The Rap-Up: Week of June 15th, 2020

The Rap-Up returns with new tracks from Kadeem, Pop Smoke, and more.
By    June 15, 2020

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Mano Sundaresan knows it’s still wartime.

Kadeem – “momma freestyle”

You’ll hear a version of this story in any American city, but here’s how it goes in Boston:

  • The city spends $414 million per year on its police department. Second largest item in the city budget (first is Boston Public Schools) and over four times larger than the amount allocated to the Public Health Commission.
  • Exorbitant overtime pay (last year it was 15% of the BPD budget) and, on top of that, countless reports of overtime fraud among officers and detectives. 
  • A racist, notoriously violent police force. There was Charles Stuart, a white man who, in 1989, falsely accused a black man of killing his pregnant wife. That case sparked a police war against black communities throughout the city.
  • Cruel, state-sponsored programs like last summer’s “Operation Clean Sweep,” wherein police arrested and displaced dozens of homeless people living on the Methadone Mile, a stretch of the South End home to the bulk of Boston’s health infrastructure for opioid users. Destroyed their belongings, too.

This is just a sliver of the story that doesn’t even begin to address the anti-blackness undergirding the city’s planning, housing, education, etc. And it’s barely worth mentioning what Mayor Marty Walsh has done in response. Friday he declared racism a public health crisis. Then he said he would reallocate $3 million of the department’s overtime budget to public health. That’s less than 1% of Boston police’s annual budget. He’s not over — he wants to have $12 million reallocated, or 3%, and of course has a “task force” in the works. 

This is what reform looks like — in Boston, in every city. Slow, empty, ineffectual, useless. And the people are slowly catching on.

Over the “Momma” beat, Kadeem penned a manifesto for his home and soul as the Boston streets filled with protesters demanding abolition and city council laggardly engineered new micro-reforms to mock them. “I don’t handshake with the jakes / Or handshake with a snake / Or handshake with the state.”

Steelz, RJmrLA, & $tupid Young – “Get The Memo (feat. Rucci & Azjah)”

The lighting makes it look like my laptop is low on battery, RJ comes through with a show-stopping hook, Rucci really wants to take his shirt off, and Azjah’s closing verse either ruins it or shoots it into greatness based on how you feel about her singing. Amazing stuff. Add it to the vast list of songs I wish I could hear out this summer. 

(Also a lot of people in the YouTube comments seem to think that the lineup — an Asian man, Latino, black man, and black woman — is a political statement. One commenter: “THEY ain’t gonna like this, there’s too much UNITY in this video.” Well done team.)

Sir E.U & NAPPYNAPPA – “Stress / I Hold The 45 Like Melania Trump”

Yes, you’re listening to the ‘08 classic by Justice with the La Haine inspired video that made the French government way too mad, or that random song from the NBA 2K13 soundtrack based on your frame of reference. In any case, the jangly synth mess sounds fresh with two of D.C.’s finest spazzing over it. Take E.U’s advice and “walk somewhere crankin this.”

Pop Smoke – “Make It Rain (feat. Rowdy Rebel)”

Need this paired with every video of slave owner statues being pushed off their pedestals and thrown into bodies of water. Read Alphonse on how “Dior” became a protest anthem if you haven’t already. 

Side note: Somebody needs to hook GS9 up with Navin.

Key! – “Spend One Night”

All good music produces a dopamine release, but Key! music sounds like it was experimentally designed for that purpose. Melodies assembled and beats selected based on neurological tests he’s conducted on randomly-selected participants. A rainbow of brain scans for every song on the album. Calls in Working On Dying or Kenny Beats if the song still isn’t hitting desired dopamine level. The third cheat code is Atlanta bass music which he uses here, shoutout Kilo. Key! has it down to a science.

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