No Trivia’s Friday Five: Mystikal, Possessed by the Ghost of James Brown on ‘Hit Me’
Plus, La Chat rewrites Future, Mykki Blanco's spoken word, DDm's beez in the trap, and Starlito
On Sunday, Das Racist officially broke up, and that’s a bummer. The big Das Racist joke, it turns out, was that there was no joke. That rather than devolve into novelty MCs and pump out a bunch more “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell”-type songs and become what my friend Sean once called “the hipster LMFAO,” they took their shit very, very seriously. That was funnier than any of their punch lines. They went for it. In just two years, the response to the group went from “These guys?” to “These guys…” to “Oh, those guys” to “THOSE GUYS!!!” A few favorite moments from the DR era: Heems rapping on “Amazing”: “Used to play basketball, then we started drinkin'”; the way Kool AD says “Sun Tzu” on the “The Last Huzzah” remix; that “Micheal Jackson” is a song that exists in the world; Dapwell’s #rare freestyle on Pitchfork Selector. Last month , Heems posted his $30,000 check earned from K-Mart for their use of the group’s “Girl” in a commercial. Watching the same rap fans who love money-burning rappers like Gucci Mane get all offended and high-minded about whether this was an ideal DR sign-off. It was one last mindfuck that baited hipster-phobic lunkheads, challenged the worst side of their fanbase (the followers who insisted Das Racist were just so different from all the other rap groups), and revealed the brutal side of the business. See, 30K isn’t all that much money, really. Heems was simply celebrating his ability to pay his rent for awhile, not buy a Maybach. Not that there’s anything wrong with buying a Maybach.
DDm “Killer Queen”
“Killer Queen” is a vicious pop-trap track that kicks off with an Alice in Wonderland sample and contains a line so punch-line clever and street-rap simple that it’s a surprise nobody thought of it already: “Bands a make her dance / But this glock will make them shake.” The Baltimore rapper also wraps a threat around a reference to the faith-based Oprah Winfrey Network show, Iyanla, Fix My Wife: “When I run up on ya / Hop up out that Tonka/ And let that semi-auto fix your life like it’s Iyanla.” Earlier this year, DDm announced that he was working on the follow-up to sass rap-opera Winter & The Tinman’s Heart, titled Omar, after the gay stick-up man from The Wire, Omar Little. It’s appropriate because DDm, who is out-of-the-closet, both bucks heterosexual norms and celebrates the commit-crimes-and-sex-rhymes rap tradition, demanding someone “Get [him] pussy on the low like Queen Latifah,” and a few lines later boasting, “Donald sweat out his toupee when he give me slow neck.”
La Chat “Turn On The Lights”
Future’s “Turn On the Lights” is an Auto-Tune distress call from a sea of oncoming overcranked radio hits, be it the frat-idiot rumble of French Montana’s “Pop That” or G.O.O.D. Music’s “Mercy,” which imagines rap superstardom as a thousand-yard stare into the void, like Kanye, Big Sean, and company are Pink Floyd circa Animals or some shit. Meanwhile, “Lights” remixes from Lil Wayne, Lloyd, and others miss the point of Future’s lonely-warble wander through the club for the girl of his dreams. Former Three 6 Mafia associate La Chat, though, just flips the song’s goofball sentimentality, turning it into a Gillette “Short Dick Man”-like taunt: “Turn on the lightsb/ Your dick’s too small / I’m looking for it / Can’t touch these walls…I need a real big dick / I can’t let you hit / But accept your licks.” Then La Chat chants “tongue can make me come” in the same manner as Juicy J’s “Bandz a Make Her Dance,” and in her own way, forms a smart Future-like response to another one of rap-radio’s icky bangers.
Mykki Blanco “Mendocino, California”
More like something from one of Miranda July’s ’90s Kill Rock Stars albums than a rap song — although the Led Zeppelin “When The Levee Breaks” meets the Beasties boom-bap beat is huge — this album-closing, fuck-the-world poem from Mykki Blanco’s Cosmic Angel: The Illuminati Prince/ss channels outsider rage like he’s Elvira Weishaupt in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s In a Year of 13 Moons: “I am a warrior princess, accepting the hybridity of my being / I am an oracle of the Goddess pretty much predicting bullshit unseen / I am stranded in Mendocino, California with no money, and no ecstasy to sell / Basically, fuck my life / I know I already tried summoning the spirit world with my pocket Ouija and only got an answer from Roy Orbison / As if I’m even going to cry over you right now! / What is that in the distance? I hate walking on the freeway / Imagine a poppy field, be calm…” Please send this song to Gregg Araki so that he can make a movie out of it.
Mystikal “Hit Me”
Mystikal locates the strain of charisma that connects James Brown’s onstage “I’m Bad”-ness to Muhammad Ali’s pre-fight, shit-talk freeze-outs, Redd Foxx party record signifying, Iceberg Slim’s low-culture James Joyce jive-talk, and late-’90s, fast-rap tradition of No Limit, which birthed this incredible MC and unrepentant shithead. There’s no hook here, though twice, Mystikal does an Eddie Murphy white-guy voice, imagining approval from the squares: “Even the white people sitting up in this motherfucker ain’t but do nothing but say, ‘Wow’ / ‘Hear that Helen? / He’s tearing it up that fella / I’d love to get my hands on that a cappella.” Otherwise, it’s just Mystikal pulling rhymes out of the air, possessed (“Diamonds, Madonna, designers, iguanas, Rihanna, vaginas, piranha, hit it!”), over a loose, live-sounding, big-band jazz-funk beat. Author RJ Smith, from his excellent biography The One: The Life and Music of James Brown, explains: “Every line [James Brown] shouts is accompanied by a blaring chord and then silence. It’s like someone is dangling a jewel before you, then snatching it away, over and over.”
Starlito, feat. Yo Gotti, Young Buck, & Robin Raynelle “Grind Hard 4 the $$”
Donna Summer’s 1983 hit, “She Works Hard for the Money” turned into a coke-rap success song with the more overt “I grind hard for the money / That’s why you see this ice,” even though “I work hard for the money” would’ve worked just fine. It’s a delightfully obnoxious tribute to Summer, using her worst hit (Giorgio Moroder, long gone, it was produced by yacht-rock guru Michael Omartian), made extra obnoxious because the disco diva passed away earlier this year. But, hey man, that’s rap music for you. Plus, street-rap eccentric Starlito, accompanied by fellow Tennessee heroes Yo Gotti (“Sometimes I feel like a retard, with money I go hiz-ard”) and Young Buck (“I sign my autographs with Gucci pens”), do the Dipset thing where they sell the crack-hop cheese so hard that you buy into it. From Starlito’s new tape, Produced by Coop, featuring well, a bunch of beats by Coop. You may remember their song “Produced By Coop” from Mental WARfare, earlier this year.