by Sean Morris
Last fall, when scads of hip-hop fans were jizzing in their pants over Run the Jewels 2, I looked down at my Bart Simpson leggings and wondered why they were (relatively) dry. Part of it was that Mike and El released the album’s best song as the lead single, but mostly it was because of pizza boy. The self-proclaimed “premier struggle rapper” released his futility. EP the same day, brimming with impish gallows humor, manic techno trap beats, and shrewd self-analyses. That beats another nun in a cumshot any day.
“reception of this album might be pretty lukewarm
and it would be completely my fault…
but now is the time to bet on myself
with everything to lose, shit better go well”
“I know you’d love to call me Jaleel White
meets Marshall Mathers
not realizing I'm playing characters
I'm not your ‘nice guy,’ nerd, or misogynist
I don't think I'm entitled to shit; calm your tits”
pizza boy. gives his contradictions some of the best hugs I’ve witnessed in ages. As a young Melanin-American who has more of a chance ending up like Michael Brown than Raven-Symone, he realizes pursuing a rap career is predictably quixotic, but that’s not going to deter him.
“I don’t have a lane
so I’ll get down and pave a way.”
Sonically, this is pizza boy. is all over the place in the best way possible. Like the rapper who they’ve furnished their beats to, none of them are anywhere near being household names but make strong cases for themselves as up and coming forces to be reckoned with. Ian Ewing laces the wistful “this is me, crushing on her” with jazzy piano, and it segues surprisingly well into Ghostfish Goon’s hyphy-tacular “this is me, flexing on your bitch ass.” The lyrical and production centerpiece is undoubtedly “this is me, trying not to be an edutainer,” as much this album’s mission statement as “atlas shrugging” was futility.’s. pizza boy. and producer Drones deliver the Three 6 Mafia-tronica song Kanye wishes he could make (prove me wrong, So Help Me God). The fuckboy-taunting chant is a nice nod to RTJ, while the rhymes indict the bro culture that has embraced them.
“Why you white-washed this rap thing
so I couldn’t see a speck of dirt in this crowd
Wow, I’m the only black one at this rap show
And somehow that makes me the asshole”
The first time I listened to this brutal gut punch of race-baiting and dick measuring, I listened to it five more times after that. While the majority of this is pizza boy. falls into backpacker Nintendocore territory, this is a bonafide club banger. At the same time, it drives home a point that hasn’t been made since House Party. Even upwardly mobile youth who occasionally bump militant rap music just want to finish school and dance with their hands on whoever’s ass is the prettiest. Hopefully this is the song that gets pizza boy.’s foot in whatever door he catches slightly ajar. A friend asked me if she thought pizza boy. was going to “make it,” and I immediately thought of Chuck D’s closing words on The Roots' Illadelph Halflife:
“their concept has not yet blown up
and it is quite possible it won’t.”
I am quite certain pizza boy. should. I spend an obscene amount of time and money on already established artists struggling to remain relevant, but I am also willing and able to do the same to support someone struggling to exist as a musician. Here's hoping he finds more listeners willing to do the same.
Listen/download pizza boy.'s music on:
Zestyverse's resident Music Geek Sean Morris is an SF Bay Area native with a photographic memory and encyclopedic knowledge of popular culture. He is a graduate of UCLA's School of Theater, Film, and Television, a former Los Angeles Slam Team member, part of the collective Art 4 A Democratic Society, and a music blogger for The Owl Mag. Find him on Twitter, SoundCloud, and YouTube.