We're changing things up. From here on out, look for our weekly round-up of the best rap songs on Wednesday. The "Friday Five" will focus on the five most exciting rap things of the week — be it a mixtape, a guest verse, a music video, or some World Star Hip-Hop debacle too incredible to not acknowledge. Stay tuned.
Fat Tony feat. Kool A.D. and Despot - "Hood Party"
Houston's Fat Tony, who understands that nerd-rap's still gotta knock, takes producer Tom Cruz's slight bass bubble and Nintendo synth variation on ratchet's transcendent simplicity and stoically wrestles with gentrification: “I'm at the hood party / Even white people know that it's a good party / Look around your hood they probably rent a couple properties / Around my block I hear they're building buildings with a lobby / It ain't a hobby, it's a way of life / For Ricky, Bobby, Ronnie, and Mike / Who've been living in this area like, all of their life / And never learned how to use a hookah.” Kool A.D. gets like, way too many bars here, but it's lots of rambling Dada-rap fun. And pointing out that the hook to Drake's “I'm On One” (“All I care about is money and the city where I'm from”) is “exactly like the Tea Party platform” is why even the hipster-phobic shouldn't dismiss the ex-Das Racist dude's well-meaning snark. Then, Despot yells a lot. The end.
Gucci Mane - "Hell Yes"
In which Gucci Mane attempts to do Future and ends up doing Drake, which is still totally fascinating. "I done had a change of heart" he confesses, and later on, "I don't wanna be a player no more." And it doesn't seem like a temporary lyrical conceit when he says, "Zone 6, I don't wanna be your mayor no more." A few times here, he's totally taking advantage of the emotional walls Future knocked over with Pluto and getting earnestly, even pathetically honest: "Baby I'm a go out of my way just to please you / Please don't leave me now girl because I need you / Cut these hoes off right now, I really need to/ And I don't really know why girl but I believe in you." Look at "Hell Yes" as an excellent, understated performance, which makes sense because Gucci's an actor now, ostensibly playing the villain in Spring Breakers (though maybe the only sane person in the whole movie).
Kavinsky feat. Havoc - "Suburbia"
Yeah, Kavinsky's Outrun is a neon noir lovesong to the mid-'80s. As SPIN's own David Marchese quipped, "Somewhere, Jan Hammer and Giorgio Moroder are giving four thumbs up." But Kavinsky, riding the buzz of 2011's Drive, wherein his song “Nightcall” was opening credits music, is also mining the nostalgia of the mid-2000s, whether he knows it or not. Outrun is pretty much a slightly more maudlin version of Justice's black-metal-treble-Dance Dance Revolution rage-out and camp debut. Specifically, this is 2007 music. Then Justice ruled a certain little corner of the world and you probably did a lot of coke, and places like American Apparel and Urban Outfitters felt new and undiscovered. They were punchlines then too, but you didn't yet realize it and that was enough. Even Kavinsky's mad awkward rap collabo with Havoc of Mobb Deep here feels totally 2007: When Bun B and Rich Boy hopped on M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes," Girl Talk's mash-up rap was the thing, and Kanye West and others were making brightly-colored, patterned hoodie hip-hop.
Xiu Xiu - "I Luv the Valley Oh! (Schwarz Trap Remix)"
Okay kiddies, you can stop with the trap remixes now. Remove those Lex Luger glitch-snares, gunshot blasts, and "reaaalllll trapppp schittttt" drops from your Fruity Loops or whatever because producer Schwarz conjured up the last real trap remix alive. Both knowingly absurd and actually kinda hot, Xiu Xiu's existential wail and upside-down-inside-out indie rock jam “I Luv the Valley Oh!” gets the get-buck vocals, gun cocked sound effects, and slow crawl synth-drums treatment here. Like, this might actually be the most inappropriate song to trap-ify, you know? It's all over now, trap producers. "UGH WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?," Schwarz tweeted along with a Mediafire link to the remix. The Baltimore producer also posted "Schwarz on 'Trap' – Its Popularity, Origins, and Why I Hate It," a sober, personal essay about his issues with the subgenre. He details his involvement in a gangster rap group as a suburban St. Louis white boy and observes that trap removes the rap/reality element from trap music, which, when kids are turn-up hands-ing to Flocka or Gucci, is at least smeared across those beats whether they're listening or not.
Young Thug ft. PeeWee Longway - "Dead Fo' Real"
Here's a list of who Atlanta singer-rapper-gorgeous yelper Young Thug kind of sounds like: Iggy Pop on "Gimme Danger." Nipsey Russell when he's really excited. The lead singer of Harvey Danger. Soulja Boy in "Zan With That Lean" mode. Sizzurp-sloshed Lil Wayne. Every budding mall-punk vocalist out there in Bumfuck, USA. Ryan Leslie on "Gibberish." Andy Rooney? This rinky-dink rap-pop oddball recently signed to 1017 Brick Squad and that's a good thing. If he must be absorbed by the industry, then linking up with Gucci Mane and the rest of the #SQUAD is ideal. Along with Young Scooter, Thug's responsible for injecting the world-weary trap crew with some youthful exuberance (Trap God 2's "Miracle," DuFlocka Rant 2's "Fell") and that's what they need right now. The best distillation of Thug's soul-blabbing steez though, is "Dead Fo' Real," an all-hook quirk fest ("She braid my hair... R-motherfucking-Kelly") over and out in just two obscenely joyous minutes. If you need even more Young Thug in your life, also check out his buddy Ola Playa's Slime Life.