Noise rap, Nas grows up, and some kid named Stuey Rock
Gonna be one of those guys that talks about some New York party you totally weren't at and all, but man Waka Flocka Flame performing at SPIN's party for the new issue was nuts. Waka played an entire set! Wooh Da Kid was there! People were dancing! Usually these types of things are as perfunctory as possible, with the center of attention wandering up and half-assedly playing the new single and calling it a night. Nope, 45 minutes of Flocka! And the percentage of people wilding out to stone-faced, hands-in-pockets types was pretty much even! I know it's New York and we're all supposed to be boring and classy, but this is Waka Flocka show! Come on! At one point, one of my fellow rap moshers dropped their phone and everyone around her politely stopped going nuts and helped her find it. PLUR at a Flocka show. It warmed my heart.
Death Grips "Hustle Bones"
This highlight from Death Grips' major label debut The Money Store shows and tells. Grips' rapper Ride is all about "this is that real shit" signifying ("that rip you a new one trick, I'm the true one"), which proves what Christopher R. Weingarten was saying in his excellent review: That beyond their of-the-moment edginess and bloggy accolades, Death Grips basically do gnarly pre-weed, pre-'90s hip-hop. And the production on "Hustle Bones," a revved engine buzz and Yello-like hiccup vocals bouncing off of a blown-out beat, sells Ride's manic pitch for this being that gut-a-cop-throw-a-molotov-cocktail type shit. Despite all that, I find a lot of the Death Grips shtick much too mannered. Zach Hill as both the sole interview voice of the group and someone throwing around words like "third world" makes me feel weird — and hey guys, don't forget about B L A C K I E, who has been doing the spirited punk-noise racket rap way longer. Ride however, proves to be more than an unbridled screamer. There's plenty of internal logic enjambment and twisted up lyric writing here, if you're listening closely.
DJ Paul "Da Money"
This is the best track on DJ Paul of Three 6 Mafia's new mixtape, For I Have Sinned, because it's also the STOOPIDEST. If you make an argument for "Go and Kill" featuring the Insane Clown Posse, though, that would also be acceptable. But "Da Money" samples of A Flock Of Seagulls' "I Ran (So Far Away)" (a confounding, somehow tasteful hammering of the propulsive atmospheric '80s hit into gloomy Da Unbreakables-era stomp), and contains, by my count, the word "money" 39 times in under two minutes. And Paul just packs the thing with idiotically unclever lines like "I'm all up in this bitch, like a fuckin' baby" and well, I'll just quote a whole bunch of it real quick: "Had to pound that pussy like a trending topic / Bitch I got money to burn, burn it on this green / Made it rain so bad in the club, I left in a goddamn submarine / See I don't read a lot, but my house about three stories / You niggas keep hatin', while I enjoy the glory." The dude Tom Breihan over at Stereogum unpacked For I Have Sinned's brilliant obviousness much better than I can, so go check that out.
Nasty Nas latches onto an immaculate No I.D. "It Ain't Hard To Tell" update and dredges up his Illmatic flow for something beyond empty, nostalgic tough guy representing. It's an incredibly moving though uncertain song to his 17-year-old daughter, even if it comes down to Nas realizing that indeed his daughter has her own mind and body, which, no shit Nassir! And like a lot of "treat girls nice" rap songs, its annoying that it took his own daughter to grow up for him to realize he shouldn't be such a jerk to women (and calling himself a "single father" when his child lives with the mother, is a sketchy Romney-like in its attempt at "regular guy"-ness). But Nas is expressing deeply relate-able truths that any man with an almost adult daughter probably wrestles with. Some actual "real talk" is happening here: "Although you real, plus an honest kid / Don't think I'm slow, I know you probably had the chronic lit / You 17, I got a problem with it / She looks at me, like I'm not the cleanest father figure." This is sensitive, useful grown folks rap that still sounds youthful and tough. Everybody wins! Except Nas' daughter who's probably a little embarrassed.
Schwarz ft. Issue, "Rats" (Remix of Ed Schrader's Music Beat)
Schwarz, a Baltimore by way of St. Louis rap, club, and everything else producer has worked with No Trivia favorite DDm (see: Rap's Most Slept-On Release of 2012's First Quarter) and he mixed Mista Thug Isolation from Richmond, Virginia's Salem-esque dirty South minstrel Lil Ugly Mane. So, he's resting comfortably on some bizarro bleeding edge of hip-hop oddities that are too WTF to be crammed into somebody's thinkpiece. Here, Schwarz and Issue (E-40's other weird son), remix ragged post-punk explosion "Rats" from fellow Baltimore genre-busters, Ed Schrader's Music Beat. Issue raps about tea-sipping while the Schwarz loops up a few telling lines (the best, most evocative ones, really), adds some ghettotech grunts and blasts of bass that'd loosen Lex Luger's bowels, and turns a grinding Swans homage into a Triple Six Mafia meets dub reggae theme song for blowing up the world.
Stuey Rock "High"
Not really a rap song, but since we're all falling head over heels for Future, who does an arch version of the Atlanta swag rap of Soulja Boy and others, why not take some time to talk about auto-tunin' croonin' kinda rappin' Stuey Rock of "Leanin'" fame? Here, Stuey and producer Max Payne give Michael Jackson's "Human Nature" the Fruity Loops and clots of auto-tune treatment and kill Chris Brown's tone-deaf, prickish "Human Nature"-sampling "She Ain't You" dead. I remember reading or hearing somewhere that Pharrell wanted his highly underrated and ultimately quite influential solo album In My Mind to be an entire album of songs like "Human Nature." He failed — then again, how could he not? — but in missing his target, Skateboard P ended up in a quirkier, weirder, though actually quite comparable landscape. You could say the same thing about Stuey Rock. From his mixtape Deez Hooks Ain't Free.