Rap Songs of the Week: Drake Half-Steps Into Petty Beef on ‘Draft Day’
Including Mobb Deep, a Future Islands & Future mash-up, Asaad, Girl Talk and Freeway
Asaad ft. King Louie, “Block Boy 2.0″
When Philadelphia MC Asaad isn’t cooking up one-sided beef with Pusha T, or trolling the Internet with the artwork for his single “Boss Status” (which featured a folk art-like illustration of Tupac um, mounting the Notorious B.I.G.), he’s making some of the most multi-faceted hip-hop out right now. His core sound remains the gritty, soulful street rap that Philly built its name on in the early 2000s, but he’s equally adept at eccentric trap music and Auto-Tune-moaned R&B gone dark-of-the-night soul. Weird stuff. On this remix of his single “Block Boy” from last year, featured on the controversy-courting rapper’s new tape Flowers II, his swerving mumbling version of drill gets some swaggering support from Chicago’s King Louie. This one’s all atmosphere and the only thing stopping it from being a street hit might be the Philly rapper’s admirable refusal to play nice with the industry.
Drake, “Draft Day”
We’ve hit the point where we can all just tune Drake out, right? He’s dedicated a song to Texas A&M Heisman trophy winner and OVO-tattoo-sporting quarterback Johnny Manziel, sexually harasses Jennifer Lawrence in song, sends lame shots at Chance the Rapper (“If I left shit to chance, I would’ve picked a name like Chance the Rapper/ No offense cause I don’t know that nigga/ I’m focused on making records and getting bigger”), and maybe, kinda zings Jay Z. That said, his Hova dig (“Just hits, no misses, that’s for the married folk”) is about as good as Jay’s gendered cheap shot at Drake (“Sorry Mrs. Drizzy for all of the art talk”) from last week’s “We Made It.” Rap beef is stupid. Weak beef is worse though. This is what hip-hop’s biggest voices are doing with their time?
Girl Talk & Freeway ft. Waka Flocka Flame, “Tolerated”
Though it’s probably about six years too late to be big-deal news, a collaborative project between Pittsburgh mash-up magnate Girl Talk and Philadelphia gritty spitter Freeway is still pretty exciting. The Broken Ankles release is due out next week and this first single featuring Waka Flocka (with a quick cameo of a guest verse), sounds nostalgic for the early 2000s, thanks to a distinctly Roc-a-Fella reign-era bombast. But it also pulses and wiggles like the EDM-hop the kids love so damn much right now. If Diplo had any sense of decorum or taste left, he might make songs like this. (Bonus: The Internet tells me this samples both Esther Philips’ soul-jazz single “Dream” and “Rubber Car” from early aughts indie-types, Enon!)
Mobb Deep, “Lifetime”
Prodigy and Havoc, who have recovered from the time Havoc sent homophobic tweets Prodigy’s way two years ago, are back with The Infamous Mobb Deep, their best group effort since Murder Muzik. Who saw this coming? In part, this thing probably sounds so good because all of the drama between the two meant they’ve been working on their relationship for the past few years; the release is more heavily considered than their past few major label compromises. Mobb Deep have fully accepted that they are grimy old dudes with nothing to lose. Assisted here by Alchemist on production,Prodigy does some Gucci Mane inspired wherein fourth-grade level vocab words are emphasized for effect. (“I come through there with horrible intentions/ My rifle get lit, it’s a terrible weapon”). Havoc sounds pissed off too and, well, that’s good enough.
Skratch Bastid, “Seasoned Dope (Future Islands x Future Mash-Up)”
So, this happened. Someone took Future Islands’ bittersweet single “Seasons (Waiting On You)” and crammed it all up inside of Future’s single “Move That Dope.” And then Buzzfeed premiered it because, of course they did. Fortunately, the someone who decided to make this is Scribble Jam hero and shtickmeister Skratch Bastid, who takes the whole endeavor very seriously, weaving Future’s hook around Future Islands’ homage to Underworld’s “Born Slippy” and turning the ’80s-indebted banger into flighty, cloudy crack-rap. It is also worth pointing out that Yung Lean actually sampled Future Islands last year too, looping up their 2011 track “The Great Fire” for his “Lightsaber/Saviour.”