[Warner Bros; 2011]

Curren$y is just so damn cool, wouldn’t you agree? There’s hardly reason to ask, you’re damn right he is. Having spent most of his career overlooked and underexposed on labels that thought they had grander things going on than the New Orleans MC, sharing birthplaces with its leader did Curren$y little good on Young Money, and he again found himself packing his bags. The chilled, sublimely independent rapper that indie fans love today has little in common with his prior incarnations. While on majors he fulfilled that role that’s most easily attained: a glorified hype man, existing in the wake of his “superiors.”

Having departed Wayne’s label, Curren$y had a chance at something he hadn’t in years: a career – moreover, a presence – all his own. In some ways nothing changed, he’s still seeking a breakthrough, still hopping labels (he recently swapped yet again from Def Jam to Warner Bros.), yet Curren$y finally centered himself on Pilot Talk. It wasn’t necessarily his strongest effort, a title probably still retained by This Ain’t No Mixtape, but he’d found his stride. Freed of other concerns, Curren$y’s easy presence and peculiarities finally seeped through every note, and suddenly it wasn’t simply the hip hop heads taking notice.

Covert Coup plays much the same role as any of Curren$y’s efforts, a movement in his zealous campaign for wider recognition. The rapper’s rate of production is one to rival his former Young Money boss, dropping Pilot Talk part one and two in 2010, which followed a host of mixtapes, one in collaboration with Wiz Khalifa. The two’s mutual affinity for the sticky green aside, this is a prime example of Curren$y’s weakness. His desire to present material found him recording an entire project with a rapper below his own caliber. Think Jay-Z doing Watch the Throne with Waka Flacka. So, where’s this EP fall?

Never fear, a lack of talent is hardly a problem. To create some hype Curren$y hooked up with underground favorite Alchemist, as unjustly marginalized on Shady Records as his newfound partner ever was, as well as being responsible for past classic “smalltime” releases, such as Fashawn’s The Antidote. The collaboration made plenty of sense. Initially hyped as an album release, Curren$y instead announced its free release for (guess) 4/20. Alchemist is probably out some money, but the fans won. As for what Al brought to the table, you’d remiss to think he delivered something identical to the beats he sends Mobb Deep (although Prodigy does drop in for a fiery verse). His contradictory talent, crafting beats somehow simultaneously rough and smooth, a choked take on classic NY grit, is somewhat repressed here. This isn’t to complain: Alchemist is working with a different artist, and only proves his ability to fit another style by altering his game. In fact, he may be the tape’s strongest asset, the Alchemist sound still very much intact, only contained by the style Curren$y prefers to maintain. Alchemist turned up with beats that would feel at home on a chapter of Pilot Talk, still all his own. Coming in at 27 minutes, this is a smaller effort, but it’d be an injustice to ignore his accomplishment.

And there it is; just the thing with Curren$y. He’s dropped four albums since 2009, five if you include this EP, Weekend at Bernie’s is supposedly coming this month, and he intends to release two more albums in 2011 after that. Any fan would loathe complaining at a surplus of material, and we feel no differently, but if you release four albums in a year, how much individual appreciation do you feel they’ll receive? The answer is very little, but Curren$y has “the grace”: he’ll receive universal acclaim for any decent record he puts out, regardless of how much legitimate time gets put into those records. Yet, is that how people are remembered? Really remembered, rather than retained for that most appealing and deadly of things: the moment. This is a damn good 10 track record, boasting noteworthy turns by its guests and laudable production, but for how long will it spin until the next one comes around? Curren$y has finally found the following he deserves; one can only hope he preserves his moment, rather than squander it. Hell, in the meantime, the music’s dope.