The Songs We Can't Escape

James Ferrarro

James Ferrarro

"Heaven's Gate, Side A"

Half of noise/out beardos Skaters, Ferraro records and disseminates so much product that he must've found some way to forego meals and sleep. His Heaven's Gate cassette doles out oodles upon oodles of hoary, washed-out organ drones and synthesized choirs that suggest a cross between the Sri Lankan national anthem and a sort of celestial Muzak.

"Get That Work Up"

Poor, poor Fam-Lay. The Virginia MC's spotlight freestyle on Lord Willin'—Clipse's 2002 debut—was arguably that album's hottest track. Since then, his star hasn't risen much further: slept-on mixtapes, shelved or underexposed LPs, general popular indifference. Now he's (supposedly) set to make moves, but Pharrell's panting, bongo-beat bounce all but eclipses his workmanlike coke-dealer-on-the-hustle prattle. Worse, nobody told Fam that Johnnie Cochran shuffled off this mortal coil three years ago.

"Axis: Thrones of Love"

Wake me up when Stephen McBean finally groks that shameless, joyless thievery isn't "homage" without some modicum of originality or vibrancy or, you know, actually having something to fucking say.

"Maltese T"

Behind the scenes, Scott Kannberg's just gotta be chomping at the bit for a Pavement reunion, right? I mean, bully for him, finally getting legal rights to use his old stage name for an album, but is anybody really checking for dude to dryly rip off his elders now, post-Preston School of Industry?

"War Scars"

Trife's a Ghostface protégé, so it's no wonder there are similarities between their flows: gruff over-description, a fondness for soul hooks, pro-NYC bravado, etc. He's not able, yet, to convey and blend ribald humor and intense emotionalism at a Tony Starks level—but maybe that's fine, since presenting as a straight dupe of your mentor (cf. Memphis Bleek watering down Jay-Z's street-smart attack back in the '90s) doesn't necessarily translate into McDonald's cashiers knowing who you are. Still, Trife's The Project Pope mixtape mostly just makes me wanna crank The Big Doe Rehab.