Five mid-winter "posse" cuts
Throw a bunch of hot-sixteen spouting knuckleheads and/or fellow-traveler musos together over top of a beat or backing track, and you've got a recipe for awesome sauce, or abject disaster. For every "Scenario (Remix)," you can count on 20 or 25 abortions on the order of "My Drive Thru."
While none of the following intramural jams are especially amazing or epically dire, each one brings a unique vibe and perspective to the table. Also, doesn't this post beat the fuck out of listening to your roommate's Skrillex live bootlegs?
5. DJ Kay Slay feat. Torch, Gunplay, and Ace Hood, "Got Damn"
Sounds Like: these guys need to switch to decaf.
Wack Rapper-Name Quotient: not totally excusable; not totally not over-the-top, either.
The Skinny: obscure, gnarly hip-hop dudes bellow, mean mug, display serious charisma and zero crossover potential.
Stripper-Pole Rating: really low, even though the video is full of strippers shaking what, um, "Got" gave them on some sort of condo roof deck or whatever.
Deep Thought: maybe these four are so piqued because they're stuck with criminally lame rap names.
4. Various Artists, "Hyperbolic Chamber Music"
Sounds Like: a Native Tongues marathon.
Wack Rapper-Name Quotient: astronomical.
Who's onboard? Your grandma, probably. Why would you ask that? Who isn't onboard?
The Skinny: NYC swag/fashion house Мишка recruits tons of middling rappers to spit over a druggy, Teddy Riley-esque Mobius strip produced by Ryan Hemsworth - guys and gals with names like Toothtaker, Supa, Big Baby Gandhi, and Chippy Nonstop. Taken separately, everybody's pretty forgettable; collectively, there's certainly something happening here, even if I wish that something was like five or six minutes shorter.
Undergraduate-friendly verse: "I be damned if I copy what they do on camera/If it's cool, I'm a nerd, Lambda, lambda, lambda/In a 'bama bandanna, cram the exam in my hand."
Most unsurprising, uninspired references to Golden Era urban music touchstones: Digital Underground generally, Da La Soul's "Me, Myself, and I" specifically.
Plus: Who among us doesn't enjoy a nice fake late 1980s/1990s R&B vamp with a snifter of Courvoisier and a Cuban cigar?
Minus: That shit gets crazy old over the course of 22 minutes, no matter how hot the spitting is at any given point.
The Kicker: Corny lady rappers invited to rep weakly for the XX chromosome set after an endless onslaught of bro-down misogyny - with two minutes left to go.
3. Gorillaz feat. Andrew 3000 and James Murphy, "DoYaThing"
Sounds Like: a minor sea change in corporate-bankrolled pop music.
Wack Rapper-Name Quotient: negligible.
The Skinny: three dudes from three very different units in varying states of rigor mortis fuck around in the studio, emerge with blog-friendly banger.
Plus: Andre 3000 going Savion Glover/James Brown manic atop Mount Olympus, metaphorically speaking, forever. Heroically, making Big Boi's frantic solo-album triple-time look slo-mo in comparison.
Minus: almost everything else about this song.
2. D-Rek & Ampichino feat. Freeze & Young Bossi, "S.W.A.T."
Sounds Like: a Ghostface Killah fairytale.
Wack Rapper-Name Quotient: arguable.
The Skinny: rap nobodies acquit themselves well over soul claps, shattering glass effects, and energy drink-saturated synthesizers.
Bummer: no Samuel L. Jackson sound-bite, no credibility.
The Ugly:"ampichino" sounds like a rejected name for a Starbucks attempt to appeal to younger customers.
1. ReefHustle, Fred The Godson, and The Wash Up Boyz, "It's a Filthy New York"
Sounds Like: it's time to decamp to Hoboken.
Wack Rapper-Name Quotient: obscene.
The Skinny: Fred The Godson hails from the Bronx, raps in a raspy, phlegmic flow that suggests that heart disease may be in his immediate future, and continues to wait in perpetuity for his rap-world close-up. Even off his bullshit, he's the best thing about "It's a Filthy New York" - the theme is making a dollar out of fifteen cents, like billions of other rap songs that tackle the identical subject matter more intriguingly - almost managing to make treading water sound like flossing while everybody else strains neck veins vying for your attention and fails miserably.
Personal Mythology Alert: "washing up" was what me and my cousins used to do at grandmother's house when we were kids, the idea being that before bed you'd wet a washcloth and wipe yourself off and throw on the jammies. Why? Because, well, water's expensive. I mean, you didn't need to know that, but that's what comes to mind whenever I find myself listening to a rap banger credited in part to two dudes who bill themselves as "The Wash Up Boyz."
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