The Rap-Up: Week of July 8, 2024

Harley Geffner serves up this week's Rap-Up with new tunes from Wallie The Sensei, P-Lo & Kool John, T9ine and more.
By    July 7, 2024

Image via Wallie the Sensei/Instagram

The Rap-Up is the only weekly round-up providing you with the best rap songs you need to hear. Support real, independent music journalism by subscribing to Passion of the Weiss on Patreon.

Harley Geffner wants to know what they even do in the Met Gala.

Lorah Faze – “Mr. Bandman”

The Scandinavian folkloric figure, the Sandman, is legendarily said to visit you at night to sprinkle magic dust over your eyes to help you dream. It’s supposedly why we wake up with sand in the corners of our eyes. You may be familiar with the Sandman through The Chordettes’ popular doo-wop song, “Mister Sandman, or maybe you’re a sicko and you’ve read the nightmarish short story from 1816 where he steals eyes from children who won’t go to sleep – to take them back to the Moon, where he feeds them to his own children.

In the Chordettes’ telling, they’re looking not for a dream, but rather a dreamy man. In Fayetteville, NC rapper Lorah Faze’s interpretation, she’s after the Band Man. Playing on the iconic dum dum dum riff, she interpolates the hook to make her quest to have sex with the Band Man into a playful, bubblegum-popping success story. She’s getting racks because the Band Man – and his whole set – love the way she turns them on. She’s conquering the crew and stepping over all the pick-me girlies trying to win the love (money) of this mystical Band Man. And she’s rewarded with riches beyond imagination. May we all tell our children of Lorah’s storied conquest.

Wallie the Sensei – “KENZO” (feat. Haiti Babii, RJmrLA & Saviii3rd)

All the best crew cuts move fast. By the time we hit 40 seconds in this song, we’ve already heard from all four Cali-based rappers, and Haiti Babii pulls the song into its stride. Over a dark, stomping NorCal-style beat, Saviii kicks it off with his sandpaper scratched voice, clarifying that the “3rd” in his name is because he bleeds blue, i.e. he’s a Crip and C is the third letter of the alphabet. RJ chimes in on his second verse that he’s a “second letter stepper,” as well. Wallie is melodic as always, but subdued, rapping about trapping out of foreclosed homes. RJ gloats that when the police pull him over, they ask for photos – nice, but semi-standard stuff from all three.

This is all leading up the the highlight though, when Haiti zaps the song to another level, reaching for each word as he enunciates “I. Go. Ken. Zo. Once. A. Gain… My. Kin. Folk. That’s. My. Twin.” He hits that flow for a few lines, in a way that’s both sing-songy and punchy at the same time. Then he slips into a new double-time flow, and holds the last s on “kicksssssss,” like a snake slithering out of the way.

It’s a jolt of energy that the other three guys coast off for their next verses, matching that higher-octane push. When Haiti comes back around, instead of doubling back with the hook, he starts it then veers violently left, exclaiming that his kinfolk ain’t actually his twin. The rest of the verse might as well be Suga Free the way he’s flowing and changing speeds and intonations. A pure masterclass from Haiti, something like Jrue Holiday walking into team USA scrimmages and busting LeBron, Steph, and KD (who still put up formidable performances).

P-Lo & Kool John – “Thumb” (feat. Nef the Pharoah & ALLBLACK)

This one is not for the kids. A single from P-Lo and Kool John’s new album, “Thumb” is a concept song where each Bay Area rapper takes turns talking about, to be explicitly frank, putting a thumb in a girl’s butt. ALLBLACK carries the hook, letting the Oooohs from the sample (which I couldn’t ID) do the work to explain the reaction to such an act. The beat is a bouncy Bay Area slapper, and carries the weight of the song while each guy gets more explicit than the last.

Every verse mentions there’s someone they want to sleep with more than the person they are currently with (first it’s a friend named Tiffany, then another friend, Stephanie, then the girl’s mom). They go from using the thumb like a hitchhiker to hot dog analogies, and it goes off the rails basically right off the bat. The theme is explicit, sure, but it’s actually a really fun(ny) song and the flows, voices, and beat all perfectly intertwine. If you heard it at a function and didn’t register exactly what they were saying, you’d feel the jig taking over your body and begging you to bop to it.

T9ine – “Stunt like cway”

T9ine is back. The Tampa Bay-based rapper recently spent nine months in County, after battling an interesting legal case stemming from a 2021 robbery and shooting that essentially put the reliability of cell phone tower data at the center. His lawyers successfully argued that CellHawk, a commonly used tool by police to gather someone’s location at any given time, is remarkably flawed and needs to face more scrutiny (like many tools used by law enforcement). The Intercept did a deep dive on the company’s practices a while back, highlighting how the rapid development of unreliable surveillance tech has outmaneuvered laws that are not moving as quickly, and it’s worth a read if you can beat the paywall (use T9ine ended up pleading guilty to dealing in stolen goods, accepting a 9-month sentence. The case put his career on hold, right when he was on a real upward trajectory.

He’s starting from scratch now and sounds fresh as ever. On “Stunt like cway,” his laid back, introspective flows lock in perfect step with his longtime producer, 5AM’s spacey beats. The words melt together. Strings of melted bars melt further and gracefully into the shallow crevices of 5AM’s beat. Meanwhile, he’s smiling much as he ever has, jumping in a pool with his 1’s on, and rapping about counting his money and blessings while smoking one for breakfast. Glad to have him back, and back in his bag.

PlayerrWays x GMoneyDT – “BeBe Kids”

In the last POW Nina column, I highlighted the back-against-the-wall energy with which the Stinc team has been rapping lately. PlayerrWays and GMoneyDT have been carrying that energy with them as the politics keep politicking, and the raps keep getting better. Playerr kicks off with a hook for the ages, claiming the title “Mr. Fresh Up Out The Field” while mourning the potential he’s wasting by being out in the field rather than the studio. Over the LA-style nervous beat, the two take turns spitting about their lifestyles, their fits, their love of the drink, and everything else you’d expect from a Stinc disciple. The content isn’t overwhelmingly fresh, but the way Playerr messes around with the flows gives it an elevated feeling.

Emptying the Chamber

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