Rap-Up for the Week of 8/7/15

Never mackle.
By    August 7, 2015


Torii MacAdams is worried about Slim Thug’s hairline

Danny Brown & Clams Casino – “Worth It”

Clams Casino perfected cloud rap. His production was, at times, breathy and soaring, at others submerged and syrupy. To experience his early work was to stare heavy-lidded at rays of sunlight piercing grey skies. Many of these instrumentals were sold to lesser talents–Lil B was the recipient of the brilliant “I’m God,” a beat that surely spawned thousands of Clams Casino imitators. More recently, he’s abandoned the rounded edges of cloud rap in favor of shuddering, near-Dadaist collage. There’s a bare, boom-bap quality to his production on Vince Staples’ sterling Summertime ‘06 (“Norf Norf,” “Summertime,” and “Surf”) and, more recently, Danny Brown’s “Worth It.”

“Worth It,” the second time Brown’s rapped over a Bob James “Nautilus” sample*, functions as something of a comeback for the Detroit rapper, having spent much of the past two years away from the public eye. It doesn’t appear during his hiatus the sharp-tongued, jagged-toothed rapper lost either his vocal dexterity or his ambivalence about excess. An upcoming tour with A$AP Rocky, Tyler, the Creator, and Vince Staples may portend more new music from Danny Brown, and for that fans, and fans’ drug dealers, should rejoice.

*The first was “Pac Blood” from XXX.

CyHi the Prynce – “Elephant In The Room”

While Drake is fighting off Meek Mill’s advances with Powerpoint presentations and a Studio 54-worthy jumpsuit, CyHi the Prynce sprung “Elephant In The Room” on an unsuspecting public. It might be fair to suggest that every time CyHi releases music, it’s sprung on an unsuspecting public. “Elephant In The Room” is the vicious, life-threatening diss record everyone wants from Meek Mill (or Drake. Yeah, right.). It’s also borderline unlistenable, and may be a publicity stunt.

The impetus for “Elephant In The Room” is, reportedly, CyHi’s release from Def Jam/GOOD Music. Big Sean, Pusha T, Teyana Taylor, Def Jam, and, most frequently, Kanye West are all targets in CyHi’s imagined rampage. CyHi’s problem is that, even when rapping about binding and gagging Kanye and putting him in the trunk of a car, he remains CyHi, eternally forgettable and mediocre. His last memorable contribution to the GOOD Music canon was his verse on Kanye’s “So Appalled.” That was five years ago. The real elephant in the room at GOOD Music was how long it took to drop CyHi.


Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ft. Ed Sheeran – “Growing Up (Sloane’s Song)”

It’s impossible to tell if Macklemore is being earnest. He relentlessly panders to treacly sentimentality and social causes which, if one subscribes to, merely mark one as human and not a right-wing homunculus. “Growing Up (Sloane’s Song)” is ostensibly a song dedicated to Macklemore’s newborn daughter, but it functions as yet another public flaunting of his center-left bonafides and feel-good life advice bromides.

Macklemore commits a faux pas on “Growing Up” when he misattributes Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin In The Sun to Langston Hughes, whose poem “Harlem” inspired the title of Hansberry’s play. Macklemore, overbearingly eager to prove his progressive racial views, thoroughly depantsed himself with error he, or any number of bearded, plaid-clad lackeys, should’ve caught before “Growing Up” was released.

Kevin Gates – “Tomorrow”

Kevin Gates hasn’t released a bad song this year. More widely, in the past three years Gates has released six mixtapes and an EP, and of that prolific output, there are maybe a handful of immediately skippable songs. “Tomorrow” isn’t as catchy as previous single “Kno One”–what it lacks in pop appeal, it compensates for with sheer zest.

There’s a simmering evil inherent to Gates’ music. On “Tomorrow,” Gates raps “Mama told me never hit a woman/But I bat hoes in the mouth/Make the trap roll in a drought/Get the pack gone, I’m en route.” Gates the human has allegedly hit women. Gates the entertainer unabashedly hits women. The horrifying contradictions and complexities of Gates’ public persona are part of what makes him one of rap’s most intriguing figures.

Curren$y/Spitta Andretti – “The Plug”

With essentially zero forewarning, Currensy released the Cathedral EP, an eight-song collaboration with fellow New Orleanian Chase N. Cashe. I write this comparison lovingly: Cashe’s production on “The Plug” sounds like he launched windchimes at a bass drum. Currensy, as always, is unhurried, unworried, unflappable.

Kid Cudi – “Confused”

In an attempt to further legitimize himself as an artist, Kid Cudi claims that his forthcoming album will be free of electronic sound; all instrumentals will be composed and played by Cudi using only guitar and bass. “Confused” lands somewhere between shoegaze and garage rock. Cudi’s wail is unavoidably bad, but traditionally strong vocalists don’t necessarily make for the most interesting or enjoyable music. It’s Cudi’s painfully shitty lyrics which thoroughly sink “Confused.” Here’s a sampling, which I promise I didn’t make up.

Who am I?
Who are we?
Confused, truth is what I choose
Heal I never do
Asking who are you
I don’t have one clue
Seems I hate him, too
Seems my color’s blue

In the five days since being uploaded to Soundcloud, “Confused” has 1.2 million Soundcloud plays. Humans are swine.

ManMan Savage – “Takin Shots”

ManMan Savage, who starred in Future’s “Trap Niggas” music video, makes his Fool’s Gold debut with “Takin Shots.” The charms of “Takin Shots” aren’t subtle–ManMan has no indoor voice, his volume permanently stuck at “Agonized Shriek.” Waka Flocka, in a startling change of career trajectory, toned down his shouting in favor of more measured lyricism. ManMan Savage is here to assume Flocka’s former title of Atlanta’s Loudest Rapper.

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