Mobb Deep are dropping a new album on 1 April, and as a bonus are including a CD called The 1994 Infamous Sessions, which will finally bless Thun Rap aficionados with high quality versions of the numerous 8th generation tape dubs floating around the internets. Until the real thing drops, I’ve pieced together a preview of the majority of the songs to whet your appetites, plus a few of the lost demo cuts that didn’t make it.
The 1994 Infamous Sessions:
1. Eye for an Eye f/ Ghostface Killah, Raekwon & Nas
3. Get It In Blood
4. Gimme The Goods
5. If It’s Alright f/ Big Noyd
6. Skit Mobb Deep 1995
7. Survival of the Fittest
8. Temperature’s Rising
9. The Bridge
11. The Money
12. The Money version 2
13. We About to Get Hectic
14. The Infamous
Original demo tape:
1. Keepin’ It Real
3. Right Back At You feat. Big Noyd and Hostyle
4. Q.U. Hectic
5. Shook Ones Pt. 0
6. Temperature’s Rising
7. It’s Alright With Me
8. Lifestyles Of The Infamous
9. Trife Life
Philidelphia’s own Lushlife caught my ear in 2012 with his Plateau Vision album, which saw him realize the potential heard on Cassette City and match the quality of his production with his rhymes. Currently working on a new album with producers CSLSX, I caught-up with Lushlife over the phone while he was midway through attempting to enjoy pizza and beer at a local bar to find out what inspired him to channel “Broken Language,” his appreciation for The LOX and why drinks cost so much in London.
Robbie: Did you start out as a producer or a rapper?
Lushlife: It didn’t even occur to me that I would rap. I had been making beats and doing production for many years, and I didn’t even want to go into the world of trying to find people to rhyme over my instrumentals. The moment that I got a mic at 20 – after a lifetime of listening and memorising rap songs – something just came out. As a hip-hop fan, I was like, “This is worthwhile shit!” So I just ran with that. The MC side of it came way second.
How old were you when you made your first beat?
The way I first injected myself into hip-hop was through deejaying. I got my first set of turntables at eleven years old. I grew up in a middle class neighborhood – Pete Rock wasn’t my cousin’s uncle or anything – I was kinda in this bubble. When I got my first decks I didn’t know about blending or cutting or anything, I had no real understanding of any of it. I feel like I went through the entire history – from the baby scratch to really well thought-out scratching and mixing – on my own fucking druthers. I progressed in the same way that deejaying progressed from 1979 to 1989 in my life, cos I had nobody to teach me, I just figured it all out. I literally discovered beat-matching on my own, it was like, “Oh shit! You can take two records and make them run at the same tempo!” As a producer now, the era that goes along with having gone through all of that is so deeply ingrained in me.
It seems that people who start out as DJ’s are generally better producers, as a rule.
Exactly. From ten to fourteen years of age I was doing the DJ thing and I had been playing piano as a child. When I was ten I started playing drums in the jazz band in my school, so I was naturally progressing towards creating. In the early 90’s, and the SP-12 was $1,500 so it was unattainable to someone like me, so I would listen to the rap records I loved and imagine how they were made. Not really knowing it, but I imagined so long and so hard that when it became possible for me I understood how to construct that shit. I was eighteen years old when Fruity Loops became available very easily to be pirated online in the same way that 9th Wonder and so many other cats started at that time. That to me was a revelation, “Oh my god! This was a tool that allows me to create the soundscapes that I want to create.” My early stuff was very much on the tip of DJ Shadow, it didn’t have my own thumbprint on it. It was a real lesson to take the sonics of guys like Pete or Premier and try to make something very much like that. Once you have all that in your bag of tricks then you can start to think about how you can push things forward.
Was West Sounds the first project you released?
That was the very first thing I put out to the public. At the same time I was falling in love with A Tribe Called Quest and learning how to play jazz drums I was realizing the synergy, and ended up at university studying Jazz Composition for two years. I eventually dropped out because at that point I was making beats and started buying things too. I was depressed, I was living in New York and unhappy and nineteen, I had broken up with some girlfriend and decided to move to London. When I landed in London there was a small label called Scenario Records that was interested in putting out some of my stuff. They were like, “Can you put something together to get your rep up a little bit?” This was literally the week that Dangermouse dropped The Grey Album. I was a huge Beach Boys fan, and I knew that they had a box set that included all the instrumentals and accapellas, and Kanye West was popping off then too, so it was just a young me trying to ride the wave. This was the early days of MySpace, there was really no sense of virality. We put that out there, no P.R. or nothing, and there were a million downloads in less than a month. The West Sounds thing was an amazing experience for me and I have misgivings about it in terms of it’s sense of originality, conceptually, but I learned a lot from it.
What was the first official release you did through Scenario?
It’s called Order of Operations. It only had a release in UK and Japan. I consider it Lushlife demos, even though it had a full CD/LP release. The first track on there is literally the first song that I ever tried to rap on, so it’s really a time capsule to me. I think that’s unique amongst MC’s, to have the very first time that they blessed the mic to be committed to wax. That record is very jazz-influenced, it’s more informed by my influences than it is about my desire to bring some new concepts to hip-hop. There was a Japanese label called MicLife who were totally hyped to license it and it did surprisingly well in Japan so I went out there and I toured for a little while. When I returned to the UK I was really disenchanted, I remember I order a drink from the bar at it was like 11 pounds. I remember thinking to myself, “Fuck, this is like $19! I need to go home, I’m fuckin’ broke!”
So I came back here to Philly and was able to set up a deal with K-7 for the next record. I’m in my mid-20’s and this is magnum opus type shit – get a good budget and make the record you really want to make. At this point my aesthetics are changing – Cassette City is about creating this seamless world og hip-hop with orchestral pop stuff and indy experimentation and throwing into the pot in a way that I felt I’m uniquely capable of doing to make it all feel like classic boom-bap, where you don’t know where the samples end and the live instrumentation begins and it all feels like one thing. I spent a little over two years on it, and I’m so extremely proud of that release. It was totally a labor of love.
How did you get Camp Lo and Elzhi involved?
It was my teenage self from the past going, “Oh my god, imagine if I could get Camp Lo in a record!” [laughs] It was reaching out on some MySpace shit. I spent months putting that beat together in their image and was able to make that happen and I was stoked that I was. As an MC I feel like Camp Lo were able to project that idea that it’s not quite about telling some kind of A to B story, it’s about saying some nebula shit that just sounds cool coming off of their tongues. I feel like they had a lot of influence on the way I rap that’s a little more dadaist – it’s just floating there and you have to pull all these strings to find a meaning – but in the end it just has to sound cool as shit.
What was the reaction like to the album?
It got me a core fanbase in a really organic way, and that core fanbase still carries me in ways that are just mind blowing to me. It was also a critical success, it just wasn’t a financial success! I had a $25,000 advance on that record and I spent every dollar of it paying my rent, drinking, drugging and paying for featured artists on my record. It’s still not in the red, but as a work of art I’m pretty proud of it.
I feel like you really hit your stride vocally on the Plateau Vision LP on tracks like “Big Sur” and “The Anthem.”
I think you’re very right. With Plateau Vision from a lyrical standpoint, I felt very comfortable with myself as an MC to the point where I didn’t feel gun shy about pushing the envelope a little bit as far as what I’m rapping about as far as the references and still knowing that it will be internalized by the audience as real fucking rap music.
I appreciated the “Broken Language” adaption you had on there.
I was dying for years to do a “Broken Language” hook! That record is fucking incredible, it’s 20th century art. There’s nothing like Smooth The Hustler and Trigga The Gambler on that shit. I wanted to on one hand pay homage to it but at the same time push the concept out a little bit so it’s Lushlife talking about these touchstones of classic beat poetry in 1950’s California and folk art against the structure of the Brooklyn-structured Smooth The Hustler joint.
What made you reach out to Styles P for a feature?
A lot of indy motherfuckers tend to put “mainstream” motherfuckers in a box, where it’s just as minimizing as the shit that happens the other way around. The LOX are talking about keys of coke and shit but it’s always been a little bit envelope pushing and out there. I always wanted to get someone of that sort of ilk onto the record I was doing – “Still I Hear The Word Progress” – which has a Crystal Castles kinda feel to it, and see how he evolves on it.
What’s the motivation behind song titles like “She’s a Buddhist, I’m A Cubist”?
I was describing my failing relationship with a girl that I was dating at the time I was writing that song and I was describing it as such to a friend of mine, and I was like, “Oh shit, that’s really got gravity as a song title.” It’s not coming out of some desire to be like indy, long-winded song titles or anything. [laughs] It’s grabbing things out of the air of my life, that’s honestly who I am.
The liner notes mention that you recorded the album to ¼ inch tape for the final mixdown. Why did you decide to take that approach?
I wanted to emote the cassette tape qualities of all the classic rap that I listened to growing up made you feel. Not because of the recordings themselves but because you’d listen to it on your box over and over again and it would start to warble and shit, and that becomes the sound of hip-hop. Trying to project that feeling, not only did it all go to ¼ inch tape but it went through deep outboard compression, and that album has a consistent sound that I hope makes people feel like they’re twelve years old listening to Dred Scott for the first time or Artifacts for the first time.
Dred Scott! [laughs] Haven’t heard that name for a while! Why did you decide to leave both New York and London behind?
New York and London are always cities I dreamed of living in, and New York always felt to me like a big, wild city – and it is! The year and a few months that I lived there, I realized that it was just too much for me. It was sensory overload. Then I moved to London for three and a half years and it was even more sprawling and more international. In the end, Philly is provincial meets small town vibe, where it’s urbane but it’s got a lot of the trappings of the city but you can squirrel away to your quiet neighborhood block. That’s something that I cherish. And frankly, as an artist? I’m 31 years old and I can live more than comfortably. All my friends that are in bands and rappers and producers in the city – they would be living in a shoe box in New York or in London – and all of us have houses and studios. It’s livable in the long term, I value the comfort.
If you could make your own version of “The Symphony” with any rappers, living or dead, who would you pick to join you?
Oh word, I think about this all the time! [laughs] The answer is concrete in my mind – Black Thought, Nas and Jay Electronica.
Showbiz has blessed us with the third installment of his Rare Breaks series. If you copped the first two CD’s you know this shit is essential listening.
New video from the mighty My 1st Chemistry Set LP, which I’m still hoping gets a vinyl release one day.
via Mass Appeal.
J-Ronin brings you 48 freestyles jammed onto one tape with the second installment of his Freestyle Files series, featuring such CRC favorites as Sadat X, Tragedy and Lil’ Fame among it’s extensive cast.
Feel like taking a trip back to the mid 90′s? Debonair P has you covered:
“It’s been a little while since I uploaded a mix – I recorded this one in 2012, released it on CD last year, and finally got around to uploading it. This mix features 67 tracks, mainly from ’95-’97, and as usual hopefully there is something you haven’t heard before. Enjoy!”
Just realized that the link for this was dead so the ten year anniversary of Unkut seems like a good time to re-up this 2010 release that I put together with strictly exclusive CRC-style tracks. Might be time for a part two come to think of it…
Download or stream almost an hour of non-progressive rap below.
After having this Vance Wright produced gem on repeat for the last few days after being reunited with my records, I stumbled across the video today. Two things worth noting – Greyson and Jaysun might have sold more records if they’d shot a cover photo dressed like this instead of the whole “suits in an abandoned bath house” look they went with, and this is still the finest use of “The Big Payback” loop ever used in rap, thanks to the slight pitch distortion effect, which I’m sure was the result of something messing up in the studio for brilliant results along the lines of the “Top Billin’” drum pattern.
Respect to DJ Kool Scooby G for recording and editing this historic broadcast. Talk about “putting the band back together”…
Now that my entire vinyl collection has been reunited at the CRC HQ, I can get back to the time-honored tradition of ripping vinyl again. To set it off, here’s a live recording of the “La Di Da Di” from the Polo Grounds at some time in the 80′s. It cuts off before the big payoff but it’s worth a spin just to hear the reaction of the crowd, who proceed to loose their shit at various points.
Welcome to the Schoolboy Era Error, as Kendrick Lamar‘s pal falls to pieces before our eyes.
The debut album from The U.N. (Dino Brave, Mike Raw, Laku and Roc Marciano) is getting a re-release in April with two bonus tracks. Since most of you no doubt copped this when it first dropped, the good news is Fat Beats are pressing a tape version for ten bones. Frozen Files played “4 The Luv” last November, and “UN Da House” is from the World Domination mixtape (which deserves a vinyl release of it’s own since that was arguably better than official LP).
The U.N. - “UN Da House”
Here’s a 2013 Roc feature that crept under my Rap Radar. Dallas says:
NJ based producer DUS put out this track Casino last year with vocals by Roc Marciano. Did y’all hear it? I hadn’t, but when I came across the song I did what I love to do and created a fanboy video clip using some of the most hardbosy scenes from the movie also named Casino.
Superbad Solace and Oprime39 first made some noise with their Brugal & Presidentes EP in 2012, and followed-up with their debut album Rock-It Science the following year. With a new EP and album due soon, it seemed like the perfect time to build with these two brothers from Flushing, Queens to talk about music, their iconic neighborhood and the importance of dressing fresh.
Robbie: Did you both grow-up in Flushing, Queens?
Solace: We moved out here in in 1988 because my father was a building superintendent and he landed a gig right here. We were living in Corona before that and that was a dream job back in the day, so he took the whole family out here.
Oprime: He was a super out in Lefrak at the time and an opportunity popped up in Flushing. We’ve been out here ever since.
Solace: The ill shit with a superintendent job is you also get the rent-free apartment.
How was it different than Corona at the time?
Back in the 90’s there was a lotta Dominicans in the area where we grew up so it felt like a little DR. Our grandparents were out there, all you would hear was Spanish music – Dominicans running the bodegas, the barber shops and local businesses. Towards the millennium it really changed, a lot of South and Central Americans started moving in and they just took over. A lot of Dominicans relocated to Florida, others got deported. Flushing is very mixed. The junior high school we went to was predominantly Black and Spanish and the main street is like Little China. You’ve got Korean and Japanese people, Indians, then you’ve got blocks that are just all Black people, blocks that are all Spanish people. It’s a real crazy melting pot in Flushing.
Oprime: We be seeing them halal trucks come out and they be carrying the skinned goats over their shoulders with flies buzzing around and all that craziness.
At what stage did you start rhyming?
Solace: Prime was always immersed in hip-hop in some way, shape or form, he wrote graff and he was around a lot of the Flushing legends. I was always just watching, as the younger brother. Around 2006 we were both rhyming here and there and we just decided, “Yo, let’s do this. It’s just us, we don’t need nobody else.” Then my brother went to college with Meyhem and they figured out the right studio situation, and that’s how we landed up at Hydra. That was homebase, that’s where we started recording.
Jerry Famolari’s spot?
Oprime: Jerry was never in the cut, but we would always hear about him. Max Vargas was holding it down and that took part in us really taking it to the next level and trying to put out quality work because that studio was so fuckin’ comfortable. Wild shit happened there, it was real gritty, it felt right. It had a huge lounge so we’d kick it there – drink, smoke and just hang out and do music. Working with Max, it felt like a job. Max was mad professional so it felt like we was on the clock.
Solace: Max is not an opinionated engineer, he won’t insert his thoughts on what you’re doing. The music is up to you, he’s there to record. His mixing and engineering is unparalleled, but he’s not gonna become the third member of the group. That was pre-Timeless Truth, we were just Oprime and Solace at that time. One of the last joints we did there was the joint with G Rap, but everything before that a lot of that stuff was demo shit.
Did you used to see Godfather Don and Screwball come through the studio?
Oprime: Nah, this was after all of that. The kind of characters that were coming out of that studio was Outdoorsmen – that’s when [Action] Bronson was up in there, Meyhem – I think Lake was recording outta there, J-Love was working heavy out there. I remember bumping into Large a few times out there.
Solace: The Screwball presence was definitely felt, they still had all the stickers, the posters. They flooded that spot.
What was the next step?
Oprime: Organic collaborations like Outdoorsmen / Timeless Truth started happening, we started fuckin’ with J-Love. That led to us fuckin’ with PF Cuttin’ when Hydra shut down and that led to us fuckin’ with Sean P and then meeting dudes like Masta Killa. One thing led to the next, man.
Solace: It wasn’t about just putting music out for the sport of it, we never fell into that trap – record a million freestyles and gives the blogs a freestyle just to have your name out. We were more focused on putting together a good song. Quality over quantity all day.
Oprime: We were schooled on how to do this music shit by the original dudes, where you would perfect a project, try to pitch that project, have somebody pick-up and pay you for that project. Nowadays we have to adapt to it in this tech era where you’re managing yourself and there isn’t a machine behind you.
How did you guys connect with Roc Marciano?
We met Roc being fans of the U.N. stuff and reaching out through MySpace. The internet is a beautiful thing! Two days later we were meeting up on Jamaica Ave. and building a little bit. He came through PF Cuttin’s studio and laid something and then from there he threw us a whole bunch of beats. We built a friendship from that point on. He wasn’t crazy tech-savvy in the beginning and we were a little more inclined, so we would help each other. He was also one of them dudes who was used to doing everything, so building with him really taught us about doing shit on your own and building your own empire.
Solace: He’d always tell us, “Treat your rap book like a check book. When you write a verse, make that a check out to yourself.” I thought that was one of the illest gems anybody’s ever dropped on us.
When did you start building with Large Professor?
Oprime: When we did the “Wavelength” video we were just cruising in the whip and I was like, “Yo Large, you remember when we started fucking with each other?” When the internet and MySpace first started popping, I was doing rooftops on the 7 line with an old bombing partner by the name of UNED. We was in Corona, and that day we were walking down Main street with a box just bumping “Ijustwannachill” and when we did the rooftop we hooked-up “Large Professor” on the rooftop. I took that opportunity to connect with him and send him pictures of the shit we did on that rooftop and told him we do music. He said, “I still cruise by Flushing, I’ll hit you up next time I’m around.” He showed up to Max’s studio on a snowy day with a fuckin’ mask on, he laid the beat down and said “Get busy” and just bounced!
Solace: He never took the mask off.
Oprime: He had a ski mask on the whole time! You can’t even see what his facial expressions are, you just seen the guy’s eyes. That wasn’t even the “Wavelength” joint, that was even further when he started throwing us a few more bones.
What did he used to write?
He used to write GAZE, and I think he also used to also write GHETTO. I was connected with Flushing writers who were older than me and they knew all about him since the Bowne days. He had another cat that he used to bomb with by the name of See3, and it was like archaeology because in our garage I used to see See3 throw-ups, and Large told us, “Back in the days I used to breakdance in your building.” It was like carrying on tradition.
Who else from Flushing did you used to mess with?
I used to be partners with this cat UEND, he was ten years older than me. He was running around crazy in the 80’s and 90’s. There was Stae2, LC, Sire from Latimer, Diego127, a DJ dude named DJ Reverse, who I linked up with early and this dude Shen, he was one of the first dudes to give us beats. He was like an encyclopedia when it came to old funk and jazz records. We had a crew back in the day called CND, we started killing the 7 with productions – I used to write PSYCK. For a while that was what I was really into, then from ‘05 the music just started taking full force.
Can you speak on the importance of Polo outfit architecture?
That’s another piece of New York city – the mentality, the lifestyle – always trying to be fly. That aspirational mentality to get what you’re not really supposed to have. Take it and make it yours. It’s a meticulous thing, making sure that everything is right, down to the laces, the kicks, everything is matching. It’s piecing a puzzle together, making it all form a picture. But it’s just the uniform, it ain’t the job.
What are your thoughts on Kool G Rap’s legacy?
Solace: G Rap is a master wordsmith. Who hasn’t he influenced?
Oprime: The 4,5,6 album specifically had the biggest impact on us in terms of the technicality, the beats, the storytelling, the flows. That album did a lot for us in terms of finding our lane and finding where we wanted to take it.
What makes Queens MC’s stand out?
Solace: Queens niggas are just so fresh. Brooklyn arrogance and Queens is very different. A Queens cat will play the cut, but when it’s time to do what it does, a Queens cat will get busy. Queens is it’s own world.
Oprime: It’s less about the flashiness and it’s really just about the skill. We don’t need to showboat and hype everything up. We know what we got and when it’s time we just do what we do. That’s an ill characteristic that you see throughout the Queens’ legends – Mobb, Nas and Tragedy – those dudes understand what they got, they know their skill, everyone has their own character.
Solace: It’s just nonchalant. “This is how we are and I know it’s better than you.”
Anything else you want to let the people know about?
You’ve got an ill site, man. You really are responsible for a lotta ill shit as far as this documentation shit, it’s needed. A lotta people try to do it but they don’t do it the right way. You’re coming from another place in the world and nobody would even fuckin’ know it! That’s dope, man.
Oprime: We definitely been rocking with Unkut for a hot minute.
Cheers. What’s next for you guys?
The next project is an EP called Dominican Diner, which is gonna smack a lotta people upside the head. Shortly thereafter we’ve got Coldwave, and “Wavelength” appears on that joint. We’ve got Arch Druids production on there, Skizz blessed us with some heat, Large Pro, RTNC, we got a joint with Ill Bill, Roc Marcy production on there as well.
DJ Yoda has put together a mix of New Rap That Doesn’t Suck from the last six months or so, which also happens to be Conservative Rap Coalition approved by happy coincidence.
1.Astonishing by Marco Polo feat. Large Professor, Inspectah Deck, O.C. & Tragedy Khadafi
2.ODB by Danny Brown
3.Spiral Event by Durag Dynasty feat. Evidence
4.Love means by Roc Marciano Feat. Evidence
5.Wade In The Water by Homeboy Sandman
6.Sincerely Antique by Roc Marciano feat. Action Bronson & Willy the kid
7.Buzzing Away by Step Brothers
8.Control by Big Sean feat. Kendrick Lamar & Jay Electronica
9.Tender Greens by Durag Dynasty
10.Take Me Over by Roc Marciano
11.YNT by Prodigy & Alchemist feat. Domo Genesis
12.Heel & Toe by Action Bronson
13.War scars by Roc Marciano feat. Cormega & Ag Da Coroner
14.More Wins by Step Brothers
15.Us 2 Da Man by THE DOPPELGANGAZ
16.Diagnosis by Alchemist x Dr Romanelli feat. Action Bronson
17.Bruh Man by Roc Marciano
18.Ice Cream Man by Roc Marciano
19.Camouflage Unicorns by N.O.R.E. feat. Tragedy & Havoc
20.It’s Me by Action Bronson & Party Supplies
21.Built Pyramids by N.o.r.e. feat. large professor
22.Love Game by Eminem feat Kendrick Lamar
23.Thank You (Kid Capri remix) by Q-Tip & Busta Rhymes feat. Kanye West & Lil Wayne
Thanks to The T.R.O.Y. Blog you can finally hear the unreleased Kamakaze album that the late KL and Kyron recorded with Marley Marl for Warner Bros. around ’94/’95. Special mention goes out to Poet for saying “Fuck the Juice Crew, we got some new niggas!” on “House ‘O Hitz Crew.”
A1 Snakes In The Grass
A2 Spread It Around
A3 Da Rocks Y’All
A6 Mo Murder Mo Crime
B1 House O’ Hitz Crew feat. Hostyle, Sah-B and Poet.
B2 Rhyme Crime Profession
B3 Orgy Style
B5 Head On
B6 Bridge 95
Recent Adds is an old series from an old internet blog where we check in with what is bubbling along the bottoms of various terrestrial radio charts. And by we I mean me but I guess also you. The point is that there is an entire world of rap music that exists outside of your Tumblr dashboard and some of it doesn’t suck.
I haven’t done this – or anything at all except listen to Young Thug – in almost two years now and was terrified that every record was going to be a half assed Rich Homie Quan knock off (or worse French Montana). Either that or some DJ Mustard wave riding bullshit. So it’s been a pleasant surprise to actually find a pretty diverse and frequently pretty good batch of songs. There’s definitely some dumb and derivative bullshit in the mix but the signal to noise ratio seems much higher than it’s been in the past. I’m not sure what has changed, maybe the rise of Macklemendrick has forced PDs to broaden their horizens or maybe it’s just different palms have happened to get a little greasier than before. In any case it’s nice to have any respite from the internet ecosystem where every rapper sounds like an ASAP weed carrier and deserves a long form think piece about why he matters.
Jabo f/ Jadakiss & Slim Thug – “What I’m About” (Birmingham, AL)
This is about as perfect as a local radio rap record can get. If Jadakiss kicking a Pimp C flow while wearing a hat that says “SO RASPY” isn’t enough of a draw you also get Slim Thug being Slim Thug and that goddamn beat which is just one of those balanced (presumably?) sample driven country rap tunes that toes the line between triplet hi hats and true hip hop. It’s not much of a statement for Jabo personally but it’s definitely a banger. (prod. by D. Will)
Added: WJKS Wilmington DE, KZTS Little Rock, WBTF Lexington KY
Kataztrofee – “Polo, Polo, Polo” (Fort Worth, TX)
Given the success of Migos’ “Versace” it was only inevitable that at least a few knock off records based around word repetition and brand name clothing would emerge. I was pulling for a Nautica, Nautica, Nautica to catch on but hey you can’t go wrong with Polo. And if anybody is going to hit with that formula for a second time the world could do a lot worse than a group of Jeezy/Pastor Troy hybrids from Fort Worth. (prod. by iProduceDaSouth)
KNDA Corpus Christi (22), WFXA Chattanooga (17), KBTT Shrevport (17) +15
20/Twen – “Rollin” (Detroit, MI)
Nice little understated ballad that nods ever so slightly to Screw in a way that doesn’t seem tacky. This is how you’re supposed to make lover man radio rap without compromising the actual act of rapping by bogging it down with a phoned in R&B hook.
KNDA Corpus Christi (21), KBTT Shreveport (13)
Chinx f/ French Montana – “Feelings”
Though his recent self-appointment as a real on-air radio personality has mostly been tragic and hateful, Hot 97 Program Director Ebro Darden’s early press campaign was actually quite informative. Specifically when he got to talking about the specifics of what qualifies a song for entering radio rotation.
But with those points in mind, it’s been disappointing to see which local records have managed to creep into rotation in recent months. Of course anything is better than the string of PAPOOSE FEATURING NE-YO / FABOLOUS FEATURING CHRIS BROWN / JOE BUDDENS FEATURING KEITH SWEAT embarrassment ballads that previously existed solely to meet the local rap quota on New York radio (and Delaware and Connecticut, who are forced to blindly follow suit because their audiences are comprised entirely of New York expats who now work in banks) but really these new records from young dudes just feel so minor league, as Ebro would’ve put it if he were shouting at someone on a podcast.
Coke Boys seem like they would be logical solution to the problem of there not being any New York rap that sounds like New York rap on New York rap radio. They’ve served that purpose to some degree in recent years (mostly when they jack old Lords Of The Undeground beats or whatever) and there’s some legitimately great music in that lane on their latest tape. But, much like every official single that French has dropped since becoming an inexplicable semi-star, Chinx’s (no Drugs anymore because obviously he’s going to blow up) “Feelings” just absorbs whatever national radio trend seems profitable. This time it’s third rate dead inside Drake moves, that sort of mopey triumph music that allows self centered people to feel better than other self centered people when what New York radio really needs is breakbeats. Breakbeats and echoed out horns.
WQHT New York (24), WJKS Wilmington DE (14), WWPR New York (14), WZMX Hartford CT (7)
Bodega Bamz – “Don Francisco”
“Don Francisco” is a little more polished and purposeful than “Feelings” but no less generic. It’s not a bad rap song by any means but give or take the gimmicky horns which is the type of demographic baiting dumb shit some bum A&R would try to pull on a posthumous Big Pun album it’s otherwise indistinguishable from all the other blog boy ASAP Jacky records that pass through my inbox on a daily basis. Come on Ebro this shit doesn’t even have a hook! And I’m certain there are better and more commercially accessible Bodega Bamz songs but I’m not going to look for them right now.
The only explanation I can think of as to why these specific songs are starting to pop is that both of these guys have secretly signed major label deals. It’s a well known fact that every rapper in New York is secretly signed and has been since roughly the moment they first picked up a microphone. Word to Red Cafe and Red Cafe Jr. who is a baby that just inked a deal with Republic Records after being born. Congratulations! It’s a boy rapper! (Other regional rap records getting a small handful of Hot spins, in case you were wondering: Action Bronson’s “In The City,” ASAP Ant & Method Man’s “Trillmatic,” Troy Ave & Tony Yayo’s shameless “In Da Club” rehash Show Me Love and
Ransom’s “Jade,” which liberally samples “Jade.)
WQHT New York (37)
5th Ward Weebie – “Let Me Find Out Pt. 1″
With so much of the national attention being lavished on the New Orleans Bounce scene in recent years focusing on the new school manic stutter shit that usually hurts my brain, it’s nice to know that more old guard traditional stuff can still find its way onto NO radio. “Let Me Find Out” is classic bounce of the purest variety with Weebie hitting “Triggaman” from the back for some Manchu’s and talking other such shit inna DJ Jimi style. All we need now is the inevitable female’s response.
WQUE-FM New Orleans (93.3 FM)
Lostarr f/ Yo Gotti & Meek Mill – “Rags 2 Riches” (Meridian, MS)
When I first saw this guys name I thought it said Lobstarr which would’ve been too much for the world to handle. Fortunately and disappointingly he does not actually have a B in his name. But he does have guest verses from Gotti and Meek and is wise enough to push them into their emotional gangster corners, which is where they usually thrive.
WJZD Biloxi, MS (8), KJMM Tulsa, OK (8), WJMI Jackson, MS (7) + 2
Fat Pimp – “Left Right” (Dallas, TX)
“Left Right” is a slightly pandering but nonetheless welcome attempt at a Beat King style ratchet ass clap anthem from snap-era D-Town vet Fat Pimp who was probably signed to and subsequently dropped by Asylum thirty three consecutive times in 2007. Too bad the reigning kings of ratchet ass clap anthems YG and DJ Mustard happen to have their own “Left Right” right now. This is a cool enough song though. I can’t be mad at anything that rocks those “Triggerman” bones. We all have our biases.
WFXA Augusta, GA (15), KVSP Oklahoma City (12) KJMM Tulsa (7)
T.R.E. – “Sound Good” (“PG/DC/SC to Atlanta”)
This is one of those records where a guy who isn’t like all of these rappers tells you as much by making an over the top song where he ironically raps about all the things he imagines those other rappers rap about. It’s heavy handed and gimmicky and T.R.E. isn’t as funny as Black Sheep and he says “swagging like a faggot” which kind of negates his whole conscious rapper steez but it’s still a better look for him to keep his tongue in his cheek than to make some unironic preachy Macklemore bullshit. And it does sound good, which is probably why it’s on the radio somewhere.
KJMM Tulsa (39), WJMI Jackson (33), KVSP Oklahoma City (30) + 1
We Are Toonz – “Drop That Nae Nae” (Atlanta, GA)
Rising, Martin-inspired dance rap record that is basically the midpoint between “Crank Dat” and “Thun Thun.” As good as the original Toonz version is, I prefer this seemingly school sanctioned pencil tap Benjamin Mays NaeNae record. I’m glad that dance rap still exists even though it makes Nas cry.
WPEG-FM Charlotte (97.9 FM)
Au$tin Martin – “Wake Up” (Austin, TX)
Not to be confused with A$ton Matthews or A$her Rothton, Au$tin Martin is a rapper who hails from the city of Au$tin but sounds like he hails from the city of At£anta. Apparently he was signed to Def Jam at the beginning of the decade where he went by the name of O.C. until someone was like “hey bro there is already a rapper named O.C.”
K-Camp – “Cut Her Off” (Marietta, GA)
K-Camp has one legitimate hit record with forgotten swaggy innovator Kwony Cash but that already seems a little too big to feature here. So here’s another, in which 2 Chainz turns both a hoe and a hoe’s ass into frisbees. Camp is obviously gunning to take Rich Homie Quan’s position of Substitute Future at least while the real Future is still out playing around in Miley land. (prod by Will A Fool)
WHTA Atlanta (42), WRBJ Jackson (13), WEUP Huntsville (12) +3
Dirty Rotten Skoundrelz f/ Bun B – “Jordans Under Dickies” (Dallas, TX)
This song is obviously striving to hit a tone similar to that of the Jabo record above but I don’t think it quite reaches those heights. There’s some good rapping here but not from Bun B who once again phones it in like he’s been doing for the past decade or so.
WJMI Jackson (27), KVSP Oklahoma City (11), KJMM Tulsa (10)
Bad Lucc f/ Problem – “Outchea” (Los Angeles, CA)
When I started this little project I suspected that Quan would be the guest rapper dominating the brown paper bag circuit (or worse French Montana) but it turns out Los Angeles ratchet spitter Problem seems to be logging the most cameos on the low end of the chart. Strangely this is roughly the same song as Eric Bellinger’s “I Don’t Want Her,” which is also features Problem and a League Of Starz beat that interpolates the old “Jump” Kriss Kross wheezes. (prod by League Of Starz)
WJUC Toledo (17), WCCG Fayetteville, NC (17), WJMI Jackson (12) +2
Snootie Wild – “Yayo” (Memphis, TN)
Finally someone made a Kevin Gates record with the intelligence of a Rich Homie Quan record. At least dude brought back “Leggo My Eggo.”
WHXT Columbia, SC (24), WEUP Huntsville, AL (22), WCCG Fayetteville (18) +15
Tech N9ne – “See Me”
This is not a great Tech N9ne song or even a good Tech N9ne song but it’s nice to know that Kansas City radio is playing Tech N9ne in any capacity. I feel like Tech N9ne is the only thing they should ever play on the radio in Kansas City.
KPRS-FM Kansas City (103.3 FM)
Krizz Kaliko f/ Bizzy – “Girls Like That” (Kansas City, MI)
And yet Strange Music absolutely should not be aiming to produce radio records. Bizzy is not Bizzy Bone and I will never be able to erase the phrase “turd cutter” from my brain.
WJMI Jackson (15), WEUP Huntsville (11)
2 Pistols f/ French Montana – “Know That” (Tarpon Springs, FL)
Ah there’s the Fake French Montana featuring Real French Montana song we’ve been waiting for. Is 2 Pistols the Red Cafe of the South? I feel like dude has been given entirely too many opportunities despite his relative irrelevance. 2 pistols, twelve chances.
WPEG Charlotte (28), WJTT Chattanooga (21), WQUE New Orleans (15) +12
Big Von f/ Keak The Sneak, The Jacka & Mickey Shiloh – “Windows”
Big Von plays his shitty cobbled together two verse vanity record on the radio instead of oh I don’t know the half dozen viable mega hits that Iamsu has dropped in the past eighteen months or “Open Yo Legs” or anything else with a slump and a pulse. It is always good to hear Keak though. (Prod. by Traxamillion)
KMEL San Francisco (11)
Lil Rob – “I Don’t Want To Fall In Love”
Lil Rob is a thousand year old Mexican American rapper who used to make lowrider g-funk and probably went triple platinum at Southern California swap meets alone in 1997. Now he makes sub-Sublime records for the radio. If this transition doesn’t make sense to you then you obviously haven’t been paying enough attention to terrestrial radio. And I’m done here.
KPWR Los Angeles (9), KQKS Denver (42)