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How Big Is Your World? New Rap Songs.

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-”D’ough” Unladylike

There’s a really weird Baltimore Club influence running through Unladylike’s totally-ignored album Certified and who knows how or why it happened. Cynically, the slow-burn hype of someone like Rye Rye might be to blame–it’s clear Unladylike’s label has no idea what to do with them–but it totally works because it’s the grab from anywhere fun of Club with those Lil Jon Yeahhhhs popping-up or the song that samples Four Non-Blondes (yes.) and here, some samples from The Simpsons. Neither of the girls in Unladylike are rapping particularly well on this track–it’s kinda too slow and minimal for them–but they can rap well when they want to and this track is more about like, fuck-it-all weirdness anyway. Tee wins out for being completely bizarre, sorta yelping out her brag-raps and kicking the verse off with two Simpsons references back to back.

-”You’re Not My Girl” Ryan Leslie

Who knows what’s going on in Ryan Leslie’s brain. “You’re Not My Girl” quotes or re-interopolates (?) “Another One Bites the Dust” the same way Leslie grabbed Maroon 5’s sound for “Quicksand” off his slept-on self-titled from early in the year. Then, he fills in all the open space of the imminently head-noddable bump with arcade machine synth noises and a ton of other weird sounds.Call it super elegant electro-funk or symphonic synth R & B. Think there’s a harpsichord or a keyboard set to “Harpsichord” in there somewhere. Leslie basically makes songs with three or four different pieces, any one of which would be enough for a hit, but crammed together, one after another, it becomes oddly underwhelming. In part, because R & B right now’s kinda like Hair Metal was in the 80s–a whole bunch of unmemorable shit and then the most killer chorus in the world–Leslie’s not very popular. There’s too much good stuff in his productions. He also has an awesome, terrible habit of taking typical R & B topics (girls on the side) and either refuting them or as he does here, singing about all the awkward and complex shit that swells up inside these kinds of affairs.

-”Fuck Da World” Diamond

Nihilistic raps like this never get old but it’s automatically more interesting because it comes from a female rapper, rapping about her feelings (or lack thereof) in precisely the same way a depressed dude rapper would do it. It’s not that female rappers–or females in general–don’t have these feelings, it’s that they’re sorta not allowed to express them, but the entire P.ardon M.y S.wagger tape, beginning with the title, runs circles around gender expectations wrecking them and recontextualizing them, so Diamond can get away with it. Too many sad-sack lines to highlight here, but when Diamond apologizes to her (miscarried) seed is well, damn. The part about hoping the plane she’s on would crash so then people actually react to something is similarly “wow” and captures the jumble of pathos and self-obsession rolling around inside suicidal thoughts. This verse has the same air of desperation Diamond had when she spit about missing a dude on “Circles”, just she’s extended it to Scarface or Z-Ro territory.

-”I Wish You Were Here” Ghostface featuring Tre Williams

Almost picked “Redemption”, the meaty intro track from the kind of a Wu Tang album Chamber Music because it perfectly illustrates the Revelations’ smooth jaggedness, but “Wish You Were Here” does that too–and it has rapping. Revelations vocalist Tre Williams usurps the song at the mid-point and doesn’t give it back and “I Wish You Were Here” is better for it. Like The Delfonics (or “Delphonics” as they’re credited) pushed Ghost to the side and just totally took over “After the Smoke Is Clear” off Ironman. Good to hear Ghost avoid his much-smarter but more boring crack-rap correctives of the past three years and dealing entirely in tiny details of normal life. Like how he describes cuddling after fucking (“it’s bright from the TV light”) or his super-sincere form of get-in-your-pants talk (“I get butterflies when we hug and kiss/Do you?”). Wu Tang’s increased interest in smothering the rap in their songs with like, extended R & B crooning or rap-psych weirdness, is old-head rap gracefully avoiding diminishing returns.

-”Spiritual Gladiators” Willie Isz

Part of the reason Willie Isz never goes the way of Gnarls is because it’s clear producer Jneiro Jarel hasn’t listened to any “hip” non-rock music since like 1998, so he’s forcing Drill n Bass (the skittering drums) and ominous atmospherics of Trip-Hop (an unidentifiable wheeze in the background, plinks of piano) and 80s loosely Gothic acts (the “some will fall” chant is so Bauhaus) into a hip-hop soundscape. Those sounds are way easier to incorporate into something still tinged with hip-hop because they were all dealing with some form of black music and these days, non-rap, smart-person pop music’s run screaming from black music (or “white” music influenced by “black” music) and so, there’s hardly any sub-genre discourse going on. Further collapse of a monoculture and blah blah blah, SFJ’s ‘A Paler Shade of White’ etc. Khujo kills these kinda rap tracks because he doesn’t feel the need to get extra-anything on them, he just raps unintimidated.

-”Vultures Descend” Greymachine

This song isn’t very impressive, but it gets the job done. Or maybe it’s really good and it just comes too loaded with context. It’s easy to imagine chill alt-bros in Isis hoodies thinking noise and genuinely fucking heavy guitars is next-level when it’s really kinda some sad attempt at Kevin Drumm or something. Nothing in metal, especially “avant-metal”–like hip-hop, metal’s inherently avant-garde–has been all that good since Sleep’s Jerusalem but okay, here we go. There’s a killer riff hidden in this thing, it’s catchy, like Land of Lurches or the good Merzbow stuff is catchy–it inexplicably grabs hold of your ears, it not all din and thud that turns to background music. The blast of drums about four minutes in and the post-metal guitar riff a minute later are genuinely transcendent. And it’s the clear merging of two bands’ sounds: The drums of Justin Broadrick, the emotionally-manipulative guitars of Isis.

Written by Brandon

July 13th, 2009 at 4:01 am

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

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  1. The simple truth is, in life, tons of people know what to complete, but few people in fact do what they know. Knowing is not enough! You need to make a change


    17 Sep 10 at 11:45 am

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