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How Big Is Your World? New Rap.

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-UGK “7th Street (Interlude)”

There’s a million reasons why Pimp C’s death was a tragedy, but the one that UGK 4 Life mainly brings to mind is how much further Pimp could’ve–and would’ve–taken UGK’s sound. Around Dirty Money, it seemed like Pimp had found way to use his singing voice and rapping voice as extensively as his musical voice. By the time we had Pimpalation and Underground Kingz, he wasn’t giving Bun a breather for a verse or like offering an interesting contrast, he was forming his own, equally complex and rarified thesis on the world around. That his incomplete thesis would end with this demand for real-ness in the form of women not shaving their pubes is perfect.

UGK 4 Life moves even further into Pimp’s odd and incalculably influential idea of “country rap tunes” (emphasis on tunes). Be it B.O-Bobby Ray, Andre 3k, or Kanye, all of them get inadvertently shown-up on this track, as Pimp drops more palpable emotion in this minute and a half of singing than dudes do on whole albums or disastrous SxSw performances. “7th Street Interlude” reminds me of those lo-fi folk songs on the last Witchdoctor album, not only in their shared ability to do a lot more than most with only a little, but in terms of like, hinting listeners towards the possibility of an all-out singing album but wisely leaving it at that…for now at least…or what should’ve been “only for now” but you know, the Pimp is dead. Contained within “7th Street Interlude” though, is the seed for a UGK nerd to sprout into the beautiful, heartbreaking R & B album Chad Butler would’ve dropped in like another decade.

-Big Pooh “Power”

Ever since Getback, it seems Little Brother have come to terms with not being superstars and the very real fact that they don’t make radio rap, and it’s made their music way more likeable, even when something as obvious as the industry’s taken on–the topic of this wonderfully off-the-cuff Delightful Bars (iTunes Version) song. Here, Pooh comes off more like a burned veteran, hoping to give warning to rapper friends as idealistic as he once was. That the song also frames itself around the nebulous concept of “Power”, is at least a little more sophisticated or like, discerning about how stuff works and the precise reasons why it sucks. “Power” is just sort of reaching-out and throwing up its hands at a loose concept that undeniably corrupts and cripples everything.

And it doesn’t hurt that it’s spit over the freakiest, Nintendo Entertainment System beat of the year (alongside Christopher “Deep” Hendersons’ “Blame It” beat for Jamie Foxx). Khrysis brings Rock N’Roll Racing computerized guitar riffs, Dragon Warrior electro-flute, and Super Mario Brothers 1-Up! effects all together into something that still bumps enough that Big Pooh and O. Dash can spit complainer rhymes to and not sound out-of-place. Right before the beat repeats its loop, it’s sorta like the part of “Swagger Like Us” when Jay does that at-first dumb but really kinda goofily transcendant “Ho-o-Ova…” speak-sing thing.

-Unladylike “Bartender”

Already mentioned this, but I’m gonna get all So Many Shrimp on you and be like, “Hey, more people should be talking about this!”…”Bartender”s beat’s real minimal and slinky with moments that max-out, vibrating and swarming around almost evil-like, especially on the hook where it’s “Kernkraft 400″ on it’s ninth shot of Grey Goose, trying to build-up proper and explode but just sort of rumbling around like too much liquor sitting at the bottom of your stomach–reminds me of that recent Diplo/Blaqstarr joint that, while we’re at it, more people should give a shit about too.

Both Unladylike members have a good sense of fast-rapping that seems to be important for all females rappers to do–why, I don’t really know–and Gunna in particular, has a way of sneaking up on you moving from a Southern style drawl to rapid-fire raps, especially when she comes out of the first hook still rapping and into the second hook. Tee isn’t quite as nimble but she’s the secret star of the group, injecting some warm ugly reality into this drank rap. More fun and self-effacing, she devotes her brief verse to the awful-feeling you get when liquor hits you all at once, touching on the not-so-smart decision that more drink’s the answer, and ends it with a hard-ass flirt/demand to meet her in the bathroom. Neither hyper-sexual or Jean Grae “true” and “natural” or whatever, Unladylike stand in that awkward place female rappers (and really maybe females in general) aren’t allowed to occupy: just hanging out, being real.

-Eddie “In Reality”

Like a Baltimore version of North Carolina’s Hall of Justus, E Major-fronted Undersound Music are becoming the go-to for really solid, forward-thinking, fun but traditionalist hip-hop. The newest project is Sound Wandering from Virginia Beach’s Eddie. Somewhere between the avant-orthodoxy of Dilla and the out-and-out weirdo-ness of Flying Lotus or Prefuse 73, Eddie’s formula of in-the-ether soul samples matched-up against clunking, trebly electronics results in a kind of middle-brow experimentation that’s a delight when most to all “conscious rap” producers are either stuck in 1996 or trying too-hard to sound like Year 3006.

“In Reality” revolves around a stretched-out strings sample that expands and contracts and sounds a little melancholy. Stacked atop it though, are some really determined drums and an echoing synth-line that sound confident and ready to take over the world. The song’s on a mission; it could score the transcendent, life-changing moment at the end of some character study. A person holding onto a big decision and standing on the beach…or on Pluto for that matter. The really odd coda where it goes all-out with the fluttering electronics and inexplicably morphs into Eddie’s cell-phone ring and an aimless one-sided phone conversation is the right kind of weird, doesn’t make sense indulgence.

Written by Brandon

March 29th, 2009 at 7:50 am

One Response to 'How Big Is Your World? New Rap.'

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