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Harley Geffner greatly prefers the old-fashioned harpoon approach to whaling.
N7 & Pwap – “Spazzin”
It’s fun when rappers can rap fast. It feels like their brain is moving faster than yours and you’re being dragged along for the ride. I get it, but rapping fast is not the only qualifier of good rap music like many Youtube commenters would have you think. As should be obvious, there are many ways to craft a good rap song.
On this good rap song™, N7 and Pwap (Petty Wap), who are the first Oklahoman rappers I’ve knowingly come across, absolutely spaz out, bobbing and weaving back and forth, spitting at a hundred miles a minute. And the comments are full of Everyday Struggle watchers talking about how this is the real hip hop. How these dudes are saving the game from all the autotunes and mumble raps. It’s amazing to me that there are still people who think in such black and white terms about music. And it’s not just the YouTubers. On Wednesday, political commentator Chris Hayes tweeted that the best rap is from 1997 because of “kids these days with their mumbling flow and lack of lyricism!”
This is an imagined competition between the far poles of a bell curve, stoked by the Joe Buddens of the world. Pitting the ends of the spectrum against each other means missing out on all the beautiful stuff happening in between.
Fivio Foreign x Jay Dee – “Gimmie Dat”
The drill guys from Brownsville and East New York have been cranking out hit after hit and it’s feeling like it has to come to a groundswell at some point. The same way A Zae Production and DGainz chronicled the rise of Chicago drill, the Bliggity and Flowtastic youtube accounts have been steadily compiling videos from the Brooklyn scene. And accounts like VladTV and MelzTV are always talking to the guys at the center of the action. They’re accessible personalities who post tons of snips on instagram. There’s beef to follow and shots thrown in every song.
Fivio Foreign and Jay Dee are quickly becoming one of my favorite duos out. Though they’re from different crews, they’re both GDK and their kinetic energies bubble over the top. Gimmie Dat is a drill-lover’s heaven. Starting with a phone call snip (classic) and almost two minutes of loading up the clips before they unleash the verses, Foreign raps like a grizzled vet and Jay Dee brings a youthful hunger to the 6-plus minute anthem.
Fivio’s got quotables for days, hopping in to his first verse with, “My face is hot I be knowin, I gotta watch where I’m goin’ / Shouldn’t be out in the open, I see an opp and I’m throwin’.” Jay Dee declares he’s tired of subliminals, taking a shot at 22Gz who recently signed to Kodak’s Sniper Gang and threatening that Fivio’s about to spin the block on him.
It’s only a matter of time before Bobby’s out and draws renewed attention to Brooklyn drill. These guys are ready for it now.
Lil Keed x 21 Savage – “Balenciaga”
21 Savage has returned with a vengeance. After giving fans a taste of what they fell in love with on Metro’s album, 21 rides with another of Atlanta’s many rising stars in the Thug lineage Lil Keed. Keed and 21 gracefully glide over producer Mooktoven’s creeping flute and spongy bass on a magic carpet so as not to scratch the Balencis. While 21’s stunting in his “mishmatched” Balenciaga and Chanel, Keed’s in the 7th octave, rapping about his bitches not even needing shoes because their feet are so pretty.
10k. Caash – The Creator
If you haven’t seen the Woah dance yet, I’m glad you have a healthy relationship with the internet. But fear not, you’ll see it soon. It’s already on it’s path to being gentrified and it’s only a matter of time before you catch 9 year old white girls shamelessly practicing it on street corners while their dad waves down the Uber. It’s an improvisational little bounce followed by a lock – a herky jerk in and out shoulder thrust akin to pulling an emergency brake. I first came across the dance like most probably did, laughing at Uzi and some cartoonishly chipper fat boy hitting it to Splurge’s “Intro Part 2.” That fat boy turned out to be South Dallas rapper 10k. Caash. Since, the dance has taken on a life of its own, hit by Drake on tour and Travis on the set of SNL, inspiring questions about the move’s origin.
On 10k. Caash’s tape Creator, Caash sets the record straight, with the cover art reading “Who Created the Woah?” The dude is a sentient no melody type beat. The entire tape smacks with sparse and heavy production that has become so popular this year by Kenny Beats, Tay Keith, chasethemoney and more, though Caash cornily only credits the big name producers. The whole tape is sarcastic as hell. He hears a Dragon Tales sample and goes “what the fuckk” before launching in to “I think I seen a dragon over there (Chill! Where? U Trippin.)” He raps about Zombieology, Peter Pan, and liking his cheese melted at Subway. He’s tonally off-kilter – sounding a bit like a more aggressive Makonnen – and is clearly in on the joke. But joke or not, the tape is fun. He’s got features from Rico Nasty, Asian Doll, Famous Dex, Yachty, Riff Raff and Madeintyo. Every single song is designed specifically for you to either hit the Woah or step in a marching band to.
Niqle Nut – “Trendy”
Inglewood’s Niqle Nut was minutes away from losing his life. He described in painful detail the feeling of his life hanging in the balance after having been shot 5 times when he was manning a corner at 15 years old. With each heartbeat, each blink, his body was getting slower – dying on him. Most remember the burning sensation of being shot, but he remembers the numbness. How it made him feel like an outside observer to what was happening.
He spent three years in a wheelchair. He was done trying to be the hardest out and was ready to redirect the inspiration that comes from new life into music. He raps with that omniscient outsider perspective of looking over his own dying body. He deadpans his pain in a way that says he understands the cruel nature of shit just being the way it is. In the video for Trendy, he’s honoring another friend lost on the hook, but it’s just another day. It barely grazes him as he quickly moves on to rapping about his red eyes and red drip from the bottom of his sneakers.
FMB DZ – “Not the Same”
FMB DZ will occupy the obligatory Detroit rapper spot on this week’s Rap Up, solely by virtue of him saying “this glock could shoot underwater, I could drop a whale.”