Image via RX Papi/YouTube
Harley Geffner knows the truth.
RX Papi – First Week Out
Image via RX Papi/Dawg Shit Records
Stream RX Papi’s new project HERE.
After serving a year-long prison sentence, Rx Papi was a free man for just 10 days. This past weekend, the Rochester rapper was arrested in the Bronx while on Instagram Live following an argument with his girlfriend in which she called the police, and claimed that he hit her, took her sunglasses, and stole $7,500. There is no way to know what actually happened between the two, but through the 20-minute Live video, Pap fully maintains his innocence and remains mostly calm while doing so, as his partner screams, throws things, and threatens him before police put him in the squad car and whisk him off to jail. The case is still open of course, but in the meantime Papi sits behind bars yet again while he is trying to raise $10,000 to pay for bail by selling t-shirts and a new First Week Out EP.
There’s no use in commenting on the case without any evidence available to us, as the Live takes place after what this woman is accusing Papi of, but the fact remains that yet another generational talent is in jail. Recidivism rates in the U.S. are at an all time high, and this isn’t to speak of Pap, but more generally, prison does not give people the tools to handle business and their lives when they are released. People come out of long jail sentences not knowing how to use the internet, not understanding how to find housing in a perma-competitive market, and with virtually no support from a penitentiary system whose top dogs earn more money if those people end up back in prison. The whole incentive system is backwards and unproductive in creating the types of rehabilitation that high-minded liberals pride themselves on believing is possible with hard work and determination. Why else would a prison have a library?
His First Week Out tape is a set of rough songs from his 10 days of freedom, and it’s the exact quality you’d expect from a visionary who’s been holding onto a lot of shit to say. Even though Pap doesn’t write songs and mostly just talks shit over production, there’s some deep and heavy stuff through the 10-song WeTransfer file. First, he starts off with an unexpected twist with “Panic Attack”, a melodic paranoia anthem which lofts headily over the soft post plugg production. Then come the thunderstorming beats in “Trailer Park Blues” and “Sunday School” where Pap can get into his villainous drug lord bag. The beats compress, decompress, blink, and sputter all while Pap, in his residue-smeared designer whips legendary batches of dope that will be spoken about for generations. The type that made his auntie OD, then come back and tell him good job.
The rest of the tape features a Brooklyn style drill beat, mafioso sounding Michigan beats with the violin strings and jumpy Energy bass patterns, and a few other tricks up his sleeve. You could say he’s a good storyteller, because of course he is, but it’s more than just the plotlines. There’s sidequests, character development, and all the decision-making and moral quandaries are wrapped up in neat 4-line packages that bring you directly into the cylinders firing in his mind. It’s not just what happens, but how it happens, what it sounded like, and what he thought about while it was happening that makes Pap stand out. He’s cooking a fresh batch in the kitchen but all he can think about is “deep down I’m mad I just bought this fit.” His internal monologues are self-aware with a sly wit and a disturbing bent. Just like people love those true crime and serial killer shows, listening to Pap’s music is a look inside the disturbia informed by 400 years of cruel American policy choices to help the powerful make money off fucking up poor people’s brains. It’s not necessarily all true (and in fact, very little of it likely is given its often absurd stories), but the character he plays in his music can tell us a lot about the world we experience around us. We see all of these dynamics playing out in real time both in his music, and the situation he finds himself in right now, back behind bars after just a taste of freedom.
Lil Poppa – “Happy Tears”
Lil Poppa isn’t doing anything extraordinarily new or super interesting, but he’s just really good at what he does. His new mixtape is full of inspirational melodies and vivid street tales of pain, determination and triumph, and his voice sounds great telling them. “Happy Tears”, off his new album, Heavy Is The Head, tells of how his everyday emotional rollercoaster is starting to look a little brighter these days. He sings of the ups and downs with the perspective of someone who found a new reason to stop popping pills and enjoy the life that’s in front of him. It almost feels like a disbelief, like he’s having trouble coming to terms with the fact that he earned the beautiful things he’s able to enjoy in life. But there he is – with a 2 year old child and new life staring him in the eyes, and he’s feeling hopeful. It’s a big step in his personal journey, and his new album reflects his shifting perspective through and through.
Wam SpinThaBin – “Stranger Things”
Former Sniper Gang member Wam SpinThaBin raps with a warm glow to the point that his raps almost become wallpaper to the atmosphere he creates. Aside from the not so subtle Kodak disses, words barely even register with the way he slides through his lyrics half-finishing words that sound more like syllabic groans than anything else. The atmosphere is eerie, aided by the Stranger Things themed visuals, and Wam comes off psychopathic with his straight faced killer raps.
Rod Wave – “Got It Right”
Rod Wave is grateful. Maybe he saw all the sad boy memes or maybe it just genuinely hit him how much there is to be thankful for. In “Got It Right”, off his new Jupiter Diaries tape, he reminisces on the times he and his sister sat in the laundromat while he was writing songs, how he regrets breaking into houses when he was younger, and how precious the financial protection he’s built for his family feels. And he is grateful that he feels like he finally has it figured out. As he explains on the outro, “You know growin’ up in this shit, I had to find myself, see what was for me, you know? And I got my fans, I know all this shit is blessin’ me and I appreciate it.”
PlayerrWays – “Jungle (Remix)” feat. Rassy Buggati
Rap videos that start off with news clips are a tried and true formula, but they always add that extra layer of realism that makes the music hit that little bit harder. The Stinc Team is still showing out for Drakeo and Ketchy, and even their lesser known members are putting out heat everyday. PlayerrWays is as smooth as they come, rapping a hook about dashing from the cops and boosting fresh fits in a distinctly slippery cadence. Cell footage from inside a jail cell cuts in with a verse from fellow Stinc team member Rassy, who raps about stepping on the whole jungle, shootouts with tranquilizers, and hanging from the back of a silver luxury Hummer. LA rap is in a great place right now.
Emptying the Chamber