Buddy is a Compton rapper makes you forget everything you know about Compton rap. A former child actor who attended performing arts school, he was able to find a way out of the rough, optionless upbringing that’s informed the music of YG, Kendrick Lamar, Dr. Dre, MC Eiht, and pretty much every other rapper you’ve ever heard from the South Central neighborhood. To use Chicago rap as a parallel example, he’s basically the SaveMoney to their GloGang. You can hear that difference in Buddy’s music-- it’s lighter, less weighed down by trauma, cognizant of its surroundings without being engulfed by them.
Nowhere was that more pronounced than on his Ocean & Montana EP, a collaboration with hip-house wunderkind Kaytranada that dropped back in May. You’d be hard-pressed to spit some aggressively hard shit over most Kaytra beats (he even got the usually-frosty Freddie Gibbs “Insecure and in [his] motherfuckin’ feelings” on one occasion), but lucky for Buddy, his breezy sing-rap style perfectly suited the Montreal producer’s vibe.
After hearing Buddy singing about love and Wonder Women, though, seeing him attempt something more combative is a nice change of pace. His latest song is “That Much,” a slapper that’ll appear on an upcoming collaborative EP with Mike & Keys, a production duo formerly known as The Futuristiks who’ve spent the past decade working with artists all over the L.A. rap spectrum.
Over the track’s pitch-shifting swirl of synths and hard-knocking beat, Buddy is more honed-in on his hometown’s history than usual: “All you see all on my avenue is n****s with attitude/Stacking that capital, and now we taking collateral.” That line would definitely stump you on a “Guess Which Compton Rapper Said This” quiz, but Buddy’s intent with those words ends up being a bit different than you might expect. “That Much” is an exercise in humility, preaching wealth accumulation, but only to a reasonable extent. Quoth the hook: “I ain’t even want that much/I ain’t even movin’ that much/I ain’t even doin’ that much/I ain’t even makin’ that much.”
Whether he chooses to further investigate the inner-workings of South Central hustling, as he does on “That Much,” or continues to slide into a different orbit entirely, Buddy’s making some of the most undeniably catchy rap music of 2017, regardless of area code. His Magnolia EP with Mike & Keys will be released later this year.