Harold Stallworth still has a ringtone.
Throughout the Clinton era, rap music and telephones were a heavenly match. Mobb Deep’s “Party Over,” Biggie Smalls’ “Warning,” Danja Mowf’s “Phone Tag,” Medina Green’s “Crosstown Beef,” The Firm’s “Phone Tap,” and Capone-N-Noreaga’s “Phone Time” were recorded in a world when jacks still had an air of mystique about them. Intense conversations were always launched and intercepted from intimidating locations, like dimly lit basements or rain-drenched booths or correctional facilities. Such places, to say the very least, rarely, if ever, encourage shamefully impulsive drunk dials, à la “Marvin’s Room.”
Menacing telecommunication rap is few and far between under Obama’s administration, but Lil Durk’s “Who Is This,” is something of a throwback to the two-way pager days of yore. The premise of the Zaytoven-produced cut is admittedly nonsensical: law enforcement agents contact Durk via cell phone, foreshadowing their impending sweep like Goldfinger coming clean to a hogtied James Bond. Plausibility aside, it’s the most creative and enjoyable record featured on Durk’s otherwise forgettable DJ Drama-hosted mixtape, Signed to the Streets.