Will Hagle’s favorite Simpsons character is Ralph Wiggum.
In today’s most obvious fact, rappers are reliant on producers. Without them they’d just be poets. An album is rarely the work of a singular artist, no matter how much one individual guides its creation. Even the acapella Black Album was just a Roc-A-Fella ploy to profit off aspiring Danger Mouses.
The argument could be made that choosing the right beats, and ultimately the right words and ways of saying them, is an art form itself. Plenty of undisputedly classic albums have given credits to a bevy of names, conglomerating beats from a variety of sources. No one is arguing that Illmatic isn’t Nas’s album. It’s just understood that the Pete Rocks and Large Professors are nearly as responsible as Nas for the album’s sound, even if they would never grace the cover.
In a 2014 interview with HipHop DX, Large Professor disagreed. “[The beats] were bangin’ … But you could have had some clown get those beats and put some bullshit down, and them shits, it wouldn’t have been nothing. Nas put something down that was like, ‘Yo, this is… It’s not the icing on the cake. This is part of the cake.’”
And that’s the thing. No matter who gets the credit, producers and rappers are inextricable components of that cake. Producers supply music that rappers turn into songs. Even if the rapper’s playing both parts, those processes always occur separately (unless you’re Rahzel). The relationship between beatmakers and vocalists is as old, and nearly as strained, as the Clinton marriage. Both parties exist independently, openly commingle with others, and yet depend upon each other to survive. At any given moment, one of them has to be in the background.
Occasionally, however, a single producer’s contributions behind the boards are on such an equal level as the rapper’s that they necessitate a new name for the duo altogether. There’s a reason either Mad or Lib is pre or suffix-ed to the end of most projects with which Otis Jackson Jr. is involved from start to finish. R.A.P. Music could’ve been called Run the Jewels 0.
“Charge It To The Game” could’ve just been called a new Fat Tony song. He is the only one on it rapping. Instead, it’s a new Charge It To The Game song. The reason for the name change is Kyle Mabson, whose crusty synth and drum work was fitting enough to make Tony team up to record an entire EP.
These types of gambles don’t always pay off, but sometimes lightning strikes and a cohesive energy bursts out of two divergent energies. Other times there’s a blizzard, clouding the connection between people with names like Aubrey and Noah. It doesn’t snow in Houston or Los Angeles, Tony and Mabson’s respective hometowns.
Mabson is a fitting musical counterpart to Fat Tony’s verbal energy, humor, and experimentation. There’s not much info on him out there, but this video of his live set at FYF before it was Goldenvoiceified says enough. He smashes guitar pedals with his hands, adding buzzing noises over Ludacris acapellas while a crowd of onlookers stands there like they’re auditioning to be Boiler Room extras. If you saw Fat Tony jump into the crowd at this site’s POW Fest last year, you can see how these two might get along.
Based on names alone, “Charge It To The Game” by Charge It To The Game looks like a mission statement. There are more songs coming, and I;m excited to hear how it all holds up.