The Rap-Up: Week of September 25, 2023

In the latest Rap-Up, AJRadico swerves in the Jeep truck, Gabe ‘Nandez summons life from a billion lightyears, Goldenboy Countup trades chickens for dogs & SCY Jimm follows kashrut
By    September 26, 2023

Image via AJRadico/Instagram (Shot by Joshua Kissi)

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Steven Louis did indeed make a football move. Upon further review, the call on the field is overturned.


To illustrate a parable about change, let us consider the Jeep Wrangler automobile and Switch’s R&B classic, “I Call Your Name.” In 1979, Bobby DeBarge sketched out his first major hit for Berry Gordy’s imprint. That same year, the United States auto industry produced new vehicles at unseen rates, and Jeep gleefully boasted about how their trucks outperform military tanks (an admittedly weird flex but at least an earnest one from a postwar expansionist).

The selling point here was a commercially-accessible four-wheel drive vehicle – one that represented both a freedom of movement and a conquering of space still unclaimed after the Eisenhower highway revolution. The Wrangler debuted seven years later, and became Jeep’s first open effort to court regular on-road drivers. Do everyday cruisers need the torque requisite to scale the back side of a large mountain? It’s less about the movement itself, more about the imagery of conquest. Around that time, DeBarge was incarcerated on drug trafficking charges. He’ll pass from AIDS complications shortly after his release.

In 2006, “I Call Your Name” reached its radio apex, but only as the skeleton instrumental for “Throw Some Ds”. The terrain doesn’t matter and the four-wheel drive is certainly irrelevant for Rich Boy; what we care about here is how massive and shiny those wheels can look. Jeep rolls with CGI gorillas in an advertising campaign for “bigger, better, bolder.”

Here in the present, Rich Boy is not rich but behind bars. Jeep’s ownership, Stellanis, is a subject of a historic autoworkers strike. The Wrangler is getting lapped by its compact SUV counterparts, but no one is buying new cars these days anyway. And the original Switch tune is translated through another generational game of telephone: New York’s AJRadico uses it to ride through the Village on his way to brunch with a date that resembles PinkPantheress. “Put the route in the Wrangler…we make it sound like an anthem,” he murmurs.

This version sounds sedated and, refreshingly, a lot smaller. Maximum bigness has been exhausted. The ride itself has never mattered less, and that’s a good thing. Maybe it’s finally, simply just about the person behind the wheel. Here’s to a safe drive home for Radico.

Gabe ‘Nandez – “Aeons” (feat. Chester Watson)

In astronomy, an aeon comprises a billion years. In the Final Fantasy video game series, an aeon is the life force of the sacrificed, summoned in righteousness to vanquish enemies of the peace. On H.T. III, an “Aeon” is a 2:40 peyote dosing shared between cosmic nomads Chester Watson and Gabe ‘Nandez.

The latter is the machete-wielding son of two United Nations workers who grew up in Haiti, Tanzania and Canada before settling in New York City; he raps in four languages and flows like a shamanic Hell on Earth-era Prodigy. “Voodoo, we don’t bow down to the same shit,” he snarls, making reluctant offerings to the most high while warding off visions of drought and apocalypse. It’s Shaolin and Jerusalem mutating in the Lower East Side; psychedelic prayers left conspicuously unaddressed.

These two are reporting live from somewhere we simply cannot reach, and it’s not quite a billion years or a bestial recasting, but spacetime seems stuck in mescaline sapling when Chester slowly mutters that “life moving rapidly.” They don’t do this shit for free, but it would be wrong to withhold these visions from the folks that need them most. Argov’s production work is hypnotic and disorienting, and the entirety of ‘Nandez’s H.T. III is recommended whenever things down here feel hopelessly, restrictively ordinary.

Problemchild414 – “Demon Time” (feat. D’doe)

The engines rev and smoke out, the checkered flag ceremoniously waves, the ladies shriek and two of Milwaukee’s finest upstarts are all-out street racing. Problemchild414 simply says, “let’s go, good looking bro,” as the first 10 seconds of “Demon Time” sound like a Starsky & Hutch chase interlude. From there, it’s a high-speed blur, the beat whipped down to 808s buzzes and claps as if it stuck its head out the window pushing 100 mph and everything else flew away. It may recall the chaotic minimalism of fellow local talents AyooLii and Certified Trapper, but Problem Child and D’doe have a unique chemistry that almost recalls a midwestern Biggie and Kim. She’s concerned that we’re not eating enough; he swears that you’ll get this PPP back. Passing a French bulldog and flipping burgers on the grill, “Demon Time” is slight but punchy. Set your watch accordingly.

Goldenboy Countup – “Reckless”

Taxonomically, culturally and even colloquially, dogs and chickens are just not the same thing. With a few notably stupid exceptions, being labeled a dog is a good thing. Getting likened to a chicken is never good, full stop. Even serving chickens, which implies big money on the table and overall bosslike operations, still carries a connotation of desperation and struggle. 2023 was finally the year that Deland, FL’s Goldenboy Countup graduated from being the self-proclaimed Chicken Man to the leader of the Dawg Pound. After ascending through four Chicken Man mixtape installments, Goldenboy’s out with his most compelling work to date. Much of Dawg Pound is cold-blooded and hot-headed, but “Reckless” paves a strip of velvet over the mud and gravel. Lush saxophones and funky bass set up a confession with the pastor, as “Central Florida’s sargent” sits with a weapon in the pew. His flow is jerky and his voice croaks, ensuring his listener stays both captivated and horrified. It’s a big step forward for Goldenboy, from clucks in the coup to barks on the front line.

SCY Jimm – “Ain’t Original” (feat. BLP KOSHER)

SYC Jimm recently survived a targeted shootout in Daytona Beach. BLP Kosher is motivated by something called a “Dreidel Twin.” On its surface, the partnership seems about as natural as a peanut butter and sardine sandwich, perhaps a scrapped script for a 2000s buddy comedy between Shawn Wayans and Seth Rogen. Of course, that thinking “Ain’t Original,” and the joy of a democratized internet means that these two dudes can exist at the same time and even put out a slapper of a song together. Hailing from Bunnell, FL, Jimm is the most recent signee to Atlanta powerhouse Quality Control, and his delivery recalls the slipperiness of a young Peewee Longway. Kosher has aloofly-funny bars accented by sharp vowel pronunciation, think BabyTron on a Broward County sabbatical. SYC Jimm’s Highly Favored is out this week via QC. Separating meat and dairy is a personal choice, but keeping these two together seems like good business.

Jenn Carter – “JENN JENN JENN”

“Jenn Jenn Jenn” is a self-fulfilling paradox trapped in a hyperbaric, zaza-smoke pressure chamber. Jenn Carter can’t stand the way her name gets bandied around the city, ignoring desperate beef requests from local dropouts and thirsty opps. In looping her name to anchor a blistering two-minute freestyle, though, the Brooklyn firebrand ensures that it stays ringing at increasingly higher volume. There’s no space for nuance, much less a breather or ceasefire, just black-and-white shutter shots of the guys and a frenzied Carter barring straight from the camera rig. Say her name in the mirror three times and her 41 crew pops up and raids your fridge. “They cannot mention my name ‘cuz I’m lit,” she growls. Sure seems like they’re set up to fail here.

Emptying the Chamber

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