The Rap Up: Week of July 22nd

A long, hot summer continues with new tracks from Gucci and Kanye, Desiigner, Rick Ross, and more.
By    July 22, 2016

desiigner panda

Torii MacAdams‘ house doesn’t have air conditioning. Please invite him over. 

DesiignerTimmy Turner

First off, fuck 2016 and the clique it claims. It’s already been is a garbage-ass, full-diaper-as-hell, smells-of-sweaty-nutsack year, and we somehow have five months left. Amidst political buffoonery, blatant police thuggery, cowardly acts of terrorism, and widespread inaction on climate change–which may ultimately render all the other mal-, mis-, and nonfeasance irrelevant–it’s hard to get worked up about the drought-quality trickle of rap being released during the summer doldrums. Still, no one reads The Rap Up for the moanings of an under-calloused far-leftist. You’re here for the quippy bile!

And who better to inspire bilious criticism than Desiigner? I can’t remember a rapper as divisive as the teenaged New Yorker, about whom there seems to be two highly polarized opinions: his act as an ersatz Future is grounds for outright dismissal, or “Panda” and “Timmy Turner” are genuinely great, not-at-all imitant hits. (It doesn’t appear to be a gulf between old and young, either–Future is the world’s youngest 32 year-old.) I’m firmly in the anti-Desiigner camp; he’s a patently unoriginal–and indecipherable–karaoke act elevated by his presence on the album of a popular rapper and his performative similarity to a different popular rapper. If you want a New Yorker who sounds roughly akin to Future, why not Jeff Chery?
(Note: On a personal level, Desiigner seems like a nice young man–he smiles a lot and Dabs with uncommon gusto.)

Gucci Mane ft. Kanye WestPussy Print

 [Listen to the bootlegged track here]

You may be wondering why “Pussy Print” is named as such. In Gucci Mane’s words, his pockets are “bulging, bulging, pokin’ out just like a pussy print,” which means, I think, his pockets look like a snuggly-clothed vagina. That’s a legitimately odd simile, even without attempting to contextualize the latent sexual politics. Before listening to “Pussy Print,” I assumed the title was a sophomoric double entendre about pattern-print clothing and female reproductive organs. I was so, so wrong.

More unusual than Gucci’s Richard Brautigan-meets-trap rap moment is Kanye’s flow on “Pussy Print.” Or rather, what’s more unusual than Gucci unintentionally channeling the absurdist similes of a Beatnik writer is Kanye rapping like Gucci to begin his verse–cadence, lisp, and all. Here, his traditional lyrical crutch–low-brow ribaldry–isn’t as painfully obvious as his recent, uninspired guest verse on ScHoolboy Q’s “THat Part.” When directly juxtaposed with Gucci, though, the act falls apart immediately–Kanye doesn’t have a line nearly as good as “Keep a towel with me ‘cuz my watch be drippin’ water, bitch/And I only featured Kanye ‘cuz we both some fuckin’ narcissists.”

OG Boobie BlackMagnolia Story

The deeply localized, specific details contained in “Magnolia Story” make for a great rap. It’s certainly not the mixing–the beat, a trap version of UNLV’s “Drag Em ‘N’ Tha River,” is so muted that I had to strain to hear anything more than the hi-hats and bass. It’s OG Boobie Black’s thick New Orleans drawl that makes up for his engineer’s faults. “Magnolia Story” is a series of brief, picaresque tales of the dead, deadly, and those who barely escaped–Boobie Black included–who lived their lives on some of America’s most dangerous corners.

Rick Ross & SkrillexPurple Lamborghini

For the June 24th edition of The Rap Up, I wrote, in extremely light praise of “Sucker for Pain” from the Suicide Squad’s soundtrack, that it wasn’t a warbling dubstep disaster like “Shell Shocked” from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot. I may have jumped the “BANG!”-filled gag gun. “Purple Lamborghini” is from Suicide Squad, too, and, unlike the inoffensive first single, this one’s dumb and loud.

The problem with Skrillex producing for rappers isn’t his choice of rapper, but his lack of restraint. You know it’s a Skrillex song because there’s always some dissonant, tyrannical siren, or worse, rap-free sections meant to emphasize his presence by being particularly overwrought, as if these qualities put him on equal footing with the vocalist. It can’t just be a rap song, but a rap song that half-heartedly flogs the dead horse that is dubstep, one of the London underground’s great inventions. To his credit, Skrillex mostly keeps the misbegotten instrumentation to himself–Ross’ vocals aren’t forced to compete with anything too bombastic.

Drake“All you boys doing fake ‘Controllas’ wanna be me a little”

It deeply pains me to write the following, but in a way, Drake is right: Tory Lanez (Give me my name back, you imposter.) and Tyga were probably partially inspired to make “Luv” and “1 of 1” by the success of “Controlla.” Of course, if Drake believes he reinvented dancehall, he’s somehow a bigger dunce than we thought. We’re in the thick of a dancehall revival in the United States, which seems to happen every decade or so. Rappers suddenly begin sporting unspecific Caribbean patois, music publications convince themselves they’re discovering an obscure art form before anointing one lucky Jamaican a star-in-the-making, and, after a summer or two, we begin fetishizing another regional sound. Somehow, Diplo is involved. The music industry is ugly.

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