Xavier Lee’s Peteywood begins with a haunting conceit: A drumless intro, Lee rapping entirely over eerie piano. It’s immediately reminiscent of Tyler, The Creator’s towering Bastard intro and an indicator of dark personal exploration to come.
“Peteywood started off as an inside joke to piss people off because it’s not a bad place at all,” says Lee via email of the project’s inspiration. “People from the metro Atlanta area tend to scream out their hoods/sets before a fight or when there about to put in work to prove themselves to everybody and to me that’s stupid. Just because someones not from the worst part of the city or not from your hood doesn’t mean they don’t have the ability to defend themselves or throw hands just like the next man.”
“So that’s why you hear ‘Peteyyyyywooood’ on almost every song on the tape. It’s me making fun of everyone I had issues with as a kid that would try to scream where they’re from before a serious event.”
At times, Lee raps with a cadence akin to that of Vince Staples at his most measured, a deliberate drawl that lends gravity to each word. It’s most effective on the aforementioned “INTRO/BFMA” and standouts “DAMN,” “LEGENDARY,” “MAKE THAT,” and chilling “I’M SORRY,” a journey into the mind of a school shooter that only reveals its full scope on completion.
“I’m basically explaining the issues I had growing up, but I know there’s someone out there from a different city or country that can relate as well,” Lee continues. “I’m from little ole shitty Austell, Georgia that gets overshadowed by Atlanta. Anybody else that grew up right beside a big city can understand.”
Sonically, Peteywood is as grim as it is varied—thanks in large part to producer SenseiATL, who worked half of the mixtape’s songs. Peteywood pulls from Soul Food-era Organized Noize, A$AP Rocky circa Live.Love.A$AP, current Atlanta hip-hop, and, of course, Tyler’s seminal work for a pitch black production palette befitting a bleak journey into memory.
“Peteywood is the street I lived on for 13 years and was the only place that would keep me out of trouble because I had a lot of issues with other kids from the west-end [of Atlanta] because they thought they could get over on me or just make fun of me because of what I had on which resulted in a lot of suspensions, bloody t-shirts, few run ins with police and ISS days,” Lee elaborates on his childhood home. “Peteywood is also where I wrote my first rhymes and everything. Peteywood was my safe haven.”