The Rap Up For the Week of December 4th

Featuring Lil Herb, 21 Savage, Kodak Black, Migos, Lord Byron, Montana of 300 and Kid Cudi.
By    December 4, 2015


 Torii MacAdams  gave Kid Cudi his first Joy Division record. He regrets the decision.

Lil Herb – “Countin’ 100s”

Max Bell and I observed, from stage left, approximately 2,500 supposed rap fans check their Instagrams while Lil Herb was performing. It wasn’t Herb’s fault. He was opening for Joey Bada$$, and the Bada$$e$ (What do Joey Bada$$ fans call themselves? Buttheads?) were fiending for Real Hip-Hop. It was a moment of severe intellectual dissonance. Beneath his youth-friendly veneer, Joey Bada$$ is a stodgy rap conservative whose abilities would’ve marked him as the third-best member of Onyx twenty years ago. He’s intentionally cultivated and calculatingly reverent.

Lil Herb’s presence should’ve been greeted by more than disengaged stares and chants of “Joey! Joey! Joey!” Herb’s a vastly superior rapper to Joey Bada$$, but that’s not a metric he’s being judged with. Many of those in attendance likely decided that, because Herb probably wasn’t rapping along to Operation: Doomsday when he was 14, it was a signifier of lesser artistry. The opposite is true: Joey Bada$$ is a kitsch representation of the values Real Hip-Hop purists hold dear, Lil Herb is the epitomization.

Montana of 300 & Talley of 300 – “MFs Mad”

Montana of 300’s Cursed With A Blessing was released December 1st 2014. Its likely absence from 2015 year-end lists is less a reflection of the mixtape’s quality than it is the liminal space that is late-November/early-mid December. At Passion of the Weiss, we begin aggregating ballots for our year-end lists in mid-November, and publish in mid-December; the gap between balloting and our relatively late publishing date allows for squeezing late-year releases onto the list. But we’re not perfect.

“Ice Cream Truck,” the mixtape’s lead single was released late-November 2014. It made neither our Top 50 Rap Songs of 2014, nor will it appear on our Top 50 Rap Songs list for 2015 (Note: I ranked it #22 on my ballot.). Writers inevitably scramble to make up whatever listening we can in the final weeks before the holidays, and most of us are scared of not having heard every event album. Lesser-known artists tend to undeservedly get short shrift in this scenario.

There will be rankings on the Passion of the Weiss year-end lists readers disagree with.

Shit, there will be rankings on our year-end lists I disagree with.

Like I said, we’re not perfect.

21 Savage ft. Lotto Savage – “Dirty K”

21 Savage has a dagger tattooed between his eyebrows. He was expelled from the DeKalb County school district in 7th grade, and the rapper he most reminds me of is art rap protege Milo. More specifically, Milo pre-So The Flies Don’t Come. I think of Milo’s delivery as being that of a self-effacing poetry reading participant, eager to return to the shadows. 21 Savage, like Milo, isn’t “rapping” as the form is commonly perceived; aside from a few Contemporary Atlantan yelps, 21 Savage’s speak-raps are restrained, peripheral, fleeting.

Kid Cudi – “Speedin’ Bullet to Heaven”

For the first 45 seconds, “Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven” sounds like a Massive Attack rough-cut. The final 3 minutes and 49 seconds sound like an artist who is, if not creatively bereft, straining. Cudi’s rasping, inflexible monotone is incapable of carrying a song as sparse as “Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven.” His performance is an uninspiring midpoint between the morose depths of Ian Curtis and the precarious heights of Morrissey.

Kodak Black – “Antisocial”

It’s unclear what instigated Kodak Black and Soulja Boy’s nascent beef. Kodak Black captioned an Instagram video “Fuck You @souljaboy Find Yo Own Swag.” Soulja Boy responded with allegations that Kodak Black was angry because he didn’t collaborate with the Pompano Beach rapper. “Antisocial” is especially well-timed in light of Kodak Black refusing to do things The DeAndre Way.

Migos – “Story of YRN”

Dabbin’ was accelerated from localized sensation to the source of blustery sports talk debate at a rate that’d give Paul Virilio whiplash. Cam Newton nearly inciting Charlotte-area race riots by Dabbin’ is only the latest absurd chapter in the Migos story. In a single year, Migos went from hyperbolic meme fodder to being widely ignored, and, in the process, Offset was imprisoned indefinitely.

The decline in Migos hype was more related to the apparently zero-sum game of Atlanta rap coverage more than a decline in musical quality. (Future and Young Thug have subsumed attentions entirely). If Dabbin’ is how Migos return to prominence, then it’s a suitably ridiculous outcome for a group that got famous mispronouncing “Versace.”

Lord Byron– “Nerveux (Black Keys No. 7)”

Post Malone is a nonentity in Dallas. Prior to “White Iverson,” he’d never garnered coverage in the city’s alt-weekly, the Dallas Observer (Which lends credence to the theory that he’s an industry plant.). The supposedly hermetic Lord Byron is a more legitimate Dallasite: the Observer nominated him for two year-end awards despite the rapper’s public ambivalence about the weekly. On “Nerveux,” Byron takes a thinly veiled shot at Post Malapropism: “Nigga I’m Post/Ghost off the average hype.” I’m guessing the cornrowed crooner won’t be warmly welcomed if he ever ventures into East Dallas.

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