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How Big Is Your World? New Good Rap.

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-Bobby Creekwater “I Mean It”
“I Mean It” is free on Bobby’s Myspace

“I Mean It” isn’t a masterpiece or anything but it’s got the same appeal as all the best rap that contains actual rapping. It doesn’t matter what Creekwater’s saying or really, how he’s saying it, just that he’s going in with rapid-fire raps about everything and nothing without trying-too-hard, “Yo, I’m going in on this one” indicating and just making something dope. Like so many actual rapping raps from the Golden Era too, “I Mean It”s simply about how dude is awesome or “real” but Bobby’s found a slightly less played-out way to talk about how “real” he is, framing it around word-is-bond type chants that flaunt genuine real-ness: Honesty, integrity, sincerity. He laconically drawls out, “If I say it-” and then desperately asserts,”I mean it, I really mean it” because he’s floating around on SHADY Records without a record release date and outside of sheer talent–which sure as fuck doesn’t necessarily sell records–it’s the only gimmick he’s really got. Sincere conviction’s a good gimmick though.

-Lil Wayne “Prom Queen”

This song gets better–the worst of it’s those corporatized post-hardcore guitar strums, Wayne’s rocker grunt, and the subsequent unfortunate cascade of P.O.D-heavy guitars that would score a date-rape on Degrassi: TNG. From there, it never like, gets good but it’s better than “Lollipop” if only because Wayne’s weird, half-ideal, half-bitter tale of a nerd who wanted to get it with sadly beautiful titular Prom Queen is really bizarre and affecting. Wayne’s a free-verse freaky freak I know, but he’s a really great storytelling rapper in his own way too and he uses it (and wastes it) on “Prom Queen” expertly. “She tried to keep em entertained/When they can hardly re-member her name…” is the same kind of melodramatic empathy for the rarified shitty hand chicks get dealt that you get on his “Sweetest Girl” remix or any time he opens up and talks about his Mom. Then, he matches it with the bitter vengeance that only a sensitive, rejected nerd can have with those lines about her “crying, sitting outside [his] door”.

-Soulja Boy “Hey You There”

Whether he tries hard at rapping or not, Souljaboy’s iSouljaBoyTellEm is a ridiculously solid album that does exactly what it sets out to do really well. Rappers I actually like don’t make albums as entertaining as this or as weird and homegrown as “Hey You There”. Souljaboy’s little intro thingy basically explains how they made this song–some goofy-accented Mall Cop yelled “Hey! You there” and they, inevitably clowned on him for the rest of their time tearing the mall up, then went home and made this song. Produced by Souljaboy himself, it’s this really insane intertwining of voices and the simplest of percussion (cymbal, snap, 808 thump) and it just keeps going and going for-fucking-ever! What “should’ve” been a weird interlude or even skit, rambles on for almost four minutes and gains something through the indulgence. It’s sort of hypnotic and you only get pulled out of because there’s a fart joke, a Rick James reference, or something wonderfully juvenile like that.

-E Major & DJ Impulse “Paper Runnin”
“Paper Runnin” with a remix is available from Undersound Music

Woozy washy synths, E-Major’s mournful ode to the paper chase and random vocal manipulations overwhelm the dance-ready club break that shuffles–but never explodes–underneath “Paper Runnin”, making it some weird not-quite club, almost ambient hip/trip-hop/house track (or something?). Nowhere near as dense as the Block Beataz, but similarly drunk and “fuck a club” music avant weirdness that would totally bang in a club, or close to the beats on It Is What It Is and parts of Crack–which I’ve taken to calling “Tim Hecker beats”–”Paper Runnin” is especially vital because it’s two people from the wonderfully incestuous Baltimore hip-hop, dance, and club scenes dropping a hard-to-categorize joint like this at a time when “Bmore club” has become a formula for don’t-even-know-they’re-cynical-about-it, out-of-town artists and DJs. Towards the end, when the song’s sounds further devolve and fumble into one another, there’s a few moments of laser effects, malfunctioning drum stutters, and E’s chant that’s particularly glorious and easily, the best, weirdest musical moment of the young new year.

-College “The Energy Story”

Like Jonas Reinhardt’s also a little slept-on self-titled release from last year, College’s Secret Diary does basically one thing and does it really well for an entire album, with little interest in who will get it and how. Unlike Reinhardt, College isn’t locked-up in some old-fashioned Stockhausen-like lab of big-ass computers and farting electronics, he’s trying to make sad, happy, simple music that grabs from 80s electro less for day-glo irony and more for hazy, bittersweet emotions. “The Energy Story” is one of the less one-note sounding songs of the album, but it’s a good introduction, with a simple melody and an uncluttered mix of keyboards and drum machines that still somehow, have that recorded from a degraded VHS layer of warmth around them. The vocals are fighting against something, quivering and almost getting to a point of really singing but never totally getting there, instead huddling up in the same limbo as the music, somewhere between dancey and depressed, immediate pop and foggy avant-garde–the wonky emotions of the 80s movies and culture College is all about.

Written by Brandon

January 29th, 2009 at 7:40 am

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