Written by Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy (@danielmondon)
As someone who has curated separate Brick Squad and Odd Future playlists, 2014’s current strain of rap cliques leave a bit to be desired. In the 90s, big gun rap groups and labels were duly recognized as empires, defined by particular sonic qualities and iconic visual aesthetics. Today we have conglomerates, defined by little but the prospect of merging artists together with little interest for united fronts. Recent rumors that Young Thug—the ascendant ATLien who broke through by aligning with Brick Squad—could be signing over to Cash Money caused concerned bellyaching in pockets of the internet rap fandom.
Brick Squad, Cash Money, Young Money, MMG, GOOD Music, Grand Hustle and Coke Boys: all defined by their leaders’ star power and a bustling assemblage of young bucks attempting to find a voice. These are not quite vanity labels and, at the same time, not really artistic unions—they rest somewhere in-between branding opportunities for occasional tax write-off compilations and BET cipher appearances. Why anybody would be concerned about Thugga’s possible acquisition by Cash Money seems confusing, as he’s merely switching over from one hazily-drawn “team” to another. If rap is beginning to become more and more like wrestling, then Young Thug is currently Sting, flipping from NWO faction to NWO faction in a matter of moments.
Young Thug’s “Stoner” has been privy to plenty of beatjacks ever since it began to look like a hit. Plenty of the rappers jacking “Stoner” have come off looking unfortunate, unsure whether to sing, rap or gargle their way over Dun Deal’s trap psychedelia. (Pour one out for Jadakiss, yikes.) Kool AD, once the louche/loose half of Das Racist, jumps on “Stoner” at the beginning of the recent tape, Coke Boys, a loose eight song collection recorded in German hotel rooms with the Seattle multi-hyphenate Kassa Overall. It should be a train wreck, but AD taps into a strain of Thugga’s drawling weirdness by rambling and laughing and morphing voices through his verses: “crushing a bag of the cookies and bagging and tagging the rookies and racking and macking and packing a mac in the back of the ac / yakkedy-yak… / Ohmygod ohmygod oh – my – god”. He doesn’t feel like D4L’s Fabo, as the original’s refrain states, but he’s just as high.
AD and Overall’s take on “Stoner” sets a precedent for the rest of Coke Boys 5, with popular instrumentals given the type of off-kilter humor expected from an ex-Das Racist member. A big element of this humor lies in the familiar drops that litter the tape at every turn: Jessica Gomes purring “Maybach Music,” DJ Khaled bellowing his presence, Shadoe Haze’s immortal “DAMN SON, WHERE’D YOU FIND THIS?!” The tracks pile on mixtape-era drops to an inch within overkill—the “Trapaholics!” drop utterly buries final track “Saucier”—which seems to be the point. As always with Kool AD, this functions as the skewering that only a fan could offer, the type of fandom that can find you dryly running through a series of familiar tags over the “UOENO” instrumental (“Holiday Season. LA Leakers. Gangsta Grillz.”) and dropping Young Chop’s name repeatedly over a twenty year-old RZA beat. The repetitive approach functions as pure stoner humor, an acknowledgement of the drop’s absurd nature that few artists care to poke fun at. (Wale’s intro to French Montana’s “Everywhere We Go” – “MMG, Bad Boy, Coke Boys, BOA, that’s a lotta letters but fuck-it” – is a rare anomaly.) It also functions as a reminder that these terms are interchangeable and barely mean anything in 2014: they just function as audible banner ads on mp3s. The funniest and smartest drop comes at the end of the aforementioned ‘UOENO’ jack, where Akon’s holler of “Konvict Music” appears. It’s a sign of a time long past, a brand name that means as much today as Crystal Pepsi. It’s funny, but also a little sad, because each one of these drops could easily fade away as quickly as Akon’s vanity label did. You won’t find that on the Internet.
Link: Kool & Kass’ Coke Boys 5