The Rap Up: Week of June 1, 2018

The Rap Up returns with words on Lil Xelly, Drake, and more.
By    June 1, 2018

Harley Geffner still bumps Fugazi.

Kane Grocerys (YSB OG)“Pardon My Back”

“We got choppas like Afghanistan, welcome to Gothghanistan”

Welcome to Gothghanistan, where you ain’t trappin’ unless you got junkies hangin’ by your window. Where YSB OG a.k.a Kane Grocerys will make your mouth drop to your knees while he watches you bleed. Where crows chirp over ethereal production while Kane and the Goth Money Crew smoke Pakistani propane in the cut.

Gothghanistan a.k.a Flexico is the imagined hometown of the Shyne Boys of Goth Money Records, a longtime staple of the underground community. With members from all over the country, they come together under the moniker Gods Over This Humanity, believing themselves to be on a celestial plane floating above the rap game mortals. Their hazy, melodic brand of trap is scattered all throughout their individual SoundCloud and collective Bandcamp pages.

On 21 tracks with no features, Kane takes us through the back alley deals and the ripping of chopsticks like beyblades that defines life in Flexico. The playful synthy keys from the plug production give some tracks a lighter bent that can turn violent on a dime as they’re spattered with Bao Blaow semi-auto fire ad-libs, just as a sunny day turns dark real quick if you dare challenge these Flexicans.

But Kane and the crew run up on plugs with ease. They’re whipping re-roc in grannie’s basement. Taliban snipers creepin’ in your bushes while you sleepin’. A 55 minute ride in YSB’s 98 ‘Yota through the gray-scale streets.

 Lil XellyLucky Charms 2

Lil Xelly thinks in ad libs. The Rockville, Maryland native’s one liners and half phrases are so fluid and catchy that they seem spawned from the deepest trove of Keef and Thug Google Drive links. He even borrows Sosa’s *beee beeemer* ad-libs. According to Xelly, there is no music scene in Rockville and he got “a lotta hate” on his home turf before building an independent following online with his aspirational autotune and accentuated syllables.

Known for being one of the most prolific artists on SoundCloud (having dropped 105 songs right before the New Year and four tapes already this month), Xelly is back with the second installment of his Lucky Charms series, fully produced by the equally prolific Chicagoan Noir Brent, who has helmed tracks for the likes of Lil Pump, Smokepurpp,, and more. Xelly said he’ll drop part three if his followers Tweeted enough shamrock emojis at him.

Noir produces in ruby slippers, with spacey xylophones dancing down the yellow brick road and around his blown out drum kits. Xelly has developed a nice rapport with Noir, as he is able to fill and invent new pockets in his sparkly beats. He ping pongs between sclerotic yelps and silky melodies, with out of left field references to Sham-Wow and orange peels.

Stop-and-start bars like “Plug, he outta town, he speak that Es-Pa-ñol” work in tandem with more drawling ones like “Please check out my fashion and I’m splashin and I drip, ya digg,” where the words melt into each other. This is not despite their incongruity, but because of it, fitting together like a pointillist Seurat work.

 6IX9INE“Tati (Feat. DJ SpinKing”

Last week in a rural river village in Thailand, I was sitting at an outdoor bar chatting in broken English with the Thai owners at 2 AM when a 6’5″ dude from the Bronx comes stumbling down the street with a boombox (yes, a boombox) on his shoulder blasting “Kooda.” Putting the outdated equipment on the table, he proclaims, “6ix9ine is the GOAT. Anyone who says anything else is on some fuckin’ fugazi ass bullshit. On God. I’ll fight anyone.” 6ix9ine makes music for people who run around foreign countries with the irrational confidence of someone who will yell shit like ‘GOAT’ and ‘fugazi’ at people who barely speak his language and are willing to fight over someone else’s opinion on a 22 year old who can’t properly fasten a life vest and has splash fights with Akademiks. That being said, this song is the exact same song as “Gummo.” Same scream-pitch, same blicky, same unimaginative bombast.

 Drake“I’m Upset”

Picture Drake scrolling through his burner Twitter feed, listening to Big Baby Scumbag snippets, following Tracy stan accounts to see his insta stories, and keeping up with Black Kray’s every move in Flexico. Xelly says 40 RTs and he’ll drop the new single—@R3sp3ctda6ix faithfully RTs. This is the world Drake stepped into by hopping on a Working on Dying beat. I legitimately thought it was a joke when I saw the first tweet about a W.O.D tag on a Drake song.

The North Philly-based Working On Dying crew innovated the trap sub-genre of Tread music, which Lucas Foster once described here, featuring: “Uptempo percussion, swirling, percolating bass high in the mix, and ice cold futuristic synths working to encase SoundCloud trap in an atmosphere of nihilistic menace.” The high BPM dark-wave beats create a rolling canvas for rappers to slice through with punctuated syllables or ride on top of with layered melodies.

Yes, Aubrey has cannibalized wave-after-wave, borrowing one of-the-moment style before discarding it and its artists for the next, but this was a genuine moment of excitement and optimism for the underground, if not for the fact that it was quickly eclipsed by Pusha’s breaking news alert. And I know the beef is more fun to talk about and more culturally relevant, but this toothless promotional celebrity boxing match is a much less important musical development.

Drake was working with the innovators of the tread movement, one that democratized SoundCloud and feels accessible to anyone with a shitty mic and 50 bucks to spare for a beat. And these guys were interactive on Twitter, so the scene felt easy to slide into. Throw an extra 50 and you can get an established SoundCloud artist on for a feature and repost. And if anyone can get on a beat that Drake wants white girls in Barcelona clubs to be dancing to, it makes mainstream and financial success feel that much more tenable to the DIY SoundCloud community in their janky home studios.

And although he picked one of the most subdued Oogie Mane beats I’ve heard in the past year and his raps weren’t very animated, Drake being on a tread beat at all signals good things for SoundCloud rap. At this rate, we’re going to get a Chance collab tape with Wifigawd by year’s end. You heard it here first.

 Young Thug“Teaser Snippet”

POW contributor Alphonse Pierre tweeted during the Grammys that they’re irrelevant because they don’t even have a Best Snippet category. Is Passion of the Weiss irrelevant if Jeff doesn’t let me talk about snippets? Not only should the Grammys have a Best Snippet category, but they need a best Thug Snippet category. The man drops about ten new songs on us every week in fifteen second Instagram clips.

This one has the feel of a certified radio hit. The beat sounds like a DJ Mustard flip of a Robin Schulz track that is more likely to have Chris Brown on it than anyone else. But that’s the thing about Thug. He can feel at home twisting his vocals around just about any type of beat from the guitar strumming on Beautiful Thugger Girls to DJ Carnage’s sirens.

This snippet seems to be another case of Thug experimenting with sounds more conditioned to frat boy ears. And it follows the release of his three song Hear No Evil EP, which was strongly promoted by 300 Entertainment. I don’t want to read too much into this as signs that Thug is moving in a new, more commercial direction, but it seems he has been skewing his recent output towards the part of his catalogue that may be appreciated by a larger swath of listeners.

And this, from a guy who no-showed for video shoots and was genuinely disinterested in American media. Maybe it’s the label Gods from above trying to push him into the Post Malone listenership, but one of the things that has made Thug so special is his ear for beat selection, and he can’t let that slip away from him. Either way, if he ever drops this one, I’m expecting it to be up on the charts as one of the songs of the summer and blasted at every ZBT pool party around the nation. But I am a conditioned Thug fan and know that this has little to no chance of actually dropping this summer. So enjoy the snippet. At least we got a minute and a half of it.

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