“Main Attract cloud rap/lo-fi indie rap, dog I’m fucking with that.” — Danny Brown.
You can infer a few things from the above quote. The first is that The Hybrid probably burns through as many blogs as he does blunts. The second is that we’re stuck with the “cloud rap” designation for the time being. But as far as music writer-coined genres go, you could do a lot worse. For one thing, Green Ova Underground, Clams Casino, and whatever obscurity Tumblr is touting this week, make music that sounds like it should be called cloud rap: narcotic and woozy, full of gleaming ambient washes and drugged drums. Intended for those exhaling cumulus clouds of smoke — exactly what Shady Blaze says at the start of The Shady Bambino Project.
The raps are usually as shuffling as the beats, languid and slurred, conceptually interesting but often with little replay value. They’re heavy on atmosphere but low on rewindability — ideal for bong rip sized quotas, but bludgeoning over an entire album. The exceptions have come when the gauzy haze has been met by snarling snake-bitten raps that shake you out of your slumber. The most recent instance is the Danny Brown-assisted “Cloud Skatin.” If you’ve been reading this blog long enough, there isn’t much more I can say about the Fool’s Gold’s Flock of Seagulled phenomenon. His verse here is all hang time, 16 bars of raps that channel shades of Drought III-era Wayne and Clipse’s “Nightmares:” jittery free association that skips from selling Reagan and bumping Devin, to “fiends screaming in his dreams.” Lights out.
The most fully realized projects invariably involve Shady Blaze, who raps like Twista if he’d grown up rapping over hyphy rather than house. Out of the zip, the most impressive statement is Shady and Squadda B’s Shady Bambino Project. Hailing from the home of Oaksterdam, Blaze’s hopped-up velocities melt nicely across Squadda’s pitched down vocal clips. Production wise, the technique isn’t far from what juke producers DJ Rashad and DJ Nate are doing, or post-dubstep guys like Addison Groove, Mount Kimbie or even James Blake before he bought one too many Billie Holiday records. Ethereal samples serrated beyond recognition, downtempo pianos, drums that move at a junkie’s leisure. Lyrical content heavy on smoking and selling drugs. Or as Blaze says, “I’m not a lyricist but I go serious.” No yahoo. Bonus points for a Babe Ruth reference. Street rap with subtly avant-garde aspirations, intended to be played at high volumes while very high. I can dig that.