Iamsu! — rapper, producer and founder of Bay Area hip-hop collective the HBK Gang — is back with a new project, Eyes on Me. It’s the artist’s first release since his 2014 studio debut Sincerely Yours. Now, it’s premiering exclusively on Billboard; check it out below.
Eyes on Me is a short project — just seven songs — and a couple have been released already, most notably “Nothin’ Less,” on which producer DJ Mustard manages to merge his sound with smooth-jazz piano. “They Say (Yeah)” and “Nothin’ Less” lead off the tape with declarations of confidence — “I’m the total package, I’m a cold assassin” — and ambition — “I just want the top, nothin’ less.” Later, Iamsu! strips away all melody for “Bandz,” which the rapper says pays homage to Bay Area groups like the Diligentz and the Pack.
Iamsu! works behind the boards as well as behind the mic: he has two production credits here, both of which display his own fluency with the classic Bay Area sound that Mustard also borrows from heavily. The rapper told Spin about the origins of this sound last year. “If you look at how Too $hort‘s ‘Freaky Tales’ sounded, it’s the same [as] a Mustard record or a record I’d produce,” he explained. “It had the same elements. That moody bass, that 808. The sound’s been around for like 30 years.”
The rapper is also hitting the road on the Eyes on Me tour. Check out those dates here.