We’re back at it (Juug man voice) as we present you with an action-packed In Rotation featuring Chet Faker, Company Flow, Lil Wayne, Freddie Gibbs and more…
“Collude/Intrude” by Company Flow
We all know El-P is the man. Founder of the landmark Def Jux record label, homeboy is a master of abstract rhymes and production. Though most of his output today is channeled through his collaborative Run the Jewels projects with ATL legend Killa Mike, El-Producto was the figurehead of the under-underground NYC renaissance that began in the mid-90’s and arguably lasted until the internet switched the platform for releasing independent and underground music.
El-P’s group with fellow Apple-dwellers MC Big Jus and DJ Mr. Len, Company Flow, released their “fuck everybody else operating within the sphere of hip-hop music” album Funcrusher Plus on Rawkus Records in 1997 after self-releasing the similarly-titled Funcrusher EP the year before. “Collude/Intrude” is one of my favorite jawns off of this album because its simple structure gives way to more intricate lyrics and rhyme patterns. The simple, pulsing bass has potential to blow out speakers, but the way that El and guest MC J-Treds rip it apart rewards listeners for spending the time to catch what is being said. Also, shout out to El-P for being the only rapper I’ve heard use the phrase “whirling dervish” in a rap line.
“Let the Beat Build” by Lil Wayne
I’ve never been a huge Lil Wayne fan. He always rubbed me the wrong way and when he started to blow up I was in my rap snob phase so of course I hated him. “Wayne isn’t good for rap,” was 15-year-old me’s motto.
Now of course that’s silly. I mean we wouldn’t have Young Thug if it weren’t for Weezy. And lord knows I don’t want to live in a world without “Eww.”
So I delved back into Wayne’s catalog and of course I like the song co-produced by Kanye. Wayne does his thing. But I mostly like it for Rap Genius’ explanation for the line “Approving million dollar deals from my Iphone.” Obviously we don’t really need an explanation of this but: “Wayne is a boss and can make business decisions with huge financial ramifications on his phone with no more effort or thought than it would take to send a text message.
Maybe he has the Bank of America app on his iPhone.”
“Nevermind the End (Lil Sad Remix)” by Tei Shi
If you’re like me (read: white male, age 18-34) then you love being angsty. Nothing says male privilege quite like getting butt hurt about every little thing, like girls not thinking you’re the shit even though you can name every Wu-Tang album in chronological order. So it’s no surprise that the “sad boy” trend was spawned by white kids with middle-class backgrounds and appeals mainly to white dudes from middle-class backgrounds. It all kind of reminds me of the emo phase of 2007. Remember when emo kids were a thing in, middle school? I like to think we all had an emo phase where we listened to Bright Eyes and wanted to be Ben Gibbard. Just me? Whatever.
So instead of running down to Hot Topic, peep this Lil Sad remix of “Nevermind the End” by Tei Shi which already had a sad boy title before it was remixed by an artist that literally has “sad” in his name. Also Tei Shi is mad cute and is kind of like if FKA Twigs hung out in your local coffee shop instead of with rappers and producers. Basically the kind of girl that would be way too intimidating to actually approach and probably already has a boyfriend… Anyways, this is way less whiney than anything I listened to in 2007 and is way better than whatever Spooky Black has hiding under his do-rag.
“Sittin’ On Chrome” by Masta Ace Incorporated
Masta Ace is one of those names in hip hop that is easily recognized. However, Ace falls into that “rappity rap”/underground/”hip hop head” category, where fans are hesitant to go. Nor did he receive the wide-recognition that some of his Brooklyn contemporaries received. This is largely due to the fact that Ace, literally fell off the map between ’95 and 2001.
Nevertheless, Masta Ace made some solid contributions to the rap game, most notably his verse in The Juice Crew’s legendary posse-cut “The Symphony,” his verse in “Crooklyn,” and his ’95 album Sittin’ on Chrome.
Released official under the name Masta Ace Incorprated (INC)—a group composed of Ace, Lord Digga, Paula Perry and Leschea –Sittin’ On Chrome can best be described as an east-coast take on the bass-heavy driving music that was popularized by Dre’s The Chronic. While the additional members of the INC hold there own throughout the album, the obvious highlight is Masta Ace himself. His distinctive smooth style effortlessly flows over the album’s bouncy and bass-heavy instrumentals.
The album’s highlights include “INC Ride,” “B-Side,” “Eastbound,” and my personal favorite “Terror,” which samples “Sara Smile” as performed by Eric Gale.
“God Body” by French Montana & Chinx Drugz (Prod. Harry Fraud)
I am a vocal French Montana advocate and honorary member of the Coke Boys (self-appointed), so I’ve been dealing with the feeling that I dropped the ball ever since Coke Boys 4 dropped and I didn’t commit 3,000 words to reviewing it. Actually I had yet to even give the tape a full spin until two weeks ago. I can summarize what I would have wrote in a few words, which apply to every tape in the Coke Boys series; every song with Harry Fraud is fire and the rest are questionable. However, when it comes to the Coke Boys, when they’re good they’re Colombian-yayo-fresh-off-the-boat good. Case in point on Coke Boys 4; “God Body.”
The most captivating aspect of the song is the sample. It sounds like Sade B-side from the 80s. French has had a storied history of using beats that utilize some bizarre samples. Just listen to “Sanctuary,” “Water,” “Haven’t Spoke,” or “It’s Just Me.” But “God Body” is on some ethereal plane that I can’t explain. This is the music St. Peter listens to while sitting poolside in Dubai, drinking Henny straight out of the bottle. There are levels to this, and this song is on a level that is out of the realm of mortal understanding.
Since I am so fascinated by this cut, I decided to track down the source of the sample. And this is what I found:
If you thought that the original song was going to sound like that then I’ll show you a big fucking liar who was called out in this very sentence. I was expecting a slinky R&B cut but instead what I got was something sounding like a Lykke Li/Disclosure mash-up. That’s not to diss to Flight Facilities and Giselle (although your names could use work), I find the song pleasant, but Harry Fraud and French took your song and turned it into the soundtrack of Jesus on a blunt ride in Mother Theresa’s ’66 Impala.
All praises due to the Coke Boys.
“Achilles” by Allan Kingdom
I’m a sucker for a quality bridge. For real. Like the Golden Gate? I’d immediately ejaculate if I saw that majestic structure in person. Even a simple log over a river, that’s my shit right there. My bridge fetish is the main reason I love this song.
Allan Kingdom is a rapper/producer from one of the Twin Cities in the land of 10,000 lakes, I’m not sure which one though. Is St. Paul or Minneapolis cooler? I sincerely hope the underlying tension between the two cities erupts into a Westside-Story-style gang war one of these days. But just with capoeira. Not actual violence. That would be a cruel wish.
What am I rambling about? Oh yeah bridges. This song has one of the hottest bridges in the hemisphere. He stays just a little bit off-beat, but it makes his croaky delivery that much more effective. “IMA BALL, IMA BALL.” So simple but so good. This dude has raw talent, that’s for sure. His lyrics are pretty memorable as well. He’s got a Suite Life of Zack and Cody shoutout “No wonder the flows so abundant, if you are heavy, ima Tipton like London,” a Bob’s Burgers reference (shouts to Tina and her elaborate butt fantasies), PLUS he calls out Macklemore. I can’t wait to see where Mr. Kingdom takes his talents in the upcoming years.
“Release Your Problems” by Chet Faker
Your favorite songs are the ones that make you feel something that takes you beyond the music. Yes, the music is the reason you are reaching that point, but it’s when the music transcends that time and place and brings you somewhere else, that shit gets real. Each generation is filled with it’s own list of great artists who were able to do this; in their own various flavors and textures. Think “Jammin” by Bob Marley or “Get Down” by Curtis Mayfield or Van Morrison’s “Moondance,” these songs move you.
On April 15, Chet Faker’s album Built on Glass brought me to that level. Think Citizen Cope at 2 a.m. in a smoky room with a warm buzz going, so it’s slower. Sitting in a jazz club on the beach, with the club’s coastal side open to the elements. You can hear the wind and waves, feel the breeze and meanwhile the band just caught it’s groove.
I don’t think there is a bad song on the album, but “Release Your Problems” is it. The first song on the album, coming out the box cool as a pina colada in the tropics, and if you weren’t set back in your chair already, you are now. The beat grooves up and down, flowing at the speed of an ocean breeze. And it’s impossible not to sing the chorus.
I think Chet is onto something special, mostly because of his inherent ability to treat each note as an individual. Like with blues guitarists, where the theology isn’t praising how many notes. It’s how you play each one that matters. The layering of his tracks is well thought out and you can feel his passion, which is why we listeners can reach that level of human experience. Being able to harness the energy in each moment of a song, be it slow or fast, heavy or soft, and convey it to an audience is when you know you’re on to something. He’s there. Listen to this album. Then listen to it again and hear everything you missed the first time. The third listen is on you.
“Deep” by Freddie Gibbs and Madlib[spotify http://open.spotify.com/track/6uENBXosotsynEGL65RRnR]
Freddie Gibbs and Madlib’s album entitled (Cocaine) Pinata came out a couple weeks ago, and the consensus was that it’s pretty much fantastic. Gibbs seems to be the first rapper in a while to come into Madlib’s zany universe and still feel at home (DOOM is there too, but he’s not one for frills).
There’s not much to be said about the album that hasn’t already been written all over the college-run hip hop blogs, for whom this collaboration is a wet dream. Instead, I provide you with a track you might have missed, off of the first MadGibbs EP Thuggin’.
The song, entitled “Deep”, samples “Children of the Ghetto” by The Real Thing, and represents an interesting shift in the type of beats that Madlib provides. There is no doubt that tracks like “High” and “Shame” off of Pinata represent more of a southern-based beat that is rather unusual for Madlib, and “Deep” falls in the spectrum of these songs. It is also just generally very good, so listening to it will be beneficial for your development as a human being and patron of the arts.
Here’s hoping the next Madlib release isn’t 5 years away, or worse another collaborative album with Talib Kweli [Ed. Note: HATER ALERT].