The Rap-Up: Week of March 22, 2019

The Rap-Up returns with new tracks from Pivot Gang, Lil Zay Osama, and more.
By    March 26, 2019

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Mano Sundaresan will run the table on MyCareer mode.

Lil Zay Osama – “Trencherous”

I revisited that Noisey video series on Chief Keef recently. You know, the one with Sosa and his GBE friends riding ATVs around his Chicago suburban mansion, kicking , kicking dirt into getting dirt kicked up in his Thomas Morton’s boat shoes. That episode is a pretty uncomfortable watch, with Morton’s condescending muttering popping in and out like a housefly you want to kill, but it’s an all-time classic Chief Keef moment. People discuss Chief Keef’s influence in technical terms, showing similarities between his and Carti’s flows, his and Future’s melodies, etc., but to me it’s always felt more holistic, like MJ’s influence on the modern NBA. Dunks and turn-around jumpers and hitting game-winners but also showboating, being bigger-than-life, Space Jam. I don’t think any street rapper from Chicago would dare to be publicly absurd or debaucherous had Chief Keef not whipped around in an ATV for the media and claimed to be 300 years old.

You can see that kind of influence in this ridiculous video from Lil Zay Osama, a rising Chicago rapper. He’s part of the young vanguard helming the city’s emerging melodic wave, which owes its glossy sound to Lil Durk. But Zay Osama’s decision to make the video about fleeing from a goofy-looking cop who wears Timbs and runs like Joe Budden? That feels more like a Chief Keef thing. Lil Durk has the new school hitting melodies, but Chief Keef gave them the confidence to do the absurd shit.

Shawny Binladen – Drippy Christ

Most of these songs start the same way. Cash Cobain’s producer tag – “And this beat from Cash, not from YouTube” – followed by a barrage of electric piano chords and Shawny Binladen bursting in with his shit-talking like he has to be somewhere else soon. He says what he has to say then gets out; these songs rarely run longer than a couple minutes. This has been the mold for a lot of the music coming from Queens’ 03 collective, and it’s infectious as hell.

Reducing Drippy Christ to the 03 sound is, of course, selling the project short. There are some stunning moments on this. Shawny Binladen is a versatile vocalist with a bevy of fashion references and makes stuff like “I am a Christian but I got on Dior” sound incredible. The somber string sample at the start of “PSA” could find itself on a Wu-Tang Clan album, but here it’s repurposed for a banger. Cash Cobain also knows how to get delicate. The chords on “No Ties” are genuinely pretty and have me fiending for Cash Cobain to pivot into R&B.

Foolio – “Pimpin’ Ain’t Eazy”

Give me Foolio’s remix of “Pimpin’ Ain’t Eazy” over the Kodak Black original every day of the week. Kodak Black’s song has been mired in controversy, and rightfully so. There are intolerant bars about Young M.A. and her sexuality that ruin what would otherwise be a strong single. Also Foolio just sounds better on it.

Pivot Gang – “Studio Ground Rules”

Don’t stand out. Shut up. No social media. Don’t call next on 2K. The list goes on but a posse cut about studio etiquette is the type of social commentary we need in 2019. After dropping one of the best rap albums of 2018 in CARE FOR ME, Saba is turning his attention to his crew Pivot Gang this year. They all share similar attributes – meandering raps, an ear for jazzy instrumentals, a knack for storytelling – making for airtight group chemistry that will serve them well on their upcoming project. If this single is any indication, they’re keen on riding and refining the sound that made heads in Chicago notice them earlier in the decade.


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