The Rap-Up: Week of March 1st, 2020

The Rap-Up returns with new tracks from Lil Uzi Vert, Deem Spencer, and more.
By    March 2, 2020

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Brandon Callender did a moonsault off a cage last week.


Lil Uzi Vert – “That Way”


Uzi promised that Eternal Atake is dropping in 2 weeks and maybe he’s serious this time. Maybe the leakers haven’t found what he’s actually been working on. Maybe we actually have been hearing songs that were supposed to be on it for the past 2 years. No one really knows for sure at this point beside him. It’s confusing. 

But who cares about that? None of that matters because Uzi’s flipping “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys on the best officially released Uzi single since Atlantic made sure no DSP could carry “Free Uzi.” Uzi’s best efforts lately have come when he’s reimagining the past in only the way he can. He’ll up the pitch on G Herbo’s “Gangway,” and rap about watching The Big Bang Theory and later then turn Mykko Montana and K Camp’s twerk anthem, “Do It,” into something completely different. Supah Mario and Felipe S blessed him on the production, the beat feels like it’s tailor-made for the pockets Uzi dips in and out of.  It’s hard not to sing along even when he sings corny punchlines like “Can’t call 911 ‘cause I’m in Reno.”


Deem Spencer – “green starter”


A songwriter is only as good as their best love song. The greatest writers of our generation — Beyonce Knowles-Carter, Nayvadius D. Wilburn, Keith Cozart — have all tried their hand at it, finding unique ways to express such a universal feeling. It’s difficult for a love song to feel unique, cliched metaphors and worn-out euphemisms stagnate the genre. If an artist can come up with one love song that’s able to stand the test of time, they’ve already cracked the Enigma code. Queens’ Deem Spencer proved that he’s a Turing-level code-cracker, able to do it multiple times on 2019’s Pretty Face, a 34-minute album about his attempts to save a struggling relationship. 

The self-produced “green starter” is his latest meditation on the state of his love life. Opening the song, he admits that he’d “fall in love with anyone” that’d hold him, saying that he forgot about gold diggers and hoes. In the Mike Wier-directed video, he’s trying to find his footing in a new relationship, even offering to take things slowly if she wants to. Spencer’s love songs are filled with backhanded compliments and admissions of guilt. “When you talk to me you say the sweetest things to me of all the pick me’s I pick,” he raps. Spencer is a romantic at heart, but he knows he can be a scumbag too. He’s experienced too much heartbreak to be optimistic about love. In his songwriting, he offers a more realistic, albeit jaded, perspective on love. 


KT Foreign & SieteGang Yabbie – “Back2Back”


One of the best things about listening to music almost exclusively on YouTube are the region/city-focused channels of music video directors. They’re the 2020 version of a “recommended if you like” image guide to Batman comics. These hyperlocal angles allow you to learn so much about a place’s rap scene in a short amount of time. It’s not like watching a video on WorldStar or Cole Bennett’s channels; you know exactly where these people are from. The scenery becomes familiar to you even if you aren’t from there. As soon as you find a video from a new director, you watch everyone he shoots a video with. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with Thomas Tyrell’s channel, which introduced me to the San Diego rap scene. 

On “Back2Back,” SieteGang Yabbie’s voice alternates between a pitbull’s snarl and something like Kendrick Lamar’s weird alien voice. He brings an energy that KT Foreign plays off perfectly. With each verse, Yabbie raises the stakes, bragging about making 30 bands off an iPhone 7 and offering to let you in on his plays. KT Foreign spits his flexes with ease, rapping, “Big body sliding, AMG, It’s a 4matic / 10 bands on my neck but them suckas don’t want no static.” He has an effortless confidence that allows him to say things like “we playing footsie in a Hellcat” without second-guessing what you heard. It’s easy to think that Daygo’s rap scene is living in the shadow of Los Angeles and the Bay Area from an outsider’s perspective. But on a channel like Tyrell’s, even if just for a moment, Daygo can be the capital of the world. 


Liv.e – “LazyEaterBetsOnHerLikeness”


Liv.e’s made appearances on the albums of Pink Siifu and Earl Sweatshirt, but now she’s making a name for her own. The Dallas-bred, Los Angeles-based singer knows how to make a love song sting. “LazyEaterBetsOnHerLikeness” is the second single she’s released in 2020 ahead of her upcoming album Couldn’t Wait To Tell You. She’s hopeful that her relationship will work out, passionately singing “I’m still dreaming on a star / and I placed a bet that you would come and find me.” She starts doubting herself though, asking if she lost her money and her honey. Even when singing about heartbreak, Liv.e’s voice is warm and comforting. She’s able to deal with heartbreak and still move on. “I can’t play myself cause I’m not over you / Imma choose myself I hope you choose me too.”

The nostalgia-tinged video for the song is directed by Pink Siifu, featuring muddied guitar-driven production from Mejiwahn. Liv.e shines brightly on her own. On “SirLadyMakemFall” and “LazyEaterBetsOnHerLikeness,” she’s highlighted her talents as a songwriter and storyteller, building two completely different worlds that invoke their own distinct emotions. 


Lord Jah-Monte Ogbon – “BAD BITCH IN MY DM BUT WHAT ELSE IS NEW”


Lord Jah-Monte Ogbon doesn’t sugarcoat anything in his song titles. He just wants to let you know what he’s going through at the time. He’ll let you know that “NOW NIGGAS WANT TO TAP IN SINCE IM ON PITCHFORK NAH MY GUY,” while eating “VEGAN CHICKEN OVER RICE WITH MY COUGAR BITCH THAT LOOK LIKE JADA PINKETT SMITH.” It’s possible to write this blurb exclusively using his song titles, but it’s better to experience those personally.

The UbuntuGraphics video for this “BAD BITCH IN MY DM BUT WHAT ELSE IS NEW” is a stop-motion film filled with little moments from Jah-Monte’s Infinite Wisdom tour. You get to relive a day in the life of the Charlotte rapper, seeing him have conversations with fans, performing and finding out what he’s currently reading. Jah-Monte finds the most absurd ways to describe the life he lives. He won’t do any feature verses unless the payment plan comes with stock options because he’s not on the block anymore. But if he was out there, he brags he’d be “doing numbers like the cable box.” The self-proclaimed best rapper in Charlotte continues to back that up with solid singles and he won’t be satisfied until everyone in the Queen City recognizes him as that. 

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