The Rap-Up: Week of September 8th, 2020

The Rap-Up returns with post-Labor Day edition, featuring new tracks from Ralfy the Plug, Lil Yachty, Big Sean, and more.
By    September 7, 2020

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It’s over for you motherfuckers once Harley Geffner turns heel.

Ralfy the Plug – “Closing Arguments”

If you’re reading this blog, you’re surely already familiar with the Stinc Team, the targets of a ludicrous police conspiracy, who happen to be one of the best rap crews in existence. While Drakeo remains in a dungeon fit for a 12th-century serf accused of not paying a death tax, Ralfy announced his freedom with an IG post and new single. “Closing arguments” is creep music at its finest, with Ralfy mudwalking through the spaces he hollows out in AcetheFace’s ghostly murmur and spitting jury raps before Drakeo drops in with his muffled GTL musings.

“Get the bag and get to acting all invincible / plus my neck and wrist practicing disco moves /
I done kick flipped in all my expensive shoes / Free Drakeo, the judge knows he innocent too”

Lil Yachty – Birthday Mix 5

I’m not sure what it is with these Yachty birthday mixes, but they have remained consistently the best material he has dropped over the last 5 years. The Sprite and Target spokesperson phase dulled Yachty’s music quite a bit, and much of the glitter in his technicolor bubblegum pop faded from his official releases, but he always kept heat for his birthday mixes.

Since 2016, he’s been releasing one at the end of August every year, usually mixtape length and spliced together in one YouTube or Soundcloud upload. Taken in full, the fifth edition sounds like a jog through rolling fields of flowers in a butterfly sanctuary. He traverses Pierre Bourne synths with the grace of a deer breezing through the idyllic scene, daydreams in lavender-colored cartoon bubbles about all the possibilities his future holds, hops onto a motorbike with Tee Grizzley for D to the A part 2, and smooths it out with some woozy R&B. The beginning is a call back to the thematic tie on his first Lil Boat tape, with the character of Uncle Darnell telling Boat and Yachty how proud he is of them. 

With that first tape, Yachty effectively captured the teenage zeitgeist for internet pop nostalgia, but after being swallowed whole by people who wanted him to become the fourth Migo, there was a soul-less disconnect with his music. It was still being marketed as optimistic teenage pop rap, but Yachty was hanging with LeBron James, fucking Instagram models, and dealing with label politics at this point, no longer basking in the embarrassment of being the odd one out, or dealing with the giddy girl problems of his high school years.

He’s rapping with a lot more freedom now, like he’s been through the ringer and come out the other side, still intact and with millions of dollars. I’m not sure if QC has given him more creative control or just loosened the reins on him a little, but he’s seemingly reconnecting with the hopefulness that helped him reach stardom in the first place. He’s back down on the ground level, also on top of the hottest rap scene in the world, dropping videos with Sada Baby and grabbing verses on Flint, Michigan street cyphers now.

It’s like seeing an old friend come out of depression, and noticing the extra glint in their eyes that shows they are really appreciating the special aspects of life. Yachty has that glint in his music right now, looking to the future with the same bubbly exuberance and infectious smile that he started out with, but his raps have a hardened verve, a little extra motor behind them now.

Veeze – “Law N Order”

Veeze fans have been HUNGRY for this track since a minute of it leaked about a month ago. A snippet of the video posted on Instagram that migrated to Twitter a few days ago confirmed it was actually coming out, and the sample drove a small frenzy. Just search “Veeze” on Twitter to see everyone squealing about the song. For what could have been just a gimmick, this song is really well-done, with the sample flipped perfectly, and Veeze’s raps driving a sense of forward momentum that never dissipates. 

Big Sean – “Friday Night Cypher”

Shame on everyone involved with making this happen. For a song with such an incredible amount of starpower on it, this is the worst song I’ve ever heard. It’s totally incongruous, sounding like 6 different snippets pieced together without a single thought given to a throughline, and nobody is on their A game. Literally every single artist on this song sounds out of place, even though Sean pulled in some modern Detroit producers to attempt to match these artists with their types of beat. None of it worked.

Maybe I could have been tricked into listening to a bit of Sean’s album if he had strategically spaced out these features over many songs, but this is a travesty, a waste of talent, and I am forgoing my position on prison abolition because Big Sean needs to be jailed for this one. And I haven’t even mentioned Eminem.

CJ Santana & Kre8 – “Slide”

Hard ass NY drill minimalism, straight from the apartment hallways and uncorrupted by corporate vultures.

$uede – “Poppin”

Out of LA’s Huntington Park neighborhood, $uede has been compared constantly to Kodak, Jackboy, and anyone else with that whistley Florida accent. I hear it a little in the way $uede draws out his words, but it sounds great and still not completely derivative in the context of spacey West Coast smoking jams.

Bris, EBK YoungJoc & Mac J – “Big Bloody”

Sacramento rappers are making some of the most bone-rattling music in the states right now. It was a big week for Sac town, with strong singles from Celly Ru, Shootergang Kony, and a cypher with the late, great Bris that takes the cake.

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