$mokebreak, the second project of hip-hop duo Pink Siifu & Fly Anakin, trades the rich worldbuilding of their first album for a fast-paced exhibition of their underground styles. On their debut, FlySiifu’s, the entrancing back-and-forth of emcee Fly Anakin’s earnest flows and rapper-singer Pink Siifu’s slick-talk was fictionalized as the efforts of blunted employees in the back of a Next Friday-esque record store.
Where the album built this concept across its many skits, $mokebreak EP holds it as a loose premise; the duo are work-shirt-clad among crates and shelves on the EP’s cover, but mentions of the record store are fewer and less distinct than the mock voicemails of “Black Bitches Matter Hoe” and “[email protected]” Where the album’s features were marked by and divided amongst its interludes, the EP’s single “Blame,” with production from Detroit artist Black Noi$e, is the only full-length track without a guest verse.
The EP benefits from both Fly Anakin and Pink Siifu’s unique musical backgrounds; Anakin came up as a member of the freeform hip-hop collective Mutant Academy in his native Richmond, Virginia; Siifu’s jazzy, introspective and Afrocentric breakout ensley brought him alongside like-minded artists Liv.e, MAVI, and YUNGMORPHEUS. Each brings their collaborators — with some returning from FlySiifu’s — into the mix, lining the project’s 10 tracks with standout features on both vocals and production.
Following the hazy “$mokebreak” intro, “Oatmeal” is a languid groove built around a rolling piano loop and sparse, rattling percussion. Fly Anakin fills out the spacious instrumental with a full-voiced verse, looking bittersweetly at his rising success. “I hate to reminisce,” he raps, “forward-thinking got me to dollars / Said we was ignorant, we set the standard higher than comets.” Pink Siifu leads the duo through the song’s chorus, rolling Anakin’s testimonies into pithy lessons: “Whatever happen new chapters I’m just crumblin’ herb / Is it what it is let god to tha work.” Pro Era’s Chuck Strangers, who also produced the track, rounds it out, carrying the theme of hard-earned wisdom to the song’s titular lines: “Hunger change up disposition / When it’s only oatmeal in the kitchen / Two bowls helped me muster ambition.”
“Shawty,” featuring Mutant Academy’s Big Kahuna OG, plays out a similar way. This time, Siifu opens, murmuring a two-piece to himself before easing into a melodic, almost mournful verse. Anakin and Kahuna keep the mellow tone — a job made easier by the cooling keys and spaced-out percussion provided by Iiye — but what really pulls the track together is how both emcees start off with an ad-libbed couplet like Siifu’s. It’s the kind of freestyle prompt that might carry friends through a brief reunion, and it captures the way features sound across the EP. Whether playing off a common theme or off each other, the project’s collabs feel improvised but inevitable, leaks from the duo’s everyday but fantastical world.
“L’s” threatens to rip that world apart. After the glossy loops of the previous three tracks, suddenly a high-pitched trill is sounding off every three seconds. Anakin picks up on the urgency of the instrumental from Mutant Academy’s Ohbliv, leaping into childhood horror stories: “Watching Madlock in my dad spot / uncomfortably high / nauseous even, this the season for the bad guy.” “Deep End” singer Fousheé furthers the song’s psychoactive vibe with a breathy verse recreating the discovery of cannabis. The song is full of unpredictable moments down to Siifu’s closing lines, a moment of shared paranoia during the EP’s steady cipher.
“Tha Divide” might be the gem of the EP, a posse cut featuring ZelooperZ of Detroit’s Bruiser Brigade along with MAVI, the rising star out of Charlotte, and Mutant Academy affiliate Koncept Jack$on. Each of the track’s five verses is exceptional, packed with quotables and dynamic flows. The collaborative spirit follows into “Remote Relocation,” where production from Ahwlee (listed as a feature from him and Pink Siifu’s duo B. Cool-Aid) and a verse from Peso Gordon make a haunting foil to “Tha Divide”’s gleaming performance.
By the time “Blame” rolls in on Black Noi$e’s crackling production, the hypnotic progression of Siifu’s verse into Anakin’s into distorted instrumental outro is both familiar and all too fleeting. The EP’s rich spread is ripe for re-listening for punchlines unregistered and samples untraced, for full replays and favorite tracks. If FlySiifu’s showed listeners the duo’s collaborative potential, $mokebreak is a wild taste of what the two artists can create just by reaching into their inner circles.