Torii MacAdams taught Jose Guapo how to speak Spanish.
Jay Rock ft. Lance Skiiiwalker – “90059”
Ten years ago, Jay Rock was the first Top Dawg Entertainment signee. A lot has changed at the Carson offices of TDE in the decade since Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith signed Watts’ angriest rapper. K-Dot, a precocious teenager, became Kendrick Lamar, who released two great albums, a not-so-good album, and became an international superstar and Reebok endorser. Ab-Soul opened his third eye on Control System, and promptly blinded it with a toxic concoction of drugs before releasing These Days…He then shared that admixture with ScHoolboy Q, who was last seen in the throes of a codeine binge. Jay Rock has been stuck in label purgatory for much of the decade, with 2011’s Follow Me Home the only studio album to his name. The long wait for his sophomore album might almost be over.
“90059,” Watts’ area code, is the lead single of Jay Rock’s (theoretically) forthcoming album of the same name. Lance Skiiiwalker’s outré Ol’ Dirty Bastard imitation on the chorus of “90059” only does so much to hide an incontrovertible truth about Jay Rock: he’s an unrepentant, unhesitating fucking gangster rapper. There’s a cruel timing to Jay Rock’s career. Were he of age in the late 90’s, he’d probably have been tapped for Dr. Dre’s 2001. In 2015, it’s not Jay Rock on Dr. Dre’s denouement Compton, but Kendrick Lamar.
Jeff Chery – “Live Fast Die Reckless”
Within the coming year, any number of music publications will cram tight-pantsed white men into coach seats bound for Atlanta. They’ll be eager for stories of ‘bandos and post-urban planning blight sprawl. Jeff Chery won’t be able to give them those stories, because Jeff Chery isn’t from any of Atlanta’s infamous zones. Chery’s a Q Train-accented Brooklynite, who rapped under predictably terrible and unspellable moniker Pay$0z before moving to Atlanta. His reinvention, from a nostalgic New Yorker to forward-facing Atlantan, is as remarkable as it is unusual.
Puff Daddy ft. Pharrell Williams – “Finna Get Loose”
I assumed this would suck–a fair assumption for any Puff Daddy song. “Finna Get Loose” is, outwardly, low concept–Puff Daddy’s vision for the song was “to make people dance,” and to create “a record that makes people feel good.” He couldn’t have picked a better producer than Pharrell Williams. Pharrell’s myriad musical talents (and his immaculate bone structure, and his fashion sense) have made him a pop star; his biggest strength lies not in his songwriting, but in his malleability. Pharrell does a Chuck D impersonation over “Finna Get Loose’s” stripped-down breakbeat…and it’s surprisingly decent. When paired with real rappers, Pharrell frequently embarrasses himself (see: We Got It 4 Cheap Vols. 1-3)–fortunately for him, Puff Daddy isn’t a real rapper.
As usual, Puff Daddy’s the weakest part of his own music, a fact he seems to tacitly acknowledge by ceding much of the song to Pharrell.
Jose Guapo ft. Quavo – “DUI”
Rap Twitter forgot about Migos before Yung Rich Nation was released. I blame Future, and the hyperbole necessary for a good followers to following ratio. And Jidenna’s conk. “DUI” finds Quavo, unencumbered by staccato adlibs or hyper-masculine instrumentals, further proving that he’s one of Atlanta’s premier talents.
Fun fact: Jose Guapo and fellow Atlantan Hoodrich Pablo Juan are two of America’s foremost translators of Latin American literature.
uhlife – “no ebola”
Before Versis emailed me “no ebola,” I’d never heard of uhlife, reportedly a recent LA immigrant from the hinterlands of Philadelphia. The elemental jazz percussion on “no ebola”–barebones bass and snare hits–are resolutely pro-black. uhlife told FADER, “I wrote the song with the intention of letting the powers-that-be know that myself and other peoples of melanin in the struggle won’t be squashed out easily, no matter what evil forces they try to implement against us.” The dashiki is back en vogue. Break out your kufi, too. Leave the X-Clan CD at home, though.
Fiend ft. Max Minelli – “Bout To Swurv”
For those incapable of remembering every member of No Limit’s starting five* in the “Make ‘Em Say Uhh” video, Fiend was the jelly bean-shaped, gravelly-voiced fellow in the white beanie. His song “Slangin’,” featuring UGK and Master P, is a classic from the No Limit era. “Bout To Swurv” is wavy grown man rap from two of the South’s most underrated veterans.
Our Dear Leader Jeff Weiss, when discussing the Passion of the Weiss dynamic, once compared me to Max Minelli It was one of the nicest things anyone’s ever said about me.
*Master P, Fiend, Silkk the Shocker, Mia X, and Mystikal
RaRa – “Wait Til I Get On”
I’ve had a to-date unwritten policy regarding the Rap Up: when it doubt, click on street rap links until something sounds good. It’s usually a rapper with dreadlocks, and, if there’s an attendant music video, there are, at a minimum, two people openly exercising their Second Amendment rights (As constructionist Supreme Courts have interpreted it, at least.).
In the early-mid 2000’s, RaRa was known, rather generically, as Young Capone. A period signed to So So Def appears to have yielded three singles, a So So Def letterman jacket, and a couple music videos in which Jermaine Dupri listlessly bops around in background, apparently having found the fare as uninspiring as I do. Rebranded as RaRa, the Atlanta rapper’s injected some excitement into his music. “Wait Til I Get On” is good, if somewhat formulaic, Jeezy-style trap rap. It’s a big step forward for a rapper who could’ve quit a long, long time ago.