Chance the Rapper, feat. Nate Fox & Lili K. “Pusha Man”
“Pusha Man” is two songs (maybe even three) working off that Kendrick Lamar-specific mix of empathy and frustration from the first-person perspective of a d-boy. The first song’s a light chest-beating boast, complete with “nah nah nah nah” taunts, mocking those living the straight and narrow. The second song is more somber and insular, tapping into the existential vacuum that is hustling: “I was riding around with my blunt on my lips / With the sun in my eyes and my gun at my hip / Paranoia on my mind / Got my mind on the fritz.” Then, in a surfer drawl that invokes Kool A.D. or some other arch stylist like that, he demands to know where the hell Matt Lauer is when it comes to covering the violence in his hometown of Chicago, and proves that he’s adding to the Good Kid, M.A.A.D. city blueprint. And the 20 seconds of silence between the first and second song here is Kanye West-ego bold in its uncompromising call for reflection.
Clams Casino, feat. DOOM “Bookfiend”
A typically mysterious DOOM track that popped up on Clams Casino’s SoundCloud yesterday, “Bookfiend,” is, like so many MF Doom tracks over the past few years, far more satisfying than that weird forgettable era where he just became an Adult Swim spokesperson, foregoing the evil nerd aggression of his work from Operation Doomsday and Madvillainy. That said, “Bookfiend” does have the sketch-like, half-finished, but doesn’t need anything else feeling of something off a Special Herbs disc, and it puts Clams Casino out of his slur-rap comfort zone just a little bit, which is good. Clams’ instrumental here does his trip-hop beat drop dynamic and moans and drones with the driving-on-acid-and-feeling-good-and-bad vibes-at-the-same-time aesthetic of all of his best work. But he seems to be introducing more playful found sound quality, as well. Like, an icy loop of twinkles that could’ve come from a Mum record, and Tim Hecker-like glitches on the vocal sample. The seams get to show a little more on this one than usual; it isn’t glued together with blown-out bass and synth slobber. And DOOM does well here, too, obsessively on-beat and throwing out the oh-so-DOOM-like quotable, “Netflix to the head.”
Harry Fraud, feat. Earl Sweatshirt & Riff Raff “Yacht Lash”
Harry Fraud in, like, Alan Parson Project “Sirius” mode, creates a creeping-dread soundtrack for Earl Sweatshirt to do what he does so well all of the time for two whole verses and good for him, but it’s so in-the-pocket and on-point that, well, it feels a bit negligible. Particularly when you look up at your browser streaming the song and see the name Riff Raff here. Like the Fraud-produced “Bird on the Wire,” in which you come for the Action Bronson and end up staying for the Riff Raff, and get your mind blown, “Yacht Lash” is a secret showcase for Riff’s Dirty South zen-savant musings: “Feed your nieces Reese’s Pieces while your nephew tie my sneakers” is inexplicably insulting; and dig the Bruce Bruce-like line, “I found your wife on clearance at Wal-Mart / I don’t shop for car parts.”
OG Dutch Master “Dimez”
A young Baltimore rapper beloved by the 2DopeBoyz-type blogs and cut from the couture-cool, tough-guy, weed-smoke swag of A$AP Rocky and others, OG Dutchmaster’s recent 3.5 Gramz EP seems pretty vital now that Wiz Khalifa isn’t trying hard at all and Curren$y is in full-on coast mode. Just check out Live In Concert to hear the ugly results. By the way, Wiz and Spitta’s Live In Concert is not a live, in-concert record, it’s just some half-assed weed rap from two guys who can do better. Point is, OG Dutch Master has a lane to occupy. On “Dimez,” produced by someone going by the moniker Randy Savage (it’s pretty amazing it took this long for someone to grab that name), a Humphrey Bogart-on-weed, detective-flick beat rolls out, Bob Marley tells you why herb is awesome from beyond the grave, and then OG, with a stuffed-nose whine of a flow, races from inspiring weed rhymes, city-specific shout-outs, and contemplative we’re-all-screwed-and-stuck observations. Dutch Master played a show with Cities Aviv in Baltimore last weekend and proved himself, stomping across the performance space in a house that was more crust-punk than hip-hop, happy to be there, dancing to the after-show DJ’s music, and in the middle of his set, throwing a seat into the middle of the floor and contemplatively smoking a joint as one of his murky, weeded beats rode out for a minute or so.
Rittz “My Interview”
In a world of post-Drizzy rappers prepared to justify their every indulgence and assholistic tendency as a quirk all their fans and all you ladies just need to get used to if you know what’s good for you, Rittz’s desire to portray himself as a big clueless lug is refreshing. He isn’t afraid to be the villain. On “My Interview,” he uses the frame of the umpteenth interview with a half-hearted journalist to introduce himself to new listeners and detail the trivia of his rap bio: Yes, he is named after the cracker because he’s a white rapper; Yelawolf discovered him; he’s from the Atlanta suburbs, but fall back because that doesn’t mean he’s soft. He also interpolates Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative.” Rittz sounds tired and frustrated by his relative fame here, which is pretty obnoxious, but also probably sincere for a guy who isn’t big enough to reject interviews ever, but is obscure enough to have to hear the same questions day in and day out. This slight breakdown of his current finances is pretty fascinating and sobering, especially for up-and-coming rappers: “I came off tour with like 20 grand / I put a down payment on a new car / Paid my managers off, now I got like six until I go out of town again.”