Torii MacAdams shoots that lefty 3.
Boogie – Two Days
Marshall McLuhan wrote that “the medium is the message.” But McLuhan couldn’t imagine the brain-sizzling array of ways in which media denizens of the 21st century would help transform ourselves into overstimulated, addlepated boors. Of the exponentially proliferating means through which we can show each other our genitals, only the original way remains particularly satisfying. Humans aren’t built to communicate complex ideas without gesture and tone; we wrongfoot ourselves with text messages, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Signal–whatever. Boogie, like most of us, is tussling with his demons on this shaky battle ground–he’s just better at expressing his struggles than we are.
Two Days” is a modern love story: Boogie rages at an ex-partner who’s unfollowed him–he has an app for that–and deletes his comments. His Snapchat-related grievances are as follows: his ex will use the doggy filter but hates when he says “bitch,” and she shouldn’t act like a lady in the streets and “a thotty on the Snap’.” (False equivalencies both.) Despite the physical disconnect, he’s still there, tracking every carefully curated tweet, Snap, and ‘Gram, a prisoner to his own access and emotions. The media fluster us. The messages depress us.
DJ Mustard ft. Quavo & YG – Want Her
For better or worse, DJ Mustard has helped define an entire generation of Los Angeles gangster rap. His simple instrumentals are food to rap gadflies–where are the souljazz samples?!–and these critiques, while grumpy, do have some merit. On occasion, he’s literally one-note. Some of his work is disposable, some of his collaborators are sourced for blatantly cynical reasons, and some of his best beats are contemporary interpolations of G-funk classics.
Still, even Dr. Dre had his naysayers. (Robert Christgau had the temerity to call The Chronic “sociopathic easy-listening” and “bad pop music.” Don’t trust anyone over 30.) What’s annoying and facile to critics and parents resonates with teens and in the streets–so it goes, forever and ever, and Mustard’s no exception. He, like Dre, synthesized musics that were popular in Los Angeles and redesigned the city’s soundscape. The heart of his catalog isn’t safe pop songs, but gangster ass raps like “Ghetto Tales” (with the rather numerical combination of TeeCee4800 and Jay 305) and YG’s “BPT.” He has pop and EDM for the iTunes singles buyers, G-funk for LiveMixtapes fiends. Sugar for the outsiders, meat for the locals.
Maroon 5 ft. Kendrick Lamar – Don’t Wanna Know
“Don’t Wanna Know” is Toto’s “Africa” if it had a bad verse from Melle Mel. It’s so staid and anodyne that hating it is impossible, because “hating” would imply it has the ability to arouse an emotion stronger than passive revulsion, like moldy leftovers or sidewalk dog shit. And, unlike Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood,” whose video features Kendrick Lamar rapping as the stupidly named “Welvin Da Great,” this isn’t even bombastic or melodramatic–it just limps along, like a shallow, cool brook through a Superfund site.
Rich Chigga ft. Ghostface Killah & Pouya – Dat $tick (Remix)
This, however, is a veritable feast of stimuli.
Rich Chigga is a complex figure. He’s an Indonesian, English-language rapper whose moniker is a play on America’s most controversial word (Hint: it’s not “Rich,” though it could be depending on your political bent.), whose music exists in a seldom-trod corner of rap’s racial minefield. America still isn’t quite sure how to countenance Asian or Asian-American rappers; the perception that they’re a docile “model minority” has typically led them to be treated as perpetual outsiders, no matter their skill level.
Rich Chigga’s $chtick–the baby-faced teen in a fanny pack who raps about drive-by shootings–is too obviously absurd to arouse rap’s xenophobic impulses, and his rapping is decent enough that his success doesn’t feel entirely tokenized. There is, without a doubt, a level of fetishizing inherent to Rich Chigga learning to rap, but it’s a spiritual debt that’s probably forgiven by Americans’ own cockeyed, arms-length acceptance of him.
Musically, the original “Dat $tick” is solid, but much the song’s mainstream appeal lays in the wild juxtaposition between the words and the mouth from which they emanate. The remix only adds to the absurdity. Ghostface Killah, an all-time great rapper who described the original as “dope” and swore he’d “get on that track,” and Pouya, one of the biggest underground artists in America, are an unlikely compliment to an already unlikely artist. The combination of a black guy, a Cuban-Persian, and an Indonesian might create the most improbable rap song ever.
Pouya sounds slightly more at home over the sonar pings of “Dat $tick” than his elder companion–not that it matters much when their faces are being transposed onto Chigga’s body, or made into golden, rocket-powered busts, or added to dancing robots. Of all the ways to include Pouya and Ghostface, Chris Cunningham-style surreality is the most palatable and entertaining.
Pusha T – H.G.T.V.
Pusha T raps about approximately three things: cocaine, designer clothing, and other rappers’ shortcomings. He doesn’t deviate on “H.G.T.V.,” and, as is often the case with his new material, the subtext is of greater intrigue than the music itself. Over a sparse Mike WiLL Made-It instrumental, the pushing 40 King Push obtusely hints at his ongoing cold war with Lil Wayne and Damon Stoudamire’s dorky younger brother, Drake, when he raps:
It’s too far gone when the realest ain’t real/
I walk amongst the clouds so your ceilings ain’t real/
These niggas Call of Duty ‘cuz they killings ain’t real/
With a questionable pen so the feelings ain’t real
The plausible, prevailing theory is that “too far gone” and “ceilings” refer to the Toronto Craptor’s So Far Gone and Wayne’s No Ceilings. His line about “a questionable pen” is much less cryptic. Unfortunately, Drake has displayed limited interest in returning salvos to-date–he only punches down–and Lil Wayne’s “Goulish” was more than four years ago. Perhaps “H.G.T.V.” will stir the Hollygrove goblin from his somnolence.