le$ catalina wine mixer

One lengthy session between mutual friends yields Le$’ best work in The Catalina Wine Mixer.

The concept of The Catalina Wine Mixer, at least in pop culture terms dates back to the film Step Brothers, the 2008 comedy starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reily. Then, it was a fictitious closer, a bonding experience for the two former foes turned best friends. Le$ and Todd Louis don’t have any animosity in their brotherhood. Instead, the Beaumont to Houston transplant and the Louisiana to Houston transplant are more like cousins who never got around to doing fun things with each other. Until now.

Louis, if you don’t know by now is one of the heads behind Things With Todd. The off-center web series is rich in dry humor, weed jokes and Houston culture. In its very second episode, Le$ shows up to deadpan at almost all of Todd’s jokes and to show him around 8th Wonder Brewery while they’re holding a SLAB contest in the summer. The show may have been the end point for one of Todd and Le$’ many ideas of getting high and doing God knows what. It also turned into the starting point of something different, something new.

All year, Le$ has doubled back and forth between soaked Houston smoothness and California centric synths and bounce. Midnight Club and Summer Madness became two of his favorite tapes, but nothing like the game changer that was E36. Leave it to Todd, the guy who helped implement jazzy, open world soundscapes for The Niceguys to help bring Le$ back into his E36 pocket.

The Catalina Wine Mixer from Le$ is a long overdue tape. It’s a long overdue Todd experience too as it is his first tape outside of his Niceguys’ bubble. “Got to go and get it, ain’t no money bout to find you,” Le$ raps on “Prestige Worldwide.” There are lazy horns that saunter around piano stabs here as Le$ scoffs his way back into telling it how it is, his deposition throughout the 9-track project. He’s relaxed, manipulating flows and concepts around Todd’s highwire production. “How they follow sucker n—as, boy I’ll never know.”

“This my best sh-t,” Le$ told me last week, days before the official release of The Catalina Wine Mixer. There’s no air of indifference in his voice either. Sitting in the driver seat of his Jeep, he pressed play while Todd sat in the backseat. Mutual fans of one another’s work, the two logged in a marathon session at Le$ and Jorgey Films’ midtown office to create the relaxed world inside the Wine Mixer. Wonder why Le$ is pressing to sing Michael McDonald when he’s finally finished rapping? Because Todd was in the office cracking jokes while old comedy movies played in the background.

The Catalina Wine Mixer may be Le$’ strongest work to date. He doubles down on his prophecy by throwing up Jaz-O’s “Originator” flow for “Nico Toscani.” His parables and life lessons, even if they may sound ordinary, sound more like the New Testament through clouds of weed smoke. Built off of light-hearted interplay combined with file your fingernails and eat your favorite snack production, the Wine Mixer is a real ass position and mental state. Le$ and Todd Louis got there. Now they want you to show up too.