Review Summary: Young Abu Dhabi- taking the eternal trip to Dubai
On January 4th, 2013, when Chinx (then Chinx Drugz) dropped "I'm A Coke Boy," the Harry Fraud-produced lead single from Cocaine Riot 2
, I knew it was the beginning of something brilliant. The song, which samples the wondrously haphazard strings of Billy Preston's "You Are So Beautiful," a sample previously made famous by Royal Flush on "Worldwide," was the definite game changer for Chinx's career. No longer was he playing second fiddle to his fallen Riot Squad rider Stack Bundles' legacy, or catch up to Coke Boys boss French Montana. Chinx had definitively placed himself at the forefront of the New York rap world- he was a fledgling superstar in his own right.
Over the course of the next year and half, Chinx soldiered on down the path so many New York emcees had blazed. This culmination of this effort was CR5
, the fifth, and tragically, final installment in the Cocaine Riot
series. Lionel Pickens aka Chinx was gunned down in Jamaica, Queens in the early hours of May 17th, 2015. He was 31, married with three children.
"We are seriously under attack like never before," said Jay-Z of the slaying at his Terminal 5 Tidal show, "rest in peace to Chinx." An anonymous New York police officer was quoted as saying "It was a setup. This was not a road rage episode. This was an assassination." This may not surprise those with a passing interest in Chinx's music- it's a well known fact he's did a 2 year bid at the now-defunct-movie-studio-to-be Arthur Kill Correctional Facility, and was a personality frequently associated with New York's cocaine game, especially from the jump. However, French Montana sees things differently: "Chinx wasn't somebody that was always caught up in trouble. Everyone that knows him knows he's the coolest cat you could meet. He was a great guy who worked so hard to get where he was [at]."
Regardless of how you feel about Chinx's personal affairs or how you choose to speculate on what he did or didn't do, the fact remains- his loss is a huge blow to the hip-hop community. Fortunately, CR5
was a worthy parting gift. The scope of the project is monstrously ambitious, and would hint at the direction Chinx intended to take with what would become his posthumous debut LP, Welcome to JFK
. The tape kicks off with the starkly tone-setting "Everything I Know," in which the first bars we hear from Chinx are "Hunnid on a whip" Yeean got a price/Dogs wanna sniff" Put it in rice." A satisfyingly fitting allusion to this series of mixtapes' theme right from the start. The one/two punch is followed up "America" which features a powerful
hook from frequent collaborator and fellow Coke Boy, Meet Sims. "Happy hour, fried on a Friday/Getting to the money in the worst way/All black ski mask nigga, fuck/You ain't want it that bad in the first place/I fell in love with the money/Straight you can't take that shit from me/Twentys, fifties, and hundreds/Money and power, I want it/I want it, only in America...we came to fuck up the money, we came to fuck up the money" Sims belts on "America." Chinx spits "Never gave a fuck of what another nigga think/Nigga we still gon' throw the pills in the drink/Love about the deal, I got the wheels on the skate/Pussy niggas still gettin' killed on the tape," with his hoarse, gruff Far Rockaway inflection. Both of the opening tracks feature spectacular trap-influenced production- the former a slow burner fitting with Chinx's calm, reflective demeanor on the vocals; the latter a mover and shaker, replete with high-hats and murdered-out Bugatti style. "Dope House" pairs Chinx with D-Block punchline legend Jadakiss, both drive home strong verses backed by a sinister Velous beat.
The real home run of CR5
is Chinx's alter-ego spawning banger, "Young Abu Dhabi," on which he raps "Just won a trip to Dubai...blowin' marijuana with the Sheikh/30 deep tower of Khalifa/Young Abu Dhabi/They call me Young Abu Dhabi," on one of the catchiest hooks in in recent memory. "Young Abu Dhabi" would come to personify and encapsulate the final months of Chinx's career- it's his official, anthemic theme song.
also features the Zaytoven-helmed Migos-featuring "Winner," another powerful example of the tape's trap oriented moments. "What They All Say" and "Fuck Are You Anyway" fill in the need for poppy joints. "Hitta" and "Numbers" straddle the leylines between these two poles. The tape concludes on a high note with the refreshingly laid back "Wouldn't Understand," in which Chinx claims "Best friends turned to foes/Niggas switched sides" and "Nigga die by the same set of codes nigga live by" - a chilling precursor to finality of Chinx's mortal existence. The idea of fraternizing with death is not an uncommon concept for gangsta rap, but Chinx's eerie preoccupation with is in the twilight of his life is almost unsettling.
That said, to not be celebratory of what Chinx accomplished throughout his all-too-short time in the spotlight would be folly. He may not have taken that final, messianic step onto the lake, but he certainly didn't get his Jordans wet. Like Biggie and Stack Bundles before him, Chinx was taken from us too soon. He made the best music of his career at the end of his life, though, so his legacy is well-positioned to endure.