing qualities that puts me in mind of Southern authors such as Harry Crews and Flannery O'Connor, though she'd doubtless run right to church and repent if she heard Mystikal's music.
I bring all this up because, yesterday, a Tweet from Kevin Nottingham came across the transom announcing "the first official track from Mystikal since his release from prison." Whatever serving time in the clink did to him--well, you'll have to guess at it, 'cause dude's skills remain undiminished. To crib one of his oft-repeated phrases: He's still on fire like cayenne. Indeed, he seems to be returning to his underground roots and backing away from the bumpable but boring "Shake Ya Ass" stuff that he was putting out prior to going up the road. But don't take my word for it. Do a little compare and contrast between the '90s Mystikal (first) and the new one: