These are Torii MacAdams‘ Confessions of Fire
Cam’ron – U Wasn’t There
The best rap lyrics are personal or specific, and “U Wasn’t There” is both personal and specific to the point of self-incrimination. Cam’ron rapped about his exploits in Big Ten territory on “Get It In Ohio,” and “U Wasn’t There” further elaborates by naming names (!) and including photos (!!) of principal characters involved in interstate trafficking. Only Maurice Clarett’s had this much fun running afoul of the law in Columbus.
It’s not all crime, though. Cam includes photos of his absent mother and father–he’s a carbon copy of his dad–and thanks those who helped raise him in lieu of his biological parents.
Though “U Wasn’t There” probably wouldn’t fit into Cam’s greatest hits, it’s still a worthy (and deeply earnest) contribution to his discography. The release of the song follows a pattern: every few months, between cashing checks from Berner and selling shower curtains to gentrifiers, Cam’ron drops something that reminds listeners why pink fur is truly the most luxurious pelt.
Tinashe ft. Juicy J – Energy
There’s a deep, cosmic ridiculousness to Juicy J becoming the go-to guest rapper for R&B vocalists. The foundations of Juicy J’s career are entirely anathema to the traditional polish and accessibility of R&B–Mystic Stylez featured Kingpin Skinny Pimp! The name “Three 6 Mafia” is a direct reference to Satanism! He won an Oscar for a song about the difficulties of pimping! But, as he’s became more anthemic, R&B has become rap-influenced to the point where any demarcating line between the two genres is frequently microscopic or nonexistent. In a strange, unlikely way, Juicy J met R&B at a midpoint, and has profited immensely.
It’s inconceivable that the Juice Mane would’ve appeared alongside Aaliyah, the artist Tinashe is most frequently compared to. That “Energy” can be made, see release, and receive a publicity push is a good thing. I fully support the possibility that a generation of listeners are being exposed to Three 6 Mafia through Tinashe (or Katy Perry, or Pitbull). Is Juicy J’s presence necessary on “Energy,” though? Not remotely. His verse is tacked on and doesn’t match the sultry tone of the rest of the song; where Tinashe is demure, and Mike Will Made It’s production is lush, Juicy J is predictably brash and hypersexualized. It’s the thought that counts, I guess.
A$AP Rocky ft. A$AP Nast, A$AP Ant, and A$AP Ferg – Yamborghini High
“Yamborghini High” is like a bite-sized Snickers: there’s not much to digest, and mostly serves to highlight a richness that’s lacking. Given the attention surrounding Yams Day and the undeniable importance of Yams in molding A$AP Rocky’s career, it would be fair to expect a tribute song released a year after the Mob founder’s death would have some emotional heft. It doesn’t. As a standalone piece of music it’s fine–A$AP’$ Rocky, Nast, Ant, and Ferg are capable to varying degrees, but only Ferg makes reference to their deceased friend. “Yamborghini High” is more about the things Yams enjoyed–decade, indulgence, over-consumption–than any specific memories or traits.
Ty Dolla $ign ft. Joe Moses – Wavy
In the DJ Mustard continuum, the primacy of YG and Ty Dolla $ign is obvious. A tier below the Bompton rapper with no “C” words in his vocabulary and the stoned, ageless crooner are a cadre of artists with local caché: RJ, Joe Moses, TeeCee4800, Slim400, and Reem Riches. Moses–favorite color: red–is akin to a modern Kam: a gangster rapper who makes frequent guest appearances on bigger artists’ projects, with a few local hits of his own and limited mainstream prospects. Kam’s “Whoop Whoop” (technically a DJ Pooh song, I know) and “Peace Treaty” still receive occasional radio play in Los Angeles, and his “Every Single Weekend” was part of the Boyz N The Hood soundtrack. I wouldn’t be completely shocked to hear Mustard’s “Burn Rubber,” featuring Moses and YG, on L.A. radio in a decade.
Tony Del Freshco – Galaxies
There’s a certain Devin the Dude-ness to Tony Del Freshco’s “Galaxies.” Like The Dude, Tony Del Freshco is a Houstonian with a sing-songy cadence, soul samples, and a blunted, breezy disposition. “Galaxies” feels anachronistic–Houston’s biggest stars, Maxo Kream and The Sauce Family, are more spiritually than musically akin to their forefathers. Of the current crop of young Houston rappers, LE$ seems the only figure inclined to make music that sounds like his predecessors. Well, he and Tony Del Freshco.
DUTCH – MNNSLTR
I was emailed “MNNSLTR” with very little information. Dutch (“DUTCH”?) lives in Toronto, and, after some rudimentary digging on the Internet, I can write with some confidence that he’s of Jamaican heritage and has been rapping for at least two years. “MNNSLTR”–pronounced “manslaughter,” I believe, given the lyrics–is both Dutch’s only Soundcloud upload, and the only thing he appears to have edited or uploaded on Genius. It’s a precocious debut, heavy and angry, full of distortion. It’s the most interesting thing happening in Toronto rap.