Rap Up for the Week of 08/28/15

T.Y., Jay Rock feat. Kendrick Lamar, SosaMann, Big K.R.I.T., Le$, and more, it's the Rap-Up!
By    August 28, 2015


Torii MacAdams won his first Street Pulitzer at age 9

T.Y. – “Get Ya Grind On”

I clicked the link for T.Y.’s new mixtape, Son of a Gangster 2, because I’m a sucker for the jewel-encrusted absurdity of its Pen & Pixel-style cover, and because it looked similar to the art for B.G.’s Chopper City In The Ghetto. When I started playing “Get Ya Grind On,” produced by Mannie Fresh, my first (and, in retrospect, obvious) thought was “This guy sounds like he’d have been on Cash Money in 1997.” These aren’t mere coincidences–the gangster to whom T.Y. claims to be progeny is none other than Christopher Dorsey, better known as B.G.

     Unlike his father, T.Y. didn’t join the Williams brothers’ wobbling Tower of Babel/record label, which could collapse at the slam of a gavel, instead opting to join Curren$y’s Jet Life. The combination of T.Y.’s parentage and likely exposure to Spitta Andretti has left his flow somewhere between the two, but neither influence dominates an unmistakably New Orleans melange.

     On “Get Ya Grind On,” T.Y. sounds perfectly at home, and, in a sense, Mannie Fresh instrumentals are his birthright. It’s difficult (or impossible) to tell how recently the beat for “Get Ya Grind On” was made; its sample-free, keyboard-driven menace could easily have appeared on any Cash Money release between 1996 and 1999. B.G.’s repeated malfeasance has earned him a lengthy prison bid, but some (admittedly minor) good has come in the wake of his heroin-addled farce: his son can rap.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – “Downtown”

“Downtown” is the logical endpoint for Macklemore’s career. Each single he’s released is more treacly than the last, their production and sound growing exponentially BIGGER. The video for “Downtown” is, and I’m not making this up, a large-scale, choreographed musical number about (“about”) rival scooter gangs. At one point, it appears a motorcycle gang, led by a mustachioed twinkletoes, body type: Audrey Hepburn’s cigarette holder, and Macklemore’s posse are going to get into a fight. Instead, Macklemore is carried away on gigantic man’s shoulders. This is probably how gangs in Seattle settle their differences.

Grandmaster Caz, Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee (and a depressingly chubby Ken Griffey Jr.) make cameos. Macklemore is the Schrodinger’s Cat of cynicism; his inclusion of three of rap’s earliest stars is simultaneously a gracious nod and a self-aware, preemptive defense against criticism.

Jay Rock & Kendrick Lamar – “Easy Bake”

The tone of “Easy Bake” is dictated by the goon, not the morally (semi-) reformed jazz man. The duo’s interplay on “Money Trees” and “Easy Bake” seems to mollify their most extreme impulses–Jay Rock is slightly more accessible in Lamar’s presence, and Lamar knows better than to scat over dissonant free jazz when sharing a track with Jay Rock. Together, Jay Rock and Lamar have a dynamic akin to UGK; Jay Rock is free to be as evil as he pleases, with Lamar acting a more thoughtful counterpoint.

Chanel West Coast ft. YG – “I Like New”

Chanel West Coast would call me a hater for writing this: She’s Iggy Azalea without T.I.’s ghostwriting. That comparison is either lazy, inevitable, or both. Like Azalea, Chanel West Coast raps in an affected black twang, which flies in direct opposition to her golden glimmer. Rap hardly has room for one flaxen-complected appropriator. Two is simply too many.

YG phoned in his verse, which I’d have to assume cost roughly five figures. He rhymes “D cup” with a shouted “Deez nuts,” though, which surely casts him as our generation’s poet laureate.

SosaMann – “Just Wanna Win”

“Just Wanna Win” is quiet storm R&B as interpreted by a 20-something with face tattoos. The Sauce Factory extended family produces some of the most eccentric rap music in the world; were the Sauce Twinz and SosaMann clad in Supreme 5-panel hats, or were from Minnesota, their talents would be more widely appreciated. The scoffs used to dismiss Migos are the same ones that’ll be used to dismiss the Sauce Factory when less enlightened corners of the Internet hear the pitter-patter of their drippin’.

Big K.R.I.T. – “86”

Big K.R.I.T.’s reached an unfortunate plateau: his considerable discography, never anything less than solid, oversaturated the market. Like Curren$y, Big K.R.I.T.’s releases are taken for granted–they’re easy comfort food, but the most exciting cooking is happening on a dirtier stovetop.

Le$ – “Clean Den A Bitch”

Le$ is a consummate role player. He’s occasionally quotable–at worst inoffensive–and has good taste in beats. As humble a role as that may seem, it’s surprisingly rare–Le$ almost acts a fulcrum upon which rap happens. “Clean Den A Bitch” is enjoyable and triumphalist, its lightness appropriate for the waning days of summer. Tops can’t drop forever.

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