Compared to his early days as a rapper, Beetyman’s growth and overall development of his craft are readily apparent. 

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Compared to his early days as a rapper, Beetyman’s growth and overall development of his craft are readily apparent.

Though the Puzzle People emcee’s last effort, Underdog, was a strong release, his newest effort, Controlled Substance, more adequately showcases his skills as a wordsmith.

He flows extremely well over each beat, exhibits keen rhyming ability and spits intelligent and well-constructed lyrics throughout the tape. While he certainly had these abilities before, they have sharpened from project to project.

It has been nearly three years since Beety dropped Underdog, and it’s clear that his slow-and-steady approach to the new tape has paid off. The tape features 12 mostly short tracks and one bonus track. Though the tape is relatively short in duration, Beety is still able to deliver a sizable amount of quality content.

Parts of the tape feature Beety showing his teeth, downplaying the competition and displaying his capabilities. But he also regularly touches on social issues like poverty, police brutality, street violence and drugs. While approaching overarching themes like these, he is able to mix in modern examples, including some that he has experienced or been close to in his own life.

The production for Controlled Substance is a mix of original production from Tony Tone Beats, DJ Chips and borrowed beats from the likes of Outkast, Curren$y, Pusha T and Big K.R.I.T. Overall, the tape holds a good mix of quality production.

Each song on the tape is solid, but a few stand out. “Serial Spittas,” produced by Tony Tone Beats and featuring local rapper Willis, is one of those songs. Beety and Willis rhyme over a smooth, Beethoven-sampled beat, showing their skills as lyrical serial killers. Willis contributes a somewhat eerie hook that perfectly fits the song’s concept.

Another strong track is “Cool Shit,” which features Tom Tucker and is produced by Chips. On this one, Beety and Tucker rap about how far they have come since they were high school classmates. Each brings a strong verse that rides well over the chill beat from Chips, and listeners will be able to feel the camaraderie the two rappers have that seems to go beyond music.

Probably the most interesting and unique song is “Prodigy,” in which Beety describes how his parents met. He speaks on his parents’ intelligence, talking about how they met in college. To Beety, this intelligence helped feed his own intellectual approach to rhyming, making him a prodigy or, as he describes it, “Albert Einstein of your time.” This song features not only great lyrics but also a heartfelt story and some clear emotion from Beety.

A lot of mixtapes these days feature a bunch of songs compiled together that don’t really flow with any kind of cohesiveness, but Beety’s tape is different. While there are a number of themes and diverse production, all the songs come together really well. His lyrics are smart and thought-provoking. It seems that controlled substance in this case is not referencing to narcotics but to the substance that Beety’s words carry from track to track.

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Ryan Querbach

Memphis May Fire @ The Vanguard

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