Brandon Soderberg

writer

Biography

  • Busdriver

    Hear Busdriver's Raving Mad Remix of Migos' 'Versace'

    Migos "Versace" remix mania continues! This time, we've got Busdriver, the Los Angeles rapper and member of the legendary Project Blowed, delivering a witty rewrite produced by Riley Lake, who gently adjusts Zaytoven's blooping beat, moving it a little more into Busdriver's IDM-rap world. "Versachi" begins "Versace, Versace, I'm down in the lobby like Salvador Dali / I'm twisting my 'stache and I'm getting the cash and I'm sipping on coffee," and gets more out-there after that. Absurdist wordplay ("Dancing fancy free to Fugazi") slams into refreshing regular dude honesty ("I can't afford Versace"), and toward the end Busdriver stops rapping altogether, letting the track devolve into gutteral shouts and breathy exhortations, paying tribute to Migos' own ad-lib heavy, energy-packed raps. "They only play this in Martian colonies," Busdriver boasts of his demented riff on Migos' hit.

  • Jay Z

    Worst Beef Ever: Jay Z vs. Harry Belafonte

    "If skills sold, truth be told, I'd probably be / Lyrically, Talib Kweli / Truthfully, I wanna rhyme like Common Sense / But I did 5 mil, I ain't been rhyming like Common since / When your cents got that much in common / And you been hustling since your inception / Fuck perception / Go with what makes sense / Since I know what I'm up against / We as rappers must decide what's most important / And I can't help the poor if I'm one of them / So I got rich and gave back, to me that's the win-win."That's Jay Z's conversation-starting verse on "Moment of Clarity," off 2003's Black Album. He was taking on the "conscious" vs. "ignorant" hip-hop debate that was still a big deal at the time, and offering up a free-market argument for why he was more powerful and significant engaging rap's mainstream than he ever could be as part of the more mindful and preachy underground.

  • Drake

    Rap Songs of the Week: Drake, 2 Chainz, and Big Sean Make It All About Them on 'All Me'

    Drake ft. 2 Chainz & Big Sean, "All Me"Weird how all the talk about rap lyrics and their detrimental effects never falls back on Drake, who releases anti-#posi songs like "No New Friends" and empowers suburban pricks with "Started From the Bottom." Here, the former child star and nephew to funk legend Larry Graham continues to further this stupid-ass story that he got here on his own and just plain gets his Ayn Rand on. One sign of "maturity": He no longer even knows how much money he's making, so he isn't whining about having to pay taxes, as he did two years ago on Take Care. Baby steps, Aubrey, baby steps. Then again, the song begins with a knowing sample of Aziz Ansari's clueless Randy character from Judd Apatow's Funny People, and the beat by Key Wane (Big Sean's "Guap," Meek Mill's "Amen") humbly hums and nods off, much more unsure of all this success.

  • Migos Mania: The 40 Most Fascinating 'Versace' Remixes

    Migos Mania: The 40 Most Fascinating 'Versace' Remixes

    Atlanta trio Migos' notoriety got meteoric when Drake jumped on a remix of their track “Versace.” But typical of the way rap works, that was only the beginning; soon it was a remix free-for-all. After a weekend spent scouring every nook and cranny of Soundcloud, YouTube, etc. and listening to approximately 200 remixes/refixes/edits/bootlegs of “Versace,” here are the 40 most interesting makeovers (and/or trainwrecks), with each track ranked from "1" to "10." As is often the case in this baffling anything-goes Internet era, the worst or most bizarre examples of a trend are also, in their own weird way, the most successful. Or at least the most entertaining. So, if your favorite regional rapper's take on the track, or your buddy's bro-step mash-up isn't included, no hard feelings. Maybe it just didn't suck spectacularly enough, ya know?

  • Ka

    Ka, Rapper-Firefighter-Auteur, May Have Released the Best Hip-Hop Album of 2013 with 'The Night's Gambit'

    Ka is a truly singular rapper/producer from Brooklyn's Brownsville neighborhood. Last year, he put out Grief Pedigree, a confident and almost entirely inside-its-own-head record, all twinkling millisecond samples and veering-on-spoken-word raps delivered in a voice barely louder than a whisper. It ostensibly carried on the tradition of dead-eyed, burnt-soul '90s hip-hop — the weed-roasted paranoia of early Mobb Deep, in particular — but it also adjusted the style to something far less swaggering and cruel. Whereas Prodigy and Havoc walked past and stared you down, Ka stares straight ahead, unaware you're even there. He doesn't make any concessions to the world at large.Often, his work feels like a willful misreading of early-'90s street rap. He certainly knows that time period well.

  • The 10 Most David Foster Wallace-ian Quotes in 'Signifying Rappers'

    The 10 Most David Foster Wallace-ian Quotes in 'Signifying Rappers'

    This week, Mark Costello and David Foster Wallace's Signifying Rappers: Rap and Race in the Urban Present is back in print from Back Bay Books. The 1990 intellectual frolic has mostly been the missing piece in Wallace's oeuvre, often dismissed as juvenilia while he was alive, then being consigned to expensive, out-of-print territory, even after his death, when all things DFW piqued readers' interest. It's a curious, often precocious book from an era when thinking hard about hip-hop and seeing how far down the grad-school rabbit hole it could take you was a relatively new phenomenon. In the case of Signifying Rappers, Costello and Wallace compared Bob Dylan and Flavor Flav, exhibited an unhealthy obsession with the high-low bridging of Schoolly D's 1988 track "Signifying Rapper," and dropped far too many self-deprecating "we're clueless white boys" asides.

  • 2 Chainz

    Rap Songs of the Week: 2 Chainz Teams Up With Jason Derulo for Some Reason

    Arca, "&&&&&"Arca, a.k.a Alejandro Ghersi, a Venezuelan producer who made the beat for Mykki Blanco's "Join My Militia (Nas Gave Me a Perm)" and records for post-whatever label Hippos in Tanks, made his first mainstream impact by working on Kanye West's Yeezus ("Hold My Liquor," "I'm In It," "Guilt Trip," and "Send It Up," plus a general credit as "production consultant"), which lends some validity to the theory that the superstar rapper has been mining weird corners of art-damaged Tumblr rap (and that Mykki Blanco is only one degree removed from 'Ye).

  • Hear Shadowrunners' Galloping Video Game Banger 'Flip Phone'

    Hear Shadowrunners' Galloping Video Game Banger 'Flip Phone'

    Rapper and bleater Himself the Majestic and noisy producer Froskees (check out this all-bass blow-out remix of Cassie's "Me & U") are Shadowrunners. If you're familiar with the work of Antwon, then you've most certainly heard Himself on quite a few guest spots, delivering his breathless shout-raps along with the buzzing San Jose MC. And the Nature Boy Gang most commonly associated with Antwon these days was actually founded by Shadowrunners, who've been making music since 2007 but have really located their sound in the past couple years.Last year's witty, sci-fi-themed Cyberdine (declared by SPIN to be one of 2012's most slept-on rap releases) and 2011's 808-Bit Revenge (which paired Nintendo samples with hard-hitting, dirty South-style production and paid tribute to NES game Contra on the cover) are intense, funny, focused examples of the Los Angeles duo's rarefied aesthetic.

  • Ask Kevin Gates about his cavities.

    Kevin Gates, 'Stranger Than Fiction' (Bread Winners Association) Review

    Kevin Gates' sprawling February mixtape The Luca Brasi Story ended with "IHOP (True Story)," an Iceberg Slim-style storytelling rap about how even a meal at a busted breakfast chain can contort into a grim setting for revenge. Backed by nothing but a light, percussive smack — presumably, the rapper himself slapping his chest as he aggressively delivers the story — Gates implicates himself in the crime, with a mix of blunt reportage and too-much-to-bear regret: "Back was turned the whole time, little brother ran up and murked him / Issuing him two to the dome and worked him with the chrome / Until this day, I can say I set him up and he gone."Stranger Than Fiction, the Baton Rouge MC's latest pathos-soaked take on radio-friendly street rap, begins with "4 Legs and a Biscuit," a similarly breathless tale that uses food to ground sudden eruptions of violence in the quotidian.

  • Rap Songs of the Week: Mario & Nicki Minaj's Mature Rap & B Ballad

    Rap Songs of the Week: Mario & Nicki Minaj's Mature Rap & B Ballad

    Clams Casino, "Drowning"So yesterday on Twitter, Geoff Rickly, he of epic New Brunswick screamo group Thursday, contrasted the ongoing Weeknd/Portishead sampling debacle (the former sampled the latter without permission, then denied it) with a much more heartening case of appropriation: It turns out that the tumbling-inside-itself vocal from one of Clams Casino's most claustrophobic tracks is a freaking Thursday sample (from "This Song Brought to You by a Falling Bomb," to get specific), and it only took two years for anybody to realize this, including the original vocalist himself. "I was already a fan and someone pointed it out to me," Rickly wrote. "Was happily surprised." Us too.Droop-E ft. Kendrick Lamar, "Rossi Wine"Droop-E released the Hungry & Humble EP this week.

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