The New Rap Language: Delinquent Habits Edition

Predictably belated. One final round-up before everything sinks into the year-end morass. Tangential point: Herb Alpert is sorely underrated. Lupe Fiasco-“Thank You”  So the new mixtape...
By    December 7, 2009

Predictably belated. One final round-up before everything sinks into the year-end morass. Tangential point: Herb Alpert is sorely underrated.

Lupe Fiasco-“Thank You” 

So the new mixtape from self-proclaimed black Zach Galifianakis (nice try, Lupe) is supposedly a response to being snubbed on MTV’s Hottest Rapper’s List. He shouldn’t be surprised. A year of Internet time is like seven normal people years.  So when he took the year off to open a boutique manga/frozen yogurt shop and train accountants in the art of Krav Maga, the station shirked him in favor of uh, Fabolous. However, the kids love Lupe, particularly those on the left coast. During my time reporting the jerkin’ story, it was rare when an artist didn’t name-drop the Windy City skinny jean-godfather as a primary inspiration. The Cool went gold and 33,000,000+ Myspace profile views is more than half the rappers on that list. He is also the only one to have an advertisement for an appearance on a History Channel special.

Enemy of the State is a triumphant return–22 minutes of zero filler (save for a bizarre HP ad), raw rhyming, and obscenely clever wordplay that rewards repeat listening–or you can just read the lyrics. He’s competitively sparring with #1 Jay here, rhyming over “Where I’m From,” “So Ghetto” and “Thank You.” Not to mention Radiohead’s “The National Anthem,” where Thom Yorke is deployed like Jim Morrison on “The Takeover.” Take that for what’s it’s worth. But the most subtly damning is “Thank You,” from the bloated Blueprint 3, where Lupe uses Jay’s own flow against him, the young all-star crossing over the vet and dribbling the ball underneath his legs to add insult to injury.  Zeus said, “this tape should serve as a reminder what a great young rapper sounds like.” Lupe also mentions jai alai and Wyld Stallions.

Blakrok ft. Raekwon-“Stay Off the Fuckin’ Flowers”

Blakrok ft. Pharoah Monch & Rza-“Dollaz & Sense”

With every pair of Urkel glasses that Jay-Z imports, it’s becoming clear how crucial Dame Dash was to the glory years of the Roc. Like Zilla said, Dame is a guy with”money to burn and weird people to give it to.” Between BlakRoc, the Mos Def/Jay Electronica/Curren$y project, and his decision to have wine and cheese loft parties with Javelin and Sleigh Bells, Dash is halfway to becoming Dash Snow–minus the soiled New York Post’s and heroin.  Hip-hop needs people in power willing to say “what the fuck,” and push the form forward (in a way that doesn’t involve a boat or more auto-tune.)  This is no classic–there is far too much Jim Jones and Noe for that–the latter of whom gets the 2009 Gorilla Black Memorial Award for best celebrity rapper impersonation. Since it’s their first time working with rappers, the Black Keys’ instrumentation often drowns the vocals. But this on the short-list of best rap-rock collaborations and it certainly beats the fuck out of the Judgment Night soundtrack–which tends to happen when you ditch Biohazard.

The Bangz ft. New Boyz-“Found My Swag”

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Rumor has it that Asylum is quite pleased with their grand New Boyz investment and why not. The label made their investment back off “You’re a Jerk” alone. Despite having Ray J, second single “Tie Me Down,” cracked the top 40, and of course, they share all 360 degrees of the action. The rest of the jerkin’ kids aren’t doing too shabbily either, a Sunday Styles New York Times feature reported that the Pink Dollaz recently worked with M.I.A., ensuring them hipster love for an eternity or least a few hours.  Y.G. became the first West Coast rapper signed to Def Jam since Warren G. And the biggest dance crew, The Rangers, recently released a debut album, Jerkin’ is a Habit Vol. 1, and appeared in the video for Snoop’s “I Wanna Rock.” It’ll need more radio hits to sustain itself though, and  “Found My Swag” is a prime candidate. Light, danceable, and fun, it’s an archetypal Middle School dance song and that will always have a value.

Bishop Lamont-“My Mama”

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I don’t trust you if you aren’t a sucker for the “Dear Mama” rap song. You either have no soul, own several copies of “Going Rogue,” or both. Bishop does soft-hearted hard-core as well as anyone (that came out wrong) and he remains my favorite rhymer of the New West. Too bad The Reformation will probably never see the light of day and only exist as another symbol to illustrate the fucked up state of the major label system. Argue all you want, then produce the Nipsey Hussle, Jay Rock, or Glasses Malone records for me while you’re at it.

Danny-“Mama I Want to Fucking Sing”

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You will hear more about this come year-end time, so I’ll go easy now. Where is Danny? is the album I had always hoped that South Carolina-raised, Def Jux-signed, Danny Swain would make. It’s his third in three years and the best of the bunch, the first to build past his obvious Native Tongues inspirations and tread entirely new ground, a dizzying array of orchestral samples, chimerical boasts, and pleasant weirdness. Think Lupe Fiasco but goofier, possibly on psychedelics, and trying to make Operation Doomsday if he didn’t know that it already existed. Despite an accidental Imeem leak that caused this to be released for free, it has been heartening to see rave reviews from Dart Adams, Rock the Dub, and Potholes in My Blog.  The kid deserves it. I probably could’ve picked a half dozen favorite tracks to highlight, but I picked this one for its Serge Gainsbourg sample, which may be the first since Solaar. What can I say, I have a sentimental affection for lascivious chain-smoking French crooners. You want the whole album. True story.

G-Side-“Ain’t No”

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As always, the Straight Bangin’ review of G-Side’s Huntsville International, circumvents the need for me to add my two cents. Out of the leftovers on the odds and sods comp, Code Black, “Ain’t No,” is my pick. It’s a ideal trunk-rattling jam that sounds as good on languid LA rides as it probably does in Huntsville, the sort of thing that makes you thankful that the weather is usually warm enough to keep your windows rolled down. G-Side have been conspicuously left out of the discussion on street rappers marketed to bloggers, even though they lurk in comment sections like their name was Tray. Which is fine, rap could use more a lot more G-Side’s and they deserve the shine–even if Block Beataz may or may not believe OAKENFOLD IS GOD.

Y.T.-“Skinny Ass Nigga”

Y.G-“Just Broke Up”

Y.B.-“I’m Stuck”

These are three of the most popular jerk rappers. Their names are evidence that perhaps we should worry about the stunted vocabulary  of today’s youth. The fact that kids are bragging about being skinny and wearing skinny jeans is a good thing, unless it is not.

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