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How Big Is Your World? New Rap and Such…

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-Ryan Leslie “Out of the Blue”

Whether they know it or not, a war’s being fought by Ryan Leslie and The Foreign Exchange (or even the last Keyshia Cole album) against the post-modern love jams of T-Pain, Kanye, and The-Dream (bar songs about buying shorties shots are basically date-rape songs, just saying…). Declarations of romantic love and need that sound every bit as retro-futuristic as the stuff that’s dominated the radio, but take a little longer to worm their way into your head or like, don’t reveal themselves on first listen. Like everything, let’s not replace one with the other but dude, can we have some balance?

Love how this track sets-up a “what-if…” to Leslie’s girl if he were to leave her, on some egomania shit, only it’s Leslie’s version of telling you how sad he was when he got dumped: “Would you fight back tears as your heart gets torn to pieces?”. Damn, that’s like Scott Walker-level melodrama. And when he isn’t indirectly talking about how he basically went nuts when he got dumped, he’s going back over the relationship with a bunch of “shoulda” reevaluations. There’s also like four levels of electronic weirdness bouncing through the back of this track; Polow Da Don would’ve saved each one for a separate song and made four third-rate Timbo turds, R. Les just goes for it. A highlight among highlights on the only great album that’s come out this year.

-Project Pat “I Be Fresh”

The new Project Pat, Real Recognize Real is excellent and returns some faith in Hypnotized Minds after the weird whatever it is that was Last 2 Walk. Between this and DJ Paul’s upcoming solo album, it almost feels like Three-Six decided to just pretend its 1998 again. The guitar line of this song, downbeat and blaxploitation sad, gets chopped and flipped in a bunch of different directions, chugging along, playing-out semi-cathartically, or just punctuating a Project Pat punchline, almost like Dilla’s ghost floated down to Memphis and helped-out. The guitar chug build-up is “Eye of the Tiger” intro, but never explodes, it just wanders along, trading time with a layer of Vangelis that pulses through most of the song. Pat sounds more like his brother Juicy J than ever before and it’s jarring, but ultimately works, because Pat’s a better rapper and his aggressive flow’d disrail weary brag-rap song like this. The most smoothed-out, minor victory anthem from the Three-Six camp since “Da Summa”.

-CNN featuring Busta Rhymes & Ron Browz “Rotate”

It isn’t that Ron Browz’s formula is necessarily bad–”Pop Champagne”, “Arab Money”, and “Jumping Out the Window” are some of the most fun pop-rap radio’s had in awhile–it’s that he’s consistent about recycling his schtick, so everything’s just kinda the same; no delightfully bad versions and no oddball transcendent version either. “Rotate” though, finds a good balance between hyper auto-tune moaning of Browz and hard-ass New York rap we want from CNN. Really, it’s the same pop-rap compromise Noreaga made with “SuperThug” and it even has some of that song’s trebly stutter funk. This is the part where readers are reminded of Browz’s early career producing “Ebonics” and “Ether”.

Along with some of those new Raekwon and Cam’ron songs, it sounds like wizened New York rap’s back and found a way to recreate and reinvigorate the past, coming off less like a sad approximation than a logical continuation of the sound that worked a decade ago. Give M.O.P a track like this too, Mr. Browz. Still, there’s no excitement for this song, both because radio’s so far gone that even a song as catchy and club-ready as this can’t break through and because serious heads saw “featuring Ron Browz” and never even downloaded the shit. “Rotate” isn’t anything special, but the drums knock, the ever-shifting sometimes backward guitar sample flickers around insidiously, Noreaga and Busta sound awesome, and Capone’s well, he’s Capone.

-Mz Streamz “Tear It Up”

Maybe the only actual Baltimore Club song on the Bmore Club mix/album from E1 Records, Bmore Club Crack by Aaron Lacrate & Debonair Samir, Mz Streamz rides those corny club horns and thump drums on the hook, and finds a way to fit her voice between the million changes-ups that Club songs contain. Inevitable comparisons to the other youthful female Baltimore rapper Rye Rye are on the way, but Rye Rye’s something of a club-rap chanteuse, her voice rests on top of the tracks and rides along. Mz Streamz is something else altogether.

She competes with the beat to “Tear It Up” dipping in and out of it and coming off as varied and A.D.D as the song itself and then, meets it half-way on the ecstatic hook. The same way say, those maybe-from-”Blow Your Heard” synth buzzes collide with the club break towards the end of the song, Mz Streamz cleverly crushes her tough-talk into itself: “I don’t do too much dancin’, Me?/I straight tear it up and take over”. On that “Me?” she squeaks in, between the conventional rap lines, her accent and youthful voice are used for full effect. The idea that what she does on the dance-floor, she doesn’t even call “dancing” is genius. Baltimore Club music’s especially suited for female rappers for some reason. Dudes shouting shit or singing works, but straight-spitting from guys often sounds jarring or extraneous…unless it’s 410 Pharoahs.

-Wavves “So Bored”

Like buddies No Age, Wavves are neither noisy or poppy enough and never actually combine the two in a way that’s fascinating, but there’s something emotional and distressed racing through Wavves’ music that makes it work. Approach this music the same way you’d approach a gangsta rap album or Nazi metal, a very real, unadulterated look into a mind that’s hopefully nothing like your own. Not that Nathan Williams is as immediately “deplorable” as Eazy-E or Varg Vikernes, but that this is music that sounds awesome and visceral but maybe rubs you the wrong way. I’m not sure who these people are that are “bored” and it seems an especially obnoxious anthem to drop as people have too many economic worries to ever feel “bored”, but Williams is speaking for the fuckfaces who still have too much time on their hands, I guess.

Everything about “So Bored” though, is either underwhelming (Phil Spector drums without resonance, unmemorable surf guitar lines) or too much (the scronking noise, the delightfully obnoxious backing vocals) and it creates an odd, jagged sense of disarray to the track that’s certainly relateable. Maybe it’s like “Paranoid’ where Ozzy didn’t want to sing “I’m depressed” so he just called it “Paranoid” even though he’s singing about depression, or the slight euphemism Wavves’ heroes The Beach Boys employed from time time, and this song’s really about feeling really sad and filled with a layer of ennui as thick and ugly as the scratchy static that envelopes each and every Wavves song–which I guess is the sound of being “bored”?–and that’s an emotion that’s all-too relevant these days. Fun to skateboard to after you get laid-off.

Written by Brandon

March 17th, 2009 at 4:01 am

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    6 Jun 12 at 6:52 am

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