The Rap Up: Week of April 22

The Rap Up returns with new ones from Kevin Gates, Post Malone, J'Demul, Cousin Fik, and Trinity College?
By    April 22, 2016

bronson

Torii MacAdams spent 4/20 hate-tweeting Post Malone.


Kevin GatesOff The Meter


Last week, Kevin Gates tweeted, “There [sic] not allowing me to release another album until Feb—fuck it murder for hire 2.” This week, a new song, “Off The Meter,” was uploaded to Soundcloud and subsequently deleted. It’s not surprising that the relationship between Gates and Atlantic Records has become contentious. Rather, it’s surprising that it took three years for the unfiltered Baton Rouge rapper to publicly register his resentment.

Before Gates and his Bread Winners Association imprint signed, he’d already rejected the advances of Cash Money, explaining in various interviews that he preferred self-reliance. Independence worked well for Gates like it works well for other talented, self-aware rappers who can corner a region. For every Gates, there are five or ten K Camp’s–passable talents, destined to crank out two middling projects on a major label before being dropped for the next Atlantan or Houstonian. Ask Pill, Donnis, or Rich Boy.

To be fair, without Atlantic it’s unlikely that Gates would have outsold Rihanna on Apple Music. And until the run-up to the release of Islah, it was beginning to feel like he was destined to spend his creative peak at the fringes of a commercial and critical conversation he should’ve been at the center of. You can’t blame him for wanting to stay there.

 


Post MaloneGo Flex


Prince’s death was announced shortly before this writing, so forgive me if my treatment of “Go Flex” is inordinately ornery. The miniature Minnesotan catered to no one but himself, often to the detriment of his fans, his mentees, and his own career. There’s something honorably quixotic about indulging one’s own eccentricities–why take half measures? Why not allow a kaleidoscopic flowering of our weirdest tendencies? Because it takes courage, and Prince crammed a lot of gumption (and body hair) into his ubiquitous purple suits.

It’s why I don’t fully understand “Go Flex.” Post Malone is a suburbanite hemp necklace, who, despite having an internet-fueled mandate to do as he pleases, don’t seem to have artistic aspirations beyond creating rap buzzwords. The chorus of “Go Flex” is:

Man, I just wanna go flex
Gold on my teeth and on my neck
And I’m stone cold with the flex
With my squad and I’m smoking up a check

The relationships between nihilism, materialism, and rap are deeply complex. A rough summary of these interactions is that, for those who grew up deprived, material wealth and status symbols often replace (or symbolize) the achievements and lifestyles lionized by dominant cultures. Post Malone’s “flexing” is performative, a dilution of his influences, an adulterating of vocabulary and lifestyle.


J’DemulUniversity Street


We’re in the midst of a truly wonderful period in rap music–yes, this year has been a little slow–which arguably rivals that of early-mid ‘90s. I don’t necessarily mean recent event albums like The Life of Pablo or To Pimp A Butterfly, to which countless encomiums and expatiations were dedicated, but the deluge of emerging, gifted rappers is staggering. J’Demul’s (reportedly pronounced “JAY dah-MULL”) #STLAVE is my favorite thing I’ve heard this week; the St. Louis rapper is in the Vince Staples/Isaiah Rashad/Boogie mould–street-savvy and intelligent without being preachy.


Cousin Fik ft. Clyde Carson & Kool JohnGet High


To celebrate rap music’s high (heh heh) holiday, April 20th, it appears half the genre decided to release pro-marijuana songs. The other half probably celebrated by smoking slightly more weed than normal. What Cousin Fik, Clyde Carson, and Kool John’s “Get High” lacks in the naming department, it makes up for by being more enjoyable than The Game and Wiz Khalifa’s “2 Blunts,” Fetty Wap’s “Wake Up,” and Mac Miller and Dave East’s “Headaches + Migraines.”


Students of Trinity CollegeRemove Action Bronson from Trinity College’s Spring Weekend Concert


Students of Trinity College are, without a doubt, the worst rap group I’ve ever heard. They combine a shrill self-righteousness that’d make Lord Jamar blush with a Parents Music Resource Center-level (mis-) understanding of the medium–I fully expect that, in the coming weeks, Macklemore will announce that he’s signed them to his record label. Their Action Bronson diss, “Remove Action Bronson from Trinity College’s Spring Weekend Concert,” has some truly painful struggle bars. A sampling:

“There is video online of Action Bronson, a body-builder… body-slamming a concert-goer who jumped on stage to excite the crowd in Boston in 2013.”

“Trinity students drink copious amounts of alcohol throughout Spring Weekend…It only takes one person to drunkenly (or soberly) upset Action Bronson by getting on stage, or in his way, for him to violently assault someone. The available evidence suggests men specifically are targeted by Action Bronson, meaning no one is given a safe space at a Bronson concert.”

“Allowing Action Bronson to perform at Spring Weekend would create a psychologically harmful and drastically unsafe space for women, LGBTQIA+ students, and survivors of sexual assault.”

“We are lucky that he also has no way of performing his music video, “Brunch,” where he kills a woman, stuffs her in his car, rips out her hair, and beats her dead body, since he will not have access to a projector. We believe that someone who creates music like this, who chooses to play the part of the murderer in ‘Brunch,’ who has built his career on a foundation of violence and hatred towards women, should not be celebrated, supported, or paid, by Trinity College as an artist, regardless of the music he will be performing.”

None of this even rhymes! If Students of Trinity College were going to Based freestyle seventeen whole paragraphs, they should have abided by the form’s strict meter and rhyme. For example “I feel like Tipper, right hand Tipper, misinterpreting an art form like Tipper.” It’s almost like Students of Trinity College haven’t listened to rap music before.

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