News flash: Clint Eastwood has always been a big jerk! He starred in some of the creepiest, most conservative movies ever made, too many of which involve him as a cop picking off or threatening minorities because some stuffy liberal has made it harder for him to do his job. His supposedly great Unforgiven is John Ford’s The Searchers minus the moral ambiguity and all of Ford’s sentimental though complex love of democracy replaced with the cruel, calculated appeal of fascism and stupid revenge. Even in a goofy movie like Thunderbolt & Lightfoot, Eastwood has to have his character come out on top and survive, even though that’s totally the kind of zooted ’70s road movie where the big star is supposed to die. And let’s not even talk about Gran Torino. Now, back to the music.
Beanie Sigel “Kush Daydreaming”
This beat sounds like sexy/saxy interstitial music from ’80s television — imagine the Broad Street Bully’s romantic evening with a lady being interrupted by ALF — though whoever produced it was probably aiming for the Rick Ross-level luxuriousness of something like “Sixteen.” Oh well, “Kush Daydreaming” is still one of the few highlights from Sigel’s new album This Time, because he’s just sort of rap-rambling here like another instrument in the mix. The rest of This Time is understandably distracted. Beans is about to go to jail for tax evasion (on top of that, he was busted for drug and gun possession on Wednesday). I don’t know man, when Lauryn Hill got hit for back taxes, and rumors connect Chris Lighty’s tragic suicide to owing five million to Uncle Sam, while we’ve got this guy running for president who I’m pretty sure is stashing millions off-shore and seems sort of weirdly proud of it, it all seems a little suspicious. Just saying!
Diamond, feat. Jackie Chain & Juicy J “At The Bar”
This one pretty much sells itself: Sass raps from Diamond, formerly of Crime Mob, with guests spots from ALL-CAPS RAPPERS Jackie Chain and Juicy J, over a sample of Daft Punk’s “One More Time,” filled out by some histrionic, slow-building strings. Who produced this thing? It’s weird and cheap, but it’s also incredibly dynamic, doing the everything-sounds-underwater trick that’s big in dance music and on Mike WIll Made It beats for Jackie Chain’s verse, and then, all the sounds clot together into something Requiem For A Dream-like for Juicy’s verse? Listen to this one closely, and notice how different the beat sounds by the end; all of its parts move and shift without your ears ever really noticing it. Diamond, an excellent rapper who got caught in that weird 2008-2010 time period where former major-label types dropping mixtapes was still a little weird and perceived as desperate, and southern-rapper and female-rapper bias still reigned, just might be getting her shot now with her new mixtape, The Young Life. Good.
Dice Raw “Tea Party”
Dice Raw of the Roots, who injected undun‘s “Tip The Scale” with a little uncontrolled street-dude chaos and wisdom (“Lot of niggas go to prison / How many come out Malcolm X? / I know I’m not / Shit, can’t even talk about the rest”) pours pissed-off vitriol all over Rick Ross’ blathering trap anthem anthem “Hold Me Back”: “These crackers trying to hold me back, these crackers trying to hold me back…fuck the Tea Party, fuck the Tea Party!” The trick here is how Dice Raw retains Ross’ stupid-obvious formula for penning rhymes. He hasn’t decided to “fix” the song by piling syllables and writerly enjambments inside its thudding beat; he’s still chanting and ranting, only it’s a vicious take-no-prisoners attack on the Tea Party and Romney: “Mitt Romney’s a racist / Yeah that’s a fact / You should hear what these Mormons / Think about blacks / Say you’ll never see heaven, unless you’re a slave / So if you a nigga, sit up straight and behave.”
Main Attrakionz, feat. DaVinci “Do It for the Bay”
Here we are, just a year or so since this Internet rap movement seemed to really break. We’ve had disappointments (Yelawolf’s Radioactive, Stalley’s Savage Journey to the American Dream), some middling out (K.R.I.T.’s Live From The Underground, Curren$y’s Stoned Immaculate), and even some baffling major-label signings (Death Grips, Kreayshawn, Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire). Still, the most compelling narrative is being written by the guys who just keep doing what they do, maintaining their self-sustaining world, while letting in just enough industry air. “Do It for the Bay,” the first single from Bossalinis & Fooliyones, considered the proper follow-up to 808s & Dark Grapes II, despite the fact that MaZ have released about 20 mixtapes since then, is a cleaner, more focused version of what Mondre M.A.N. and Squadda B always do, though the verses here are more in-the-pocket than usual, which is nice. Harry Fraud is on the beat, and at this point, he’s just a Tumblr rap producer who actually works hard, unlike a lot of those SoundCloud shitbags. That means there are all kinds of cute details: That falling-star synth squeak; the G-funk change-up for DaVinci’s verse; a horn semi-triumphantly blasting through. Addictive stuff right here.
Styles P, feat. French Montana & Pusha T “Gripping Over Herer”
Jahlil Beats mixes Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” synths with Alan Parsons Project “Sirius” seriousness for Styles and Pusha to sound unmemorably awesome, and then French Montana, who sounds like the lunkheaded frozen-food manager at this supermarket in Baltimore that I used to buy weed from when I was 17, does another one of his “Stay Schemin”-esque hooks that goes from “I can’t believe they recorded this and accepted it as a hook to a song” to “WOAH BEST HOOK ON THE RADIO.” Have you read the Wikipedia for “Stay Schemin”? Like most Wiki entries, it was written by an idiot, but here’s what it says: “The chorus of the song, assumably sung by French Montana, interpolates an unreleased Nas song titled “Day Dreamin, Stay Schemin.” Whereas it is speculated that another artists, whose name is unreleased may have actually sung the chorus which was sampled into the track.” What??? Is there actually some rumor that French Montana didn’t sing the hook? Why would you ever hire someone to sound like that? Do love the idea, though, that French was thinking of an I Am… track from the bootleg version, and turned it into probably the best dumb rap single of the year. Didn’t catch that.