Torii MacAdams doesn’t mess with birds only Kardinals
Ghetto Children ft. Juvenile – “Eat”
In New Orleans, tragedy and farce commingle so frequently that they’re essentially one entity. Disaster is always present and terrifyingly ordinary. In the Crescent City, on Thanksgiving of 2003, Soulja Slim was shot three times in the face and once in the chest, allegedly by Garelle Smith. He was standing on the front lawn of a house he’d purchased for his mother. No witnesses came forward, and Smith would, in the next four years, be connected to three more murders. Smith was enabled by a combination of New Orleans Police’s chronic fecklessness, and Louisiana state statute 701, which requires that felony suspects be charged within 60 days of arrest. Smith’s fate was predictable, probably inevitable: he was murdered in 2011, a block from where he used to live.
Video of Soulja Slim’s funerary second line shows winter-dressed crowds stepping in time to Rebirth Brass Band. The camera cuts–it’s B.G., standing on a balcony, trombonist at his feet, smiling and wriggling. Six years later, a traffic stop search would yield three guns (two of which were reported stolen), magazines, and drugs in his car, a highly illegal trifecta for the already convicted felon. To compound his own misery, B.G. attempted to have Demounde Pollard, with him at the time of arrest, claim ownership of the guns. It didn’t work, and a witness tampering charge only added to B.G.’s sentence. At present, B.G. is three years into a 14-year federal prison sentence.
Now grown, Soulja Slim’s son, Lil Soulja Slim, along with the progeny of Juvenile (Young Juve) and B.G. (T.Y.), has formed Ghetto Children, a group united both by music and generational suffering. Lil Soulja Slim was about eight when his father was murdered; Soulja Slim was too young to remember when his father was incarcerated, his memories of his dad began with spray-painted prison picture backdrops. T.Y. was about 16 when his father was sentenced to a lengthy prison bid; B.G. was 12 when his father was murdered.
Lil Soulja Slim and T.Y. have spent significant portions of their young existence visited by misfortune. It appears that, unlike their forebears, they haven’t furthered the cycle of violence. Maybe they’ll avoid further tragedy and farce.
Freddie Gibbs – “World Is My Ashtray”
“World Is My Ashtray” sounds like the mixtapes I’d cop at Fulton Street Mall when I’d visit my brother in the early 2000’s–and that’s a good thing. The soaring, melodramatic guitars practically shout (in a Brooklyn brogue) “baggy NBA-patch jeans!” and “$10 D-Block mixtape!” I give “World Is My Ashtray” ten MetroCard swipes out of ten.
Hopsin – “No Words”
According to Hopsin rappers “ain’t spittin’ no type of dope shit, but that’s not even the bad part: they’re not even saying words anymore! They just got a hard ass fucking beat to trick dumbasses like you to make you think you like the shit…I know for a fact nobody knows what the fuck these dudes be saying!” The conceit of “No Words”–a parody of the marble-mouthed and Auto-tuned school of Atlanta rappers–is that Hopsin mostly speaks gibberish over a trap beat. In the video, he wears a dreadlocked wig and bops around a white Lamborghini, clutching money and quadruple-stacked styrofoam cups. It’s self-satisfied, and it’s not funny.
Most humans readily accept that Hopsin is a bouquet of smelly dicks, and refuse to let him ruin their lives. Kind of like global warming, or Christmas music. But in “No Words” there’s a degree of incomprehension that fucking baffles. That Hopsin thinks Future, Young Thug, Migos, et al. are shitty rappers is unsurprising–being “Real Hip-Hop” is his schtick, and his key mouth-breather demographic likely agrees with his stupid opinion. What’s truly galling is the implication that Hopsin believes his self-expression is more authentic than that of those he despises. Hopsin is so resolute in his contact lense–and–Eminem–imitant gimmick, so unselfconscious, that it’s almost pitiful. Almost.
Zuse ft. Young Thug – “Plug is Latino”
“Plug is Latino” is significantly less racist than I thought it would be, given the title. The concept: Zuse’s plug is Mexican, and to demonstrate his cultural awareness, Zuse uses a host of words he deems sufficiently Latino, like “burrito” (likely a modern invention of California farmworkers) and “Doritos” (undisputably an invention of Disneyland). Fortunately, Zuse doesn’t rely on actual stereotypes to prove to listeners that he has a business relationship with “Fernando”–for that we can trust his, uh, limited Spanish vocabulary.
Paul Wall – “Swangin’ In The Rain”
Paul Wall’s a connoisseur of simple pleasures–slow-moving American automobiles, icy carafes of promethazine, and bejeweled smiles–and his musical ambitions are similarly limited. “Swangin’ In The Rain,” like much of the Paul Wall oeuvre, is low-stakes; he’s unlikely to cultivate a mainstream fanbase with tales of water-soaked Super Pokes, but those who love him appreciate his commitment to a sound and lifestyle receding from Houston rap by the day.
Of note: Paul Wall is modeling the Ronaldo haircut, circa World Cup 2002. I admire his gumption, if not the hairdo itself.
Big K.R.I.T. – “Forbidden Knowledge”
Raury wants so badly to be Andre 3000 that it’s painful. Because he’s a windowsill bonsai tree, Raury doesn’t understand that Andre 3000’s intergalactic strangeness was part of his artistic and personal growth, not an assumed identity. “Forbidden Knowledge” is bursting with veneer-deep existential mumblings, including the particularly laughable “Are dreams another kind of preview to Heaven?/We manifest a reality based on our personality/Coming from shit we did since the day we were seven/So did you share toys, or masturbate at 11?” There’s no amount of conspiratorial whispers or calfskin drum hits that can disguise the complete and utter lack of meaning in anything Raury says.
Bun B – “Crush City Astros”
The best thing about Houston sports teams’ success is the inevitability of a fight song from either Slim Thug or Bun B (or both!)*. During a particularly strong run in 2011, the University of Houston’s football team got “U of H Fight” by Slim Thug, Paul Wall, and Bun B. The same year, Slim Thug, Paul Wall, and Chamillionaire (replaced by Z-Ro for the music video, oddly) made “Houston” for the Houston Texans. In 2014, Bun B and Slim Thug teamed up for “This Is H-Town” in an attempt to inspire the eternally loathsome Rockets to playoff victory. The Astros are in the playoffs for the first time since 2005, so Bun B’s recorded “Crush City Astros.” Hopefully, Tech N9ne won’t respond on behalf of the Royals. The world doesn’t need that.
*There’s also the 1984 “classic” by
The Rockets & Dynomite III, “Rocket Strut.”