The Rap-Up: Week of April 27th, 2020

The Rap-Up returns with new tracks from Jackboy, Fivio Foreign & Meek Mill, and more.
By    April 26, 2020

Photo by Fake Dell

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Harley Geffner be kicking shit like Rodman did the cameraman.


Jackboy – Jackboy 


The Census Bureau estimated that Broward County was home to 116,818 people of Haitian ancestry in 2015 (the last year this data was collected), making up 6.33% of the 17th most populous county in the country. More than 400,000 Haitian-Americans are currently listed as living in South Florida, with many more likely undocumented. Haitians, whose land was pillaged by French colonial powers, rendering it mostly arid for centuries, and who more recently suffered through tragedy in the wake of an earthquake in 2010 that killed more than 230,000 people (and had aid abused by the American political class), are currently in the scope of the Trump administration. The admin is fighting hard in the courts right now to end Temporary Protected Status for many Haitians, El Salvadorians, and other ethnic minority groups who have been living and working in the US legally for years due to natural disaster or violent conflict in their home countries.

State Department vets unanimously advocated for phasing the program to end over the course of three years if Trump was set on doing it, but T-Rex Tillerson wanted to make sure our TPS populations were all out by the middle of 2020, election year, so they opted for a much shorter time-frame to try to evict these communities.

Born in Haiti, Jackboy (real name née Pierre Delince) moved to Pompano Beach, Florida when he was young to be closer to family, who had been living in this community with the largest percentage of Haitian migrants of any city in the U.S. This is also one of the poorest communities in the country. Like his cousin (and now label boss) Kodak Black, Jackboy became intimately familiar with the carceral state through his adolescence. Almost every one of his interviews is from behind bars. He even said in one of them that his arresting officer joked that he could just make a song about it. 

Jackboy’s eponymous album starts with a prologue from Kodak over a jail phone, who laments having to sit on the sidelines for Jackboy’s coronation. More than a coronation, it’s Jackboy’s coming of age tale. One in which he debates the contradictions he grew up surrounded by – being afraid to leave the house without his piece though his rep is fearing no man, the internal struggles over whether he’s a neighborhood hero or villain, about how those closest to him might be the ones to enact violence on him. It’s his personal growth process, taking shape through the lense and cadences of his Haitian-Creole history.

He still wants to be feared. On the Casanova-assisted “Murda,” he takes us right to the seconds between life and death, pondering pulling a trigger because someone tried to play him for a clown. This is instinct for someone who grew up in and around such violence. But he’s working through whether it really makes sense, whether the rep is really that important. As he says in the opener, “Well Jack it ain’t that simple / every problem ain’t solve by spinning in the rental.”

Held down by soulful southern rap production with light string melodies, producers dancing around the high keys of the piano, and thumping bass-knockers, Jackboy’s singing and ability to switch gears in a millisecond are on full display. Back and forth, a young kid having fun testing how far he can go with the jacking, a boy in love, a cold-blooded killer who leaves mothers asking why it’s a closed casket. He veers between different flows and melodies with a similarly swift precision, often bearing his soul, just having fun with it, or tactically disassembling an opponent, all in the span of 8 bars. 

His roots are firm, but his newer influences are clear too, as he slips in to his version of baby voice frequently through the album and tries out some ay ay ayyys in a way that sounds almost identical to the late XXXTentacion (whose raucous scene was also birthed in Broward county). There are flows that remind of Nudy and vocal layerings that sound derived from the Thug lineage. The album is really a testament to struggle, as rap is meant to be. But it’s about growing from that struggle, adding new equipment to your mental (and vocal) toolbox, and learning how to assess situations with a level head and fresh eyes. It’s self-aware in a way that only rappers who have that something special are able to accomplish. And it’s one of the best albums of the year. 


Fivio Foreign & Meek Mill – “Demons & Goblins”


From NWA to Jackboy’s arresting officers gamifying his life, rap has always been a target for the carceral violence of authorities. The Brooklyn drill scene has seen more than their fair share of this. The most promising rap crew in more than a decade was targeted and locked up on gang conspiracy charges (Bobby Shmurda, Rowdy Rebel, and the rest of GS9), drill artists were prevented from performing at Rolling Loud this past summer, and police intentionally provoke beef by doing things like blasting a song called “Folks in the Trunk,” from their cruiser in a neighborhood full of Folks-affiliated people, among many other misdeeds. 

Fivio Foreign has been one of the leaders of Brooklyn drill’s neo-renaissance over the past two or so years. I had written previously in this column that Pop Smoke blowing to a national audience would bring more eyes to the rest of the flaming drill scene, and it certainly has, albeit at a tragic cost. On his newest album, “800 B.C.,” Fivio has features from titans of the industry like Quavo, Lil Baby, and on the standout track Demons and Goblins, he gets an assist from the man whose career has become a symbol of resistance to the current state of prison politics, Meek Mill. Meek sends down a barrage of bars in his verse, borrowing some of Fivio’s signature flows and ad-libs to pay homage to the state of the scene. And as per usual, Fivio’s BOW BOWs smack you in the face, and his lines are wound so tightly, it feels like a boxer picking you apart with solely inside jabs. 


Spanish Rice & Big PJ – “Big Guy Shit”


There’s no feeling quite like listening to rappers fire numbers at you in rapid succession. Spanish Rice, part of Milwaukee’s burgeoning rap scene, is particularly adept at this. The less we understand what those numbers actually represent, the cooler they sound.

“On the first, buy 5, made 5k, if i slapped 10, buy 9, I’m doing giveaways.”


438 Tok & Rico Cartel – “No Pad No Pen 2”


438 Tok is so charismatic, and his chemistry with Rico Cartel really pops in their videos. Their energies bounce off each other, charging the other up as they go nearly bar for bar over the horn-heavy beat. This is the shit to dance to. 


Rucci – I’m Still Me


An 11-minute EP of Rucci talking shit, kicking doors, and yelling bang bangs and Ai-yi-yis  over mostly RonRon beats with AzChike, RJ, and even a Vince Staples feature. Bump it as Rucci intended, riding around the city with the muthafuckin windows down.

 

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