Rap Songs of the Week: Le1f’s Bold Banger, and Jay Z’s Mystifying Daft Punk Team-Up
Plus Shawnna, 100s, and Abdu Ali
100s ft. Redinho, “Ten Freaky Hoes”
The “hipster Iceberg Slim” snarl of 100s’ Ice Cold Perm appeared out of nowhere back in 2012, with cloud-rap pimp-slap vibes and an album-cover tribute to Snoop Dogg’s Tha Doggfather that forecasted its ephemeral fuck-with-it-for-a-few-weeks-and-forget-it qualities. But here we are, two years later, and this creeper from Berkeley, CA, has knocked out a masterful ’80s-funk sprawler with IVRY, full of Zapp vocoder inhales and grind-friendly electro basslines. EP closer “Ten Freaky Hoes” is a modest tribute to Too $hort’s “Freaky Tales” (and in its terseness, the opposite of Insane Clown Posse’s hour-long Freaky Tales) that understands that at least part of the appeal of Short Dog’s party-record storytelling was his self-deprecating streak: “Bitch foul, man a nigga ain’t missing her / I caught her in the shower trying to steal my conditioner,” 100s quips. And in its own weird, baby-steps way, it also shows a little bit of empathy for these freaky girls: “Let me tell you about Portia, dog / Bitch hate her life because she got a corporate job.”
Abdu Ali, “Mad Ambrosia”
Gabber-fueled hip-hop chaos from a helium-voiced Baltimore poet and MC with a cathartic horror-movie hook (“Three shots to the dead, I ain’t dead”) and noise-rap game William S. Burroughs lyrics (“Plugging peaches in my brain, to be in the daze / Wet asses in the plains, hard cocks untamed”) that seem to be genuinely fighting for some sonic space with this way-too-busy beat from someone named Lord Baby. It all sprints towards a crack-hit-rush climax that finds the sturdy Trading Places sample turned into a club anthem, Masters at Work’s “Ha Dance” vogue-house template sped up to a demonic scream. Don’t sleep on the insane #Seapunk Public Access video, either.
Daft Punk ft. Jay Z, “Computerized”
Let’s start by acknowledging that yeah, this track, which appeared on the Internet out of nowhere on Monday, is either a few years old or a fan-constructed fake. Jay mentioning an iTouch (that mid-2000s Apple product that was like an iPhone except without the phone part) dates the verse, and the synth that tugs the production along is “Son of Flynn,” from Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy score. So it’s safe to assume it’s from the Blueprint 3 era, which at least for a second was presented as Jay’s down-with-it electronic album. But hey, his totally trash verse here kind of works in a charming, dated way: The full line is “I got an iTouch but I can’t feel.” Co-produced by Kanye West (if the credits are to be believed, and they are not), “Computerized” sonically captures a pit-of-the-robot’s stomach mech-worry that recalls those nervous throbs of Computer Love, even if lyrically, it’s more like, say, the rap version of the Kraftwerk-gone-Kinks cheekiness of the Buggles.
Le1f’s 2012 debut, Dark York, climaxed with the horn-honking club-hump “Wut,” which could’ve been a hit single if it weren’t made by an animé-obsessed cyberpunk gay rapper — rap and pop are a little more open-minded now, but there’s still work to be done. Thankfully, he initially refused to capitalize on the track anyway, instead following it up with a Jodorowsky-esque rap tape (Fly Zone) and an inverted jackin’-house grower (Tree House). But now comes “Boom,” the single from his new five-song EP Hey (also featuring “Wut,” actually), produced by Dubbel Dutch and allowing Le1f to indulge in Tha Carter-level rap theatrics, focused yet all over the place: “You know, thirst is real, you should hydrate / Anyways, I could never act my age / Flexible like center stage / You don’t even know my rage / We Supa Dupa Fly with the Oompa Loompa kush / Sitting out on Koopa Troopa Beach, giving looks.”
Shawnna, “Getting to It”
Well, look here, it’s Shawnna, of proto-minimalist, mid-2000s oral-sex anthem “Gettin’ Some,” making a quiet return, which has a little of that stop-start Chief Keef stomp on the hook, but otherwise eschews all trends and comfortable sounds to enter that timeless cipher-raised energy on the verses, all jagged syllables poking and prodding the beat, which is like drill by way of Hippos in Tanks or something. It’s all much stranger and more exotic than it really needs to be. Shawnna is from Chicago, though when she was a big deal, being from Chicago wasn’t a big deal, and the paradox here is that if she weren’t someone who snuck through back in 2006 when rap songs on the radio could still sound like “Gettin’ Some” and get big for a bit, this song might be ushering in another heretofore undiscovered Windy City talent. As is, it’s an ignored veteran showing she’s still got it. That’s important, too.