Well here we are into the first part of May, and I'm wondering where the fuck March and April went. I apologize for dropping the F bomb on you in the very first sentence—though I suspect if you've decided to read a column about hip-hop that you’re at least somewhat into rap, and thus are quite familiar with offensive language, of which, the F word is perhaps the least insulting—so let’s just plow forward here and pretend that everything I just wrote wasn’t a poorly disguised attempt to get my word count up. Truth is I’ve been busy with a couple things not (directly) related to rap that have resulted in my two-month absence from this column. I recently went deep down a neo-grunge/nu-grunge/grunge revival/grunge punk/grunge anything Spotify rabbit hole that strong-armed its way into the corner of my listening space that’s normally dedicated to rap mixtapes. But the biggest deterrent to me getting this done comes as the result of my very real and very serious basketball addiction – a deep-rooted fanaticism that every year during these same months takes precedence over even the most important things in my life. When it comes to watching Tyus Jones play in the Minnesota State Boy’s Basketball tournament, or seeing Chris Webber reunite with his Fab 5 teammates at the Michigan vs. Louisville NCAA Championship game, I will do stupid things like miss family member’s birthdays or forget to feed the cat for days on end. And now that were already into the second round of the NBA playoffs, where there’s a game on every night for the foreseeable future, I very well could damage my health by forgetting to sleep or eat properly, let alone remember trivial things like how there’s too many rappers.
In the (Sort Of) New Mixtapes department…
Quelle Chris – 2 Dirt 4 TV episode 2: Niggas is Men
This one is tricky as far as classification goes. It was originally unleashed as a free download back in March, but has since been released in physical form with a price tag attached to it. For the purpose of this column, I’m calling it a mixtape since I got it back when it was a free and that it’s advertised as a prelude to Quelle’s “proper debut” on Mello Music Group. Niggas Is Men is the second episode of the Quelle Chris’ 2 Dirt 4 TV series. The production is handled by Stifu, Messiah Musik, and of course, Quelle himself. The majority of the songs feature verses from Cavalier, so even at 14 songs long, Quelle’s oddball delivery doesn’t wear-on as much as it did on his debut full-length, Shotgun & Sleek Rifle. “Natural Flavors” has the captivating buzzed-out bass beat that invokes the same feeling of intrigue I got when I first heard The S.O.N. EP. Tracks like “Greene Eyes”, “Good Days” and “Long Tokes” are the type of head-nodders that rely heavily on raw sample loops. As long as Quelle Chris keeps making music, you can count on me to cover it.
Skip Rage – Rowdy Babe$ & Cold Beer
I swear, sometimes I don’t know why I even bother with some of this rap shit. I mean I am clearly not the target market for any of this, yet I feel some weird obligation to give all of it a try. Skip Rage is from the new school of New Yorkers that do rap music in a way that is anything but stereotypical New York rap – you know, “the new New York” or whatever. Rowdy Babe$ & Cold Beers, as you may have guessed by looking at the name and cover art, is on some straight spring break shit. It’s void of any lyrical substance, it has dubstep beats, it has chopped & screwed hooks, and its’ ripe with virtually every current rap cliché possible – poppin’ Molly, smokin’ weed, sippin’ syrup, replacing vowels in words with Vs or Xs, gettin’ dat pussy, getting’ dat money, etc. Take for example the hook from “Blvck Bandana”, a track which features a verse from Ninjasonik’s Telli and production by SpaceGhostPurrp: “Ratchet-ass bitches – they can eat a dick/A trill-ass bitch is who I’m fuckin’ with.” Skip Rage is exactly the reason parents and politicians hate rap music. He’s also kind of why I love it. But please don’t tell that to my mother, girlfriend, employer, or anyone who might have an ounce of respect for me.
Termanology – Hood Politics 7
In what is already the seventh edition of Termanology’s Hood Politics series of tapes, the Boston emcee continues to prove his worth – maintaining a mutual respect amongst his contemporaries, as well as positioning himself, should he be given the chance, to take a run at the mainstream. The tape's early bid for best track finds Term teaming up with longtime 1982 partner beastsmith Statik Selektah for “I Fuck Fans.” Statik lends the track some extra mileage with his flawless record scratching. Raekwon, Method Man, Cappadonna and others join Term on the posse cut “Men of Respect.” The song is held together nicely with some hard-hitting boom-bap courtesy of Mathematics. Midway through tape, once again with Statik behind the boards and on the cuts, “Something Special” shows Term flexing hard-edged street rhymes redolent of past releases like Fizzyology. I’m not much for the softer R&B or dance-y infections that show up throughout the tape, but that’s likely the route that will take Termanology to the next level, should it happen. At 20 tracks long there is definitely some filler here, but it’s worth the download just for the 10 or so bangers.
Western Tink & Beautiful Lou – Mobbin’ No Sobbin’
My initial reaction is to call this blogger-approved rap, which, yes, I do realize is ironic considering I’m talking about it on a blog. I’m just saying that much in the same way that Fucked Up or Iceage are punk bands applauded largely by not-very-punk indie rock websites and their readership, Mobbin’ No Sobbin’ strikes me as the type of rap that would get favorable attention from outlets where the people writing about it don’t normally like rap music that isn’t, for lack of a better term, weird. To further my point, Beautiful Lou’s most popular beats to date are the ones he has done for Lil B and Kitty Pride & Riff Raff. After a lackluster start the tape begins warming up with “Gity Up.” Western Tink goes hard over Lou’s fuzzy, screwed trap beat: “Fuck the laws, fuck the rules, fuck your family, and you’re dead homies too.” One of the best songs comes mid-tape with “Bounce Back,” an infectious stripper pole-ready jump track that commands neck snapping from the listener. The song accurately encompasses the tape as a whole – it’s bass-heavy Texas rap where everything is at a favorable level of loudness that borders on distortion. Mobbin’ No Sobbin’ is a solid tape front to back and totally worth the download.
Various Artists – New York Renaissance
Whether or not you believe that New York was in need of a rap “renaissance” probably depends on your history of seeking out and actually listening to rap music, what region of the country you prefer your rap music to come from, and/or if you only hear what’s on the radio or MTV Jams and BET. Personally, as someone who never quit listening to rap—especially boom-bap—I don’t think New York (or East Coast for that matter) rap ever went away. That being said, I’m thoroughly excited about New York’s current crop of underground up ‘n’ comers, even If I’m hesitant to treat them as some sort of hip-hop messiahs. New York Renaissance is compilation of said newbies, curated by NYC radio station Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg. If you’re already hip to Action Bronson, Joey Bada$$, Smoke DZA, Troy Ave, Flatbush Zombies, Harry Fraud, A$AP Rocky, Oddisee or Homeboy Sandman then you’ll probably dig it. If you’ve never heard of these names or listened to any of their material, then you should at least see what all the hype is about. I’m kind of wondering where Mr. MFN eXquire is on this thing, but other than that I don’t have many complaints. I like Smoke DZA & The Kid Daytona’s song simply because it’s called “Arn & Tully,” which is a reference to one of the greatest tag-teams in the history of professional wrestling. And the live radio freestyles will appeal to fans of hip-hop radio shows.In the Personal Propaghanda department...
My partners in crime and I have just released new issues of two different zines. HotDogDayz is 40 pages, front to back; primarily image-based - photos, found items, art, etc.; and photocopied - mostly in color. The Soda Killers, a rap, punk and graffiti affair, is 48 pages, front to back; with record and show reviews, graffiti flicks, and more; it's a cut 'n' paste layout; photocopied - mostly in B&W, with some color. Both are issues #3, and both are available for free, trade, or donation.