The Rap-Up: Week of August 19, 2019

The Rap-Up returns with new bangers from JPEGMAFIA, Young Thug, and more.
By    August 18, 2019

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Young Thug – “So Much Fun”

Lucas FosterThe rumblings were there. On Thursday 18 inches of hail fell in Michigan, scientists announced the discovery of a new organ underneath the skin. In the oppressive mid-August heat of the San Fernando Valley I saw faucets running with wine, I saw thousands of swans glide across the night sky, there are rumors of global elites congregating in Antartica in preparation of our transition to the Age of Aquarius. And at 12 Eastern, 9 Pacific Thursday night Thug finally delivered the album we all knew he had in him.

Brandon Callender: In the lead-up to this album, Thug said one thing that stuck with me: “If you not tryna have fun, or in a fun mood, don’t even play this album.” He’s right — So Much Fun is 19 straight tracks of nothing but Thug having fun with an all-star cast. It’s like how Adam Sandler gives all his friends roles in his movies but it actually ends up being good. He dons an Australian accent with Future on “Sup Mate.” Then the glittery and playful sounding “Surf,” he drops TOTALLY DUUUDE! adlibs while accusing people of running off with his style. Thug’s found a way to package all of his eccentricism into an easily digestible album. This album is a sampler of all that he’s done; you could point to any song on this project and say, “I love Young Thug the most when he does this.” Every song feels like it could’ve been released at a different point in the past and slot in perfectly on an old project. But this is all to say that “I’m Scared” is the best song on the album because Pierre Bourne has been killing it this year.

LF: I’m concerned that Birdman put some sort of Satanic black magic hex on Thug to actually release a normal project. Other than that, I’m ecstatic – what a beautiful album. It’s like you said, he tried out all of his craziest ideas over the last 5 years, figured out exactly what worked on straightforward pop records, and put it all together. There are rumors of So Much Fun transforming Thug into a crossover star ala 2016 Gucci Mane, which seems like it’s still in the cards after the weekend’s streaming charts were dominated with songs from the album. It might be all smoke and mirrors enabled and encouraged by Thug hive trickery and chaos magick, but it would be a very satisfying conclusion to Thug’s story arc.

Chavo – “Left Right Wrist”

BC: Earlier this summer I got a DM asking me to listen to this rapper named Sharc; I clicked the link because they said Pierre worked closely with him. That was my introduction to Sosshouse — Pierre Bourne’s imprint on Interscope where he experiments with his production in ways he doesn’t with other artists. “Left Right Wrist” is more on the minimalistic side.

While Pierre doesn’t veer away from his recognizable drum patterns, he makes something that tries to recapture both the distortion and chaos of “Gummo,” and the spacey nature of the beats he’d send Carti. Chavo is able to swagger through the beat, despite the production’s two clashing ideals. His lazy delivery let him to sit in the pocket perfectly while he raps about his Amiri jeans and cooking dope.

LF: Chavo’s appeal here is that he’s completely unremarkable; you don’t have to do much on a Pierre beat, and sometimes rappers do too much. It’s not criminal to fold into the space he provides like a metronome time cube, in fact when Chavo tries a more complex hesitation flow in the third verse it doesn’t quite work. Hanging back is what gives Pierre’s brilliance room to breathe. I disagree that he’s the two styles are clashing here, I think he’s managed to painlessly add a distorted melody into a cloudy beat, and subtly enough that you can pick out the wistful and pretty little melodic components that make it a Pierre beat.

BC: Yeah, you nailed it. Like Pierre on his own albums, at times the Sosshouse guys just end up blending in with the production since they’re not doing too much. As much as I hate to say it, sometimes making good music is more about #vibes than anything else. 

Lil Weirdo x SmokeyGM x YHG Pnut – “Yung Bosses”

LF: Lil Weirdo, SmokeyGM and YHG Pnut are here to show you that San Diego isn’t all beach side resorts and military bases. Weirdo and Smokey have amassed a serious following locally through quasi-viral facebook video posts, street-certified local networking and an undeniable ability to fuse Chicano rap traditions with the Nervous Music of today, and the addition of Skyline’s Pnut displays the stylistic diversity in Southeast San Diego’s rap scene. It’s not music for bloggers or internet junkies, but street rappers have never needed us. 

BC: On that note, Lil Weirdo lets us know that he’s not with any of that internet arguing. All three of them have a natural charisma that makes you listen closely to every line. Weirdo’s posted up at the kickback with a firearm that has kickback while wearing Givenchy (pronounced gi-fon-kee) and Pnut makes people dance by shooting at their feet. But Smokey steals the song’s spotlight with a verse that bleeds personality. You can hear his excitement behind every punchline. Even when he speeds up, it’s impossible for him to trip up over his syllables. He’s making sure we can hear every word. 

LF: I’m unreasonably pleased that you enjoy this track as much as I do. It’s hard to explain the appeal of some regional street records to internet-based audiences, but on this track they do it for me. 

Rio Da Yung OG x RMC Mike – “News”

BC: Rio Da Yung OG and RMC Mike are two more of Detroit’s punchline kings. “News” is 2 minutes and 40 seconds straight vulgarity and comedy. Mike brags about how his girl has an ass fatter than a “bag of pumpkins.” Rio talks about his secret knife throwing talent that only comes out when his guns run out of bullets. By the way, he writes all his verses in Pig Latin and reads them backwards. While the internet may be raving about all of the scam rappers coming out of Detroit, they’re still focused on becoming masters of shittalking in all languages.

LF: Detroit is so deep and so captivating right now. One of the most interesting parts about the scene is how insular and unmoored from national trends it is. Both these guys are overweight 30 something drug dealers, they’re filming in a wood-panelled apartment with a group of their bros, they both openly reference domestic violence, the mix and master is almost nonexistent. It’s an oasis of defiance in a desert of Balenciaga sneakers and fake kickin’ shit. 

NOLANBEROLLIN – “tourer v 地方戦 爆笑レポート SL Vol 03 ② (prod. eera + nbr)”

It’s beanman season. Ezra Koenig’s favorite rapper has developed a cult like fanbase without ever taking himself, rap, or the industry seriously, rapping about scamming and the dark web since Teejayx6 was in middle school, constantly flaunting conventions about album releases and promotional strategies. He’s been teasing the release of Ultra Beanman for well over 9 months, releasing two 4 song snippet compilations that were better than most full length EPs released over the same period. Currently he’s offloading loosies on his regular Soundcloud and GOTGLOCKS while he puts the finishing touches on his album. “tourer” is a conventional song that doesn’t quite reach the heights of “Shabu” or “Beanday II,” but it’s enough for me to be ecstatic about the impending release of something that might. 

BC: Rappers who still release music primarily on Soundcloud are so interesting to me because all of them do weird things with their voices or have an unsettling ear for beats. I haven’t listened to much Nolan, but on “tourer,” his voice is something of a growl. The whimsical, looping beat is almost hypnotizing. It’s easy to get lost in the song’s hazy production and find yourself nodding along to the beat. 

JPEGMAFIA – “Jesus Forgive Me, I am a Thot”

BC: JPEGMAFIA’s been talking a lot about how his next LP is going to be a “disappointment.” It’s hard to take his words at face value though, he’s a product of the internet. “Jesus Forgive Me, I am a Thot,” is something of a departure from the noisier and cluttered Veteran. The song is fractured, part of it rosy with looping keys and Peggy singing about his attempts to figure out how to live with success. The other parts of the song have him going back to the manic nature of his past releases, screaming at the top of his lungs about people faking their relationships with him. The disappointment rap’s biggest punk star isn’t a disappointment in terms of quality. He’s disappointing us because he’s leaving what we’ve come to know him for in the past. He’s choosing to evolve and do new things.

LF: I don’t know who is going to be disappointed with the continued evolution of JPEGMafia, certainly no one who hears this. What Peggy’s doing here is like applying Burroughs’ cut-up method to a Thundercat song: the guitar lick and vocal sigh spliced and repeated for the conceptual and sonic consistency, Peg spitting and splitting across 3 movements of space and time, singing in the third: “SMH no ASMR” and somehow making more sense than any poem I’ve read this month.  It’s always glorious to enjoy an artist’s prime, especially when they are actually doing something original. I wonder how many more rappers with the vision and scope of Peggy are going to come along.

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