The Rap-Up: Week of February 12, 2024

The Rap-Up raffles off a Norwegian daytrip with billy woods and Tha God Fahim, then runs down the California coast from Meadowville to Long Beach.
By    February 13, 2024

Image via TB DaGunSlanga/Instagram

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Steven Louis has Gamebreaker 2.

Ol’ Burger Beats, billy woods & Tha God Fahim – “Black Sabbath”

You find yourself paddling across the fjord in a traditional bunad shawl. The old heads in boot-cuffed pants and Timbs reminisce about romantic nationalism. A pickled herring on your plate, a slash through your favorite vowel and a brick of cocaine on the roof of your car. Why and how is this happening? We owe it all to Oslo’s Ol’ Burger Beats, whose textured astral jazz creates a space for both billy woods and Tha God Fahim to rap in grayscale.

Our correspondents are quoting Malcolm X and Kurt Vonnegut, while searching for precious metals and schmeared bagels. The thickset bass and languid piano strokes fashion a rabbit-hole to eternity with three minutes of runtime. Burger’s 74: Out of Time also features Gabe ‘Nandez, Pink Siifu, Fly Anakin, Yungmorpheus, Vic Spencer and Quelle Chris — this guy gets our website. Here’s a hymn for overcast Sundays, windbreakers zipped to the chin, watches ticking backward.

LNDN DRGS, Jay Worthy & Domo Genesis – “Real Original”

Rap as a vehicle for nostalgia is well-established but also deeply improbable. In Los Angeles, there’s a warm, crackling familiarity in flipping soul records, but that is accompanied by hyper-real dispatches from the gang trenches, a physical existence unknown to most of our readership. It’s weird to feel a specific, sunlit sadness as Jay Worthy reminisces on “when Lil A was still alive and Lil Doug had braids.” It’s also how you know this is the top-shelf stuff worth connecting with.

We share a steely optimism that Baby 8 will beat the case and avoid the cage. We mourn Big Wy through a crimson tint and parables of ism. We can see Domo’s modest childhood basement and smell the charring of burned bridges. “And then I flee scott-free / blunt slow burning but the mind move in Mach 3,” he raps. With a silky rework of Teddy Pendergrass, Sean House of LNDN DRGS resumes his watch as the funkiest cratedigger in the game. As listeners, we’re so far from this world, yet here we are, nostalgic for how it used to be.

TB DaGunslanga, $ully & Missumadethis – “I’m a Sinner”

TB DaGunslanga has a certain magnetism, and it’s a relief to see $ully unshackled from the carceral beast, but “I’m a Sinner” really reaches a new level through the A+ beat by Missumadethis. The strings are inverted and curl outward, wilting into empty spaces left by its manic, laser-tagging percussion. It’s regal and paranoid, buoyant yet confined.

Both Long Beach artists come correct, with
TB bringing battle-worn melody and celebrating the wins in a zero-sum game. $ully is counting blue bills to make up for stolen time and repurposes an iconic Drakeoism at the end of his verse. “I’m a Sinner” is a soaring confessional without much context needed, music to gaze below to.

GualaGang Eazy – “Fresh Prince”

Now direct your attention to Carlton pulling skits in a black Nike tech. Little T lights the beam and promptly gets his Instagram deactivated. And EBK Cornflake Lieberbaum is absolutely floating on the latest Thizzler cypher. Sacramento’s GualaGang Eazy is the self-appointed “Fresh Prince of Meadowview,” sprinting through a Bay Area-type superboost version of the sitcom jingle to hilariously great results. He fondly recalls the childhood hustle from the 10-speed bike and recoils at the idea of a $50 date. He invokes 1997 Mac Dre and nicknames his piece Rakim (because it too ain’t no joke). The bundle is in her unmentionables as we cruise to the 6900 block.

Eazy’s latest drop is a mixtape for the young traditionalist — leisurely striking canvas with a massive brush, he borrows Kendrick’s “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” Juice WRLD’s “Lucid Dreams,” King Von’s “Crazy Story”and Heembeezy’s “Face No Book.” But nothing tops GualaGang moving into the gated community. There goes the neighborhood.

AG Club & ICECOLDBISHOP – “How to Cry”

Across the multiverse at Shangri-La, Los Angeles’ ICECOLDBISHOP and the Bay Area’s AG Club link up for a foot-stomp flow-along that feels organically earned despite its compilatory existence. You can hear the dry echoes of smacked palms and cracking fingers from Malibu. Bishop has emerged as one of the most thrilling and unique tones in contemporary hip hop, but he lays it bare with brute simplicity here — “you really on some dumb shit / truly I didn’t want to embarrass you in public / then I’d become the subject / you are not my homie, kick that n**** out my subset.” He seeks recipients for unaddressed white lies and kicks strained “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed” energy. The AG Club duo volley around an earworm hook that contests gravity and microwaves the brass encasing. It’s likely that you have already learned how to cry and may even be approaching your 10,000 hours, but the few uninitiated have a painless way in.

Saviii 3rd & G Perico – “b o y z N d a h o o d”

Lastly, an impassioned plea for public benefit. Can we please get more woodwind gangsta bounces? There can’t be any folks rooting against this, right? Saviii 3rd’s flammable growl salutes his 2100 block from over his shoulder, lacing JP Bangz’s cavernous and icy work with the requisite hoarseness. This beat has enough space to conceal two lifetimes of the illicit and the unspoken. The Long Beach general sounds like his raps are forcibly projecting from his chest, a disarming collaboration with South Central’s clubhouse leader in cool effortlessness. G Perico’s looking like he’ll cement an all-time LA run from the past five years. The bass thuds like bouncing a rubber ball through an industrial freezer. John Singleton caught the feeling some three decades before it arrived for us to dread.

Emptying the Chamber

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