Project of the week: Packy Marciano – Catalina Wine Mixer
The Catalina Wine Mixer became stuff of legend after Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly gave the performance of a lifetime at the end of Step Brothers, a film that captured man-child absurdity with uproarious precision.
On their new album, which is based off of the classic (and very much real) wine festival from that film, Brockton rapper/singer Packy Marciano and executive producer tplaflare pose in silky white suits with a drum set. Both look ready to perform their own mini concerto for a sea of aristocratic wine tasters on an open green. It’s a clever allusion, but one that also represents their precise synergy.
The musical bond between tplafalre and Marciano is genuinely fascinating. Based on their 2020 single “Groundhog Day” and Catalina Wine Mixer, both artists find inspiration through past cinema. To be honest, what they’re doing kind of reminds me of when Wiz Khalifa decided to repurpose classic movie posters and album covers for his own mixtapes (see Burn After Rolling).
Marciano’s music continues to carry a referential streak. He name-drops countless people on Catalina Wine Mixer, from Adam Sandler, to Boldy James, to Carl Everett, and beyond. “02301 Freestyle” has about eight references alone in its short two-plus minutes. The Brockton rapper uses these names to build his own mythos (and sometimes pathos), offering tidbits of personal turmoil and intimacy, but mainly through a metaphorical lens. “Cocaine the color of Blake Griffin/I lost my heart and became different,” he raps at one point, illustrating a subtle moment of vulnerability. “Escape” with Saint Lyor is another moment of vivid introspection; a search for unforeseen clarity as the voices in your head grow larger.
tplaflare’s beats are charismatic, melodic, and sample-heavy. You can picture his own musical identity coming fully into fruition as he illustrates the perfect contour for Marciano to fill in. With his vibrant touch, the album sounds as bright and bountiful as the cover itself. Together, both artists find a grounded chemistry crowded with vibrant energy, as well as a genuine appreciation for art itself.
Young Slo-Be – “Benjamin Frank”
I couldn’t have asked for a better song to usher in the New Year. Over a beat that simultaneously sounds haunted and ethereal, Young Slo-Be offers a paranoid whisper that reads like scripture. The entire style is reminiscent of the rapper Bris, who was tragically murdered in early 2020 at the age of 24. Slo-Be’s cavernous aesthetic on “Benjamin Frank” definitely begs comparison to the Sacramento native’s icy throb.
“Pole on me, Money low, everyday struggle,” he raps, subtly exposing the systemic racism that likely put him in that situation. I’ve enjoyed Slo-Be’s music in the past, but his voice with this production feels like a perfect supernatural marriage like I’ve never heard before from him.
Mo Money – “Deniable”
Mo Money undoubtedly fits within the Michigan formula thanks to her ironic sense of humor. What makes her stand out is her ability to make unpredictable artistic decisions over these types of beats. Much like Cash Kidd, she’s not afraid to get creative. Sometimes she’ll start singing in the middle of a track (see “Illusions”), and now she’ll randomly interpolate a classic hit from the past. Here, she references Tupac’s “Ambitionz Az a Ridah” for the chorus. It’s the perfect inclusion because it speaks to her hustler mentality.
1TakeJay – “40 Bars”
1TakeJay is also proving that “crunk ain’t dead.” I’m excited to hear this being played at post-COVID weddings in front of old white people.
Los and Nutty – “Shady as Hell”
The maniacal nature of this beat is unlike anything I’ve heard come out of the Michigan underground. It sounds purposefully unmixed just to piss off traditional beat-makers. Chaotic for the sake of being chaotic. It’s honestly the perfect contrast to Los and Nutty’s mafia-like world-building.