Beautiful Noise: The New York Rap Roundup, February 2018

Beautiful Noise returns with words on Red Note, Jai Daytona, and more.
By    March 5, 2018

Alphonse Pierre has dirt on you, doggy.

Red Note– “Janet”

It was early in the month and I wanted to see some rap music. I made my way over to Bushwick and found myself in a basement that was way larger than it had any business being, with graffiti covered walls and head-sized holes in the low ceiling. The smoke clouds in the room were thick—as soon as I walked in this kid blew his cigarette on my jacket before eagerly telling me for no reason at all that he sold xans to Smokepurpp once.

I watched as a rotating cast of DJs go through the Comethazine and D Savage SoundCloud’s as some kids lightly shoved each other around to it. Eventually Red Note, who I had come to see because I had just a couple of days prior heard her song “Janet,” grabbed the mic. She stood there in a Giants Jeremy Shockey jersey that could probably fit the tight end himself as she calmly raised her voice and asked, “Where my girls at?” as a sudden crowd pushed through to the front. She performed the breezy “Janet” and for a couple of minutes everyone took a break from the small scale Rolling Loud as she locked eyes with the girls in the front row and the rowdiness transformed into a steady sway.

The song and video for “Janet” grabbed my attention as I was already familiar with Red Note for being a member of Brooklyn’s ECW collective as well as being an instrumental part of Chip Skylark’s Beautiful Dog album. Produced by Ellie Cope, Red Note does her own version of whisper pop, breathing life into it with some capable rapping (“Listening to Max B cruising in the coupe”) before the slightly electronic vocal samples kick in.

The video feels distinctly New York as she makes her way around in a bright yellow bubble coat, posts up at a party in a vintage G-Unit t shirt—even delving into a subtitled interlude where she and a couple of other masked women jump a guy on a basketball court as a soulful remix of Rowdy Rebel’s “Computers” verse plays. This is reasonable because, hey, if you are going to jump somebody, at least give them enough courtesy to hear Rowdy Rebel’s voice as they get their head stomped on.

Swoosh– “Swoosh Me Up”

It’s been damn near 10 months since we got any new music from Swoosh. It’s a relief he’s back now because for a second there I thought we lost him to the A$AP dungeon where Playboi Carti is currently locked up, putting the finishing touches on Rocky’s next album. Swoosh is an interesting character because he has no interviews, hardly gets mentioned in the SoundCloud upper tier despite some impressive plays, and is from Valley Stream which some would argue is Queens because it’s the very first stop in Long Island.

On “Swoosh Me Up”—which was first teased last year in one of the Mob’s AWGE DVDs—Swoosh keeps things a bit more mellow, especially compared to his breakout “Get Out My Face.” The beat produced by Cardo is fairly simple for him and probably something he just had laying around before the Three 6 Mafia “Smoked Out, Loced Out” sampling beat found itself in the A$AP Mob email inbox. Is the AWGE headquarters just A$AP Lou at a desk sending out mass emails to producers with “Looking for Three 6 Mafia type beats” in the subject? That was a dumb question, the answer is obviously yes. Anyway, Swoosh needs more music and I’m sure it’s coming; at least he’s off to a solid start in 2018 with “Swoosh Me Up.”

Jai Daytona– “noface..?”

Jai Daytona would prefer not to be associated with New York’s rap scene as in response to a question about the scene in a Lyrical Lemonade interview under his old name Xodus Medici he responded, “It sucks ass.” Some would probably take offense to this, but he’s an enjoyable rapper, so who cares? On the song “noface..?,” Jai is locked in a zone where almost every line is on par—in terms of moodiness—with the best of Tay-K, starting off the song with, “Yeah we robbed your man’s pussy nigga don’t tell,” over a beat that belongs on the Silent Hill soundtrack.

Official ranking of the best lines on “noface..?”:

1. “Three dots on his forehead now he splinter cell”
2. “Had to change the fit I got blood on my Felt”
3. “Took your phone and your purse ’cause I’m broke as fuck/ And beat your rapping boyfriend’s brains in cause he acting tough”

MIKEResistance Man

MIKE might be my favorite rapper in New York, and over the last couple of years has released a steady bunch of EPs onto SoundCloud and Bandcamp. Now, he’s back with another one called Resistance Man, which is accompanied by a looping video. The project was released in one file containing five tracks, two of which are instrumentals and for the most part looks like MIKE setting the stage for something larger.

When MIKE does rap on Resistance Man it’s as good as ever, but it feels too brief, which is probably just me being greedy but I stand by it. There is an unfinished feel that this project has, which is something you can say about most of his records, but here it feels more obvious. It’s something that may be intentional or something meant to tease, and in the grander scheme of things probably inconsequentialm but for now it’s my gripe with the project.

On the third track—which is a standout—MIKE gets a bit more reflective as he pleads for love and it reminds you of how strong of a song maker he is when he wants to be. Although Resistance Man happens to be my least favorite of his string of projects, I came out of it more curious for what comes next because I genuinely have no idea what direction he’s headed in, which is cool because sometimes shit is too predictable.

Jay Critch Freestyles on Funk Flex

Yeah, okay. I’ll wait. Get your jokes off now. Are you done yet? Okay, I’ll allow one more. Now that you got it out of your system, I admit it; the Jay Critch Funk Flex freestyle is not very good. It’s disappointing because we know that this was probably a huge deal to Critch because every kid in the city, whether you rap or not, dreams of having Funk Flex drool at the mouth over your freestyle and Critch doesn’t get that. He went wrong in two spots: 1) The cell phone 2) Acting too cool, no energy.

Jay Critch should know by now that the cell phone has been unacceptable on Funk Flex since Drake ruined it for everyone. I admit that it shouldn’t be a big deal but it is and you just have to follow that rule or face the dreaded consequence of having your Instagram comments flooded with people whose last rap concert was Boogie Down Productions. We all know Critch was excited to be on Flex and pretending like you’re not isn’t the way to go. You’re better off doing too much than doing too little because if you raise your energy so will Flex and that’s the perfect recipe for a great Flex freestyle.

Well, at least Flex gave him something he could flow over and I know this is a New York column but the “Ignorant Sh*t” beat will forever belong to Drake (don’t kill me please). But whatever, Jay Critch is still the hottest in New York “Heeeeeeyyyyy.”

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