Rap Release of the Week: Bangladesh’s ‘Ponzi Scheme’
'A Milli' producer delivers bonkers beats, #hashtag raps
Producer Bangladesh is best known for Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” and Ludacris’ “What’s Your Fantasy,” two avant-Southern hip-hop classics. He’s also responsible for Kelis’ “Bossy,” Dem Franchize Boyz’s “Talking Out Da Side of Ya Neck,” Beyonce’s “Diva,” Gucci Mane’s “Lemonade,” Nicki Minaj’s “Did It on ‘Em,” and E-40’s “They Point,” and plenty of others. He’s important. To many, though, he’s categorized as a one-rap-banger-wonder: The dude who made “A Milli.” Bangladesh doesn’t have a sound exactly, though there is a kind of Timbaland weirdness-gone-weirder (maybe too weird, even) approach to beatmaking that’s very much his own.
So, his mixtape Ponzi Scheme exists to smack you in the head with the recent work that you probably slept on or, at least, didn’t peep the credits (for 2 Chainz, Brandy, and Rihanna), and to show off his latest eccentric productions. “Phantom” takes that scary-movie pipe organ sound and bends and contorts it into a hypnotic stomp that recalls the ridiculous rap-rock energy of, say, Trick Daddy’s “Let’s Go” and the strange pitch-shifting organ vibes of Terry Riley’s Rainbow in Curved Air. And it features 2 Chainz and Birdman. “After Party” is a loop of reverse dubstep wubs, and they turn out to be ideal for Future’s maudlin murmurs. “Buy” samples the Knack’s “My Sharona,” and tricks your ears into hearing the “My” from the hook as “Buy.” Mondegreens, FTW!.
A few tracks make a case that Bangladesh was on rap’s new minimalist tip before that was even a thing. “100” (a loop of a dude saying “100” over and over, on top of snaps and clacks), “Pull Up” (a cicada-buzz of synths), and “Ray Charles” (stretched-out vibrating loop of robot vocals) sounds like something from DJ Mustard — all bass kicks and trippy sounds that shouldn’t even be on a mainstream rap beat. The tape’s highlight is “Terrific,” featuring Gucci Mane — continuing his slow but steady return as the most interesting rapper around — and an ornate rolling bassline that recalls 2009 radio hit, “Lemonade.” That may be Bangladesh’s secret talent: The incorporation of live (or live-sounding) almost rock’n’roll-style bass lines.
In another era, Ponzi Scheme would be a notable producer album, like Pete Rock’s Soul Survivor series or something. Bangladesh, like all visionary producers, even raps awkwardly on this thing — a prerequisite for producer-auteur ego trips these days. His lyrics are pretty perfunctory and lean heavy on the outdated, hold your head-terrible #hashtag style (“I’m shittin’ on ‘em, no laxative”), but he is having lots of fun, so it works. There’s also an obscene number of not funny, very sexist skits here. But it’s 2013 and we all use iTunes, so just make a skit-less playlist and bug out to these bonkers Bangladesh beats.