Joey Fatts isn’t as well known as his fellow Cutthroat Boyz members Vince Staples, currently on tour with Audio Push and Skeme, or A$ton Matthews, whose Aston 3:16 mixtape was released earlier this year to some acclaim. Vince received a lot of early attention from his collaborations with Odd Future members Earl Sweatshirt and Mike G, but his first few releases (Shyne Coldchain Vol. 1, Winter in Prague and Stolen Youth) justified the growing hype behind his music, while Joey Fatts has had a relatively slower trajectory.
Chipper Jones Vol. 1 was released in the summer of 2012, and in 2013 Fatts released Vol. 2. The second mixtape in the series saw the young rapper collaborating with 100s, Freddie Gibbs, Action Bronson, Danny Brown and A$AP Rocky, a veritable who’s who of new and refined talent. Heads began turning but still Fatts remained just a hair away from stardom.
Vol. 3 finds a middle ground between the previous two releases by consolidating the running time and the guest appearances. At eleven songs over thirty-five minutes, Vol. 3 falls halfway between the seven-track, twenty-four minute Vol. 1 and the fifteen-track, fifty-two minute Vol. 2. Short mixtapes have worked well in 2014, with 2 Chainz’s Freebase EP and AK’s Blessings in the Gray coming to mind; this briefer mixtape form works well to showcase an idea longer than a single song can provide.
Joey Fatts succeeds in this regard because Vol. 3 has a tight, cohesive sound which follows through from the beginning to the end. The style of production is consistent throughout, allowing Fatts to move from topic to topic without losing momentum between songs. This places the mixtape squarely above label-mate Vince Staples’s Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2, released earlier this year; over-produced but under-inspired, it felt uneven and rushed.
Staples does provide a good verse at the beginning of “Million $ Dreams,” strengthening the argument that he works best as a featured performer. A$ton Matthews delivers a fiery flow on “Paradise,” a song that also features new rhymes from Waka Flocka Flame. Coming in around the four minute mark, Flocka’s verse is more reminiscent of the style present on Re Up than that of I Can’t Rap Vol. 1, part of the Bricksquad Monopoly CEO’s buildup to the hotly anticipated Flockaveli 2.
It is A$AP Rocky, however, who works the best with Fatts on Vol. 3. “Keep It G Pt. II” finds the rappers pairing up again after the GTA V exclusive “R Cali,” spitting over a hazy, trap-inspired beat about the benefits of smoking marijuana and being thugs. Rocky is currently prepping an instrumental album for release later this year, and A$AP Mob’s debut full-length, L.O.R.D., is also slated for a 2014 release date. These projects, thankfully, haven’t kept him too busy to make a few guest appearances, like on the remix of PeeWee Longway’s “Serving Lean” or Lykke Li’s “No Rest for the Wicked.“
Chipper Jones Vol. 3 is a success because it maintains a clear focus, painting a vivid portrait of Joey Fatts circa late-2014. Songs like “Do or Die” and “Tookie” help define Fatts’s style and showcase him as the Cutthroat Boyz’s most underrated member. The versatility present on this mixtape makes a compelling case for Fatts and suggests that the California native and his partners are serious rappers with a drive to match their ambition.