Critical Voices: Tate Tucker, Virgin Liberation

March 1, 2012

Last year, a video of then-freshman Tate Tucker (SFS ’14) rapping in front of Lupe Fiasco during Michael Eric Dyson’s sociology class went mildly viral—partially because the words “Georgetown” and “rapper” aren’t often seen in the same sentence. From the video it was clear that Tucker had talent, but there, as well as on his debut mixtape Blue Dreams, he sounded like he was trying a bit too hard, cramming too many rhyming words into the same line and often running out of breath. A year older now, Tucker is much steadier and restrained on his pleasantly surprising new EP, Virgin Liberation, nine songs of his strongest material yet.

The most obvious improvement is the production—from the epic melodrama of string intro “The Liberation” to the early-aughts Dipset soul of “Long Ride” to the menacing G-funk on “West Coast Back,” the whole thing sounds like it would bang through car speakers (it sounded pretty good on my headphones). His delivery is engaging and varied, and when he breaks out the double-time quick flow it sounds impressive since he uses it sparingly. He’s always had an ear for assonance, but calming everything down makes his lines sound better and gives them more weight. Tucker’s songwriting has gotten better, too; most tracks have at least a loose concept, even if it’s just wanting to make it big or “I’m from the West Coast.”

All of which is great—who doesn’t want a classmate who can rap? But being a Georgetown student doesn’t factor much into his identity here (he only says “Georgetown” once). He casts himself as a cool dude from California—“just a bro from the 310 who likes ‘dro and hoes”—who wants to grow up to be a popular rapper, as soon as he gets around to growing up. It’s all very Chiddy Bang, rap songs with synths about parties and not wanting to get older. There are still a couple of cringe-worthy moments, although far fewer than on Blue Dreams. It’s not his fault that it sounds a little strange to hear someone who might be in your CPS class complain that people are “tryna flex on [his] street credibility,” but it does.

That’s not to say that he doesn’t pull it off. Virgin Liberation is an enjoyable, cohesive listen, and it’s better than anything last year’s campus frat-rap sensation Mike Stud recorded. For a guy whose songs are mostly about wanting to stay young, he’s already matured a lot. Who’s to say Georgetown students can’t “spit that real?”

Voice’s Choices: “Lazer Tag,” “Long Ride”


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