November 4, 2016

yg slim

Torii MacAdams was also ignored by Odell Beckham.

Slim 400 ft. YG & Sad Boy LokoBruisin’

As a rapper, Slim 400 is imperfect. His flow still has moments of arrhythmic, jerky impatience, his voice–like his figure, like his name–can sound thin, and, when astride the scintillant, charismatic YG, he’s reduced to a sidekick. But as the fulfillment of a certain G-funk archetype, Slim 400 is ideal. He’s the Dresta to YG’s Eazy-E: a quiet scowler in pristine Impalas, a stolid nodder, a threat. He has a figure like a drywall nail, a nose like a brick trowel, and the disposition of a hammer.

Gangster rap stardom seems to be a double consciousness: you’re permanently aligned with the block that you, by pure, unfiltered cosmic chance, were raised on, and you’re supposed to be accessible to those who never have and never will set foot on your particular bit of the grid. To make a case for one’s legitimacy, a rapper who claims a set–more cosmic chance here–needs actual set members. For YG, that’s Slim 400. He’s believable. Essential, even. He’s the second man in red who lets you know the first’s gang signs are serious. For audiences, he’s the mortar that bonds YG to Tree Top Piru.

Payroll GiovanniCame Up Off Work

Anyone can brag about moving weight. Short of convictions and their attendant, publicly available court records, or obviously preposterous claims like that of Rick Ross being owed one-hundred favors by Manuel Noriega, who’s to say whether or not a rapper stood beady-eyed on the corner, pockets full of felonies. Payroll Giovanni engages in these braggartly shenanigans, sure, but he also has the (semi-) humility to admit that he’s been ripped off. In a clever twist, he uses his failures to verify his successes. On “Came Up Off Work,” Giovanni raps, “Nigga, I done bought bad crack/That left my cash flat/You probably bought a bad ‘O’/I done bought a bad batch.” If he takes an L, it’s always upper-case. And he always bounces back.

Young Freq ft. Russ PIn This Bi$$h

One of the few immutable laws of rap is that every video filmed at a gas station is good. Such is the case with Young Freq and Russ P’s “In This Bi$$h.” Little Rock native Young Freq parks his leviathanic red Pontiac Grand Ville and emerges from its matching, overstuffed leather interior clad in Fila, rapping about Starter Jackets and Reeboks. There’s no need for studio lighting when you have the white hot glare of the service station, purpose-built to prevent crime but used to abet drug raps. B and C stories of Freq and Memphis-born Russ P smoking a blunt in the studio and simulating a drug deal atop a building’s grey, wrecked foundation are unnecessary–only Memphis’ warm yellow street lights, bright gas station bulbs, and pale black night sky, please.

Lena DunhamSensual Pantsuit Anthem

A lot of Lena Dunham criticism is grounded in barely-concealed misogyny or jealousy–Girls is enjoyable, if somewhat flawed, her multi-million dollar book deal was an inevitable result of cloying, middle-brow, neo-urbanite sensibilities, and she’s very aware that her body is shaped like a pear, though she tends to overcompensate for this knowledge. She’s skilled at expressing the concerns and desires of a certain narrow, privileged population of city dweller–a viewpoint that’s overrepresented in media.

Dunham’s also a smug limousine liberal who tries to radicalize her every attention-grabbing maneuver. And, aside from Donald Glover’s brief appearance on Girls (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar quipped Glover’s role could’ve been performed by a black dildo), her show is profoundly white. How she addresses race on Girls should be her own prerogative–why shouldn’t she be allowed to write characters as she sees fit?–but her behavior outside the confines of fiction lends credence to accusations of ham-fistedness. Simply, she handles matters of race with indelicacy. Her objectification of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham was frightfully stupid. Lesson unlearnt, she released a post-irony, pro-Hillary Clinton rap song.

Politically, “Sensual Pantsuit Anthem” is the same rote center-center-left pablum most social democrats have decided to swallow in lieu of outright fascism and in spite of self-sabotaging condescension from the most rabid Clinton supporters. Musically, it’s awful–Dunham’s apparently never heard a rap song, and her predictably stilted rhymes are, if not forgivable, at least forgettable. What truly accelerates this oil fire from marshmallow-endangering into a full-blown Superfund site are the odd racial undertones.

Dunham, a self-appointed policer of heterosexual, cisgendered white men (Like me!), can’t recognize her own passive fetishization of black people. After months of outspoken Clinton boosterism, her political bent is well known–the material contained therein is a rehashing of talking points–and it’s unlikely she’s earning her candidate previously undecided votes.

Rather, what “Sensual Pantsuit Anthem” actually does is allow Dunham to fulfill a role previously denied her for lack of musical talent and melanin. For someone highly attuned to others’ trespasses, she’s oddly ignorant of her own inherent privilege; she’s free to surround herself with black people and play rapper, yet, as a white multi-millionaire, she’s immune from the worst of the attendant societal repercussions. With a wink and a nod, she uses her socioeconomic advantages to insert herself into otherwise forbidden spaces. Dunham wants you to do as she says, not as she does.

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