Brandon Soderberg



  • 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.

  • Roach Gigz

    Roach Gigz and Iamsu! Spit Hot Fire on 'It's Lit'

    Bay Area rapper Roach Gigz acts as a kind of bridge between the rubbery rap of the the hyphy movement, and the more moody, minimalism of ratchet, or function music, which is slowly but surely taking over the radio right now. Roach's anthemic raps are catchy and he's an expert at sketching out a simple effective image in a way that's just askew enough to still be captivating. Listen here to the weird thrill in his voice as he describes something as simple as driving down the street in a new car. Guest Iamsu! sneaks in with a typically tossed off yet compelling and confident verse. He swirls his nice guy voice around the instrumental, becoming more in concert with the drums as he goes along.

  • Trayvon Martin

    Back to the Grill Again: Trayvon Martin in the Court of Public Opinion

    Within days of Trayvon Martin's killing at the hands of neighborhood-watch volunteer George Zimmerman, the 17-year-old's story became, in part, a story about how he looked and what he was wearing. This continued during George Zimmerman's trial, which ended on Saturday with Zimmerman being acquitted of murder, as well as manslaughter. Martin had been reduced to a handful of anecdotal sketches: He was wearing a hoodie; he was suspended from school for smoking marijuana; he posed for a photo sporting a grill and trying to look tough for the camera.

  • Asaad

    Rap's Most Slept-On Releases of 2013's Second Quarter

    Asaad - Cold Blue Highlights: “27,” “Next Megabus,” “Burn Tha Church/Family” RIYL: Earl Sweatshirt, Grande Marshall, Mike Leigh's Naked Nothing about this Philadelphia rapper makes sense: He's an awkward street-level spitter (in the mode of Meek Mill), who does a pretty sturdy Auto-Tune robot whine (in the key of Future), and has one of hip-hop's most virulent PR-killing, self-destructive streaks (see, the Tupac-banging-Biggie cover of his single “Boss Status”; plus his ongoing one-sided feud with Pusha T). And this cobbled-together, multiple-personality rap album has a Tim & Eric-esque cover and some of the most squishy boom-bap splat production going right now. Despite Asaad's publicity-grabby moves, his penchant for searing insight and unsentimental honesty isn't there to shock at all. It seems like it's all that's keeping him from going over the edge.

  • Doley Bernays

    Hear Doley Bernays' Devastating 'Till We Fall'

    Bronx rapper Doley Bernays, like so many of New York's savvy MCs right now, remains true to the city's teeth-gritting spitting tradition while also embracing styles from the outside world. On "Till We Fall," he somberly delivers real-talk honesty ("And I ain't saying sell drugs, but I'm saying it's faster/ And I ain't saying use guns, but I'm saying they'll back up"), but tempers it with a bigger-than-his-block worldview that finds a sliver of hope in acknowledging just how screwed up things are ("More shooters than doctors," he raps, frustrated).Produced by MP Williams of ReeLife (co-producer of A$AP Rocky's "Ghetto Symphony"), the maudlin beat waddles along. Half-inspirational, half-desperate piano and skittering, gut-punching drums capture the complexities of hustling.

  • Rap Songs of the Week: Jay-Z Resigns Himself to the Reality of Miley Cyrus Twerking

    Rap Songs of the Week: Jay-Z Resigns Himself to the Reality of Miley Cyrus Twerking

    Jay-Z "Somewhereinamerica"This track has the hoppity-hop-honk horns of Macklemore's "Thrift Shop" and the polite piano-plink-plonk of Kanye West's Adam Levine of Maroon 5 collaboration "Heard 'Em Say," and Jay-Z isn't so much rapping here as he is talking pretty fast. Yet, it's still one of the most inspired tracks on Magna Carta Holy Grail. Mostly because it ends with Jay declaring, "Somewhere in America, Miley Cyrus is twerking," on some absurdist alt-lit poetry-type shit. Some are reading it as a "diss" to Miley, but it seems more like Jay-Z, after a laundry list of his successes (implicitly symbolic of the possibilities any disenfranchised American could attain), shrugging because, nevertheless, the child of a mullet-rockin' country goofball from the '90s is a cos-playing rap-video stripper on YouTube.

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