Big Sant and Redcoat Da Poet, of the Atlanta-based rap duo 2 Player, are well aware of the fact that there’s nothing new under the sun. One recent afternoon in a North Atlanta studio, Coat explained the concept behind 2 Player’s latest project, Retro South, released through the independent imprint Out Da Trunk Productions.
His stance is: if the East Coast can currently enjoy drill via artists like Fivio Foreign as well as that classic boom-bap from the increasingly ubiquitous Griselda family, then the South could have their subgenres co-exist as well in 2021.
And why not?
There was Southern rap before the trap. It isn’t that rappers Down South aren’t still out here doing what feels right, either. If Sant’s name sounds especially familiar, it’s likely because he’s had countless features alongside Big KRIT—his friend since childhood—but his current position as one-half of 2 Player couldn’t have come at a better time or with a better partner.
“I feel like our purpose was aligned,” Redcoat shares. “What we want outta this rap shit. How much we care about the bars. How much we care about it being soulful and the impact. Us having similar influences was important and us being underground for so long.
“Sant actually dropped the SleEP, that project was like, ‘Man, I’m cold out here and y’all sleeping on me. I just felt like whenever I heard Sant, he raps like he has a chip on his shoulder, in a good way,” Coat continues. “But I always felt like I did the same. So it’s like, we’re doing the same thing with different voices. So it was like, ‘Let’s bring our voices together.’”
After seeing each other around the city, Sant and Coat found that they moved in a lot of the same circles. It only made sense that they try some experimentation in the studio. “The reason me and Coat sound so good together is because musically, we’re mature. We’re OGs in this thing,” Sant expounds. “I’ve been putting music out since I was 13 years old, back in 1999.”
Sant added, “Coat been doing music since Lord knows when. But because of accessibility, there weren’t a lot of rappers when we were young. It wasn’t like now where anyone could download a program and get to it. You can record a studio level song on your phone now. So me and Coat been working at what we been doing for so long that when you put those two levels of experience together? It came out really good.”
In 2018, Sant was mourning his mom’s untimely passing and the work had to wait. The two linked up to record their first song “Parking Lot 1 & 2” later that year. “I was still dealing with the loss of my mother and Coat had been hitting me all of 2018 to do a song,” Sant reveals. “He’d put out Made in the Trunk earlier that year and in 2019, it only took us a month to put out the 2 Player project because there was no excess. We had six beats so we did six songs and it was over.
“Me and Coat were just making music,” says Sant. “We weren’t a group per se. But we did ‘Parking Lot’ and when we shot the video for it, we fucked it up and decided to do a show together, so we did a show. It was like halfway through recording it we were like, ‘Let’s plan to put a project out’ then we played around with names. Coat came with this contra concept, like video games then it was like an explosion. ‘Two Player.’ It was right there!”
Now, two years after the release of their debut EP, 2 Player has reunited to present another body of work primed to place them in direct view of anyone looking to hear some classic Southern vibes reminiscent of ‘90s Dungeon Family, UGK and 8-Ball & MJG, the same groups Sant and Coat pay homage to throughout the album.
Retro South opens with “Hall of Fame,” featuring hard-hitting one-liners from both, capped off with some insightful words from the late Kobe Bryant, that echo the guys’ sentiments on their current positioning: “I was not gonna be stopped. At the age of 18 this was my life. So you can’t possibly become better than me because you’re not spending the time on it that I do. Even if you wanna spend the time, you can’t, because you have other things, other responsibilities that are taking you away from that. So I already won.”
The album has several significant movements. At some points, 2 Player experiments with the sound of mid-to-late ‘90s Memphis, other times the album sounds like Port Arthur, Tx. The duo even named one of their songs “Chad and Premro.” They were also sure to include some A-Town vibes on songs on like “Odyssey” and “Tennessee Tuxedo.”
“For me,” Coats starts with a chuckle. “I told Sant, ‘Man, look my nigga. I don’t know what you think going on but I’ma get you on this project singing. Period.’
Because I just felt like as soon as we get Sant singing… Phonte, Cee-Lo, Andre , feel me? He got it, his voice is crazy. ‘Tennessee Tuxedo’ and ‘Odyssey’ are really great records in how much farther we can go.”
Sant’s baritone on the aforementioned songs add a velvety layer to Coat’s smooth delivery and clever lyricism. It’s all well-executed for 2 Player to have completed the entire LP in mere months, with the help of the Out Da Trunk team of course. The duo’s manager Frazier has engineered for Redcoat since 2015, moving into an executive producer role for Retro South. Bad Klad has been working with Redcoat for a decade and although Coat is more than capable of masterminding some amazing beats, 2 Player has entrusted Klad with five of the album’s tracks with fellow producers Druex Kaine, T.P., iLL Will and Avevo all filling in, handling one track respectively.
In regard to Coat’s evolution, transitioning from the boards, Sant quips: “He be in there full Diddy-ing…”
Coat doesn’t miss a beat. “Nah, man…,” he says with a laugh. “If Bad Klad going crazy, there’s no reason to touch it. If Avevo sends a ridiculous beat I’m just rapping on it. And by me doing that, it allows me to just be a great lyricist because it’s not so much weight. It can really be a team effort.”
All in all, 2 Player is diligent about paying tribute to the Southern rap that made them and they’re mindful of what they hope to give back. “It’s really a true love for it,” Coat admits. “For us to still be doing this shit. You gotta love it. Especially us having been through the tape era, the CD era, the mp3 era… We both have this ‘out the trunk’ mentality.”