Torii MacAdams has the best pregame reverse lay up around.
Maxo Kream – The Mission
Is Friday the most evergreen comedy in rap music’s collective imagination? CB4 is underappreciated, Fear of A Black Hat remains widely ignored (despite arguably being a more trenchant critique than Chris Rock’s N.W.A. satire), and the House Party series is too family-friendly and overly reliant on New Jack Swing to have cross-generational appeal.
Friday didn’t reinvent storytelling, but it presented audiences with relatable, memorable, and humorous characters; we’ve all been put-upon like Craig, prone to self-sabotage like Smokey, and bullied by intractable clowns like Deebo and Big Worm. The villains, played by the permanently scowling Tiny Lister and a pimp-permed Faizon Love, are cartoon goons. In other words, perfect for rap music, a genre that celebrates and reviles overzealous thuggery in equal measure. Big Worm is a fitting subject for Maxo Kream–he probably doesn’t spend the entirely of his life in pursuit of money and drugs, but if his Snapchat is any indicator, well-worn dollars and cloudy sodas in Easter egg tones are ever-present.
In the video for “Big Worm” Maxo plays–as always–the menacing drug dealer. There’s no depth to his counterpoint, the would-be protagonist Smokey–Maxo’s the hero here. Where’s the glory in being a dimebag-by-dimebag huckster when you can wield deadly weapons and bark orders from a lemon-lime ice cream truck?
Riff Raff ft. Gucci Mane & Danny Brown – I Drive By
It feels like Danny Brown has outgrown the type of instrumental “I Drive By” offers. He’s capable of rapping over standard-issue spacey synths and clacking hi-hats because he’s capable of rapping over anything (see: “When It Rain” or he and Rustie’s “Attak”), but they’re not testing the outer limits of his abilities. When Brown lets loose and commits to the Fraggle-gone-wrong persona, he’s unlike any other rapper alive. His performance on “I Drive By” is like watching NBA players dunk in warmups, though–beneath the outward ease are untapped reserves of force.
Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa & Imagine Dragons w/ Logic & Ty Dolla $ign ft X Ambassadors – Sucker for Pain [Suicide Squad theme song]
Look at that fucking insane sequencing of names. It’s like two different songs: the first with Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, and Imagine Dragons (Don’t tell me what to imagine, you pop radio puritans.), the second with Logic, Ty Dolla $ign and X Ambassadors. It’s like “We Are The World” for 17 year-olds who wear snapback hats to school dances. How does a single song feature two entirely separate, utterly execrable rock bands? Why is Logic the only rapper here without dreadlocks? William Butler Yeats has the hottest bars on “Sucker for Pain” when he raps:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
Still, compared to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ theme song, the dubstep disaster “Shell Shocked” (which again combined Mr.’s Dollar Sign and Khalifa), this is practically masterful. The person(s) who commissioned “Sucker for Pain” didn’t demand anything too hokey from its motley crew. It’s an appropriately safe rap song for a film whose name belies a PG-13 rating.
Fall Out Boy ft. Missy Elliott – I’m Not Afraid [Ghostbusters theme song]
“I’m Not Afraid” is everything I was worried “Sucker for Pain” was going to be. It’s bombastic, bastardizes Ray Parker Jr.’s original, iconic theme song, and, most painfully, has faint whiffs of tokenism in its shoehorning of Missy Elliott into an otherwise uninspired pop-rock song. Elliott deserves better than this ignominy.
What complicates the outward black-white dichotomy of rapper-meets-pop-rock is Fall Out Boy’s unusual origin story. Between 1996 and 1999, Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz and drummer Andy Hurley were in a hardcore band called Racetraitor. For our readers less exposed to the lexicon of bigots, “race traitor” is a slur aimed at those (usually whites) who favor policies that aren’t in the interests of their own race; Racetraitor intentionally repurposed the phrase as a point of leftist pride. Almost twenty years later, the remnants of the band remain pro-black: last year they released an (admittedly somewhat strange) album of rap remixes in which Takeoff of Migos rhymed “camel toe” and “Satchmo.”
Kirko Bangz ft. Sauce Walka– Dis Flava
On the few occasions I’ve had to explain Kirko Bangz to people, I’ve inevitably said some variation of “He’s Houston’s Drake.” It’s a direct, if slightly uncharitable description for Houston’s foremost rappin’ ass singer. Drake, for all his cooing about loving the city, got an Astros logo the size of a thumbnail tattooed on his shoulder. Kirko got a full-color Houston Oilers logo on his neck. Drake, to borrow a bit of the Sauce Twinz’ argot, tried to steal the sauce and was depantsed in return. Kirko Bangz, as evidenced by “Dis Flava,” is free to partake in the sauce.