Wrap Up Vol. 2

Here’s some bits and pieces I’ve been feeling lately which there’s no point me posting on Facebook cos 99% of my friends think rap music died in 1988 with the release of Jurassic 5’s last album.

Fabolous – Been Around The World RMX Freestyle (2015)

This is my favourite rap thing of the year so far, and it’s a New York veteran doing a sorta-impersonation of Ma$e and Puff Daddy over a beat from the late 90s. I remember Martorialist saying that Pusha T had lost the nonchalance he used to have, and when you hear how much nonchalance Fab has here it makes you realise that Pusha probably owed some of that nonchalance to his love of Bad Boy rappers (hence his Biggie impersonation on that one Clipse track, and his more recent Ma$e impersonation). Maybe it’s New York rap’s number one problem, this inability to sound calm and composed? It has lost its arrogance, its imperial swagger.

Young Thug – Pass Me The Lighter (2015)

Just as I have failed to listen to the Kendrick album, I have also failed to listen to the recent Leakening of Young Thug tracks, the most momentous event of its kind since Wikileaks exposed the military-industrial complex. Of those leaked bits that I’ve heard, this is probably my favourite (although “Flaws” is also up there). This music is uniquely suited to listening to while travelling around London on a sunny day, waved off that second pint of Kronenberg. It might be even better suited to smoking blunts and cavorting with strippers, who knows?

I could write at length (and have) about Young Thug’s avant-garde appeal, his mixture of infantile-sounding inflection with (ostensibly) grown-man gangsta lyrics, even his Liam G-esque androgynous sex appeal, but let’s leave it at praising his endless store of catchy melodies and flows, his superior technique. Some people would laugh at claims that Young Thug is a technical rapper, because he sounds a bit like a retard rapper, but don’t be fooled by his foolery – listen closely and you can hear how crafted his raps are. He knows what he’s doing, even if the rest of us (joyfully) can’t.

The absolute best thing about these leaks from my point of view has been that they’ve sent me back like the prodigal son to last years Rich Gang: The Tour mixtape, which on certain sunny, Kronenberg-waved days, strikes me as being the crowning achievement of rap from 2010-2015.

Rich Gang – See You (2014)

Kevin Gates – Chico (2015)

I prefer Gates singing to Gates rapping (it’s a matter of taste, really, since he’s certainly got more to say than the average rapper), and in the current melody-friendly street rap climate, Gates is uniquely well equipped to drop the sort of drug-dealing and murder anthems that all the family can sing along to.

Lil Herb – XXL (2015)

Lil Bibby – You Ain’t Poppin’ (Remix) (2015)

“XXL” is a freestyle from one of those generically named Chi town rappers about not getting on the XXL Freshman list, which is apparently quite an important list to get on, presumably from the perspective of online news coverage, since nobody is buying magazines in 2015 other than 102 year old motherfuckers who’ve got to pick up that Angler’s Time every first Thursday of the month cos their alzheimers precludes them from remembering a Kindle account password. No longer do rappers “load magazines like Chantelle Fiddy”; instead they just ignore magazines like action-movie shootout conventions.

Usually, that would be a crude segue-way into talking about Chi town rappers, cos they usually talk about guns a lot, but this tune actually sounds more like a Tree than King Louie, with it’s chopped up soul sample and gravelly voiced rapping courtesy of Herbo. “All this time I grew up lookin at the gangsta rappers, ain’t met a gangsta rapper yet since I became a rapper”. Lil Bibby’s ”You Ain’t Poppin RMX” is closer to the generic drill sound but is a perfectly worthy example of that form.

King Louie – Where I Come From (2015)

There are a number of perfectly worthy examples of the drill form on Louie’s Drilluminati 3 mixtape and then there’s the customary 5 star classic example of the form in “Where I Come From” which is, predictably enough, produced by C-Sick, who really should be the Zaytoven to Louie’s Gucci. Louie is pretty experimental as drill rappers go (although maybe that’s not that big a deal, considering stuff like Chicago’s Bop scene and Chief Keef’s avant-garde post ”Finally Rich” material), and on D3 he screeches, sings and slurs his way through the Dresden-bombing soundscapes, rolling out the full panoply of vocal tricks that a street rapper practically needs nowadays in order not to sound like they’re trying to emulate the Cold Crush Brothers.

This is all well and good, and produces some bizarre bangers, but perhaps this tendency to take liberties helps explain why most of Louie’s mixtapes are about 90% disposable, and 10% ESSENTIAL. When he gets down to brass tacks, as on this track, there’s nobody quite as skilful, or quite as scary. This has the haunted, and haunting, quality of a mid 90’s Mobb Deep track, only now the ghost in the machine is really in a machine, coursing through the dehumanised synthetic apparatus of midwest trap production.

Waka Flocka Flame & Future – Get High With Me (2015)

This track opens with renowned fan-crippling EDM goon and dance music culture-rapist Steve Aoki doing a sort of radio jingle, but fast forward that and you’re treated to some top-class auto-tuned mumbling from Future Hendrix and some furious double-time hammers from Waka over a minimalist, dancehall-style riddim from 808 Mafia. It’s not THAT great, but it’s a lot better than the dubstep/trance track I was dreading. A lot of people don’t like Waka’s new rappity-rap direction, seeing it as a sort of betrayal of the admirably technique-snubbing rapping of Flockaveli, but I actually think it works as a good foil for Future’s studiously inarticulate stye, and I wouldn’t mind an entire mixtape from these two (/three if you’re counting 808 Mafia, as you should).

First Quarter Rap Up Pt. 1


Here’s a short list of rap songs I’ve enjoyed so far this year.

Spenzo feat. Bloody Jay – Choppa City

This 808 Mafia beat kicks off almost identically to their “Danny Glover” beat. Although neither beat nor song is on that level (but what is? “Goodnight, Sweet Prince, and may “Danny Glover” sing you to your rest.”), it’s another amazingly visceral production, with a harumphing distorted kick drum stamping on your ear-drums like an enraged elephant’s foot while a panicked Spenzo runs around the plains like a headless chicken screaming ”CHOPPACITY!” again and again and again.

Bankroll Fresh feat. T.I. – Dope Boy Shit (REMIX)

Triumphant “Hail the King!” horn riff as played through a Casio keyboard circa 1995? Perfect fodder for T.“What You Know About That?” I. I like the weird drum pattern on this, and the feeling like its constantly building up to a point of hysteria. Feels like a throwback to late 90s bounce-rap, which isn’t surprising given Bankroll Fresh’s obvious proclivity for N.O.stalgia.

Royce Rizzy feat. Wiz Khalifa, Iamsu! & Cassius Jay – Hoe In You (REMIX)

I dunno if this is superior to the original, which only features Wiz, but I’m inclined to listen to this one cos I don’t really like Wiz that much (prepare for self-contradiction) and therefore there’s proportionally less of him on the remix. It’s like drowning out the disgusting taste of vodka with more Pepsi. This is produced by Zaytoven, and is one of the best AutoGoon anthems I’ve heard in a while. Is this 2014/15’s “The Bitch In You“? It’s better, that’s for sure, so maybe we really do already live in a glorious utopian future. By 2030 all rapping will be sung, by robots. Which will be a relief, I reckon, especially for insecure nerdy white-boys like me, who will build and maintain these robots.

Flatbush ZOMBiES feat. Domo Genesis – Plz Don’t Make Me Do It

Personally I’ve always imagined the Flatbush Zombies to be a Noisey/Fader conspiracy against the authentic hip-hop culture (the same illuminati scheme that replaced the amazing Danny Brown with a shit-haired android that can only screech) but this tune is actually good so shut my mouth and cut off my fingers. I’m a sucker for this type of loop, and despite definite retro leanings this doesn’t feel like a second-rate piece of 90s hip-hop that somebody found in a car-boot sale.

CyHi The Prynce – Master P

I hate CyHi The Prynce’s name, densely humped with typographical land-mines, so I never listened to any of his music before I reviewed his latest mixtape. I liked the mixtape a lot, so again, cut off my fingaz and call me ChRLY if I’m ever to be trusted again. NOTE: “Master P” is by some distance the best song on the whole tape, though. CyHi resembles Ras Kass vocally (despite hailing from G.A.) and in other ways too: the regal name, the flourished vocab, the mixture of street-smarts and book-smarts, the disdain dripping off his voice. He just goes the fuck off on this track. BETTER THAN BIG SEAN. (Does that really need to be capitalised?)

Chief Keef – Himalayas

I’ve just now been rebuked on Dissensus for toeing the old “his beats are good / his raps are shit” hipster line on Keef’s recent music, and I had to take the L cos if you listen closely to him here, e.g., he’s rapping well. In my defence, I think you HAVE TO listen to him closely these days cos his voice is so faint and slurry. Thing is, I previously wrote off my now-hero Gucci Mane for similar reasons, and although I don’t think Keef is on Gucci’s level (esp. not 2007-9 Gucci), he’s certainly better than most of his critics give him credit for. Well, to be obvious as fuck, the beat on this is WEE-ERRD. It’s like a magical land of Oz covered in litter and shell casings.

Addition created intoxicated: Wow I underrated this by not ranting about it a bit. This beat is not ”Oz covered in blah blah”, it’s Zaytoven squeezed into a weirder constriction, the fiddles sounding almost squashed and rubbery (a quality certainly unlocked in auto-tune rap), and Keef is also a bit of a squashed Gucci, the volume and charisma dialled dowwwn, the playfulness with words, the idiosyncratic lines like “I put the D in Deceit”, the hook soooo Gucci-esque. Maybe Keef really IS the heir to Gucci’s throne?

Young Thug – Free Gucci 

Speaking of Big Cat La Flare, here’s another child of Gucci paying oblique tribute to his father (or just tying it in to a song about wearing Gucci). This is Metro Boomin’ x Young Thug (MetroThuggin’ or Young Moomin). Young Thug x London On The Track is represented this year by “I Swear To God”. Also worth checking is “Lil Mama”, slated to be on the – we can only pray to Based God still to be released – part 2 of the Rich Gang Tour mixtape series. I mean, yes, he called Rich Homie Quan “Bitch Homie Quan” but anybody with a friend called Rich knows that this is a temptation not easily to avoided, especially when you’re off your tits on codeine.