“Still Summer In The Projects” is the latest release from rapper 03 Greedo, in collaboration with record producer Mustard, and it may be Greedo’s last release for a while.
The rapper was sentenced to 20 years in jail last June for gun and drug possession, remarking in a tweet that he “never thought [he’d] have to retire the year [he] blew up.” According to Rolling Stone, “after Greedo went to prison, Mustard continued to tinker with their songs until they were finished.” The album was released in April.
Though this album is new, there are plenty of references to Greedo’s past. Even the album art — a photo of Greedo in a bright purple coat in front of the projects — feels bittersweet and personal.
The purple is not random; Greedo lived in the Grape Street section of Watts, California, and was a member of the gang Grape Street Crips. He even released a mixtape titled “The Wolf of Grape Street” under the name Greedy Giddy before changing his artist name to 03 Greedo.
The sounds of “Still Summer In The Projects” range from hard and brutal to vulnerable and raw. 03 Greedo is as authentic as he can get: he sings, raps and even produces his own beats for many of his songs.
His voice spans from melodic to nasal, lush to flat, but it is always heavy with emotion. Greedo talks about love, drugs and money, but also about loss, grief and street politics.
The songs are woozy, autotuned, surreal. Mustard’s beats are glossy, slow and hazy, waning from soft guitar strums to light percussion and smooth bass. The album feels more like memory than present, like a nostalgic wistfulness for a past that can never be restored to the true state of memory.
In “Bet I Walk” Greedo gets real about his life, bragging about knowing people in the rap game while talking about how he used to be homeless. At the end of the song Greedo raps, “I’m the king of this fuckin’ rap game, you weird ass bitch / 30 albums, n—– who did it?”
This kind of braggadocio is not Greedo’s default, nor does it prohibit Greedo from showing emotion. In “Gettin’ Ready,” Greedo reminisces about a woman in his life and their separation, rapping, “She say she miss me when I’m not around / Sometimes I feel like I’m worthless, I’m out.”
Greedo sounds invincible again in “Grapevine” in spite of his prison sentence. He raps, “I ain’t worried about no frivolous movement,” but then taps into his more vulnerable emotions one more time for the last song of the album, “Visions.”
In the song, Greedo admits his fears, gently singing the chorus: “Lately I been having these visions / Locked inside a cell with no windows / Hope I make it out of this prison,” followed by the promise that “I’ll be right back when I’m ready / When I get back, I’ll be richer.” Greedo sounds like he is trying to convince everyone that he will be OK. More than anything else though, he may be trying to convince himself.
03 Greedo is so many things; he is more than just a rapper, a beatmaker or an artist. Greedo is a changemaker, an inspiration, a complicated story, a legend.
Greedo himself said he doesn’t “identify [him]self with anything.” He makes “emo music for gangbangers,” trap music with emotion, sad songs you can vibe to. These juxtapositions represent how a large part of Greedo’s success can be attributed to this reluctance to be labeled any one thing.
In the outro of the last song, a recorded message over a crackly phone plays. Greedo talks from prison, saying, “No selling dope in my music / I’m talkin’ ‘bout the past life, you feel me? / When I get out I’ma be a millionaire, I came in here with me, feel me?”
“Still Summer In The Projects” may be the conclusion of his old life, the closure for a complicated and painful past, but it is more than that. It is the start of a new life, the start of something different, something bigger.
Ella Boyd SC ’22 is TSL’s music columnist. Besides writing, she enjoys listening to music, discussing pop culture and making art.