March 25, 2013

Jonah Bromwich has the Neptune blues

In his own singularly unappealing way, Joey Bada$$ expressed an important idea about DOOM. In his interview with Narudwar, Joey pointed out that the man with metal fingers is an important influence for those know who about him, but could never be mainstream, “because that just wouldn’t be dope.”

Leaving behind the antiquated elitism and alt-rap inferiority complex implicit in that statement, it must be said that DOOM’s influence on the underground right now is absolutely unparalleled. Earl, Tyler, Captain Murphy, Chester Watson, these Pro Era kids—they’re all influenced by his tight rhyme features, absurdist twists, and blunted beat loops. DOOM has become an overarching shibboleth; if you don’t get it, you don’t get it, but if you do, we’re liable to listen to your mixtapes if you’ve managed to recreate the barest strains of the same plant.

Producer Jonwayne is another rapper in the wake of DOOMphilia—only Wayne has both the production talent and rapping experience to actually surpass the influence. His newest track, “Passing Fancies” splits the difference between DOOM and Madlib with a sprinkle of Edan and Def Jux rawness thrown in for good measure. Though that old-timey loop is irresistible for those of us easily taken in by the ghosts of radio past, what actually matters here is the confluence of beat and rhyme, intelligent brag-rap mocked by the beat itself. Wayne dreams of his expertise and eventual rap dominance–“I’ll change the game, make amendments to the name, take the dollars, then I’ll dip out”—which is then negated by the beat itself which posits these kinds of aspirations as passing fancies. The chorus acknowledges the same truth with the line “you know these things will never keep in the rain.”

Wayne is consistently slept-on, even by those of us who ride hard for him. I could swear that This is False tape would have cracked my 2012 top twenty if it didn’t have the most amateurish-looking art of all time. That’s a dumb complaint but packaging matters—good looking album art sticks in the mind. Luckily, the art for Cassette 2, (from which “Passing Fancies” hails) is excellent, jacking the clean Coca-Cola swag, and from what I’ve heard of the tape so far, I don’t think there’ll be any chance of forgetting this one. The art at the top of this post is actually from the first Cassette, the art for which Stones Throw was forced to stop using when the good folks at Phillip Morris sent the label a cease and desist. We’re posting it up for posterity’s sake.

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