Havoc & Alchemist ft. Method Man – Buck 50’s & Bullet Wounds
Two weeks ago, when writing (favorably) about DJ Shadow and Run The Jewel’s “Nobody Speak,” I noted that Shadow, Killer Mike, and El-P were all over 40 years-old. In human terms: middle-aged; in rap terms: a little dusty.
The same goes for “Buck 50’s & Bullet Wounds”–Havoc (41), Method Man (45), and Alchemist (38) are a decidedly adult trio. There’s something crackling, warm, and familiar about “Buck 50’s & Bullet Wounds,” like visiting out-of-state family. I imagine this era, for rappers who came of age in the ‘90’s, is roughly akin to middle-period Bob Dylan: the sounds of their youth are receding even from nostalgia and their fan bases may have thinned, but they have ideas and passions all the same. Eventually, grandparents will take their grandchildren to see Mobb Deep.
Mozzy ft. Young Mezzy – So 4Real
Speaking of fan bases, I can’t help but wonder about the ultimate extent of Mozzy’s appeal relative to his younger, more pop-friendly Bay Area peers Nef the Pharaoh and Kamiyah. Being gangster can still sell hundreds of thousands records, but it requires a high yield of mixtapes, a forceful personality, and the ability to write immensely catchy choruses. Mozzy’s two-for-three; in 2015, the Sacramento rapper released four mixtapes of bleak ‘n’ bloody tales in a voice almost wholly his own. Still, Kevin Gates doesn’t outsell Rihanna without “2 Phones,” Migos own less Versace if not for the aptly titled “Versace,” and Neffy isn’t catapulted into prominence without “Big Tymin’.”
Admittedly, prioritizing choruses over verses is akin to arguing for artlessness–it’s in verses that Mozzy reveals himself and the chancy, precarious nature of life in his Oak Park neighborhood. Hype and national notoriety might be unfair benchmarks to set for him; on evidence, he’s unconcerned with major labels, having self-released or issued through small independent labels all of his projects to-date. There are less honorable ways to conduct one’s career.
Loudiene ft. The Outfit, TX – Dirty Soda
Loudiene (“lew-deen”) has made a sticky, syrupy splash in Dallas with no more than a handful of songs. The emergence of the New Orleanian (his family’s post-Katrina peregrinations ended in North Texas) is so recent that, in the estimable opinion of Mel of The Outfit, TX, he didn’t even garner honorable mention when Mel wrote at length about Dallas’ flourishing rap scene in June of last year. In less than twelve months, Loudiene, with the voice of a slightly lisping bullfrog or C-Murder with seasonal allergies, has gone from anonymous trapping to locally famous trap rapper.
Young God – …but he who causes the darkness
Perhaps I ascribed too much power to Blue Sky Black Death’s Pacific Northwest-ish origin story when I imagined their instrumentals as marine layer foggy, verdigris, a little purpley. Though the duo were usually described as being from Seattle, that was more due to their work with Nacho Picasso than an absolute truth–Young God’s lived in the Bay Area for over a decade, and Kingston/88 Ultra, a Seattleite by birth, linked up with Young God in San Francisco and currently lives in New York.
The Bay and Seattle are infinitely verdant, cloaked and woodsy, a little cold. So is Young God’s recent instrumental collection …but he who causes the darkness. It’s cerebral–possibly overly so, depending on taste–and inward, music for solitary late nights on the road or at a desk.
Chief Keef ft. CeeLoo Green & Tone Trump – Violence (Army)
I can’t countenance the utter wretchedness of “Violence”–every facet is puzzling and bad, like waking up to your car on fire or a punch in the jaw. The instrumental is a loop of Eddy Grant’s schlock-reggae mega-hit “Electric Avenue” with added, canned gunfire sounds; CeeLo, a rape apologist whose irrelevance has reached its sixth year, farts about non-violence (I think? I honestly don’t know.); Chief Keef sounds like he wandered into the wrong song. How did CeeLo and Chief Keef link up? What the fuck is Tone Trump doing here? Why didn’t anyone say “no”? “Violence” is an infinite regress: there are no answers here, just questions that beget more questions as we spiral into death.