No Trivia's Friday Five: Lil Wayne, the Rap Game David Cronenberg?


by Brandon Soderberg
Lil Wayne/ Photo by Ezra Shaw/ Getty Images
Lil Wayne / Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Plus, Problem & Iamsu's 'Million Dollar Afro,' Pusha T & Kevin Gates, Toro Y Moi chopped and screwed, and Tree

So, Fox News hired Herman Cain. This will be fun. More importantly though, it is a chance to resurrect my dream remix project: Jamie xx & Herman Cain's We're New Here. Come on bored DJs. The instrumentals for Jamie xx & Gil Scott Heron's remix record are readily available. By the end of week one, Cain will have delivered enough legendary nonsense to flesh this thing out. Glitch-ify some of the vocals, slur a few, layer it over Jamie's beats and you will make my year. Savvy photoshoppers, get working on the cover!

Gucci Mane ft. Lil Wayne & Young Scooter "Bullet Wound"
On the hook to "Bullet Wound" off Gucci Mane's Trap God 2 – one of Gucci's most head-down, meter-happy, dead-eyed tapes in quite some time – Lil Wayne sounds living and breathing again (if you count Flocka's "Stay Hood," that's the second time this month) nodding to the sassy-singing, song-stealing dude from Playaz Circle's "Duffle Bag Boy" almost a half-decade ago. Though calling this a “hook” undersells it a bit because it's just sort of lodged into the song twice, and totally allowed to wander in a bunch of different Dada directions and go on way longer than Gucci or Young Scooter's verses: "Yellow bone butt naked/ If the pussy whack eject it/ Man, all my hoes be acting like detectives/ But I don't give a fuck, and if I did, I would give it to you/ That rainbow has two colors, rhythm and blues, yeah...Say we running out of time/ Tell that to a time bomb, yeah./ Then she kiss me on the bullet wound." That line, “Then she kiss me on my bullet wound" is like a curt sentence that should end the chapter of a doomed love crime novel from James Sallis, right? Wayne's king of this almost body horror romantic poetry, in which he speaks on lovemaking and eroticism embracing less-than-idyllic, arguably "unsexy" details.  

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Heath Caring TORO IN R3TVRN
Titled "a chopped and screwed experience," this half-hour or so mix from Heath Caring, a Brooklyn duo intent to come up with terrible-on-paper ideas, make them work expertly, and totally dare you to dig it (another good example would be these guys sloshing the Drive OST all around), slows-up Toro Y Moi's Anything in Return, and surrounds the good-gone-bad vibes with UGK, Lil Wayne with 2 Chainz, and what sounds like a Derek Bailey in Ballads mode cover of the "Kraid's Lair" music from the classic Nintendo game Metroid? TORO IN R3TVRN is but another example of the strange hip-hop elasticity of Toro Y Moi's Dilla-ized wimp-funk. That these chillwave make-up-and-break-up songs can so easily and rewardingly downshift into syrup-drunk territory is telling. Also, these sort of blog-friendly supposedly #outchea screwings of non-hip-hop are very much in line with DJ Screw's C&S values; his ears were wide open and he was almost as likely to stretch out Junior's "Mama Used To Say," a Faith Evans instrumental, or Cameo's "Back and Forth” as he was an OutKast album cut. Deal with it!

Problem & Iamu Million Dollar Afro
The entire mixtape! Not even going to try to pick a favorite song -- though "Change Up" and it's advice to dudes to "step your dick game up" is a winner. And in the rap Internet world, where Valentine Mixes were necessary and dogged dives into as many wizened feminist-enough dude rap songs and cunnilingus rhymes, "Change Up" can get ready to sit comfortably in those mixes next year. So can "Downtown" from Antwon's new one, In Dark Denim. Still, the appeal of Million Dollar Afro is the accumulation of snaps and claps and Problem and Iamsu's hooks-for-days songwriting. Problem, a rigid producer and jerk-like MC, and Iamsu, a casual experimentalist, accidental mid-tier pop-rap savant (“Up!,” “Who Booty”), and something of a sensitive soul, are well-matched. Other Million Dollar Afro highlights: The clipping bass blowout beat of "I Need It": The Ratchet Ravi Shankar intensity of "Wassup"; Yello "Oh Yeah" meets Luniz "I Got 5 On It" grunt heap of "Please."

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Pusha T ft. Kevin Gates "Trust You"
Another Pusha T mixtape means more mean-mugging yet somehow luxurious raps that don't hit no matter how hard he grits his teeth and adds some "yuckkkk" to his voice. The highlight here is Kevin Gates, whose Michael Mann Thief cinematic, Michael Mann Heat emotive The Luca Brasi Story continues to reveal little details to unpack (his complex relationship with religion is something someone needs to ask him about). On the hook here, Gates stands firmly in Future's world of warbling and it works. See, Gates can sing well and rap very well and he isn't afraid to break a 16 or 32 bar structure, so his voice can move all around a beat and really inhabit it, forcing you to sit with him in his d-boy dread or hyper-emotional romantic drama. You feel everything he says. Please, let this guy move through the street-rap-gone-radio-ranks with his integrity intact. There's also a mini-generation battle going on in this song: The hateful hustler street MC on his way out coming up against a cold-hearted-when-he-needs-to-be romantic who isn't afraid to get painfully sincere, and who can frankly, just rap way better than an aging-out crack rap innovator.

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Tree "Get It"
Not the first time this comparison has popped up on the blog, but Tree's approach has less to do with rappers than brain-fried blues-adjusting eccentric Captain Beefheart (to a less extent, Tom Waits' junkpile hobo rock, and Sam from Future Islands' demonic post-punk screams). Beefheart and Tree are both gravel-voiced folk art creative types who don't seem to fit in really anywhere, and do their best work in the midst of chaos. There is a palpable sense that this music, if one or two adjustments were made to it, would permanently sink into a wad of disorder. That's thrilling. And when is the last time a song about grinding sounded this just viscerally desperate and lost? Second Internet mash-up free culture request of the day: Someone, anyone, please remove that Rick Ross and Tupac debacle from that one diet caffeine-free Sergio Leone slavery sequence in Django Unchained and replace it with Tree's soul-trap Spaghetti Western wail, "Get It." From the upcoming Sunday School 2. 

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