The Stoned Immaculate

New Orleans MC Curren$y has resisted the label of “weed rapper” despite his fondness for rhyming about the pleasures of smoking, mostly to avoid being pigeonholed as a stoner lyricist. His latest effort, “The Stoned Immaculate,” his first major-label full-length studio release, goes a long way toward moving him away from that designation. Despite the album’s title. And the cover art, which depicts the masks of comedy and tragedy with joints dangling from their mouths.

“The Stoned Immaculate” mostly features the same hazy production and intricate rhymes that brought the rapper acclaim on projects such as “Weekend at Burnie’s” and his “Pilot Talk” mix-tape series. He’s potent as ever on this commercial release, but he’s also ever-so-slightly more controlled and measured. Maybe “The Stoned Immaculate” isn’t weed rap so much as medical-marijuana rap?

On “Privacy Glass,” an incredibly smooth, slick caper tale that takes place in a chauffeured car, the rapper says that “kush clouds, sunshine, good times, inspire these dope lines.” “Armoire” feels familiar mostly because frequent collaborator Monsta Beatz is handling production duties — he puts forth a beat that sounds like the score to a Bollywood horror flick, and Curren$y rides every twist and turn with less of a laid-back New Orleans drawl than usual. The operatic “Chasin’ Papers,” with Pharrell on production, is a radio-ready rags-to-riches track on the surface, but it’s upgraded by Curren$y’s wordplay: “Chasin’ that paper like it stole something of mine / It did though, friends killed over small bills / I still go / Hard, spittin’ for them.”

It’s pretty much a given that any artist who honed his craft on the mix-tape circuit will receive some backlash after a major-label studio debut, and Curren$y will probably deal with some of that — especially surrounding the two R&B collaborations on the project: the crisp “Take You There,” featuring Marsha Ambrosius, and “That’s the Thing,” with Estelle. But for those familiar with the rapper’s background, and his many false starts with imprints such as No Limit Records and Cash Money, will find that “The Stoned Immaculate” mixes commercial aspirations and an off-kilter, underground style into a perfect blend.

Sarah Godfrey

Curren$y's new major-label release is called “The Stoned Immaculate.” (Courtesy of Warner Bros.)

Recommended Tracks

“Privacy Glass,” “Armoire,” “Chasin’ Papers”