Rap Up for the Week of 12.11.15

Featuring Action Bronson, Roc Marci, Young Thug, Young Sizzle, Pusha T, and FLOTUS.
By    December 11, 2015

Torii MacAdams would never tell you to go to college.

Meyhem Lauren ft. Action Bronson, Big Body Bes & Roc Marciano – “Bonus Round”

“Bonus Round” is late-capitalism, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous–reverent rap. The trickle down effect of the “Greed is Good” ethos hasn’t led to a redistribution of wealth (hah), but rather a familiarity with luxury goods that’d make the Sultan of Brunei nod approvingly.

Roc Marciano, Action Bronson, and Meyhem Lauren didn’t invent the juxtaposition of “high” and “low” culture–they just embrace it with commendable gusto. Roc Marciano claims to have never touched a chitlin and brags about his gator-and-suede attire. Action Bronson pilots a Lamborghini and flouts concealed carry laws by hiding a gun in pizza. Meyhem Lauren promises his partner Brazilian waxes and vacations, and name drops future NBA Hall of Famer God Shammgod. “Bonus Round” sounds like Robb Report asked a bunch of knuckleheads on the 7 Train to co-author an issue.

Pusha T ft. The-Dream – “M.F.T.R.”

Boi-1da is the wrong producer for Pusha T. Pusha T is so snarling, unrepentant, and bombastic that he often expresses himself best through a guttural “yeuch!” Boi-1da’s compositions are ochre-tinted, delicate like champagne flute stems. There’s enough Pusha T material to establish that he’s not a singin’ ass rapper like Boi-1da’s preferred owl.

Only The Neptunes occasionally plied The Clipse with “soft” instrumentals, and those were extraterrestrial pingings, not silken massage invitations. “M.F.T.R” sounds more like a The-Dream song which Pusha T wandered into, rather than a Pusha T song featuring The-Dream.

Young Sizzle – “Sandman”

Young Sizzle was instrumental in Future’s DS2. He’s worked with Pusha T, Gucci Mane, Zuse, and Drake, too. If, given his credentials, the name “Young Sizzle” seems unfamiliar, that’s actually a reasonable response. Young Sizzle is Southside from 808 Mafia.

The recent history of producers who have tried their hands at rapping is mixed at best. For all of Pharrell’s production chops, he had the worst verses on the entire We Got It 4 Cheap series. Timbaland’s rapping is devoid of charisma. Dr. Dre doesn’t write his own raps (and it’s highly unlikely he made the beats for Compton). Kanye West is incapable of excising obvious, puerile similes from his raps.

As can be expected, the production on “Sandman” outstrips the rapping. Southside, er, Young Sizzle, is a solid rapper, if one who oddly sounds akin to a less breathless Fat Nick. If I were Southside–a big if, admittedly–I wouldn’t stray too far from producing.

Young Thug – “Everyday”

Young Thug doesn’t need Auto-Tune, it’s merely a tool in his well-stocked kit. The production work on “Everyday” over-accentuates Thugger’s pained wail — Auto-Tuning it to the point that it becomes generic. That “Everyday” landed on DJ Holiday’s God Bless The Mixtape is an indictment, but not an overly damning one. Young Thug’s solo prolificacy has aided him (or someone in his camp) in supplying mixtape DJ’s with tracks that otherwise likely wouldn’t be included in the Slime Season series. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement. He gets paid, and DJ’s can claim to have an exclusive Young Thug track.

Jay Pharoah ft. Michelle Obama – “Go to College”

“Go To College” is a public relations stunt meant to humanize a political figure, albeit in the service of a good cause–everyone interested in the rigors of higher learning should attend college. Despite its obviously heavy packaging, there’s something miraculous about “Go To College”: the First Lady raps.

In 30 years we’ve gone from the insensitively white Nancy Reagan, who implored children to “Just Say No” to drugs, to Michelle Obama engaging in an art form that’s undeniably pro-black. That said, her rapping is bad. The Bay of Pigs Invasion was a less embarrassing incident than her rapping (Okay, that’s not true.). Michelle Obama’s rapping is like George Washington’s fictional dentures: wooden. Never accuse me of leading you astray, Dear Reader, even at the risk of FBI-orchestrated assassination.

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