Stunt This Summer
J Money f/ Yung LA – “Summer”
The Internet, 2014
A few months ago the two most important overlooked innovators in modern Atlanta rap history reunited for a song about how great summer is and of course it fell far under the radar because that’s where these guys stay. “Summer” is everything you could possibly want from two guys everyone forgot – it’s old-swaggy but not especially outdated or redundant, it’s autotuned but only a little bit and it delivers more joy in under three minutes than K Camp does in all of his songs combined.
Bas f/ J. Cole – “My N***a Just Made Bail”
from Last Winter (Dreamville/Interscope, 2014)
An unexpectedly nice little cut from J. Cole’s nigh-ungooglable weed carrier who some how got to put out an album on a major label at a time when even Lil Wayne can’t get a release date. Bas doesn’t get in the way here and Cole himself shows up with a typically Colesian verse (Frederick Douglass was the Frederick Douglass of rhetoric, buddy) but much like the only other J. Cole song I’ve ever enjoyed the track owes its success to simple but smart sample selection. (In both cases I was like Hey Well At This Guy Is A Pretty Great Producer At Least before realizing that no Cole did not actually produce either song.) The loop here sounds familiar but not immediately recognizable – it could very well just be Generic Brazilian Guitar #43 – still it makes a nice enough addition to the Copacabana backpack rap canon alongside J-Live’s “Don’t Play,” Consequence’s “Don’t Forget ‘Em” and uhhh I guess this pre-Fergie Black Eyed Peas single. (Produced by GP808 and Hottrak)
Bobby Shmurda – “Hot N***ga”
from GS9 – Shmoney Shmurda Promo (Mixtape, 2014)
So “Hot N Word” and its similarly Vineable sister record, “Shmoney Dance” are leaving this rap nerd with intensely mixed feelings. On one hand it’s nice to hear some buzzworthy and modern New York rap that isn’t of either the Joey Badass/Peter Rosenberg snapback nostalgia assembly line or the French Montana spineless industry dickriding variety and Shmurda does do a good enough job of flipping what previously seemed like a middling Jahlil Beats produced Lloyd Banks record into something that actually has some life in it. On the other this shit is so deeply indebted to Chicago and while Chicago kids still drop songs of this caliber and format on a semi-regular basis, as well as ones that are infinitely more interesting, you can already see thirst bucket New York industry vultures circling. Inevitably this means doing all sorts of logistical gymnastics to discredit the lyricism of native Drill rappers, as if King Louie and Lil Herb never existed, while of course still indulging in the same wide eyed poverty voyeurism that at least partially fueled the initial internet rise of that genre two years ago. I mean in the inaugural Shmurda post at Complex, Insanul Ahmed actually wrote “Bobby and his friends feel like authentically rowdy New York kids—the kind that get into fights on the train” and there aren’t enough underscores in the world to match an emoticon to my face when I read that sentence. Anyway I want to start all over printing the text from my blog posts onto sweatsuits the way Rowdy Rebbel does with Biggie lyrics.
Young Moose – “Posted”
from Out The Mud (Mixtape, 2014)
If you want to talk final form post-regional rap then look not just to the hard body Brooklynites pretending to be from the Southside of Chicago but also to Baltimore rappers who are somehow making great Baton Rouge rap songs. With “Posted” and about half of his Out The Mud tape, Moose rightfully acknowledges Louisiana, 1997-present – and not Atlanta, 2009 or Chicago, 2011 – as the creative apex of modern street ra, which puts him in the esteemed company of Doughboyz Cash Out and Frankie Tha Lucky Dog.
Lil Uzi Vert – “U.Z.I.”
from Soundcloud, 2014
Alternately you could look to Philadelphia rappers who sound like Atlanta rappers but then again that’s hardly a new development. One of but a handful of interesting records to come out of the post-Young Thug world that I once dreamed of and now fear, “U.Z.I.” has been getting regular burn from my mixshow crush DJ Diamond Kuts. Uzi is not quite fully evolved as a rapper and if you were to strip him from this beat that might be more apparent but goddamn it seems like Charlie Heat’s glass clank and trunk rattle textures could carry just about anyone. Respect due to any rap producer aiming to make Yeezus and “Sh!t” sound thin. (Uzi also has a song called “Meek Mill” that sounds nothing like Meek Mill, simultaneously speaking to Meek’s influence and sorta kinda non-influence in the same wheezed breath. If this kid or any kid could learn to rap like Meek while moving like Thug we would have a problem on our hands. Teach this hypothetical rapper how to rap about something other than guns – or at least how to rap about guns in a more original and thoughtful manner – and you’d have the best artist of our time.)
Lupe Fiasco f/ Ty Dolla $ign – “Next To It”
Yes Atlantic Records For T.I. Clearance has become a genre unto itself and this collab reeks of the same roster dart board Frankenstein sensibility that has ruined almost every single single this label has dropped in the past five years but I’m oddly not mad at it. It’s a very rare intersection where Lupe doesn’t come of as particularly pedantic and Ty doesn’t sound like a creep. Plus the beat, laced by Ty and one time Sa-Ra partner Shafiq Husayn, is a bit of a low key slow motion slumper. I’d like to think that they are purposely microprocessing “Where Dey At” here but it’s more likely that they’re just rocking with an “Ayy Ladies” atom from some internet Insta-Ratchet Sample Kit.
Lil Blood f/ Young Nu & HD – “The Infrastructure”
from Heroin Music 2: The Red Walker Story (Livewire, Coming Soon)
When you spend as much Rasputin’s credit on new local Bay Area rap CDrs as I do you quickly learn that, for all of their talents, most of these nu-mobb Livewire/Bearfaced/etc. dudes live or die by their production. Listen to a few them live here, atop of the type of flutes that only Beanie Sigel could hate.
Plies f/ Luke – “Thick”
Plies is one of my favorite rappers of the 21st century and squares always look at me crooked when I say that but at least part of his appeal lies in his breadth and adaptability. It’s been four years since his last retail album – THANKS LYOR – and he’s been playing the same style roulette that anyone at the bottom of a major label roster is subject to in 2014. Naturally this has meant a handful of the sort of cloying for da ladies records that have kept him in rotation for the duration of his career. But he’s also managed to cover a lot of new ground both conceptually – crying in the shower, fucking the preacher’s daughter and even dropping some well intentioned first response conscious raps – and musically as well, jumping on some truly heavy sample based shit and even beating Jeezy to the Southern-Ratchet fusion punch by a few months . “Thick” is the latest and least expected of these deviations, and while it maybe isn’t quite as great as it could be it’s a goddamn 2014 Miami bass record (err… Ft. Myers Bass?) and Uncle Luke himself is on it so of course it’s pretty great.
Leikeli47 – “Fuck The Summer Up”
Yes these ladies are straight running hamster wheels on the zeitgeist with the ASAP-vision video and the pastels and the cutesy gunplay and the careful anonymity via Spring Breakers balaclavas – I stumbled onto this organically via late night Youtube mainlining and of course Fader had already posted it because it’s like one of their interns’ visionboards come to life – but the beat alone warrants some kind of mention. Those stutter vocal structures, produced by I Don’t Know Who, are enough to dilate all pupils, sounding like COH Meets Cosey on tremendo blap. Plus, y’know, it’s about summer summer summertime like the title of this blog post.