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How Big Is Your World? New Rap.

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-”Everybody Raise Up” Z-Ro & Chill

A Z-Ro song about convergence and community instead of isolation and depression. Funny thing is, the same stuff that usually sends Z-Ro to his four-cornered room (dead friends, unjust political system, crooked cops, triflin’ girls, general bullshit), here drums-up an anthemic demand to come together, every bit as dead-serious as the usual thoughts of paranoia and suicide. Sure, Z-Ro sending out a slightly healthier, productive message is something, but it’s the hook here, the plethora of voices behind Z-Ro’s anthemic demand that turn it into something mildly transcendent. You get Z-Ro’s signature mumble but there’s some high-pitched squeaky dude in there and what sounds like an entire block repeating the message too. Like the Houston version of Hardcore crew vocals or something.

-”Ego Trippin” Gucci Mane

Gucci wandering around on Zaytoven’s tiny fireworks explosions of synths shouldn’t be fascinating still, but it is. This could’ve easily been one of those joyous Gucci verses, where he’s being especially silly and rubbery with his raps, but instead he raps from the back of his throat. Gucci’s nose always sounds stuffed-up, but here it’s like he’s got laryngitis or something. But the more he raps, he digs his way out of it and sounds excited to sing the chorus, which is about how exciting it is that he’s got a song with Snoop. And then we never get the Snoop part. And my guess is when this song shows-up in full, with a whatever whatever Snoop verse, it’ll lose something. Like the idea of Snoop is exciting or Gucci’s idea of Snoop is exciting and infectious and that Gucci’s enthusiasm for rapping with Snoop is better than the reality. The big line here is Gucci’s demand to “Stop that ego-trippin’ man” which you know, is good advice–Gucci’s version of “Hang On To Your Ego”–but this has been Gucci’s M.O forever really. He just raps. A lot. Modestly.

-”Ain’t Nothing Else To Do” Gucci Mane

“Ain’t Nothing Else To Do” is almost too easy to analyze: A desperate, capitalistic, nihilistic cry/celebration of making money and buying shit because well, that’s all there really is to do. Gucci though, adds another level of confidence to the thing, as it’s not only that there’s nothing “else” to do but that he’s got nothing else to “prove”. A rarefied, top-of-the-world alienation quite different from say, Kanye’s. When you read those old-ass stories of totally working class dudes in the late 1800s that struck oil or found a shit-ton of gold and had more money than they knew what to do with (literally), so the rest of their life was a bit miserable and really decadent, their attitude was probably similar to Gucci’s…on this song at least. Those guys were “new money”, provincials (everything American that’s interesting stems from provincials) that didn’t fit anywhere. And it’s the same mix of pride and continued awkwardness a guy like Gucci feels being a slowly-growing superstar that still won’t ever make sense to a huge part of the rap world. If Jack McCann from Nic Roeg’s Eureka were a rapper.

-”Helpsomebody” Maxwell

There’s almost like, no production on the new Maxwell album. Not in the sense that it’s lo-fi, just that there’s something oddly pure and direct and wreckless about BLACKsummers’night. Precedents are previous Maxwell records (duh), and D’Angelo’s Voodoo, but shit like Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock too–echoes of Talk Talk’s “Ascension Day” when “Helpsomebody” cuts-off just as it’s ready to explode. Raw smoothness. Jagged but super-clean. David Drake referred to the weird anti-production style as “an almost underwhelming live-performance feel” and that comes about as close to words as describing whatever the fuck is going on inside of this record. There’s nothing necessarily “new” here, but buzzing whirring guitars and rumbling basslines–this is like a 90s indie rock neo-soul record–and perfect punches or horns and organs all build around one another into something that feels. Dunno, it just feels. The personal is the political and vice versa on here too–a nice diversion from navel-gazing “all about me” rap & B.

-”Makin a Livin” Scottie B

Baltimore legend Scottie B flips the flipped-a-million-times “Heaven and Hell” from the 20th Century Band and makes it anew. You get that identifiable, hyper-empathetic “everyone’s got to make a livin” shout but he grinds the word-less rah-rah response back into itself over and over and over again. The recent–and by recent I mean, like nearly a decade–trend in Club music is a sort incessant cicada buzz of Lil Jon “Whut?!”s and “Hey!”s until the word and its sample origin become meaningless and fractured (like you’ll hear a loop of “Hey!” as a loop of “eyH!”) and Scottie gives a classic break the same treatment. There’s something cosmic and zen or something when he reduces the loop to “children growin, women producin”–the bare essentials of life. “Makin a Livin”–off the My Crew Be Unruly LP out in a few weeks–is a justification for mining the same ideas and territory endlessly, if you know how to do it right. When the “Think” break drops at the end of a particularly elaborate loop of rhythms, it’s only “played-out” if you’re listening to Club music cynically…which you just can’t really do. Like all dance music, it’s beyond-words and shit.

*Sorry about the players…uploading problems.

Written by Brandon

July 28th, 2009 at 4:09 am

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