No Trivia

How Big Is Your World? Some New Rap.

one comment

-Mannie Fresh “Like a Boss”

An intricate thud of programmed drums, wailing guitars, some minor chords, a Bruce Lee “Wahh!”, and a Star Wars reference and Mannie Fresh is back. Where’s Fresh been? He deserved a break. He literally made hundreds of beats for Cash-Money for about a decade straight. Now, he’s probably been sitting on his “Big Things Poppin” paycheck and tossing-out killer beats like “The Pimp and the Bun” and relaxing. Only he hasn’t because his fucking sister got killed in late 2007. That mix of victory, sadness, and knowledge of one’s tiny place in the world, are all coursing through “Like a Boss”. “Let it be told, 40 million sold/I used to be hot but these days I’m cold” is telling: A quick acknowledgment of Fresh’s lowered stock as of late, shifting slang, and fun, clever way of saying, “I’m still the best”.

There’s something changing–for the better–about how “older” rappers continue their careers. It isn’t leaping onto trends with too much fervor, like a mom with a belly-button ring or something, and it isn’t recreating the sound of the past as closely as possible, it’s some tough-to-explain, know-it-when-you-hear-it middle-ground involving humorous meta-commentary on one’s past successes, a confidence in the music being made now, and enough quietly turned innovation in there to make it still sound alive. “Like a Boss” has all those things. And it has real, down-to-earth emotions too.

-Diamond District “The Shining”

From the intro track that declares In the Ruff will “bring that east coast, raw, boom-bap hip-hop to the DMV”, to the ODB, Gangstarr, and Jay-Z samples, to it’s overall smoky, thumping sound, in terms of nostalgia and precedent, Diamond District’s album is as audacious and obnoxious as 9th Wonder flipping “T.R.O.Y” horns on The Listening or Wayne aping Biggie and Nas on Tha Carter III–but unlike those examples, Ruff’s exercise in nostalgia don’t get by on moxy and audacity alone, it delivers and then builds on its not-so-modest promise. “The Shining” has the pop elements all that hard-as-fuck rap has (a damn catchy chorus) and it has the angular, hazy avant sounds too: Those lilting moan of strings, the record hiss. This isn’t as simple as swiping the drum patterns from 90s rap and buying some R & B LPs, these guys really get it.

When Oddisee steps in to rap, with “I ain’t even ’sposed to be here”, stretching his not-Northern, not-Southern, kinda both accent, and recounts how he was born feet first, this isn’t just recreating say, Enta Da Stage for his hometown. And if there’s a “boom-bap” influence here, it’s the conversational skits and interludes on all those NYC classics and not the focused rapping of those albums. If Prodigy rapped like he spoke on “Infamous Prelude” he’d sound like Oddisee here. Determined, mad, hilarious, confused, everything. An antidote to that boner-kill Wale album.

-G-Side ft. 6 Tre G “Ink”

This is not from the Huntsville International Project but some unreleased shit in lieu of that tape’s absence, but hey, it’s new to me, it’s G-Side, it’s Block Beataz, so let’s go. “Ink” sounds like CP and Mali Boi found an 8-Bit cover of “I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight” and stuck a rawk band over it and then disassembled it all and put it back together…and asked 6 Tre G to jump on-board. ST’s Andre3k beatless pre-verse here is sympathetic and matter-of-fact: “Some broads got tramp stamps, some boys got prison tats/Some boys got bootlegs and wish they could give it back/My neck say “Jackie’s son” my chest say “Stay trill”/My leg got a rocket to rep for the H-Ville.”

Basically, through some quick verses about tattoos, you get a great sense of G-Side and 6 Tre G’s style and world view. ST transfers quick, humorous but real observations about tattoos and turns them into a kind of seize-the-moment fuck the world motivational speech thing (“one life to lose”), 6 Tre G’s tattoos all funnel into the awful shit that’s happened to him or he’s done to others and what he’s learned–his tattoos a kind of mnemonic/memory jogger–and G-Side’s Clova ends it with the kind of mini-mythmaking he’s really good at–a superhero “reveal” of his tattoos at verse’s end. All wrapped around a really weird, confusing slab of futuristic Huntsville production.

-Ryan Leslie “Never Gonna Break Up”

The new Ryan Leslie album is really insular-sounding, even moreso than the last one…which also came out this year. It’s the kind of album where every song’s a hit if you like it and if you don’t like it, the whole thing just kinda washes over you and you’re all like, “whatever”. Leslie’s lyrics are super-direct–a nice way of saying they’re terrible–and the production’s weirdly elaborate, so the whole thing feels really lived-in, worked-on. The stacks and stacks of synthesizer and electronic production are the sound of a lonely-ass guy messing with his equipment day and night–a metrosexual, heart-broken phantom of the opera really into Cameo–and finding bizarro combinations of sound: “What if this 80s TV movie bassline mixed with some airy helicopter flutters of synth and shit, how about some scrunched-up hi-hats? Okay, now I’ll jump in that vocal booth and bare my goofball soul…”

“Never Gonna Break Up” creeps along, but it’s also creepy. Ryan Leslie singing genuinely confused, impulsive lyrics about lost love. This is Sonny Crockett circling Caroline’s house. It’s Albert Brooks in Modern Romance, drumming up every unfortunate scenario for his ex to be in and freaking out by buying her a stupid-ass talking stuffed animal. You know? Or not. Everything on this album exists somewhere between this calculated cool (those mood-setting synths) and feckless sincerity– Leslie’s too-real lyrics, especially that odd detail that he’s “gonna get the finest clothes [he] can find on retail

-DJ Pierre “Let Me Get That”

Dancefloor pragmatism pulling in one direction, the unwavering creativity and confidence of youth in the other, “Let Me Get That” from DJ Pierre–Baltimore’s Best Club DJ 2009–bobs and weaves around Baltimore Club’s usually ultra-hype production style. It’s a kind of bridge track, intended to slow-up the dancefloor but only temporarily. Remember, “slow” is relative and a track like this might be somewhere near the peak of a set in a lot of other cities but in Baltimore, it’s a shambling, break-down track. Not the one that has everybody dancing, but the one that parts the crowd and allows one special Club dancer to show-off. That moment in movies that really still happens in places like Baltimore’s Club Paradox or Contrast Hall in Glen Burnie, MD where Pierre’s part of a teen event on Friday nights.

A way to sell the song might be, “If you thought Blaqstarr was weird…”. There’s no pumping energy here, just a kind of waddling drone of rhythms and squeaks with Pierre himself saying “Let me get that” that within it, has it’s own peaks and like, that’s where you get the pumping energy. It isn’t an ever-rising explosion of loops and stutter vocals, it’s a meandering chunk of Club that slowly worms it’s way into your head. Dance-wise, it gives club-goers a lot of options, as one could ride those double drum loops or bounce on one’s heels to the ping-pong keys…or do a little of both. Daniel Krow also wrote about this track here. And do buy Pierre’s latest mix CD Vol. 7 here.

further reading/viewing:

-”The Right Track(s): Z-Ro’s “Raw” And More by Daniel Krow
-”Dart’s Most Played for the Week” from Bloggerhouse
-”Didn’t Make the Cut…Stay Tuned”
-Miami Vice – In the Air Tonight
-”Best Club DJ: DJ Pierre” from Baltimore City Paper
-The Remix Tour 08-22-08 Part III
-Moebius Redux: A Life in Pictures directed by Hasko Baumann

Written by Brandon

November 12th, 2009 at 6:01 am

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

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'How Big Is Your World? Some New Rap.'.

  1. Thanks for the great info, I will definitely be back!

    Leonarda Chaloux

    27 Mar 10 at 10:06 pm

Leave a Reply