Art by Frank Schwichtenberg
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Harley Geffner blocked your mama and your sister too.
Elton Likes Me (Rocket Man remix) – “Young Thug”
Hundreds of years from now, 45’s lasting claims to fame will be treason, and that Young Thug’s Elton John “Rocket Man” remix leaked during his presidency. Thug harmonizing with the British legend suspended me in a state of pure ecstasy. I had to run back the first 30 seconds of the song four times before I could proceed. His vocal gymnastics sound so natural over John’s famed keys and light background vocals. Their combined “I’m gunna be high (eee-iiiihh) (iii-eee)” ushers me into Santorini airspace.
Elton John’s affection for Thug is well-documented, with John having compared him to the late John Lennon and slipping his tracks into his Beats radio station. About two years ago, Jeffrey visited John in his Atlanta home for a mini love-fest and they snapped a pic of John holding up a Hy!£UN35 (still waiting) shirt. Thug’s manager at the time teased fans, claiming that John had sent Thug the Rocket Man instrumental and that he’d recorded over it. No YSL fan expected it to see the light of day.
“Elton Likes Me” is silkier than anything off Slime Language. Thug softly warbles that he’s getting “high as a plane // from Spain to Maine, y’know what I’m sa’in, damn,” after having referenced the main way to Spain earlier in the song. His vocal layering on the bridges makes it occasionally difficult to separate ad-libbed bars from whatever is at the forefront, whether anything is at all. Be it the 20-second long corkscrewing vowels or anticipation-building “yeah” patterns, the whole song is tightly sequenced. The melodies are pliable even by his standards, and he fills up the box score with tons of deep left-field animal-themed bars: “I look like a cat with eleven lives // I really kick shit you could ask a fly.”
The only thing that’s left for Thug to do at this point is to personally oversee North Korea’s denuclearization process. God knows State won’t.
BbyMutha – “JANIS IAN DYKE”
“Worry about your motherfuckin self you fuckin yeast-infection havin-ass beeetch.”
Chatanooga, Tennessee rapper and mother of four BbyMutha knows people want to be her; they’re looking insecure like Issa Rae. Her glow has these other women contemplating suicide. “JANIS IAN DYKE” is BbyMutha at her best: she’s combative (“please don’t blow my high unless you not afraid to die tonight”) without concerning herself with the opinions of the sheep she got stressed. They have to level up and cop that whip they’ve always wanted before they dare approach her.
The SXYLK x MyFriendMeesha beat has echoes of JPEGMAFIA’s chaotic noise music. BbyMutha rolls through the convulsive beeps and foggy bass, unbothered by these girls worrying about shit that happened in ‘07. She’s just living her life, boys rolling up to her left, pistol on her right.
1TakeJay – “Hello”
I’ve had an affinity for cell-phone themed beats since Ugly God dropped “I Beat My Meat” three years ago. Compton native and OneTakeBoyz member 1TakeJay bounces all over Lowthegreat’s flip of that annoying iPhone ring to tell his ex-girl to stop calling his phone. She emails him and hits him up from 30 different blocked numbers even after he switched phones. He blocked her momma and sister too. Next time your ex-girl tries reminiscing, Jay gives you permission to shoot her the soundcloud link and block that number.
-_- – “Arm + Leg”
The internet rappers of Pretty Boi Clique’s antics never seem to end. They’re the high school pranksters, in love with singer Billie Eilish, still using chihuahua pics as cover art, and tweeting at each other to go fuck themselves just for kicks. PBC member Lil Paycheck has very few misses in his career. And he has a trove of heat locked away on his open-“secret” SoundCloud account, -_-. He shushes commenters who single him out by name, but willfully posts new tracks to Twitter.
Through the SoundCloud, you can find one of the best Keef impressions I’ve heard in Sosa Skylark 001, an autotuned trip through a half-muted God’s Plan beat, and Mike Tyson bars. He conglomerates his idols’ styles, ad-libs, and flows, always adding his own character. He’s Sasori of the Red Sand, absorbing the legends’ jutsus to become an all-powerful puppet master.
Arm + Leg is an avante-garde masterpiece. -_-’s yuhhs and yeahs melt into the synthy beat from Andromeda like butter on toast. He’s dispersing the weight of his voice over every particle. You don’t need to discern a single word to drown yourself in the sonics of the track.
BOOFBOIICY – “Mislead”
Dayton, OH rapper BOOFBOIICY woke up on a jet, got a check, then he jetted before you’ve even processed what happened. On “Mislead,” he paces himself at a Lucki-esque crawl, but stays a step ahead of the beat rather than dragging his way through the promethazine puddles behind. His hydraulics pump a moment before each bass hit from the low-rider subs. But it’s not uneven; His emphases prep you for each incoming bounce. Though he raps for less than a minute, the Brent Noir and Uglyfriend distorted vocal sample and hypnotic synths are let loose for a nice outro that could have been 5 minutes-long without a complaint from me.
DJ Bugsy & Roddy Ricch – “Ricch Forever”
Compton rapper Roddy Ricch told POW writer Nick Nukem that if he needs money, he’ll go get money. He learned the ins and outs of getting to the cash with his best friend J New before his untimely passing. “Ricch Forever,” hosted by LA tastemaker DJ Bugsy and produced by Swish, plays as an ode to J New; Roddy promises to get on that private jet in his honor. They had been moving packs and getting bags since before braces.
Roddy’s tribute fits to form in the YNW Melly style of upbeat mourning. He sings about the gone-too-soon legend at the intersection between rap and R&B, with the emotional clarity of Future, minus the muddiness. He just wishes he could chase one more bag with his brother.