Mixtape Review: Red Cafe’s “Hell’s Kitchen”


Rating: 8/10

With his first official album, Shakedown, coming out this spring, Red Cafe’s new mixtape Hell’s Kitchen is certain to hold fans over as he delivers another album-quality tape with a handful of bangers and guest appearances from 2 Chainz, Wale, J. Cole, Fabolous, Trey Songz, and Meek Mill among others.

The tape begins with the title track, “Hell’s Kitchen” which sets the tone for what’s to come, as Red lets it be known that he “Went to sleep the champ / woke up with the title.” The drum-heavy track is complimented by a high-pitched vocal sample, which is most audible on the hook as Red asks listeners a question by stating “Hell’s Kitchen / What Else?” On the very next track, “His Story,” Red starts off his verse by rapping about putting on for his label, Bad Boy Records (“Mase went to church / I signed to Bad Boy / Got right to work”).

The strong start continues on the remix to the Jahlil Beats produced, “Let It Go.” Red Cafe is joined on the track by Bad Boy boss Diddy as well as label-mate French Montana and takes time to make reference to Will Smith’s character in the movie Bad Boys (“Ain’t been a better bad boy since Mike Lowery”). In the song’s third verse, 2 Chainz then makes the first of his two appearances on the mixtape, continuing to build his momentum in 2012, as it seems like he’s been featured on every mixtape released so far this year.

Trey Songz, Wale, and J. Cole join Red Cafe on the remix to the popular “Fly Together” produced by Ryan Leslie. The song’s feel-good vibe finds each rapper speaking to the ladies on their respective verse and letting them know the luxuries they can experience if they join them; Wale offers first class seats and drinks (“First class seats / Bottles on me”), while J. Cole prefers to invite his woman overseas  (“Come with me, to Madrid that’s where Real play). The song comes together on the chorus, as Trey Songz replaces Ryan Leslie on the hook singing, “When I fly, you fly, we fly together…” As the tape progresses, Red Cafe demonstrates his versatility, especially on “Can You Hear Me,” as he raps about more serious issues including street life, his kids, religion, and even politics.

With an album-type feel to it, Red Cafe’s Hell’s Kitchen joins the growing list of hot mixtapes released so far this year. With his album, Shakedown, on the way this spring, Red Cafe will look to continue to represent well for Bad Boy by continuing to grow the buzz and momentum generated by Hell’s Kitchen.

Checkout AllHipHop’s exclusive interview with Red Cafe and footage from the Hell’s Kitchen listening party below: