No Trivia's Friday Five: The Best Parts of G.O.O.D.'s Not Very Good 'Cruel Summer'


by Brandon Soderberg
Common, Big Sean, and Kanye West/ Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage
Common, Big Sean, and Kanye West/ Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Plus, K-Rino goes Omega Man, Missy & Timbaland make a comeback, and Sweet Valley's slept-on beats

According to Slate, a whole bunch of people were disturbed by the trailer for Steven Spielberg's Lincoln trailer. Why? Because the voice of Abraham Lincoln (played by Daniel Day-Lewis) was "whiny," and didn't, I guess, sound all booming and bold like it does at that creepy Disney World Hall of Presidents attraction? I was more freaked out by Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens rocking a jheri curl, but hey, that's just me. Anyway, Slate asked Lincoln expert Harold Holzer about Lincoln's voice, and the historian praised Day-Lewis' "Kentucky-Hoosier twang," and referenced materials that described Lincoln's voice as a "whine." Then, Holzer moved onto pronunciation: "Lincoln 'played with' the pronunciation of these words, so that 'chair' might sound like 'cheer,' while a 'bear' was often a 'bar'...[Lincoln] could go in and out of this accent when he wanted to, like Clinton and Obama do when they are schmaltzing things up." And that's where my brain went to rap music. I immediately thought of the Cruel Summer reviews that laughed off Kanye mispronouncing "Coppola" to fit a rhyme on "To the World," or the many people who scoffed at say, Lil Wayne's accent-aided non-rhymes that end up rhyming. It's an effective oratory skill that it seems, even Abraham Lincoln used, from time to time.

K-Rino "Last Man"
End-of-the-world scenarios are hot in the streets. There's that new show about how no one has electricity anymore, plus The Walking Dead, but well, they've all got the same sort of somber and grim and redemptive feeling to them. Thank South Park Coalition's K-Rino for penning a song about how, if faced with the end of the world, he probably couldn't hack it at all. "Last Man" envisions an Omega Man-type scenario wherein the rapper is the last human on earth and paces for days on end, eventually talking to the flowers because you got to talk to something, right? K-Rino's style is gongoristic; he pretty much finds the most round-about way to say what he's saying ("Loss of sanity becomes a debatable connotation with nobody at all, available for conversation") but all those extra syllables and high-point scrabble words sure do sound good bouncing off one another. Stick around for the twist ending involving a virtual reality helmet. Give this guy a TV production deal, already!

Kanye West ft. Pusha T & Ghostface Killah "New God Flow"
The story goes that egomaniacal Kanye West doesn't work well with others, but that's not really true. I mean, is there any reason other than "just because" or some rap nerd magnanimity for finding room for Ghostface Killah on the "Mighty Healthy"-sampling “New God Flow.” That's Kanye sliding some money the way of an aging-out veteran and giving him the kind of spotlight Def Jam hasn't given him since say, 2006? So, Ghost arrives and pretty much tells listeners that G.O.O.D. is corny ("I had my Jesus piece since '94, I don't know what you're talking about") and proves that he's still as nuts as ever: "I got soccer moms paying for cock / Asians get it from behind while they're cleaning their wok"; "My gold eagle shitted out a red rock / Threw it off my project roof, and saw red dots.” Then, one more time he reminds these G.O.O.D. G.O.O.F.B.A.L.L.S. that he doesn't really need them, but thanks for letting him stop by an all: "Kanye, shine a light on my Wallabees / You can have a good time with G.O.D."

Kanye West ft. R. Kelly & Teyana Taylor "To the World"
What is it about Rick Ross' "Hold Me Back" that inspires rappers to get all vitriolic about Mitt Romney? A while back, the Roots' rager Dice Raw screamed "these crackers trying to hold me back" and called Romney a racist on his Ross refix "Tea Party," and Kanye — after two minutes of R. Kelly's crooning a ridiculous but strangely inspiring "fuck the haters" overture — uses Ross to riff on Willard's questionable finances: "Mitt Romney ain't pay no tax, Mitt Romney ain't pay no tax." It's as though Bawse's stupid song is subliminally emitting anti-GOP messages or something? That actually sounds like a Tucker Carlson-endorsed conspiracy, doesn't it? Then, after dismissing Mitt, Kanye keeps the rage going, shouting out his violence-torn Chicago hometown, bemoaning the lack of black faces in Hollywood by making a dumb '80s joke ("Where the hell is Axel Foley at?"), and quoting the movie Baby Boy. Then Teyana Taylor, whoever that is, screws the momentum up by singing all nice and melismatic with no personality, at all. Story of Cruel Summer though, right?

Missy Elliott ft. Timbaland "Triple Threat"
Get out of the way, A$AP Mob. Slow your role, Kanye West. Here's Timbaland awake from his mid-2000s party-pop sell-out slumber to show you how to swagger jack Houston hip-hop, good and proper. Possibly, an apologia for Justin Timberlake's FutureSex/LoveSounds's "Chop Me Up," Timbaland's hook on "Triple Threat" takes some of the words and all of the snarl from Pimp C's verse on Jay-Z's "Big Pimpin'," and wiggles synth-strings through the most confident beat he's put together in quite some time. However, it is not really all that much of a Missy Elliott song. Her rhymes are fumbling and Big Sean-level cheap ("One liter, two liter, in my cup, margarita"; "Nasty flow, call it triple x"), though they still work because hey, it's still Missy, and Timbo dials the beat back for the raps and punctuates Missy with blasts of electro noise, and then reassembles the full-bodied beat for his Pimp C approximation. So many other sounds are shooting through this song. Are there dogs barking in the background? It wouldn't surprise me if they were.

Sweet Valley, "Motorcycle Renegade"
Is there a leather-bound book that should've been mailed to me that tells me which totally unnecessary ego-tripping side projects are worthy of praise and which ones I'm just supposed to ignore? I know Nathan Williams of Wavves and his brother Kynan's beat tape project isn't James Franco doing Motown after he watched one Motown documentary, but give this stuff a listen! It's good! Sweet Valley's having fun enacting a conversation with the history of impossible-to-top sample-flippers. The Flamingos "I Only Have Eyes For You” bop-sha-bops on through Eternal Champ's "Motorcycle Renegade," placing this little instrumental next to Action Bronson's "Thug Love Story 2012" (which yeah yeah yeah, technically used the Complexions' version), the Fugees' "Zealots," as well as out-there, non-hip-hop sample-based work from Oneohtrix Point Never, who remixed the track earlier this year, and the Field who mangled then looped the 1959 hit on 2007's "From Here We Go Sublime."

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