Image via LGP Qua/Instagram
Harley Geffner used to be a copy editor and he has still never in his life spelled restuarnat right.
Rylo Rodriguez x NoCap – “Thang For You”
If 4PF was paying as much as they did to clear this gorgeous Bobby Caldwell sample, it needed to be for a song that accentuated the soulfulness of the original. All throughout, Rylo and NoCap harmonize with and use it to their advantage, playing with the melody and themes to talk about their situations with women.
Rylo starts out talking about the regret from letting a woman walk away, seeing her pregnant with another man when he dreamed of having kids with her. He finishes his verse wondering where she’s been and who she’s been with, hitting it over and over again with increasingly pained feelings.
NoCap slides in after to deliver one of the verses of the year, pushing and pulling the sample to his whim. It’s as genuine as you can get, as he submits all his blessings to his ex-girl, talks about all the situations in which she was going to leave but found her way back, and how he searched for closure in money – ultimately to be disappointed. He leaves us with an image of himself alone at 3 a.m. in Miami, wishing she was with him before Rylo and Bobby take us out harmonizing. I wish more artists took samples as seriously as these guys did, actually engaging with them lyrically and melodically in a synergistic way, rather than just a straight pitch or chop to rap over.
Sizzy – “Grippy Thing”
Remember when “WAP” was considered the nastiest song of all time? Bad faith pundits were going to town on it, and it sparked countless counter-dialogues, and all of the discourse turned dumb. There were hornier songs before it, and there’d be hornier songs after it. But I did not expect how rap would shape-shift in its form.
After SexyyRed’s last album, Alphonse predicted it would be a horny summer, and it’s proving to be true. Case in point: Sizzy’s thunderous ode to her skills in the bedroom. “Grippy Thing” is an onslaught of sex antics, preferences, and advice, over a beat harder than steel. I won’t get into too many details in case I’m ever searching for a job in corporate America, but just know that Sizzy has some unique taste in what she likes.
As popularity is measured and attracted in shorter and shorter bursts, it makes sense that everything would moving to become more shocking. The lyrical content is attention-grabbing, sure, but it’s really the bravado in Sizzy’s voice that sets this apart. She booms with the confidence of a mafia boss, slick and unafraid. The only question I’m left with is how she goes about daily life activities with those nails?
G.T. x BabyTron x Certified Trapper – “Back On Tour”
BabyTron and Certified Trapper run at G.T.’s pace in this one, flowing in a slower and more controlled way than normal. Hearing Certified slide so smoothly on a track without the Milwaukee claps is almost alarming, and he does it with ease. Subtle sound effects whistle and whizz in the background, like signals to the corner boys as each rapper speaks their piece without any real thematic alignment other than everyone sounding cool as hell behind VHS filters.
Certified claims he got locked up for what was in his arsenal and speaks to how running with a rat in a crew spoils the whole group, BabyTron compares football zones to fractions of his attention, and G.T. is all about his money. This feels like a fairly standard neo-Detroit rap video, but the beat elevates it to another level, giving the feeling of being in a drug kingpin’s car zipping around town as the guys talk shit in the back.
Quaa4 – “Devils Work”
Out of West Philly, Quaa4 is deeply acquainted with the heartache of street life. He starts this song with a warning that it isn’t fun. He’s watched the playground where he used to play turn into a war zone, he’s seen his brothers lose their lives over silly shit, and now he plays witness to all his friends turning to drugs to ease the pain.
For all the talk about glorification of violence and drugs in rap music, there is much much more rap speaking to the negative externalities of the lifestyle. Life can be heartbreaking, and the people who see the worst of reality up close over and over again can’t help but have the joy sucked from them. You can feel the joylessness of Qua’s life seeping into his music. As he said in an Instagram post honoring his little brother who passed away at 19 years old, “it’s a scar in every bar,” and we can hear the emotions weighing heavily on his mind.
LGP Qua – “D.O.D.”
No, LGP Qua and Quaa4 are not related in any way, but they are both from Philly, and they both rap about the painful side of living how they do in the city. But the two approach it in starkly different ways. Quaa4 is melodic and pained, but LGP Qua spits with a fury from deep within about the injustices they’re faced with. He’s not joyless, he’s Angry. The struggle turned him cold, and his bars are venomous, with stories of entire lives tightly wrapped into single lines. It’s searing but quippy, moving between thought-provoking overtures like a wide out running sharp routes.
Emptying the Chamber