Johnny Cinco, one of the most influential artists from the “New Atlanta” has returned with his new album, Don’t Play Wit Him. The rapper and singer, largely credited with helping introduce “Mumble Rap”, and artists like YFN Lucci, and Hoodrich Pablo, to national audiences, has “stayed out of the way” recently, as the scene and styles he helped shape top the Billboard charts. It remains unclear if Cinco, an early signee to Quality Control Music, remains with the label. His 2017-2018 releases, John Popi 2, The Extra, and I Swear 2 (currently unavailable), appeared to be all released under QC, while Don’t Play Wit Him seems to be an independent release through Empire, without the Quality Control logo.

The 15 track project, produced mostly by ItsYungOnThaTrack and ShawnyBoi, has only two features, PG and Atlanta upstart Yung Mal. Two of Cinco’s most frequent collaborators, Spiffy Global and OG Parker, each produced a track. After hearing Spiffy’s haunting chords on “I’m The One”, one wonders why Spiffy didn’t contribute more. Comparably, if you were to visit Johnny Cinco’s instagram (@JohnPopi) in the past 6 months, you would have noticed a number of stellar unreleased tracks that don’t appear on Don’t Play Wit Him, including “All I Do Is Trap”, in which Cinco perfectly melds his repetitive, enchanting flows with Soul-tinged crooning. It’s unclear some of these songs didn’t make the cut, although 15 tracks is a full album, a far cry from the 20-30 minute EPs that are popular in the current Rap landscape.

Much like “All I Do Is Trap”, one of the album’s standout singles, “Let’s Get It”, combines Cinco’s endlessly-copied flows with his R&B singing to deliver a sound fine-tuned to be a Pop anthem for the streets. Many tracks on the album avoid the Modern Trap sound, combining 808s with Jazz chords and Soul samples, such as “Love Me”, where Cinco pleads for the people around him to “Keep it real”, referencing another track on the album, and wearing his Drake influence on his sleeve. Overall, Cinco seems unconcerned with fame and whether he has fallen out of Rap’s most popular circles, because the “Traphouse Bunkin” as always, because times will always be “Up & Down”, and because he remains “The One.” Don’t Play Wit Him is available for stream and purchase on all streaming platforms, with a tagged version hosted by GuyATL available for free on all the mixtape platforms. It remains relevant, and worthy of your ears, as Cinco pushes the boundaries further than most. If you hear similar-sounding songs from your favorite artists 6 months down the line, you’ll know where they came from, even though Johnny Cinco will likely be moving in another direction by then.

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