By the time you read this, "LOL :)" should be well-nigh inescapable: You'll hear it buzzing from cellies in ringtone form, blasting from sedans idling at intersections, tumbling from the lips of oblivious total strangers engrossed in their iPod playlists. And rightly so—for all the net-only mixtape bangers and hit singles your correspondent has sampled of late, this one best captures summer's lazy, laissez faire feel. The young turks on hand are certainly game, from Trey ("I'm a bad boy like Diddy," "Shorty sent a Twitpic, sayin' come and get this") to Gucci ("Cali girls love me/Brooklyn girls hug me") to Soulja Boy ("Kiss me through the phone/LOL smiley-face"). Ayo, technology!
"Everybody's Lookin' 4 Something"
"Got a partner wanna ride, a little cuz that wanna rap/Another partner want some bread, but he don't never pay you back," Playboy Tre raps, plainly disgusted, on this "Sweet Dreams"-sampling laundry-list of favors asked and (sometimes) granted. Tre hails from Atlanta, and his Liquor Store Mascot mixtape details what it's like to be a lower-tier MC struggling to make the national scene; you'd think dudes like him would be free of leeches and hangers-on. You'd be dead wrong, which sucks for him and will crack up everybody else.
SERENGETI & POLYPHONIC
As Anti-Pop Consortium prepare to re-emerge after a lengthy hibernation, it's interesting to note that the bleeps-'n'-blips take on hip hop they helped engender has made some gains here and there. The kaleidoscopic collusion of rapper Serengeti and producer Polyphonic is a manifestation of that promise, as the former's impressionistic, meter-skirting chatter—here, blithe BS about impatience and coveting whatever your neighbor's rocking—spirals at the heart of the latter's Lazer Tag-meets-Northern Lights razzle-drizzle.
"Spanish & Jazz"
Wild Moccasins appear to be Houston's It-band of the moment, and it's not hard to say why: post-10,000 Maniacs vocal warmth, players who can hold onto an arrangement without leaving bruises or breaking noise ordnances, cozy oases dotting this song's range-y (and twangy and jangly) beguiling sprawl.
"Down This Road"
There's something really kind of goose-bumpy about dudes who sing in a limited-yet-arched falsetto, isn't there? Makes you sit up straighter in your seat and maybe worry that you sound like that when you slaughter Neil Young songs.