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Best Rap, 2011

December 15th, 2011

It’s the end of the year again and at the end of the year we make lists. So here is a list of rap songs that either mattered or should have mattered in 2011. Read more…

Recent Adds 3/11

March 25th, 2011

Recent Adds is the series where we check terrestrial radio charts to see what independent records have been added to the playlists recently. The idea is that it will help shine some light on semi-significant or at least payola’d out songs that slip below the blogosphere. Mostly it just results in me making fun of rap names until I overdose on Lex Luger synth sweeps. It’s been almost a year since the last installment so there’s a lot to talk about. Some of it’s actually good. Most of it features Yo Gotti. Read more…

New Rap Music

March 22nd, 2011

If you haven’t yet noticed, most of my day-to-day hulkshare coverage has been taking place over at Tumblin’ Erb. Still sometimes things get backlogged and that’s when the old New Rap Music column rears its head. Which is what is happening now, right before your eyes.

E-40 f/ Beeda Weeda & Work of the DB’z – “In The Morning

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from Revenue Retreivin’ (Sick Wid It, 3/29)

Trying to pick a single track to feature out of the 40 that 40 is about to drop next Tuesday is like trying to choose your favorite member of the Dungeon Family (it’s not necessarily Andre goddammit). Minus a few very minor missteps the second round of Revenues is two and a half solid hours of impeccable spittums and blink and you miss it imagery Ooooh sinister mob shit / choppers all in the closet / hydrogen lamps in the attic / warm broccoli spinach and cabbage / vacuum sealer on the counter / right next to the money counter / that’s right next to the scale / for weighing nuts and fruits not yayo / that’s my excuse if they take me to jail. I went with “In The Morning” for that open, in part, (Beeda and Work hold their own here too) but also that. Goddamn. Beat. There’s one song on Overtime Shift (which, on first listen, is feeling like the superior sibling) that opens with an approximation of the THX deep note test sound. Not the most original conceit – Dre did it (and was later sued) – but it seems like an apt metaphor for 40′s production selections right now. Every song has me feeling like the goddamn Maxell man. Wig blown completely back. This ties into what I was saying about Pharoahe Monch a few weeks ago – with age the most technically effortless rappers have the curse of becoming predictable in their unpredictability. The best way to combat this staleness is by continuing to expand the production palette. As out as 40′s beats get he’s still miles ahead, but new sonics bring out the best in him.

Freestyle Fellowship – “Welcome

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I had perhaps unfairly written off the impending Freestyle Fellowship reunion project too early. The LA quartet is comprised of some of the greatest breathing raw talents that rap has ever produced but they also have a chronic streak of underachievement. Much of their recent solo output has been a far cry from their heyday and this is their third reunion in about twelve years, where the two previous ones haven’t quite delivered and they aren’t getting any younger. The few crew tracks that have leaked thus far have been passable but frustratingly conservative and far from awe inspiring. But over the past few days Jupiter has been leaking very lo-fi rips of their recent recordings (96kbps is the new Maxell hiss – though weirdly the files I downloaded were actually ripped at like 400+ kbps?) via his Soundcloud page and it turns out these guys are still outstanding rappers when they want to be and, more importantly, masters of setting an atmosphere. “Welcome,” with its upright bass and endearingly rambling styles upon styles raps, recalls the mystical shamanic vibe of their very underrated late ’90s Shockadoom sessions. The crew fell apart before that album was ever completed. Hopefully they can keep it together this time around.
Read more…

Based On A Two Way Street

March 9th, 2011

Lil B f/ Phonte & Jean Grae – “Base For Your Face” (Internet, 2011)

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Produced by 9th Wonder.

So this happened. Musically the track is exactly what you would expect. Pretty good, if you like that sort of thing. The response is equally predictable. Some twitterers are tweeting mad at Phonte, Jean and 9th. Others are hitting their oh my god Lil B is actually good moment of clarity. Otherers are patting the artists on the back for breaking down the walls. Phonte, Jean and 9th are proudly touting the record, on one hand acting like they’re doing something real rebellious while also working the no really this is really real hip hop guys! angle. As if the Little Brothers weren’t among the very wave of artists who first cultivated the state of hyper restrictive elitism that makes their fans think that B the enemy.* This is fine. I’m not going to scream hypocrite. People are allowed to change their minds. It’s just that the flip flop would be easier to stomach if it were delivered with just a little more self-awareness. Read more…

Freshman Orientation, 2011

February 21st, 2011

Popular rap magazine XXL made a list of rappers again this year. They’re supposed to be famous by next year. A few of them will be, but mostly because they’re already famous today.

They really busted out the demographic dart board for this one. White people! Teenybop kiddies! Lyrically lyrical fast rappers! Generic Southerners! Half the Def Jam roster! Two people from Compton! Based God! Surely making a list like this is damn near impossible given how fractured hip hop has become, but this seems like a particularly slapdash selection. At the peak of this list – Yela, B, Kendrick, Meek – there’s more talent, creativity and promise than the previous two years combined, but the lows are far lower than they’ve ever been. Read more…