Future feat. André 3000, "Benz Friendz"
"FUTURE SOUND LIKE A MICROWAVE" went one moderately popular meme from last year, an assessment that felt more like a gentle joshing of Future's Auto-Tune-slathered emotional delivery, rather than a collective cheap shot from the "real hip-hop" crowd. That's to say Future has, for the most part, avoided a lot of the "this guy's ruining rap" talk that other guys in his lane have had to endure. Probably because he's more Kraftwerk in "Computer Love"-mode than T-Pain, but also because he has been thoroughly cosigned by the legendary Dungeon Family. And if some spoken word from Dungeon Fam poet Big Rube wasn't enough to solidify Future's "take this guy seriously" cred, well, here's OutKast's André 3000 on an Honest highlight, cogently explaining away his desire for fancy cars (in short, he's a grown-ass, reasonable man) and Future agreeing with Three Stacks, though his reasons are more street-dude nihilistic: All of this success "don't mean shit" and could go away tomorrow, so who freaking cares??? Yikes. A fun song that's not so fun if you think about it long enough.
J. Stalin, "All These Girls"
A New Edition on top of Guy on top of UTFO in Skeezer Pleezer-mode with just enough Chris Brown fuck&B for it all to make sense in 2014 (molly and Instagram references help, too) that comes from baby-faced Bay Area street hero, J. Stalin on his latest album, S.I.D.: Shining In Darkness. Real life hovers around the edges of this expertly conceived rap-and-bullshit track (he mentions condom use, still a rarity in pop music; he's in the club with all of his "killers"), as if the previous dozen or so tracks from S.I.D. threaten to overwhelm this sketch of a sex jam, which picks up where the lighter moments of his excellent 2010 album Prenuptial Agreement left off.
Nina Sky feat. Smoke DZA, "Stoners"
The world wants another "Move Ya Body" from sisters Nicole and Natalie Albino, known together as Nina Sky, but that was an effing decade ago. And after suffering label limbo for much of the mid-2000s like, well, a lot of pop stars a little too interesting for the radio, the duo has: partied with Major Lazer ("Keep It Goin' Louder"); pulled hard-edged house-hop classic "Funk Dat" by Sagat into the new millennium ("You Ain't Got It"); awesomely covered the Cure ("Love Song"); created the only good witchhouse song ever ("You," with Creep); and crafted an EDM-pop slow jam with Brenmar ("Comatose"). Too odd for modern pop, too traditionally pop for the cool kids, Nina Sky is one of the most frustratingly slept-on groups around. Now, there's "Stoners" with a verse from weed-rap capo Smoke DZA, who gets literal with it because that's all he does, and Nina Sky doing the stoned-in-love songwriting conceit over some murky, bongwater-rippling trap-R&B.
Scarface, "No Problem"
"No Problem," the first song we're getting to hear from Scarface's upcoming album, Deeply Rooted, has a beat that stomps and hobbles with a takes-its-good-ol'-time bulldog menace (a lot like the Houston hip-hop legend himself at the age of 43). And it's just full of well-crafted quotables: "Street cred one hundred, nerd turned d-boy / Naughty genetic make-up, baby, I'm a g-boy"; "Rhyming at its finest unlike those vaginas"; "Homicidal maniac with suicidal tendencies / You're more like a punk band, I'm more like a pedigree." Really, "No Problem" recalls Ka, another aging, done-some-dirt veteran rapper trying to live with himself and doing it over barely-there production.Though this track's also informed by the South's long tradition of face-stomping hip-hop and, perhaps, Scarface's metal obsession — never forget that episode of MTV Cribs where 'Face shouted out Kiss and Manowar. In an ideal rap world, this would knock kids' lids off like some Kendrick-Lamar-"Control"-type of shit.
Young Money (Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, & Tyga), "Senile"
A fairly big-deal song on paper, "Senile" is a Young Money track featuring Nicki Minaj, Tyga, and Lil Wayne (who actually decides to give a crap about what's coming out of his mouth) off Young Money: Rise of an Empire, released this past March. Then, that group album went nowhere fast (singles "Trophies" and "Lookin' Ass" were pretty much pimped as solo songs for Drake and Nicki), and this John Carpenter-creep of a posse cut is only now getting the attention it deserved, thanks to a David LaChappelle-meets-Wes Anderson video. Tyga does his "Rack City" flow, Nicki copies and tops Tyga's "Rack City" flow, and Wayne tosses out a verse as terse as it is batty and unhinged: "Boy, I got every award but a Heisman / Do a drive-by on you niggas, make a U-turn for survivors / Take a newborn from his momma, stick a shoe horn in vaginas / Got the coupe on Yokohamas, got the super soaker chopper / We'll kidnap the kingpin, like 'Who is your supplier?'"