Mack Maine ft. Lil Wayne – Ryde 4 Me

This one is pretty simple: “Ryde 4 Me” is a straight Cash Money throwback. The beat doesn’t bounce like classic Mannie, nor is it nearly as fun, and Mack Maine is the rapper, so that’s what that is. But the chorus, sung by Mack in that swampy, melodic slur is a surprisingly effective Hot Boys homage, and it was enough to give me a few flashbacks. Wayne even almost skips across the beat like he used to way back when.

And that’s all it is, but for a rap powerhouse label and crew whose most interesting member after its big three is Short Dawg, any sign of life from its underlings (like, say, this) is probably worth mentioning. Especially if it’s from the guy that asked to fuck Miley Cyrus.

Download

a post where i bitch about a pitchfork review

re: tom b.’s review of ‘mr. zone 6’, on the scale of pfork rap scores it got a pretty great rating, but i wonder why tom always insists on making a point of what he perceives to be gucci’s “stupidity”, or at least the “stupidity” of his punchlines. i’m of course not accusing tom of being a region racist, as his writing on southern rap speaks for itself, but this gucci review is almost like the snake eating its own tail (or maybe two steps forward and one step back would be a better analogy). obviously tom has to write these reviews knowing that there’s still a segment of people (rap fans and normal pfork readers alike) that think that gucci (and any southern rapper of his ilk) is a joke, and of course tom mentions this in his review, and yet he still seems to hedge his bets by flogging this idiotic “stupidly awesome….. OR IS IT AWESOMELY STUPID?” line of thinking and quoting lines from the tape that are gucci at his most crass.

the cassanova/bend ya ova and twitpic/dick lines that tom quotes work in the context of the mixtape as gucci goofing around and puffing his chest out a bit (and both lines are pretty rare for him, as even on his songs about fucking he almost always spends about 80% of the time rapping about cars and chains). but in the context of a pitchfork review, those lines function as that “one step back”, where tom sets a tone in the review of, and explicitly says, “gucci is a seriously great rapper! everyone should take him seriously!” but then cites out of context quotes that reinforce the exact stereotype that he is trying to dismantle in the review. i don’t see why, for instance, tom quotes lines illustrating gucci’s “non-illmatic levels of insight” (i’m not even sure why this point is brought up… it almost reads as a concession to the current wale/mos def/drake-worshiping era of pfork rap coverage) but doesn’t quote the myriad lines where gucci displays the ability to “jam as many syllables as possible into a quick-rewind clump”.

lyrics: gucci mane – normal

hit the mall spend 30 like the shit normal
me and my broad nothing but gucci, louis, ferragamo
drop racks, get it back
call the shit karma
fuckin models when i want
all your hoes normal
blowing kush
what your smokin smellin really normal
ask me if i wanna hit it
i don’t really waaaaanna
pulled up, old school, paint willy wooooonka
cuts all white, but the rims abnormal
backseat on my rolls in my silk pajamas
hoppin out in house shoes like the shit normal
change my jewelery every day cuz it the summer
if yo bitch want my number
chill, it’s really normal

abnormal, nothing that i do is normal
ice game dumb dumb, now it’s even dumber
you normal
i’m so cold i need a thermal
drumma boy track
drumma, this another comma
it’s my summer
she think her ass is far from normal
it’s no wonder her boyfriend keep a stupid number
my summer, she think her ass is far from normal
no wonder her boyfriend get that stupid llama

he pull up in a honda…
that’s normal
i pull up in a zonda
same color lasagna
my goons’ll put you under…
confront us
got guns like super contra…
stay armored
you bought your girl some *ahh ahh*…
don’t want ’em
my girl got on piranhas
that’s abnormal
my bracelet cost a hunda
that’s abnormal
we’ll rob you where i come from…
that’s a promise
she’s a snake charmer…
anaconda
real man eat her
like jeffrey dahlmer
i can’t stand people mad cuz
their lives are normal
i got long money, bitch
put it on my momma

abnormal, nothing that i do is normal
ice game dumb dumb, now it’s even dumber
you normal
i’m so cold i need a thermal
drumma boy track
drumma, this another comma
it’s my summer
she think her ass is far from normal
it’s no wonder her boyfriend keep a stupid number
my summer, she think her ass is far from normal
no wonder her boyfriend get that stupid llama

bad bitches be stuntin me
they all wanna fuck, they warnin me
so i told her to kiss her homegirl
she said “i don’t do that normally”
shit i don’t do shit the normal way
gotta fuck with me the enormous way
back in the day, humongous yay
i don’t do that front shit normally
me and flocka rockin iced out ornaments
make a hit then start performin it
got a club funked out like parliament
brick squad we ain’t with all the normal shit
she a dime piece, but you a normal bitch
real ???? max girl can’t work the stick
won’t touch the girl, nor hit the girl
she’s just a normal ass chick in a normal world
it’s gucci baby, you a gucci girl
get a one way ticket to gucci’s world
where night time it even gets warmer baby
don’t fuck with him, he too normal baby
it’s gucci baby, you a gucci lady
pull my dick out make you say “gucci’s crazy”
night time it even gets warmer baby
don’t fuck with him, he too normal baby

lil b – age of information

note: i posted this on tumblr earlier, but david wanted me to post it here as well. apologies to the three or four people who might be seeing this twice.

how come the human race isn’t progressing as fast as technology has?

yeah we’re gonna be staying on the moon, but there’s still gonna be racists

so in the end, are we really winning?

“the age of information” is basically stunning. obviously for a lot of people, lil b’s lack of filter is an unscalable wall from which they’ve long turned away— and it still very much clouds the sifting process for those of us who choose to wade into the crashing sea that is b’s mind— but it is, of course, what makes him what he is. we’re attracted to b at a base (no d) level because there is no artifice; he’s saying what he feels, in his own warped way, constantly and forever. but rarely, if ever, has his stream of consciousness crystallized the way it does on “the age of information”.

the first verse has a heavy gang starr vibe. it’s of course weird to hear b on a beat so radiant and warm, and he even pitches his voice down a bit to get that lived-in, 90s NY feel. the rhyme scheme here is predictably odd, with b rapping in an ostensibly “normal” fashion, but still with a near complete disregard for meter, and yet he still hits his rhymes in what could be called a flow, as jagged as it may be. b, always the square peg, has wiggled himself slightly into the round hole. he’s rapping about things that are universal to us all with a sort of innocence that has always bubbled under his music, but it’s with that innocence— and fearlessness— that he cuts through bullshit. here, he just cuts to the bone: “i’m on computers/ profusely/ searchin on the internet for answers/ give it to me”; “it’s like i’m married/ i’m watching the bloggers heavily”; “the truth is near me/ i’m hear it and i can feel it/ but are we dumbing down for technology and the cost of living?/ i just forget it, continually smoking heavily/ thinking about the melody/ thinking of what’s ahead of me”. there’s a resignation here, and certainly some level of paranoia (although b does smoke a lot), that i think we all feel, and the verse hits harder because there is the undercurrent of sadness, of probably yearning for an age that people b’s/my age can’t even remember. when he raps “cannabis residue is on my seats from breaking down again” it’s impossible to tell if he’s talking about rolling a blunt or not. but of course there is nothing we can do (“thinking about the melody/thinking of what’s ahead of me”), and in a way it is best to think positively about a rapidly changing world that we all must succumb too. i think that’s what the beat— so soothing and sunny— is echoing.

the second verse is more traditionally based in terms of rapping— in that he’s barely doing it— and it allows him even more freedom to spout these crystal clear, yet cracked, thoughts: “asking google about things i should learn about”; “they took away places/ where it’s only the forest”; “i’m jogging in peace/ i got my ipod slapping these beats”; “i’m on a mission to find peace and precision”; “i’m askin the older people/ how you make it to your status/ they laughin/ cause they see reflection while i’m askin questions”; “and the best gift is to learn math to count your blessings”; “even though we’re in space we still hate ourselves/ the age of information is hell”. this is heavy— and deeply stoned— shit, but the verse verbalizes a weight carried, in varying degrees, by all of us. and what makes it so compelling is that even though b is shooting so straight here, just cutting right through the static, his lucidity is still filtered through this prism of whatever it means to be “based.” the plain white light is a thought that is almost nearly universal, but what comes out— i.e. “they took away the places/ where it’s only the forest”— is something much weirder, and more distinct, than a rainbow.

drake, rap and r&b

Two leaks into the run up to Drake’s album, and I think it’s safe to say that he’s confirmed what has always been obvious: as a rapper he exists somewhere between endearingly corny and truly asinine, but as an r&b artist he is often sublime and surprising.

The more I listen to “Over,” the more I become baffled at Drake’s popularity amongst critics as a rapper qua rapper. As someone who pretty much triangulates the careers of Kanye West and post-mega stardom Lil Wayne, he somehow retains exactly none of the qualities that make (or made, I guess) either of those guys interesting. He is largely a punchline rapper, but he isn’t as hilarious or refreshing as Kanye was, and his moments of anti-gangsta self-introspection like on “Successful” (still his best rap song) are rather elementary, outlining the basic dichotomy between being humble and true to yourself and still wanting to enjoy the spoils of rap without really providing much insight beyond that. Drake wants to ball, but he is wary. He is conflicted. This brand of introspection functions as a check mark in a box, and as a selling point for him as a rapper worth repeated listens it lacks.

Most troubling are his verses on big, swaggering rap singles like “I’m Going In”, “Forever” and “Over”. He rarely wastes time or words or alters his flow, and thus he leaves his punchlines bare and ripe for the picking, and what’s left are verses that are either symptoms or emblems of a lowering in the standard of what critics and fans seem to accept as good/exciting rap music right now. It’s this Jay Leno monologue rap that was adopted by Lil Wayne not shortly after Tha Carter III (I touched on this in my No Ceilings post from a few months back), where metaphors and similes are as simplistic as possible (“Like a sprained ankle, boy I ain’t nothing to play with”; “Bout to go Thriller, Mike Jackson on these niggas/ all I need’s a fucking red jacket with some zippers” etc.) and “big reveal” punchlines can be seen a mile off.

It’s those punchlines that often drag Drake into point-and-laugh territory. Internet bro Al Shipley coined them grocery bag lines, and while most people seem ready to rightfully dismiss guys like Mack Maine and Gudda Gudda (or at least accept them as circus clowns), Drake (and to a lesser extent Nicki Minaj, who really was interesting and exciting before going into a wormhole of late) is still ushered through as a “real” MC despite propping up his verses with embarrassingly obvious punchlines like “Learn to speak my language… ROSETTA STONE” and “Two thumbs up… EBERT AND ROEPER” (the latter of which I pointed out on Twitter was used better by The Bloodhound Gang). At Pitchfork, Ryan Dombal offered a meek defense of the lines by saying that they, “may not be terribly complex, but Drake’s laser-guided delivery turns them into automatic catch-phrases” without acknowledging or realizing that it was Ebert and Roeper (actually Siskel and Ebert, but whatever) who turned the phrase into an automatic catch-phrase, hence the whole function of the punchline. Drake doesn’t write punchlines, he appropriates them. (And that’s to say nothing of the disastrous “Brown… NINO”/”swimming… NEMO”/”ball… CHEMO” stretch in “Forever,” which represents some sort of low point in rap in the past two years.)

To me it goes without saying that rap like this is unacceptable, but the rubber stamping of Drake by most critics signals that people are much more quick to accept and praise rap that feels or needs to feel important rather than rap that is/should be important because it’s creative and fresh. When we’re okay with a rapper drawing a line from “language” -> “Rosetta Stone” or “two thumbs up” -> “Ebert and Roeper” we have failed. It started (and festers) with Wayne, and it has manifested itself wholly with Drake.

Thankfully— since he’s all over the radio regardless— Drake has been able to redeem his career through r&b. Where he fails at retaining or emulating what makes his rap influences great, he’s been able to easily assimilate into the space occupied by modern r&b hitmakers (and collaborators) like Trey Songz and The-Dream. “Shut It Down” for instance comes clearly in the wake of Dream tracks like J. Holiday’s “Bed” and his own classic “Purple Kisses”, as well as “Put It Down”, with which it shares both phrasing and Dream’s tangents about ice cream. “Shut It Down” would slot perfectly in the back half of The-Dream’s Love/Hate, and the fact that it would make more sense sonically and thematically in the context of the album than a song like “Ditch That…” currently does speaks to Drake’s ability to make top-flight modern r&b. And Love/Hate is maybe my favorite album of the 00s, so I don’t make that claim lightly. (Within his own career, “Shut It Down” is pretty similar to his Lloyd collabo “A Night Off”, not coincidentally the best song on Thank Me Later.)

Drake’s cuddly loverman persona is a much more convincing antidote to his street rap peers than his rap persona as a distanced, world-on-shoulders introspective. On his r&b songs he displays a confidence and control of his music that is more believable and natural than when he is rapping. “Over” is busy and overwrought, with Drake pretty much forced to shout his lines in order to compete with the beat, while on the other hand “Shut It Down” is glacial and practically nude. Drake on rap songs with established rappers comes off as a little brother eager to prove he can play ball with his big brother and his friends; on r&b tracks with established r&b singers he sounds at home. And that’s to say nothing of the fact that the guy is rather talented when it comes to writing melodies— “Best I Ever Had” is totally made by the falsetto-y second half of the chorus, and even songs like “Forever” and “Money to Blow” that would otherwise be unbearable slide by as decent modern radio joints because Drake’s hooks posses a sort of intangible relaxed epicness.

“Shut It Down” could be a huge song, and hopefully it will be; it’s one of the better singles of the year so far, and has been rightfully hailed as so. “Over” is grocery bag rap masquerading as good rap, and that’s potentially as poisonous as the popularity of “Bedrock,” especially when critics and writers choose to ignore both the obvious similarities between the two and better music in its place.

i got drunk in my bedroom tonight and liveblogged the dj khaled album

as the title says. at the end of the song i noted which rapper on the song went THE HARDEST and if anyone on the track actually WENT IN

intro ft diddy & busta rhymes

a khaled cold open here. “in life there are people that hustle — in life there are people who grind — and then there is we the best music, who make history.” “i have overcome the evilest hate ever that mankind has ever witnessed.” “this album contains my pain, my blessing. the songs on this album is my voice, the drums on this album is my heart.” “out here grinding. i go hard. i am the streets. when they say kahled they say warrior.” “it’s always the people closest to you who dont’ want you to grow.” is he talking about being legally a midget? is rick ross a hater? i missed where busta rhymes was involved in this intro, prob for the best

oh he just yells “where my niggas is at? where my bitches is at?” for no reason

all i do is win ft t-pain/luda/snoop/ross

yeah this is the worst chorus t-pain has ever written besides that maino song? it sounds like he’s saying “and i can never get it up” but i assume he’s not. luda flows really well on this song but lyrically he’s such a geriatric. he makes reference to the “i’m so hood” rmx. OH HOW I YEARN FOR THE GLORY DAYS. this song actually picks up with ross’s verse. big stadium thump drums, ross sounds a bit thin on the track and decidedly unbossy. i predict that snoop dogg’s verse will suck major ass. *waits for awful chorus to pass*. yeah snoop’s slithery pimp whisper doesn’t really work on runners beats does it now?

after two songs, i would say that rick ross has gone the most hard — i will update

put your hands up ft jeezy/rick ross/plies (thank god)/schife (who?)

between this chorus and “all i do is win” there is lots of hands being put up for indefinite periods of time. this beat sounds like the runners fell asleep on a keyboard. jeezy on the hook here sounds super constipated and we haven’t even hit plies’s verse yet. oh well, plies’ verse was super disappointing. lots of clenched screaming. ross up now, really the only person who still sounds okay over these crap overheated runners beats. this song is really stagnant and really sucks balls, but i guess schife is coming up at least. oh shcife was the dude on the hook i guess. sounds a lot like jeezy.

rick ross again went the most hard and on that song

fed up ft usher/jeezy/rick ross/drake/wayne

i love the concept of this song — like khaled just realizing one day how fed up he is. jeezy’s opening line on this joint — “i am absolutely, positively on my grizzy” — annoys me to no end. usher sounds pretty terrible on this song, his voice is way too thin for runners beats. i already know that usher has the best rap verse on this. haha god damn, some epic fake drake DEEP THOUGHTS on this one — JUST PLEASE DON’T DIE ON EEMMMM — yeah good point i guess. “i go hard like a.c. slater” is the worst wayne line ever that isn’t about defecation. i’m sure people who dig his three years too late “catalina wine mixer” punchline are digging his a.c. slater refs. this song is garbage but has the best chorus.

usher went the hardest on this song. he might have even have gone in.

victory ft john legend & nas

nas being on every dj khaled album is such a weird phenomenon to me. this is just nas spitting over a stadium piano beat and by default is by far the best joint on here so far. not really paying attention to the lyrics but the couplets are stacking up nicely syllabicly (?) here. i will retain this song for my hard drive actually. nas spits for like two & a half mins straight which is good cuz john legend is an annoying hook presence.

nas went extremely hard & he went in on this song

ball ft jim jones & schife

holy shit this is gonna be three verses of jim jones isn’t it??????????? oh my god, his speaking-not-rapping flow is gonna make this song feel like it’s 9 mins long. i once argued over who was better, jim jones or shawty lo. we all lost that argument. this chorus is this guy schife going “ball UH/ball UH/ball UH/ball UH/”. whatever. i’m not listening to the rest of this.

no went hard on this song, and no one went in

rockin all my chains on ft birdman/bun b/soulja boy

i have high expectations for this one. totally anticipating this birdman verse. aw man… bun b phoning in a verse for this album is just the epitome of lazy. “i got yams like thanksgiving dinner/trap goin ham like thanksgiving dinner.” good heavens. i hope he bought his loved ones nice things with the $20 grand or whatever he got for this feature. oh boy birdman just rhymed chicken/chicken/chicken/kitchen. soulja boy really has the opportunity to redeem this song or take it to depths yet unseen. hahaha wtf this song starts off with soulja singing “la la la” for a few bars. south beach & mouthpiece is probably the best rap on here. “i’m a dog, motherfuck a damn leash.” fair enough.

i would have to say that soulja boy went hardest on this song, but he did not go in

killing me ft/ buju banton, busta rhymes & bounty killer

this beat is this percolating keyboard thing that sounds like a clock ticking. buju banton has a verse. it sounds like a buju banton verse idk. this chorus is terrible. busta: “swag undeniabububle/shawty’s beauty undescribububle” — if anyone else listened to this album i would make a poll for “most phoned in verse on dj khaled’s ‘victory'” because every song brings something lazier than the song before it. bounty killer verse is alright i guess.

bounty killer went hardest on this song, but he did not go in

bringing real rap back ft rum

is this song a fucking joke? who the hell is rum? what kind of name is this? THERE IS ALREADY A GUY NAMED GUNPLAY, GUY. jesus this guy terrible. this is like if a sewer rat could rap. I AM BRINGING MY SKIP BUTTON BACK, RUM

bring the money out ft nelly/jeezy/ace hood/boosie

this is a hilarious group. nelly is using a weird cadence here. most uptempo beat here — triumphant keyboards that would be strings if anyone cared about this album. nice hook from jeezy. boosie totally phoned his verse in here but it’s nice to hear his voice & energy here amongst this general world’s fair of mediocrity. this beat is pretty nice. second best song on here easily after the nas joint. oooh some nice grocery bag lines from ace hood — “i’m the shit, period… GOTEX/ fuck a hater in his thoughts… SAFE SEX” & “mr. hood stretch money… BOWFLEX” — well nice to know that ace hood is making culturally relevant references, here in the year of our lord, 2002.

i would say that boosie went the hardest, and he went… halfway in. just the tip of in.

on my way ft kevin cossum/ace hood/gunplay/ball greezy/desloc piccalo/rum/ice berg

this has to be the most incomprehensible posse cut ever to appear on a major label album? btw that list is not one of those test questions like “WHICH OF THESE PEOPLE DOES NOT EXIST” — i think ace hood & gunplay just rapped? i literally have no idea what any of these guys voices sound like. ball greezy had that really amazing song a few years back, funny to see him show up here. he said his name in his verse here and he can actually flow. i believe that i am listening to desloc piccalo right now? i’m in college, i’m 21, and i’m sitting here on my bed drinking beer in my room alone, listening to desloc piccalo rap. i’m sorry mom.

ball greezy went the hardest here, but he did not go in

i am drinking dos equis right now & can confirm that i am not the most interesting person in the world tonight

i can’t think of a more uninteresting 6 minute song than that one

rep my city ft pitbull/jarvis

not only does this album have the most phone in verses and choruses and beats in recent memory, but it also has the most phoned in rapper names. iceberg, rum, jarvis. pitbull is on this song rapping spanish. i won’t hate. this beat is alright, some cool drum programming in the context of this album. and you can actually here the bass. i’m not gonna listen to this whole thing though.

this album was garbage, only a few verses went hard and i think only nas truly went in. OH WELL.

i am now going to cleanse my spirit by listening to “holla at me”

can we just reflect on what a desloc piccolo is

The Power of Diminished Expectations

noceilings_cover2

“Sorry, but I don’t respect who you applauding / Little nigga flow, but his metaphors boring”

This was a pretty laughable diss of Lil Wayne by Pusha T back in Feb. 2008. Wayne was on the verge of dropping one of the biggest albums of the decade, Clipse were coming off of a pretty invisible album in the grand scheme of things, and on top of it all were themselves struggling with coming up with new metaphors for selling and cooking coke. But damn if it isn’t a shot that rings loud and true right about now.

No Ceilings has wholly dominated rap criticism Twitter since it emerged last week, and the general consensus that it represents a return of Wayne circa-Da Drought 3— probably the purest representation of his lucid genius— is, in a word, laughable. I think it’s easy to confuse the two: here’s Wayne rapping over contemporary pop rap beats without his Autotune Jason mask and largely without Gudda Gudda, Jae Millz and Mack Maine playing Kukoc, Kerr and Longley. But the Wayne on No Ceilings and the Wayne on DD3 are worlds apart.

Mainly I think people are turning a blind eye to just how lazy, formulaic and uninventive Wayne is as a rapper right now. No Ceilings is just littered with groan-worthy lines that are utterly elementary and not nearly as clever as Wayne thinks they are: “I leave the pussy micro soft like Windows Vista”; “Shake the game like the Hit Stick”; “We the motherfuckers like MILF”; “I’m fresher than a Degree stick”; “Flip your fitted cap back like Fred Durst”; “Big shit like a horse ass”. And those are all in the first four songs, and I ignored nerdy sports references that have begun to only marginally make sense. These examples I listed are sub-Bo Burnham, who I think for a teenager is a better rap satirist than most, but it makes me wonder if Wayne doesn’t even realize that he’s the joke.

And really, Wayne is leaving it at “We the motherfuckers like MILF.” He no longer bothers to construct images— there is no “I’m so motherfucking high I could eat a star”, no “top peeled back like the skin of a potato”, no “yellow, white diamonds/ call ’em cheese on them grits”. He no longer bothers to switch up his flow. He no longer throws in hilarious asides like his now famous Gremlins line that both added to his singularity and further shined light on his tastes and personality. Now he’s the co-opter, name dropping something like “Catalina Wine Mixer” and just leaving it as a placeholder, a billboard. There’s nothing as insightful, or as catchy, as “seat way back listening to Anita Baker/ riding by myself, smoking weed by the acre”. He’s no longer using the base simile as a jumping off point for a past-the-margins scribble, there’s nothing here like “Got the engine shaking like a tambourine/ With some lips like Angelin-/-a, holy God flow, I go where no other guy go”. He’s a hack punchline rapper, a mediocre stand-up comedian, reduced to the level of Fabolous and Joe Budden, still cloaking his lyrics in that raspy voice but no longer bringing any of the weird, uncontrollable and fascinating thoughts brought on by the weed that made that voice raspy in the first place. Now, he’s just a burnout, flashing moments of what he used to be (“Sheesh, gosh, osh, kosh, b-gosh/ smoking on that Bob Marley, listening to Pete Tosh” is one moment here so Drought-esque that it hits like cold water to the face), but mostly just rapping really emphatically without the brain, heart or soul that made him the world’s most compelling rapper two years ago. But since he can still ride a beat like a motherfucker and isn’t singing lullabies to syrup, everyone is either not noticing or choosing to ignore. But make no mistake, the Trojan Horse is empty.