Strong Island is wildin’ once again. Not since Stakes Is High has there been much noise from Long Island. That was 20 years ago. Queens by-way-of Long Island rapper Big Breakfast isn’t carrying torches, but there’s an inherent self-sufficiency that comes from scene deprivation that is beholden to his locale. If his peers on the Island are mainly rich kids with money to shoot a video, Big Breakfast represents the labor class initiative to choose art over social life and even proper sleep. Ringtones, his follow-up to 2014’s Luxury, manifests his indignation and indifference for a mentality that is flossy even in a Hanes shirt.
Entirely self-produced, Ringtones flexes glitzy samples of soul and disco, chopped in an agitated manner. The chops stutter to the compliment of rolling toms and hi-hats. As a producer, Big Breakfast has studied MF Doom’s Special Herbs collection down to the technique. Recorded in his sister’s basement over a year, the album phase locks into a head space of industrious lo-fi, spit-shined to have the luster of a Rick Flair jacket. By that same measure Big Breakfast boasts within the limitations of his immediate lifestyle. “Hit Single” forgoes the hit-maker formula for a single verse of debased state bars and nostalgia like “remember when I used to sit my window / watching my rims glisten while I listen to Jim Jones.” “No Punk Bitch” is a rapped resume of Big Breakfast’s sucka-free pedigree that includes all the cornball reasons his adversaries are fakes over an all-too-familiar, but righteously twisted Delfonics sample. Concise and interwoven wordplay like “Your loud pack is actually shake / your crowd packed with actors and fake / plus you take your girl to Outback for the steak” is delivered with a casual flow that suggests these darts come easy to Breakfast.
That doesn’t make him impervious to his own ill-fit lyric though. He’s self-effacing across Ringtones to his credit and discredit, particularly when he cops to guilty of being white. One mention would have sufficed, like say “I’m white like the sauce on halal, guys,” but it loses its effect when he claims he’s blacker than Drake. It’s a minor misstep, but difficult to ignore.
Ultimately, Ringtones glistens. He’s full-blooded New York, metabolizing as much Diplomats as Operation: Doomsday, and those influences are embedded in the data plan of Ringtones. It’s “She Don’t Love Me” featuring Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, that looks ahead. There Big Breakfast and Wicca Phase tap into a weird variation of stress rap that has no predecessor in the New York spectrum.
Big Breakfast’s Ringtones is available on the Smoker’s Cough Bandcamp.