Torii MacAdams is Editor Emeritus for Lowrider Magazine
Before I begin The Rap Up in earnest (yeah, right), I’d like to thank those who donated to Passion of the Weiss in our moment of crisis. Many of the other staffers and I have little to no fiduciary incentive–and practically every disincentive–to write for the site. Our writers work day jobs, raise children, and, I hope, attempt to lead fulfilling lives well beyond the confines of their browser. I firmly believe that making sacrifices for one’s art is deserving of reward, and to see my peers supported by the generosity of many is genuinely gratifying. Again, thank you.
Offset – Power Moves
Since you last read the Rap Up, Offset has been arrested. Twice. On March 17, he was pulled over for the tint on his windows and subsequently arrested for driving with a suspended license, the result of confusion over fines he’d already paid in December. He was released from custody shortly thereafter. On March 31, he was arrested in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia for marijuana possession, obstruction of justice, and driving with a suspended license.
The marijuana in question: less than an ounce, or, to put it into a Washingtonian or Coloradan context, no penalty with no chance of incarceration. In Georgia, an obstruction of justice charge can range from disobeying an officer’s orders to influencing jurors or witnesses; I’m willing to bet Offset wasn’t menacing any jurors during his traffic stop. It’s entirely possible–nay, likely–that Offset was pulled over for an already forgiven minor offense and arrested again for a laughable amount of a plant that’s legal in many states and an (understandably) insouciant attitude toward law enforcement. This is how racialized policing works.
A sampling of headlines regarding Offset’s recent arrest read “Migos Member Back In Jail…Pot Bust This Time” (TMZ), “Migos Member Arrested for Marijuana” (XXL), “Migos’ Offset Arrested Again” (Pitchfork), and “Migos’ Offset Got Arrested For The Second Time In Two Weeks” (UPROXX). None of these headlines or the articles which they mast are factually incorrect, but they are to varying degrees glib, and inherent to glibness is the elision of truth; Offset’s mundane arrests–the first entirely mistaken, the second highly questionable–have been scandalized. “Back In Jail,” “Arrested Again,” “Second Time In Two Weeks”–this flippancy places the onus of proving innocence and, ultimately, basic human worthiness on Offset rather than demanding his jailers prove his guilt. The result of this miasma of mis-, mal-, and nonfeasance is that when searching Offset’s name, he’s more frequently linked to imprisonment than he is rap music. The news sausage, like its pork counterpart, is mostly made from the gross bits.
Fabolous ft. Dave East – Summertime/Sadness
I lived in New York City from 2009 until 2011–please hold your applause–and it remains the only city in which I’ve heard Fabolous receive consistent radio play. And it wasn’t just radio play–my teammates’ Blackberry’s, Nissan Maxima’s with their windows down, sleazy, horny club nights in Manhattan, and the evening-time bodega, where the 20-something with jagged teeth and a millimeter-perfect goatee peddled loosies and Boar’s Head sandwiches. Much to my inexhaustible chagrin, I can still quote punchlines from “You Be Killin Em.”
Is Fabolous one of the last truly regional stars? The only dent he seems to have made in Los Angeles’ collective rap consciousness was “Can’t Deny It,” but its success was largely down to Nate Dogg’s crooning. The punchline-rich, Capital-R Rap endemic to New York has fallen from mainstream favor, an inevitability in a fast-moving genre; Fabolous, like every other 38 year-old, has lived long enough see the innovations of his youth superseded. While he probably isn’t earning many new fans with songs like “Summertime/Sadness,” he’s consistent enough that he can still pack shows in grim post-industrial towns like Wilkes-Barre and Poughkeepsie.
Conway – Bandit
The above isn’t meant to imply that New York rap is entirely stale. In fact, it seems to be slowly emerging from a cryogenic stasis even Ted Williams’ icy corpse would consider impolitic. There’s nothing arcane or esoteric about Conway–he says grimy shit about drug sales with a decidedly restrained, post-Roc Marciano élan. “Bandit” is sure to bore those uninterested in the verdigris palette of razors ‘n’ balaclava rap, and sure to delight those who revel in Polo Ralph.
J Dilla ft. Snoop Dogg & Kokane – Gangsta Boogie
Speaking of past lives, I interned at Now-Again Records during my final semester of college. At the time, Madlib and Freddie Gibbs were putting the final touches on Piñata (which Gibbs reportedly swore was going to be called “Cocaine Piñata”), and Pay Jay Productions, administered by Now-Again owner Egon, was beginning its run. I can’t remember precisely which project it was for–on evidence the new J Dilla album, The Diary–but Egon was negotiating with Kokane for a guest verse. When asked his fee, the Pomona rapper said “Eight.”
“Eight what? Eight hundred?” A reasonable response.
In the re-telling, Egon, laughing, quipped that Kokane probably hadn’t received $8,000 for a guest verse since 1994, and certainly wasn’t receiving it in 2013.
Jay Dot Rain ft. Scotty ATL – Gotta Believe
The only Alabama rappers to receive love outside Passion of the Weiss’ shrinking corner of the blogosphere were Rich Boy, Jackie Chain, the since-deceased Doe B, and current laughingstock (partially his own doing, admittedly) Yelawolf. Jay Dot Rain–who Deen covered extensively last August–may be the next in this achingly short list; “Gotta Believe” premiered on Noisey’s Beats 1 radio show (which surely has a bigger listenership than I have readership) and, alongside the estimable Lil Nardy, he’s shepherding a new generation of artists from The Yellowhammer State. “Gotta Believe,” which treads well-worn, if still-pertinent territory in encouraging its listeners to persevere, simultaneously performs a clever sleight-of-hand: it’s positive rap that isn’t corny.