Nef the Pharaoh, a young rapper from Vallejo, Ca. recently signed to E-40’sSic-Wid-It label, has had a local hit with “Big Tymin'”, steadily approaching a million YouTube views. Nef isn’t the first young artist to base a record around the heyday of Cash Money records—Bankroll Fresh’s “Hot Boy” worked a similar formula last year—but the Cali rapper’s song sounds like it was the most fun to make. Its lyrics are loosely structured and almost free-associative—Nef’s other records suggest a more pertinent rap influence is the languid precision of Mac Dre—while the mood has the reassuring warmth of a springtime sunbeam.
This spirit perfectly captures the whimsical goofiness of the Big Tymers. Built on the slumping Bay Area rhythmic template popularized by DJ Mustard, Nef dodges the derivative; as a rapper, he lets the energy lead and the bars follow, boasting and flexing with the kinds of memorable banalities (“fuck a hoop dream, I am way above the rim”) that make up some of hip-hop’s best yet least-celebrated moments. Everything about the record suggests tossed-off effervescence, its formal components underlining its unpretentious messaging.