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How Big Is Your World? New rap!


-Kanye West “Power”

Bouncing between swagger at a thousand-trillion brag-rap and a little too out-there wounded asides, “Power” is Kanye’s most obnoxious, enjoyable, kitchen-sink single since “Diamonds From Sierra Leone”. For every petty post-TMZ style reference to the SNL cast or whatever, there’s depressive stuff like, “How’s Ye doin?/I’m survivin”, the really touching description of writer’s block/existential ennui (“My child-like creativity, purity and honesty is honestly, being crowded by these grown thoughts”) or you know, that whole weird, funky, suicidal synth coda part. Maybe it’s the Drake vortex we’ve all be sucked into for the past bunch of months, but people are taking Kanye’s fame-whines way too seriously. Dude’s laughing into the void here, so there’s Kelly Rowland punchlines and the song’s obnoxiously long…and really, really, affecting. Kanye’s special kind of hubris heard an art-rock classic and thought, “yes, this song is about me. I’m the 21st Century Schizoid Man.” Pardon if he’s all over the place–that’s sorta the point.

-Rittz “My Time Is Now”

Usually, the vibrant, double-time flow’s associated with youth and urgency, but Rittz (who you probably heard on Yelawolf’s “Box Chevy Pt. 3″), sounds awesomely disinterested in proving himself. There’s an air of confidence and diffidence to “My Time Is Now”–as if the song weren’t a declaration of intent. Instead, Rittz steps up and does his thing, never prattling on crazy with the syllables or rather, letting a sleepy guitar beat mask how crazy he is with the syllables. Even those great punchlines like “this is underground rap, call it Fraggle rock” are delivered like asides. Lyrically and musically, this song’s pure aesthetic experience, you don’t learn anything, but you get a puffy cloud of images (Jordans, pills, rebel flags,) and a hook–really more like a verse within a verse–that doesn’t go away easily. Thank the failing majors and the Southern internet rap renaissance for allowing a weird white rapper like Rittz to debut, free of schtick.

-Dappa!!! Dan Midas “U Might Think”

Midas usually talks his shit with a smile–a talent undoubtedly culled from years of Baltimore rap battling–but “U Might Think” is an unrelentingly creepy diary entry in rap form. To call a song this dead serious a “parody” would be ill-advised, but basically, what Midas does here is mimic three different types of rap songs (the Mobb Deep-style ode to depression, classic knowledge-dropping advice rap, and the post-Kanye bitch-out) and stir them all up into a demand that people to get their shit together and take personal responsibility: “When you stay troubled with problems/Money and a freaky bitch ain’t gonna solve em”. There’s also a lot of early 2000s Philly rap in this song, specifically the even more chaotic, gritty version of it that Baltimore grabbed and hasn’t let go of 8 years later (see songs by: Comp, Barnes, Smash, etc.). It’s cool to see Midas do a more wizened, personal flip on that. From Mania Music Group’s totally overwhelming in-a-good-way debut, Welcome to the Audience. Rap needs a song like this right now.

-Gucci Mane “Dats My Life”

There’s are too many highlights on Mr. Zone 6–the meta-intro track “It’s Goin’ Up” (a clever play on “it’s goin’ down” rap declarations), Gucci’s empathetic inhabiting of characters (a stressed dealer who needs to stretch his supply on “It’s Goin’ Up”, a guy facing the electric chair on “Georgia’s Most Wanted”), his bottomless pool of oddball pop-hooks (“Mr. Zone 6″, “Koolin” ,”Makin’ Love To The Money”), his Mike Tyson-esque love of vocab (every single song), that one line about a tweeting a twitpic of his dick–but Gucci’s increasingly sharp double-time flow’s the highlight right now. “Please don’t crash, am I going too fast?” is the closest Gucci gets to bragging about his rapping and it’s in a kind of classic, skills-related way, not Wayne’s implicit “I can make up endless streams of bullshit so I’m a great rapper” style or worse (every other rapper claiming best), but sheer technical ability, which anybody should be able to appreciate. Contextualizing the song as a “just outta jail” song frames his exuberance around something real–something really real–which is a nice touch.

-araabMUZIK “Cuffin”

Certainly informed by classic boom-bap–there’s some semblance of that undeniable knock in his beats–araabMUZIK then sends his beats through some rarefied, bass-less, treble-happy aesthetic, and overloads them with the most ominous, eerie sounds he can find. There’s some demonic, ghetto-tech wails hiding in the background of “Cuffin”, but the sounds in the foreground are just as creepy. Zombie video game soundscapes converse with that main melodic squeak that skips over itself every few bars…and then the drums come in and it’s nearly a hip-hop beat? There’s nothing warm or inviting about the production here and the scary thing is, dude doesn’t even realize this. His natural style is this tinny, squeaking, eventually pounding series of noises, glitches, and super-clean samples. What Justice did to French House, what Dubstep’s doing to American R & B, araabMUZIK’s doing to hip-hop right now–there’s just no tastemakers to tell you that.

further reading/viewing:
-“Kanye West, “Power” transcribed by Wesley Case
-“Rittz – My Time Is Now” from BLVDST.
-Purchase Mania Music Group’s Welcome to the Audience
-Soul Food & Sushi 2.0: A Mania Music Group Mixtape by ME and Joseph
-Comp “Whole Lat”
-HipHopGame Interview with araabMUZIK

Written by Brandon

June 21st, 2010 at 7:44 pm

9 Responses to 'How Big Is Your World? New rap!'

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  1. Mr. Zone 6 is a pretty great mixtape and “Makin’ Love to the Money” may have one of the most amusing Gucci Mane hooks in a while. The whole mixtape on a few listens would rank pretty high on the list of Gucci’s great mixtapes.


    23 Jun 10 at 11:37 pm

    I sorta regret not picking ‘Makin Love to the Money’ instead of this song. I kinda see this as Gucci’s take on ‘Turn My Swag On’ or something…same kinda rolling, excited, sorta melancholy??? song.

    This tape is so sick though. Almost too perfect in the sense that it can bleed into itself but also too perfect in that there’s really enough here to be entertained by for months. The insane just retard energy of the Waka guested tracks, the brilliant closing track (real cinematic, those weird money counting machine clips). Good stuff.


    24 Jun 10 at 4:11 am

  3. - KanYe is all over the place but it works, including the length of the song.

    – Damn, Gucci!!! I hate to admit it, but he has something.

    – Feeling the AraabMUZIK track.


    25 Jun 10 at 4:05 pm

  4. Pardon me being dumb, but what is dubstep doing to American R&B? I’ll admit to only really listening to very little dubstep, so maybe I am missing how it is informing American R&B.


    27 Jun 10 at 2:13 am

    Sorry for the delayed response. Chalk up your “dumbness” to my poor, unclear writing. I don’t think American R & B is being too informed by Dubstep (though there are examples, that Eve song from a bit ago) but that it’s these odd, off to the side artists are grabbing American R & B styles and fucking with them. The mainstream’s informing the underground, not the other way around. That rules. Below’s a slighlty adapted e-mail I sent to Andrew Matson of the Seattle Times who kinda asked me the same thing.

    I actually hear R & B in Joker a lot, but basically it sounds to me like many of the Dubsteppers are just trying to do their best impression of Timbaland. Not late 90s-2002 Timbo mind you, but 2005-2008 or so, when Timbo made all these slowed down R & B beats that were good, but also kinda cheap? They seem pretty in love with The Dream too. Maybe even Southern dudes like Zaytoven, Drumma Boy, etc–just these producers that are just stacking electronic sounds.

    I know Joker’s cited Ryan Leslie, which tripped me up because I love Ryan Leslie and he’s relatively ignored.

    Other than the dubstep beat–which is just boring and plodding and ruins the music really–it sounds like all these guys are just doing these ‘Bladerunner’ soundtrack synth work-outs. Specifically though, hearing a lot of that Timbaland, Dream, even some of Kanye’s stuff in a Club, so the bass is insane and the treble kinda hurts your ears. Mostly though, I hear it in Joker’s stuff, I think Zomby does a bad misreading of it (especially that “One Foot Ahead of the Other” EP).

    Have you heard this? I think you can hear it here especially.


    29 Jun 10 at 5:14 pm

  6. Thanks for clearing that up, and in Joker I do hear what you are talking about.


    29 Jun 10 at 8:16 pm

  7. Hey Brandon, can you point me to some articles anywhere on the tubes with some positive critique of gucci and a good mixtape that i can get my feet yet with. i’ve been hearing from way too many people who’s opinion i respect that he really is good. and while i’ve listened to a good amount of random songs and even liked a few of them, i think i just “dont get it”. lemonade was dope but i think it had to do with the whole song/production and his like, syllable placement in the 2nd and 3rd verses (like how he raps right on top of the stabbing piano in the 2nd) more than what he actually said. the o let’s do it remix verse was cool too “rich squad we so g’d up, i’m count cash in my office sippin coffee wit my feet up” but there hasn’t been much that i’ve loved.

    thanks for any help.



    30 Jun 10 at 4:25 pm

  8. Best places to start with Gucci. Others will disagree:

    -From Zone 6 to Duval mixtape
    -Guccimerica mixtape
    -Murder Was the Case album

    The new tape isn’t a bad start either. As far as writing about him, I think Tom Breihan’s stuff for Pitchfork is the most direct and sincere, so search out those reviews. Also, Noz’s stuff.

    Both maintain a sense of Gucci’s talent and why he’s so fun to listen to but don’t get mucked up in smart-guy b.s which I’m guilty of with Gucci as are a few other bloggers.

  9. I took a chance on that Mania album after checking out a lot of the free stuff on their website. It’s good stuff!

    mark p.

    6 Jul 10 at 12:52 am

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