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HOW BIG IS YOUR WORLD?: Good Rap You Maybe Missed In 2008, Pt. 2

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-Devin the Dude featuring L.C “I Can’t Make It Home”

This got a lot of satellite radio play and I guess, was “the single” from the really underwhelming Landing Gear but it still seems slept-on. It’s in-line with all of Devin’s songs, a charming storytelling rap that furthers his scruffy fuck-up persona, but it’s way more palpably depressing. You got through the stoner loneliness anthem of “Doobie Ashtray” because it was kinda funny, had a Primo beat and was called you know, “Doobie Ashtray”, but “I Can’t Make It Home” is just a really fucking sad tale of drunk-driving. And not the fun drunk-driving or even the fun because you might die drunk/drugged driving but just like, a mistake from the beginning and you’re in it until you maybe glide into your driveway crooked or get pulled over; both options have the same odds of becoming reality.

The crooned chorus, the shabby melodrama of it all make the emotions behind it palpable. In some ways, a better illustration of the knowing but not smart enough self-destruction an author of minor victories and epic failures like Richard Yates mined than Sam Mendes’ adaptation of dude’s Revolutionary Road. What’s really devastating about it is how Devin’s so matter-of-fact about it, like a friend telling you what it was like to spend 24 hours in a psych ward or something…wizened and happy because now it’s at least all over.

-Zilla Rocca “The First Order of Business” (Blurry Drones Remix)

“The First Order of Business”, the best song on Bring Me the Head of Zilla Rocca gets remixed and turns the spastic hammering drums of the original into a hurricane of guitars. Sampling the Walkmen, Douglas Martin (Blurry Drones) does an appropriate garage-rock style of production, where there’s nothing fancy, just tried and true production tricks like lowering or raising the volume or slowing it down for a moment here and there…but Zilla doesn’t ever slow down, it’s just punchline after punchline in that great Philly accent he has.

The punchlines though too, carry some weird hard to explain weight that’s beyond “Oh. That was very clever”, although they’re clever too. They sort of resonate because it’s the goofy observations you make with your friends—bad typos in a text message, old-ass actors playing teenagers—or they just gel together, like when he lumps a series of Frank Miller references together and keeps going without pause, giving no time for that “oh shit” moment more self-aggrandizing rappers’ll slow down for. There’s an oddly affecting point where Zilla interrupts the fun rap to say “This was the worst year of my life-“ tells you he “salvaged it”, doesn’t explain why it was bad or how he changed it and keeps going and it’s all the more affecting because of the mystery and sort of hints that whatever that “worst” is fuels his rap fervor.

-Bobby Creekwater “Goodbye”

Was gonna pick “Goodbye” from this EP because I already talked this song up, but it’s not on YouTube and “Not Yet”–and the entire BC Era EP for that matter–deserve as much hype as possible. Guys like Bobby Creekwater, forever in label limbo, will never be a superstar no matter who co-signs their talent, are supposed to be this modest but all too often, their songs all end up about their money, their label, and girls and so, it’s cool that Bobby Creek’s asserting “I won’t forget where I came from”; it really does matter to him.

He also does a clever thing on this track of sort of sounding like over-enunciating Wayne on a verse, a determined pre-uses a thesaurus and figured out meter and got boring T.I on another, and also modestly reminding you that he’s not “T-Pain or Ye”. The beat though here and all of this EP is what makes it: Scrappy strings, crew vocals, some guy crooning somewhere in the background, and then atop it all typical Southern production stuff. The instruments reinforce the song’s feeling of low-to-the-ground loyalty.

-Illa J “Timeless”

I’m glad other people compared this song to D’Angelo because I was afraid that was like blasphemous or some shit, but that’s exactly what it sounds like but more importantly, what it feels like. The heart-on-the-sleeve sincerity of the song and mumbled singing of Dilla’s brother and music that has like, caves of black music history behind it in that piano jazz loop and simple drum beat that’s the root of every hip-hop song and also, a specific kind of stomping minimalism found only on Fantastic Vol. 1.

That I guess, is the “timeless” part of the title as Illa J’s part’s very much concerned with the right now, owning up to his lack of experience in a way that’s not on the defensive but like, “Look, I’m figuring my shit out, calm down”. On this song, Dilla’s legacy aligns with his younger brother’s inexperience perfectly, and the confidence and classic before we even heard it beat lets Illa relax and get real. One of the most intensely personal songs released this year.

I’ll be back after the New Year, have fun and be safe.-brandon

Written by Brandon

December 26th, 2008 at 5:49 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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  1. Im getting a little issue. I cant get my reader to pick-up your rss feed, Im using yahoo reader by the way.


    14 Jun 12 at 7:16 am

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