Burberry Perry ft. Lil Yachty & Kylie Jenner – Beautiful Day
“Beautiful Day” is a collective cultural failure. Out of the rippling darkness emerged a collaboration between Lil Yachty, a sentient emoji, and Kylie Jenner, a tragically dull teenager who leads a life circumscribed by jelqing paparazzo and an instinctual need to be within 25 miles of an Hermés store.
It’s hard to fault 18-year olds for being 18 year-olds: their brains literally aren’t fully developed. They’re only beginning to discover who they are and, if they don’t blow themselves to smithereens with fireworks and cheap booze, they get to see if adulthood is right for them. This mental elasticity is a gift to music, though; every genre–rap and rock especially–has benefited from teens having a cryptic, near-indecipherable-to-adults culture. Lil Yachty isn’t for me–I’m 26 and my interactions with teenagers is almost exclusively limited to curt pleasantries with my cousin before family dinners. I don’t like Yachty, but I can accept his place in the cosmos. I guess.
Really, it’s adults, many of whom are gainfully employed and walk among us like the aliens in They Live, who furthered the series of events that ended at “Beautiful Day.” It’s a pile of shit song with a dumb conceit that uses a DIY veneer to starfuck and lend credence to the wealthy. Any sentient critic (isn’t than an oxymoron…) worth their weight in full diapers should be able to recognize that. Teens love Lil Yachty. You know what else teenagers love? Dry humping and not using their turn signals. Co-opting every youth movement, regardless of merit, is odd, perverse, and prevents artists from maturing.
Lil Duke ft. Young Thug – Get It Up
Young Thug’s artistic brilliance is well-established on Passion of the Weiss. Goose, frequent collaborator of both Thugger and friend-turned-frenemy Rich Homie Quan, is deserving of accolades, too. The Atlanta producer’s beats conjure images of Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia playing “Chopsticks” in Big–bright, giggly keyboard exercises. Thug’s work with Goose is a midway point between his most extreme, brutish mixtape cuts and his polished and revelatory “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times” with Jamie xx. If bird’s the word, then “Goose wit’ another one” is the phrase.
Dec. 99th (Mos Def) – N.A.W.
If Ferrari Sheppard reads this, he’ll surely accuse me of some extra-musical bullshit that has nothing to do with the fact that his beat for “N.A.W.” is objectively terrible. There’s a perfectly logical reason for that: he’s not a musician, and it’s the first instrumental he’s ever made. It’s plodding and tinny, an amateurish croak.
Mos Def/Yasiin Bey isn’t much better here–of his many very real talents, singing is not one of them [ed. note: “Umi says” would insist otherwise]. His self-exile from rap music has seemingly led to globe-trotting adventures in search of meaning, and a polemicist like Sheppard is well positioned to exploit that vulnerability.
Chance The Rapper – Blessings
My Freshman RA was Andy Mineo, a name that probably means nothing to P.O.W. readers and a lot to the Christians who briefly made Mineo’s 2014 EP Neverland the number one album on iTunes. Most of Andy’s opinions about rap were non-controversial. Even Christ worshippers like A Tribe Called Quest and the beat for The Clipse’s “Comedy Central.” But I have a distinct memory of us discussing Main Source. I said that I loved Breaking Atoms, and “Live At The Barbecue” in particular. He paused for a moment and said “Yeah, I’m not really down with the the ‘snuffing Jesus’ stuff.” Then he suggested I listen to Lecrae. It was my turn to deflect, to sigh, to say “Yeah, I…”
I was miffed when Andy dismissed Nas’ goonery, and I dislike with Chance The Rapper’s thinly-veiled Christian rap (a label Andy actually hates). “Blessings,” as with all hassock-denting rap, lacks the edge that makes genre so vital, so transgressive. Despite the sonorousness of the Social Experiment and Jamila Woods’ nasal voice, “Blessings” feels like a sleight of hand–Chance wants to be fresh and youthful while presenting us with some of the oldest stories known to humankind.
Birdman – Respek
In a 2014 interview with Complex, Mannie Fresh said of producing the Big Tymers’ “#1 Stunna” “That was our first time saying, ‘Okay, Baby, we going to let you hold your own.’ So this beat had to be incredibly cool because he was not big on rhymes.” A friend, Lac, ended up helping Baby write the song.
Little has changed in the twenty-three years since Baby made “I Need A Bag of Dope.” His face has become a tattooed map of allegiances only decipherable to those used to parsing Middle Eastern relations, but his disinterest in rapping remains. Maybe disinterest is too strong a word–he seems interested in using rap as a promotional tool for his accomplishments outside of rap, like a monarch performing his own Heraldic duties. In spite of this, “Respek,” so named for his now-meme’d-to-death rant at Charlamagne Tha God, is pretty enjoyable. He’s rapped, or has been rapper-tangential, for long enough to understand his own limitations, and “Respek” doesn’t attempt much beyond an itemized list of accessories, victories, and unspecific threats.