Mano Sundaresan only wanna know what time breakfast is.
NAPPYNAPPA – THIS WAS A DEMO…
A few weeks ago, I stumbled into D.C.’s Comet Ping Pong three hours late to a Wiki/WiFiGawd show, right in time to see Wiki smash his head in with the mic, freestyle voraciously, close with “Mayor,” and bring WiFi on stage for the encore. My most recent regret from that regret-filled night has been missing one of the openers, a rapper from southeast D.C. named NAPPYNAPPA. I hadn’t heard of him prior to the show, but I chopped it up with him and his photographer afterwards, and a few days later, I listened to his new EP THIS WAS A DEMO… and was blown away.
NAPPYNAPPA’s music is a young futurist’s take on traditional rapper virtues, somewhere between JPEGMAFIA’s cyberpunk sketches, Milo’s slippery rhetoric, and Roc Marciano’s sedated grime. He approaches each beat here in a totally unique way that never feels forced: mush-mouthing through the spiritual din of “Sunset, NU DAY,” tag teaming with his own pitched-up voice on “Second Comyng.” An early standout is “Anti-Hero Interlude,” a gorgeous funk loop that NAPPYNAPPA peppers with cryptic lines about linguistics and posterity. His writing throughout is dense and colorful, full of little splashes of world-building that would be better served in the context of a full-length.
The beats, almost entirely by Black Moses, flutter and spiral, hovering in that glassy mist slightly above ambient music. NAPPYNAPPA confirmed the title’s origin for me — he was planning on sending this one to labels instead of putting it out — and I can understand why he had that in mind. THIS WAS A DEMO… is an excellent sampler tied together by NAPPYNAPPA’s mysticism that passes by in an instant and hints at a celestial rap opus down the road.
billy woods – “Western Education is Forbidden”
billy woods says what we don’t have the guts to say, upending neoliberal mythologizing and soulless intellectualism one barbed line at a time. An example: “Shorty can’t eat no book, what I told Ta-Nehesi Coates.” Another: “Told my children western education is forbidden / Might as well sell what’s left of your Ritalin.” Both are from the appropriately-titled “Western Education is Forbidden,” off woods’ latest record Terror Management that I have neither the time nor space to review in full here. I need more time with the album, but I can safely say off my first few listens that it is as singular a project as anything he’s put out. woods’ albums are worlds-in-themselves, each its own wry sermon on the hairsplitting monotony, shadowy corners, and exhausting performances of late capitalism, and Terror Management is no exception.
He harnesses his features particularly well on this album. “Western Education” gets a second wind at the end from FIELDED, who sings a haunting outro that floats over the soft drums and keys like a dream. woods is on a rare run worthy of all the praise that your favorite rapper is getting, living out his own words: “don’t stop rhymin’, UPS not hirin’.”
Blocboy JB – “Jail Calls”
Let’s go over Blocboy JB’s fit here. Cyan Utah Jazz snapback, cyan Squidward t-shirt, lightwash jeans with SpongeBob patchwork, cyan Timbs. Rappers attending the Kids Choice Awards, take note. His outlandish look and the video’s piercingly radiant aesthetic weirdly suit the track: a hurtling affair of droning synth plucks and 808s that starts somber and revs up into, well, a Blocboy JB song.
Pop Smoke/Lil Tjay – “War”
The Prince of the Bronx and Brooklyn’s firebreathing drill maestro linked on a track, and it sounds almost exactly like what you’d expect. That’s to say that it’s everything — Pop Smoke’s chest-heaving vocals and Tjay’s faint harmonies are a lethal pairing.
Guapdad 4000 – “Gucci Pajamas” (feat. Chance the Rapper and Charlie Wilson)
Guapdad 4000 has officially made the leap from scam-rap to rap about getting scammed. Specifically, a breezy ballad about Guapdad’s girl stealing his Gucci pajamas. It’s a pretty funny concept that’s executed well, with a solid verse from Chance and all the ooh-we’s and shama-lama’s Charlie Wilson can fit into his ad lib track, but it’s missing Guapdad’s icy smirk that made “Scammin” and “Flossin” and even “Prada Process” exciting. This might end up his biggest song to date off its name-brand features and playlistable sound, but it’s far from his best work.
DJ Lucas – “Dunkin Story”
Bonus song because I miss MA a little extra after running back the same three Tacko Fall preseason highlights all night. Western MA rapper DJ Lucas spun Teejayx6’s “Swipe Story” into “Dunkin Story,” the harrowing tale of a Dunkin cashier who fucked up his order. It’s a perfect remix. Flowing like Teejay with alarming accuracy, DJ gives us the scoop on what he thinks is the ideal Dunkin order: large iced coffee, three milks, three liquid sugars (“Get the liquid sugars in the drink because it works better”). But when the cashier puts cream in his drink instead of milk, DJ descends into a state of rage and takes on the institution. Propelled by his tongue-in-cheek writing, the story takes a few sharp turns, ending with an insane twist. There are too many quotables, but for some reason “the best Dunkins are on the strangest streets” is speaking to my coffee-addled soul right now.