"Let's Be Professional" by Tribe and Big Cats!: It's awesome and free, cop it already
I'm as guilty as any other rap stan of extolling hip-hop that finds new and innovative ways of glorifying misogyny, conspicuous consumption, and violence, but there's a lot to be said for pop-rap that just wants to have fun, spin some tall tales, rap that gives not a whit for being taken too seriously. And lately I've been craving out-to-lunch rappers like QuESt and (yeah, I know) Asher Roth, spitters who delight in the daft, in using language like jungle gyms or chalked paralell bars; the former and his ilk want me to snap out of my workaday coma and actually think, while the latter and his ilk are working overtime to make me spray milk out of my nose. (Rapdragons! And the Cool Kids, too. When is that album gonna drop, guys?)
Let's Be Professional has been scratching the eggheaded funnybone itch for me lately. I'm not going to stack it up against other Twin Cities rap or even what MC duo Tribe and producer Big Cats! have done before, because I don't know much about this particular scene; I just know what I dig, dig? And Professional is two pals and some homies struggling to out-reference each other over warm, tight, and acrobatic beats. Original beats. (Note to aspiring mixtape rappers: the world doesn't necessarily need to hear another necrophilic spin on the "Big Pimpin'" beat.) It's airily contemporary ("Michelle Bachmann the game/Get on the mike, spit something insane"), daydream-delirious ("I Ride A Dinosaur to Work"), and duskily nostalgic and self-exploratory ("Heart of a Tyrant").
Here's a rundown of four of the best cuts:
02. "I Figgahed Out"
Big Cats! -- someday I'll have to find out why he calls himself that, does dude frequent nature preserves or something? -- lays out a spread of goose-stepping cartoon synth jabs, high-hat splash, crumbling breakbeats, and an armada of barely perceptible electronic exclamations; this beat is like an excessively saccharine Slim Shady LP-era DR. Dre production, like chemically-enhanced carnival music. Tribe seize the moment to say, well, not much of anything, but they say it in a way that makes you wish they'd crash all the lame parties that modern etiquette forces you to attend.
05. "I Been My Own Favorite" feat Guante and Chantz
You know how Sigorney Weaver and Steve Martin stole Baby Mama from Tiny Fey and Amy Poehler? This track is kinda like that.
11. "I Ride A Dinosaur to Work"
With a title like this, you more or less know what you're getting yourself into here: some sophomoric They Might Be Giants/DOOM/Atom and His Package tomfoolery. Props to these three for going the extra mile with this, what with the acid-disco-meets-breakcore beats and a fully thought-out concept crammed expertly into a two-minute frame: "I used to ride a dinosaur when I worked at the zoo/I had to ask my manager, but she;s like 'Yeah, that's cool/Stay away from the giraffes, cuz they're natural enemies/And whatever you do, make sure he doesn't get free.'/He did." Yikes. Also, bonus: unlike cars dinosaurs biodegrade into fossil fuels, and there's no law that says you can't get tanked while riding one.
12. "Line Em' Up"
The recent rash of weighty-wordcount, pun-studded, California-is-turning-into-an-unruly-cannabis-wasteland magazine articles is appealing to me on all kinds of levels, not the least of which is discovering ridiculous names for the three trillion strains of weed that are currently being passed by handshake on the street these days. (No, I don't smoke it.) Songs about weed aren't necessarily worth anybody's time; as the examples of Snoop and Devin the Dude prove, toking like your life depends on it doesn't always inspire lyrical greatness. But if you can't get down with a verse like "Got a sack of the douja called the Doug E. Fresh/Have your ass beat-boxing, need an exorcist/Got some shit from New York called the M Jackson/Might stop your heart, like what the fuck's happenin'," there's probably no hope for you.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.