The Rap Up: Week of January 26, 2018

The Rap Up returns with words on new tracks by Lil Wayne, A$AP Rocky, and more.
By    January 26, 2018

Lucas Foster misses the ol’ Wayne.


Lil Wayne“Big Bad Wolf”


Everyone secretly wonders how we’d evaluate Lil Wayne if the 2013 TMZ report turned out to be true. His imprint on culture was cemented, his best songs behind him. The only thing needed to canonize him as the greatest of his generation was a thousand eulogies and post-mortem coronations. The reality of 2017 Lil Wayne, alive and well, is much more complicated. Today, there’s only so much that can be said about Wayne. His huge catalog feels unwieldy in the “what have you done for me lately” Twitterverse. Everyone has heard him do what he’s good at and there’s only so much to say when he does it again.

This track, though, is a little different from him ripping yet another instrumental. It was a beat made for Blac Youngsta and Lil Yachty to lampoon traditionalist hip-hoppers with repetitive non sequiturs, one long hook about pill popping and “right wrist! Woah!” Per tradition, Wayne’s version is much better. He goes off for four minutes of straight bars, tricky flow switches, and immaculate breath control—a direct response to Youngsta and Yachty, or really all the rappers who deride what hip-hop was five years or five minutes ago. He builds momentum through the entire tour de force of lyricism, mercifully ending his slaughter of the melody-free instrumental by rhyming 10 words with Antetokounmpo.

It’s a lively jump-out-the-gym display of his skills, a reminder that he’s still got it when he decides to leave his lonely and bizarre bubble of self-inflicted isolation. His refusal to change, his refusal to die, is a messy, beautiful defiance of what’s poppin’. I hope Weezy keeps snapping into his fifties (fifteen or ten years away, depending on who you ask). There are worse hills to die on.


 A$AP Rocky“5ive $tars”


A$AP Rocky could once coast by on a Godmode rap voice, slick flow, and sheer confidence. That time may have come and gone. “5ive $tars” was mailed in wet cardboard and two days late. He tries a sing song flow slightly higher than his normal speaking voice, and it thrashes against the starkly contrasting minimal piano keys. While most of his previous work has a wide body of sound that would hide his most groan-inducing lyrics, here they are laid bare.

“Gave the Uber man five stars/ Left the restaurant five stars/ I was fucking with a five star/ She done fucked around five stars” are hardly lyrics worth naming a song after. The song features what sounds like an uncredited Big Baby DRAM hook, which is really a few throwaway lines where DRAM displays a lurching, melodic flow that fits much better with what the sparse instrumental has to offer.

Really, it’s…fuck it, it’s terrible. This is fucking terrible dude. There’s only so many ways to break it down. Rocky crafted some of the best projects of this decade. The poor mixing, worse rapping, and uninspired production of “5ive $tars” shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breath of what he’s accomplished.


 Migos“Supastars”


Shout out to Youtube commenter “leokrujer 33” for critiquing the newest Migos single more eloquently than a thousand blog posts could ever: “this song sounds like a waiting tone.” The Migos’ verses never really seem to join us at an expected level of energy. They fill the quota, doing what’s expected and nothing more. The trio still have some gas left in the tank, “Stir Fry” was evidence enough of that, but they should not have carte blanche to keep making different versions of this song.


 BBY GOYARD“U WHAT?! (Prod. @LilRamboBeats)”


BBY GOYARD is an artist who explores the outermost limits of what’s possible with SoundCloud rap. “U WHAT?!” sees him drowning in the sea of drugged out melodies in which he swims. He hops right into the beat and jumps around, his bars seemingly just excuses to emphasize his favorite vocal tics and autotune ad-libs. The song doesn’t make much sense, but it doesn’t need to. The few images and coherent thoughts he manages to put together are strong, almost striking. He throws hundreds in a pool to watch strippers swim after them and trips over an oversized white tee. It’s a celebration of the excess, an exploration of his weird and wonderful inclinations, the sort of inclinations that caused him to choose the moniker BBY GOYARD.

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