Rap Songs of the Week: Future Breaks Up, Moans Quirkily
Plus: Fiend featuring Smoke DZA, Lil Wayne, and Shady Blaze's devastating "Rest in Peace RJ"
This week, we’ve got some emotions (Future bemoaning the end of a relationship, Shady Blaze mourning the loss of his child) and a whole lot of questionable taste (raps over TV-show theme songs and yacht rock, Lil Wayne riding a wannabe movie-musical piano epic).
Fiend, feat. Smoke DZA “The Price Is Right”
In which Fiend, a.k.a., International Jones, who has rapped over Washed Out’s “Feel It All Around,” the Specials’ “Ghost Town,” and Chicago’s “Street Player” (just to name a few Dipset-absurd samples he’s hopped on the past couple years), struts up and down to the theme song from The Price is Right. Guest rapper Smoke DZA calls himself “Bud Barker” (I would’ve preferred Bob Sparker) and then rhymes the right way over this beat, which is nice and all, but pales by comparison to Fiend rumbling out that hook over and over, turning early-afternoon TV cheese into a fetishistic conspicuous-consumption and drug-slanging mantra. What is the fate for a rapper like Fiend who continues putting out in-the-pocket mixtapes (“The Price is Right” comes from his latest, Lil Ghetto Boy) like it ain’t no thing? I guess he just reclines, happy to have clawed his way back into the rap world post-No Limit fall-out in the early 2000s.
Future “No Love”
Dun Deal as well as DJ Spinz, a big name in Atlanta hip-hop with a Clams Casino side to him (heard on Rome Fortune’s Beautiful Pimp), produced this space-age plus island-vibes beat. “No Love” is a bitter break-up song that goes down a little easier because Future can’t not be a sweetheart (“Here, carry my 40,” is delivered like a line of quirky dialogue from some lost rap version of Bellflower). He also seems a little more knowing about why he’s in the midst of a jerk-out phase than other heavy-hearted MCs flailing about with their mad-at-women feelings. “I ain’t never fell in love with pussy,” he says, and it’s not exactly a meathead boast. And the way he slurs the word “pussy” so that it also sounds like “person” seems telling. Future is casting himself in a very specific unappealing role: The broken-up dumb dude temporarily full of fuck-the-world frustration and I-just-wanna-fuck-you again feelings. Strangely honest music, if you’re willing to go along with it.
Lil B “Cold Case”
The Based God raps over a hiccuping flip of Christopher Cross’ “Sailing,” putting it in conversation with ‘N Sync’s Cross cover from their 1998 self-titled album and tracks from Puffy Daddy (“Best Friend”), Masta Ace (“Brooklyn Masala”), and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (“Paradise”), solidifying the ’80s yacht-rock origins of cloud rap and chillwave and #BASED music. Yessssss. Kind of hard to believe that Lil B hasn’t done this already, right? Anyways, “Cold Case” comes from P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thug), the latest Lil B tape and one of his high-concept releases where he inhabits the mind of a street dude, then pays tribute to that kind of hip-hop and sort of mocks its real-talk formula, making all the internalized, stop-snitching, tough-guy stuff seem that much more absurd. It’s charming, empathetic “conscious” hip-hop. More madd-rappin’ curmudgeons upset at where hip-hop has been headed could learn a few things from Lil B’s laughing-but-very-serious approach, here.
Lil Wayne “IANAHB”
Following the first I Am Not a Human Being back in 2010, Lil Wayne’s work got really uninspired really quick. Such is the case when you purge your brain of ideas over hundreds of songs during the mid-2000s, and also when the responsibility of being a rock-star rapper, your mug on a Hot Topic T-shirt, for example, begins to loom large. Time in jail doesn’t necessarily help the creative process, either. If these sound like excusts, well, that’s probably true. Wayne is, however, a special case. His heights in the mid-2000s remain unmatched. For being outsider-artist prolific, for becoming a superstar almost entirely on his own terms, he gets a lifetime pass. And every once in awhile he still pulls something like “IANAHB” out of his forever-foggy, sizzurp-soaked mind: A “beat” that’s like Axl Rose at the piano on “November Rain” doing a hot collabo with Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan (okay, or at least say, the Dresden Dolls) over which Wayne refers to his dick as “the black president,” shouts out the Transformers and Jose Canseco, and much, much, more.
Shady Blaze “Rest In Peace RJ”
Writing about this song feels inappropriate. Green Ova fast-rapper Shady Blaze details the death of his child: “It’s like a really good dream, you know, turned into a nightmare that just won’t go away. Nobody to talk to. Nobody around. This is like, the only way I know to release my feelings. I don’t know what else to do anymore but just do this. Love you son, love you.” Just listen.