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How Big Is Your World? New, good rap.

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-G-Mane ft. Bentley “Listen”

Guest rapper Bentley reveals the anti-message of “Listen”: “Moral to the story, not a damn thing/Just another nigga trapped, trapped in the game.” G-Mane puts it a little nicer (“See I done learned from folks’ mistakes/And you can learn from mine too/I share the stories of my life, so you figure out what you gonna do”) but either way, it’s grabbing from the weird humanist moral center that pimp-hustlers like UGK and 8Ball & MJG took from. This is something sociologically-aimed, gender-worried rap “scholars” still haven’t figured out. Simply by speaking on this shit, with the right degree of detail and self-seriousness, does it become “message music”. It doesn’t need to formally/structurally “redeem” itself or anything.

G-Mane’s two verses are expertly put together here, the first verse outlining his path to rapping and the second verse, how he started selling. The song, the mixtape, his career–the intersection of the two. Weird, interesting details aren’t spared either, be it the fact that his DJ/musician father didn’t want him to get into hip-hop or that he used the projection booth of the movie theater where he worked to deal. This isn’t just “I been into hip-hop/selling crack for a long time” type banalities. It’s lived-in, cherry-picked from life rhymes. Then there’s Bentley, younger than G-Mane, a relative newcomer, who tells a story that pretty much sounds just like G-Mane’s only a decade or so later. It reinforces that final, resigned line about just being “another nigga trapped”. Time and circumstances mean little. G-Mane and Bentley’s tale is thousands of others’ too.

-Mannie Fresh ft. Russell Lee & The Show “Get With Me”

Okay, “Get With Me” is burdened with a verse from The Show, an absolutely terrible Lil Wayne wannabe who shows up on too much of Return of the Ballin. Seriously. All you guys who throw around the word “ignorant” need to listen to The Show. Not because he’s particularly offensive, but because he has no concept of how punchlines–or verbs and adjectives for that matter–really work. Still, there’s an almost Haiku-like genius to, “All you gotta do is suck a dick and chill”, so dumbness wins again.

But that almost doesn’t matter or rather, the rest of what’s going on in “Get With Me” makes The Show’s part negligible and even kinda fun eventually. Fresh just brings an overdose of personality and fun to the song. His masterful and hilarious bridge–”get that, on e’rything”–rubbing up against just plain gorgeous beatmaking.That “1-2-3 Ow!” sample at the beginning, the rolling acoustic guitar loop, the rush of angelic synths in right after the sampled-hook…that hook itself which rest awkwardly but perfectly, like it was stuffed between the drums after the fact. Just another immaculate Mannie Fresh production, so immaculate here that you wish F-F-Fresh were less of a worker-bee beatmaker and would let this shit roll-out for 7 minutes or so, ONP style.

-G-Side ft. Kristmas “Rising Sun”

Wow. From the last chunk of upliftingly depressing songs on G-Side’s Huntsville International. Block Beattaz are on some like Eno/U2 style mixing and production here, that same kind of chintzy glory where everything’s reverbed and booming and it makes the shit really cinematic without being “cinematic”. For awhile, they relied on the trance samples to bring it to that next, melodramatic level, but now it’s their assemblage of sounds alone that hits you in the gut. When that bizarre sample comes-in on Clova’s verse, like CP and Mali Boi sampled the music you hear in your town’s Chinese Buffett and sent it through auto-tune a few hundred times, it’s well, damn.

Credit should go to ST, Clova, and Kristmas too, who wisely rap against the Slim Thug hook. If this song “is for the Gs and the hustlers” it’s “for” them in the sense that they need to hear “Rising Sun” so some sense gets knocked into them. ST’s “Somehow, the game got twisted to shit/The whole point in flippin’ the brick was to flip it legit” and Kristmas’ extended brag about having a bank account feel immortal, inarguable. Clova then, sorta plays the role of drug dealer here, dropping contemporary coke-rap punchlines–”shit, we flippin’ chickens call it Zaxby’s” is personal favorite–but still centering his verse with a reminder: “I don’t sell dope, or cut the dope no more-”.

-Sensational & Spectre “Rip Like This”

Spectre’s one of many, many, many hip-hop weirdos wandering about Baltimore. There’s King Tutt or Labtekwon or Will Roc, and there’s Spectre. Ostensibly dude is making “beats” but they’re all airy and squonky and downtempo sometimes but not trip-hop or anything–they just defy categorization. Phaser sounds. Death knell drums. All coated with a fog of general insanity that still sorta knocks good and proper. So, pairing up with no-nonsense, nonsense spitter Sensational makes a lot of sense. Maybe too much sense. With age, Sensational’s schtick becomes both legendarily hard-harded and kinda played-out. But man, when the shit works…

“Rip Like This” has a lot more hip-hop in it–a buzz of foggy guitar, some real drums– than most of Acid & Bass and so, it doesn’t deflate or get boring after a minute or so (the story of “avant hip-hop”). This song actually gets more interesting and doles-out surprises left and right, like this indie-blues kinda guitar-solo that sounds like the song’s coda, but then, Sensational’s GZA with brain damage flow comes in one last time. Wire almost got it right this month, it’s just that they put the wrong part of this duo on the cover.

-Rich Boy ft. Rico Love “We Like It”

Rich Boy goes “hard” on this one, but he’s just singing about girls and there’s a hook from some guy named Rico Love. The low-end, Bladerunner rumbles at the beginning suggest a sequel to “Let’s Get This Paper” and then it slinks in, and it’s nearly electro-clash or something. Like it’s from that weird, interesting time a few years ago where everything synthetic was on some full-of-menace, retro-futuristic shit, be it Pharrell, Poni Hoax, or Fennesz.

What does this track mean in 2009 going on 2010 though? A pretentious, music-crit question yeah, but one that’s sorta vital for a guy like Rich Boy who’s gonna forever chase the zeitgiest that made “Throw Some Ds” a hit while tossing-out some roaring mixtapes along the way. “We Like It” is also of course, just Jim Jonsin’s beat for Beyonce’s “Sweet Dreams” minus the “Beat It” influence and made for the speakers in a strip club instead of a regular club–darker, oozing more, but still essentially a weird Atari-informed piece of pop production that a bigger star already turned into a hit. What’s Rich Boy to do, then? Rap viciously on it, like he isn’t just saying strip-club platitudes and find an odd, off-to-the-side synth melody to ride and keep it moving.

-DJ Pierre “I Deserve This”

Upping the energy of Drake’s “The Winner” just makes sense, but doing so appends some swing, some soulfulness to the stilted, stunted production of Tha Bizness. Without a mumbling lightweight like Drake to worry about, the BPMs can go up a bunch and the song’s allowed to really move. And it’s this swing, the soulfulness at the center of an otherwise chaotic, discordant Club track that gives the latest Pierre track its legs.

“Deserve This” is very much of-the-moment and inching towards a more classical, less temporal type of Club too. The kind where the drums destroy (more Booman than Blaqstarr) and the structure’s sophisticated–no longer just a cicada whirl of “hey”s and “what”s, samples of samples, and kick-less drums. It’s got that oppressive craziness, but out of the cloud of stutter vocals, weird half-basslines, and space-noise syncopation comes that glorious brass. Pierre’s already a masterful DJ–challenging and pragmatic at the same time–and a very clever post-Blaq Starr Club producer, but “Deserve This” sounds like DJ Pierre’s first, tried and true Club classic. His “Ryda Girl”, his “Pick Em’ Up”, his “Niggaz Fightin’”.

further reading/viewing:

-”Sunday On Da Porch (Drops Thanksgiving)” by Codie G from Huntsville Got Starz
-”G-Side – Huntsville International” by Quan from Hater Player
-”Sensational & Spectre: Acid & Bass” by Michael Byrne from City Paper
-Matt Furie’s Website

Written by Brandon

November 30th, 2009 at 5:35 am

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  1. [...] reading/viewing: -How Big Is Your World? ft. “Listen” by G-Mane by ME -Download Sunday on da Porch -Southern Hospitality on Sunday on da Porch -G-Mane on Twitter -Midi [...]

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