Written by Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy (@danielmondon)

Nothing should be fascinating about Future’s “Move That Dope”: it’s a gathering of the adored but overexposed (and Casino), produced by the adored but overexposed Mike Will Made It and given a boilerplate title. It slithered out with little certainty of its final destination and an abundance of questions in its trail: Will this even end up on Honest? How many incarnations has the album gone through? Does Casino’s throat not hurt from yelling like that all the time? Yet it’s a fascinating song and as a posse cut a bonafide moment of high class thievery on the part of Pharrell.

Future’s professional relationship with Mike Will must give him top dibs, as the Dungeon Fam representative was offered a stunner here: a distorted and desiccated Mob music elastic bass accompanied by that unearthly Mike Will low-end. As always, Future knows how to occupy the track, but it’s rarely evident on his unfiltered verse. He’s nimbly rapping in triplets, hopscotching over each bar, yet there’s no push to experiment with his voice as per usual. The resurgence of the triplet flow in Atlanta rap seems like a particularly post-Future move, so here is the anomaly of the week: Future doing a post-Future style. But on the hook, he’s black magic: Salt N Pepa routines floating from ear to ear, given malicious intent—a sexualized purr turned into a villainous mantra, like a snake possessed to deliver biblical wrath. Meanwhile, Pusha (on otherwise standard huff’n’puff duty) unsteadily cackles creating the audio equivalent of the eyeless My Name is My Name cover.

And still, Pharrell runs off with the entire track. Back in the mid-Noughties, people derided his appearances on Re-Up Gang mixtapes, dismissed the bougie-turnup of In My Mind and thus formed the consensus that Pharrell was a bad rapper. But Pharrell was never a bad rapper! Sure he jarred on the gulliest of Re-Up tracks, but that was more to do with his eccentric delivery and word selection. He was the odd one out amongst those hungry punch-line rappers by dropping impromptu Das EFX tributes and shaking his head ruefully at “carving” a man alive: “That’s fucked up, that shit gets to me.” Elsewhere, he evoked chinchillas in the heat of battle, ostrich trainers, treated life like blue magazines off the top shelf, “Willy Wonka décor” and out-weirded Wayne on a series of unreleased mixtape tracks while shape-shifting into a Native Tongues Juvenile. Like a lot of things Pharrell did in the middle of the previous decade, it was odd and a little ahead of its time. (I guarantee you, if In My Mind never existed and some New Jack rapped “baby born baby dies it’s clear as Peru” we would be losing our minds.)

He gets the third verse on “Move That Dope” and runs through the damn thing shifting gears from clearly enunciated to slurring and from clipped vocals to loosey-goosey elongations. It’s lyrical metamorphosis, the verse equivalent to Pusha and Future’s weirdo horror-house noises on the hook. And he drops a barrage of weirdo wordplay with great élan, amusingly arrogant in rejecting the song’s villainous thread as he damn well pleases: “all these drones!” “gee, nigga,” “Gandalf hat,” “all that war we need to let that go,” “twenty girls doin’ yoga naked” and most appropriately “ol’ Skateboard P / that’s the one you been missin’.”

Welcome to Black Portland

Written by Maxwell Cavaseno

In the 21st century, to call Atlanta the focal point of the rap game wouldn’t be unrealistic or unfair. From Crunk, Snap, Trap and dozens of other trends that are less easy to pin-down, the Peach State has held reigned over the general rap populace. However, if you wanted to indicate where rap’s going in 2014 based on Atlanta’s energy, the best the city could probably offer is a dazed expression and a non-committal shrug. Right now, the scene seems to be spiraling in a pitch-corrected, hyper-rapping, molly-whopped-out-of-it’s-brain, bellowing, screaming, mess with Black Portland just about the perfect snapshot available.

Look, it’s 2014, you read blogs (including this one!), and I’m not going to pretend you don’t know who Young Thug is. Bloody Jay, on the other hand, has a tape or two under his belt, some tension with Gucci Mane’s camp and appears to be on his way to building national profile. The duo, who have collaborated together in the past, have formed an Atlanta Post-Futuristic supergroup that honestly sounds more like the name of a Neo-Soul collective. Unlike most Rap supergroups however, these two actually managed to bang out enough tracks to serve a tape for the public’s enjoyment.

It’s probably no coincidence that the tape comes out the same year as Snap star Fabo’s comeback; both of these rappers have a deliriously groggy sort of glee in their performances, provided by a combination of neon-bright beats, illicit substances, and perversely brain-dead humor. Thugger has been notoriously out there, so nobody’s shocked at his antics. Bloody Jay, on the other hand, is not interested in being outshone. Between his deranged old man’s croon on “Suck Me Up,” and his bellowing Casino’s Inner Child hook on “Let’s Go Play,” you will probably lose count of the times you burst out laughing both with and at this bespectacled gangbanger. After all, how can you ignore a man who invokes R.L. Stine while repping his set?

What you get is one of the most surprisingly joyful mixtapes, since the Futuristic movement went from cotton-candy sweet melodies and earnestly optimistic teens to a bunch of jaded post-adolescent perpetually rising stars, trapped beneath the shadow of portentously unnecessary grim-faced “Trap-Star O.G.s”. “4 Eva Bloody” sounds like one of the suped-up Saturday morning cartoon “I JUST GOT A BIG WHEEL GUISE, LOOKIT MEEEEE!!!!” jams of Thug’s under heralded true classic I Came From Nothing 2, strapped up to a firework. Meanwhile on “Florida Water,” Bloody Jay serenades lean like Barry White stuck in a trance club with blue haired girls in parachute pants flailing, drenched in sweat or rather, it sounds like he’s there, even if he was just in a studio. His comrade cheekily makes a dipping sauce pun, while Bloody Jay declares himself “Zack Morris Cool!” and we all collectively rub at our temples, stressed out at how far we’ve let Atlanta get ahead of themselves.

It isn’t all Speak & Spell beats and kooky cartoons. “Signs” sounds like a missing Dungeon Family and Hypnotize Minds collaboration, with Bloody Jay screeching and bellowing like an unstable Rick Ross, Thugger Thugger strutting and skipping over flows like he isn’t describing AK-47s blowing apart rivals in drive-bys. Tragically, when it comes to solo cuts, Thug kind of cheats us by giving us “Danny Glover.” And not that they were really competing, but when Bloody Jay breaks out his street sermon flow on solo cut “Nothing But Some Pain,” you get the feeling that Jay got the chance to lyrically outshine his blood brother without a fair fight.

Black Portland not only has one of the hottest young rising stars of the Atlanta continuing his ascent, but he brings up yet rap maniac who seems determined to outrap every one of his competitors, and even temporarily his co-pilot. It’s aggressive, but jubilant and downright silly, and defies the logic of what could’ve been just a quick cash-in on the duo’s chemistry. Perhaps one day we may even see the duo reunite in the future, though who knows what’ll result from such volatile experiments.

The Vine Generation’s “Crank That”: #NaeNae

Written by David Turner (@dalatudalatu)

I’ve been planning to a post on the #NaeNae dance for a while, but what do you know last night Billboard did a story on the dance craze. I got scooped by one of the biggest magazines around, lol. If you haven’t heard about the Atlanta-based dance, then go read that story to get idea about the dance that’s been hard to miss the last few months.

Originally, I just gonna to post the song “Drop That Nae Nae,” which Billboard has pointed out has started gaining more traction on Rap/R&B radio stations. And at least based on my own radio listening patterns, I’ve certainly heard the song quite a bit the last few weeks, and not just in DJ mixes. The WeAreToonz song has a Post-Snap minimalism that sounds like any number of “Crank That” derivative songs from 2007 and 2008 and one of the rappers even sounds a bit like Soulja Boy. Though not as memorable as “Crank That” or even a track like “Crank That Batman” or “Crank That SpongeBob,” “Drop That Nae Nae” is certainly a nice compliment to the goofy dance that people love performing. Will #NaeNae get to that level of mainstream cultural popularity? I dream. *Rubs Martin Luther King Jr. poster*

But #NaeNae as a dance already kind of had its own theme song. Young Thug’s “Stoner” was the song that kept appearing on Vines for the dance when I saw it a few months ago. The drugged out song appeared to have been the original Vine soundtrack song for the dance by WeAreToonz, before that group and others started writing songs for the dance. “Stoner” ended up becoming the Young Thug song that finally broke him through to a wider audience, as the Vine hit kept acquiring Youtube views and now at this point consistent radio play.

I also wanted to note that if “Drop That Nae Nae” is Post-Snap, then it’s only fair a group made a Post-Futuristic anthem for the #NaeNae crowd. TheyCallMeN8’s “Nae Nae (Hold Up, Show Nuff)” is just a generation away from Atlanta late 2000s Futuristic style of J. Futuristic, J. Money and Travis Porter back when “swag” was the wave to catch with cracked digital horns and multiple melodies stacked on each other. This style is the same sonic DNA as any Chicago Bop song, just a different region, dance and slightly more obnoxious colors of denim. The more rap changes the more it stays the same.

Rappers and Their Adlibs

Written by David Turner (@dalatudalatu)

Where are the adlibs on “Cut Her Off?” They’re certainly there but of recent Atlanta street anthems K Camp’s burgeoning hit sounds positively minimal compared to other notable Atlanta tracks from 2013. I’m probably making much out of nothing, because K Camp’s adlibs play back against his first verse, but they didn’t add much to the song. Compared to the trio of Migos, who pack tracks with all verbal sounds to prevent there being a second of empty space; or a Young Thug, whose adlibs are either *unintelliable language* or an entire one-on-one musical conversation. I went back to K Camp’s recent tape with DJ Drama, In Due Time, and was disappointed at the tape’s mediocrity beyond “Cut Her Off” and his previous hit “Money Baby.” But in the last decade, adlibs have increasingly become a keen marker of a rapper’s style and that K Camp scored so low on the adlib barometer, which unfortunately served as a good heads-up for the rest of his material.

Been Around Mike Will’s World


Written by David Turner (@dalatudalatu)

One day a band is gonna name their band “Miley’s Tongue,” for the way that single muscle caused a disproportionately high amount of mainstream scrutiny and ire. Ignoring the “PUSSY MONEY WEED” persona swiped from Rihanna, so much of Cyrus rebellion can be found in her tongue. A physical middle finger that cannot be censored no matter what it might provoke in the public. The sonic master that gave Miley this new musical foundation to craft this persona was Mike Will Made It. A person whose persona never sees a need to stick his tongue out, or really stick out in any way, except that he holds the Pop and Rap worlds in his palms.

His late 2013 mixtape, #MikeWillBeenTrill isn’t a victory lap of success or even a preview of his future, as much as an introduction to the Atlanta producer’s disparate musical sides. The tape features: Country-Mike Will (“My Darlin”), Post-Linkin-Park-Mike Will (“Where You Go”), Three-Six-Mike Will (“Be A G”) and even Windows-Down-Block-Beating-Mike Will with “Shit Megamix” and “Fork.” There is a kind of warble and stutter that permeates and would allow one to know the guy behind “No Lie” did “Be a G,” but the tape proudly enjoys its lack of uniformity.

About a third into the tape, he takes a trip back to his old days working with Gucci Mane on “East Atlanta 6.” Beyond Gucci’s brilliant sense of humor there is little show of talent that has vaulted Mike Will to the top of the rap world. The Atlanta producers working with Gucci at that time all had diverse styles whether it was the OG trap of Shawty Redd, the post-Mannie Fresh electronics of Zaytoven, the WTFness of DJ Speedy or even the lumber of a Drumma Boy. Mike Will back then wasn’t quite there.

Pharrell, who also shined in 2013, with “Blurred Lines,” “Happy” or “Feds Watching” were all tracks that held within the range of his lone solo album, In My Mind, or even late 90s/early 2000s work in the Neptunes. Despite the idea of coming back, Pharrell didn’t comeback, as much as the Pop world came back around to his singular sound. #MikeWillBeenTrill shows that as a producer Mike Will hasn’t congealed down into a Pharrell-like overall sound. That lack of precision increases the dynamism of the tape, as the sonic palette of songs leaps from one extreme to the next.  Future’s solemn “Wolf” transitions to the abrasive Trap shit of “Fork” showing Mike Will as a producer whose beats mold around particular artists rather exist singularly as factory line produced units.

At one point last summer, Mike Will tweeted about releasing a solo project called #FuckVerses, which thankfully has not yet materialized. His beats aren’t malleable or interesting enough to stand alone, like an Araabmuzik or Clams Casino. 2 Chainz’s booming voice builds up “Where You Been,” and the weary of “Against All Odds” cannot translate without Future’s sorrowed croon. And the same way “Wake Up No Make” by Ciara and “We Can’t Stop” by Miley, were originally Rihanna tracks following “Pour It Up,” Mike Will’s original tracks for the artists, Ciara’s “Body Party” and Miley’s “My Darlin,” play more to their musical strengths rather than forcing out their best Rihanna impressions.

That artist awareness is what makes “Shit Megamix” worth multiple listens despite its 12 minute length. The original “Sh!t” was a classic lurching Post-Luger beat with Future doing his best post-rap howling, but Mike Will morphed the track into a classic 90s Three-Six track for Drake and Juicy J, and retooled it again into an early 2000s Crunk track for the Atlanta All-Star remix that included Pastor Troy. It’s a really music nerd remix of a song with a hook that throws out variations of “Nigga you ain’t pop shit” ad infinitum. That might be why Mike Will doesn’t, yet, sit with a singular sound, a-la The Neptunes or Timbaland, he’s still a sound synthesizer and figuring out what to distill.

We Come To Shut Shit Down

Loko – Playing No Games

Sammy Sam – Set It Off

you need this Big Oomp mixtape, it’s really my favorite shit out right now. Fuck that pussy shit they feeding you, get some more Loko and Sammy Sam in your ears. Some older joints but there are some dope ass tracks on there. Personally I would have liked to see Intoxicated show up but who knows whats up with them dudes. Baby D is still locked up so you don’t get much of him. Still I’m starving for crunk shit these days and  I’ve had this shit on repeat since I copped it. To many motherfuckers rapping about bitch shit right now. I need some angry stuff to balance that happy ass white boy black boy shit out. The mixtape aint all crunk but there is just enough to satisfy me for now. I still wish motherfuckers would make more angry rap, being angry is more fun than smiling and dancing. Holler at that trapsandtrunks for the full mixtape

Lyrics: Gucci Mane – “Weird”


Gucci Mane – “Weird”

Well “Weird” certainly lives up to its name. The beat sounds like someone (I’m assuming Zaytoven) took a sledgehammer to an existing Zaytoven beat and then tried to piece it back together. It’s a really odd and interesting production, but if it is Zay it’s not thaaaat far off from, say, “First Day Out” or any one of his other beats that are really layered and have all these counterpointing keyboard riffs bouncing off each other.

Gucci’s verses are structured pretty appropriately to this beat, which is to say not at all. That said, the track doesn’t really feel stilted which is pretty amazing if you just try and read the lyrics back to yourself. He strings everything together though, totally in control. “Weird” really reminds me of a slightly less frantic version of the insane free association raps that Wayne was doing on that old Lil Weezyana tape. In terms of Gucci though, the verses are pretty reminiscent of the way he cannibalized his lines on “Wonderful.” Also his ad-libs on this are insane, like if a Komodo dragon was a rapper.

Anyway there’s a few things I know I got wrong here, so if you’ve got any corrections leave them in the comments.

jingle bells
bubble kush smells
675 one ounce
my trap do numbers, chickens all summers
but come back dawg we’re out (out)

my swag turned up, my swag got an amp
your tramp seen the champ and her pussy got damp
chickens with the stamp
i count so much money that my fingers got a cramp
if you’re not with that camp i suggest you better vamp
i’m rollin up the plant
gucci mane’s an alien and you’re not even ant
never say can’t, ball, kevin durant
camp shine like lamps; guns, grass game gramp
crack a egg, that’s my charm, like an omelette on my arm
cuz my diamonds are my sons, yellow diamonds for my mom
he’ll go to the prom, sellin dope what i was doin
lamborghini, beemer, corvettes and my ten year class reunion

my flow so weird
diamonds same color as santa claus beard
ho ho hoes i think santa claus here
dashing through the snow in my old school chevrolet
over the hills we go, nina, i sold so much dope

my car got personality, the grille be smiling, honey
my rims are very charming and my leather seats are comfy
gucci major money shawty i get crazy cloudy
have a baby by me probly maybe i’ll buy you an audi
maui wowie, stupid cloudy, loudy got me rowdy rowdy
chevy caprice 73 play master p im bout it bout it
prints color mariah carey, if they’re candid ask about it
tell em that big gucci said it, so icey get stupid with it
drop top be, passenger seat celebrity
seven chains on so gucci mane shining heavily
cocaine heavenly, soft white prejudice
all white bricks same color as my necklace

my flow so weird
diamonds same color as santa claus beard
ho ho hoes i think santa claus here
dashing through the snow in my old school chevrolet
over the hills we go, nina, i sold so much dope

[???] jumper, i can’t throw a slider
but gucci mane’s a rider, slide by any spider
spiker, viper, vette with rally striper
tiger stripe pits in my house, ready to bite ya
standards way higher, don’t have time to tie em
cocaina fry em, gas don’t cut the eye uh
bags full of kushy, beg a pussy to push me
brick ya from the roofie, uses it for a cushion
gushin, whippin, my watch is good lookin
attractive, handsome, damn that bitch is lookin
gucci— admit it, realest that ever did it
committed, my ceiling’s on penny gutter and gritty

my flow so weird
diamonds same color as santa claus beard
ho ho hoes i think santa claus here
dashing through the snow in my old school chevrolet
over the hills we go, nina, i sold so much dope

jingle bells
bubble kush smells
675 one ounce
my trap do numbers, chickens all summers
but come back dawg we’re out (out)

Jap/Dro/Big Kuntry – “How We Get”

Jap ft. Young Dro and Big Kuntry – “How We Get” (prod. by Zaytoven) (via DGB)

So this is another loopy, sing-song celebratory jam to file next to those K.E. joints. Not surprised that this is coming from Zaytoven either seeing as he’s been killing it with these type of bleepy synths since forever but I’ve never heard a beat from him with such an overt and driving melody so I’m inclined to chalk it up to the influence of swag music. All the verses are pretty dope but Dro’s stuck with me because he so shamelessly cops from Yung LA, but the way he effortlessly slides in between LA-style whiny (and endearing) singing and his typical mealy-mouthed car raps is pretty amazing and organic. And Big Kuntry has the best punchlines \(o_O)/. He kinda sounds like DJ Paul, no?

I’m not totally sure what to think of these songs except that I like them. They’re certainly really positive and happy songs— not that that really means anything generally, but they’re nice to hear in the summer. They remind me of when everyone gets drunk and start singing off-key. Good times shit. Atlanta rappers are having fun.

K.E., producer of the summer?


Dirty Red – “M.O.N.E.Y.” (prod. by K.E.)
Young Squad – “Turn My Swag Up” (prod. by K.E.)

K.E.’s the guy who did “Swag Surfin'”, which for a “who the hell are these guys?” single that no one will remember in three months is pretty amazing. The chorus is one of the best pop-rap hooks of the year if you care about that kind of thing (I do), and it’s basically built around K.E.’s beat, which is as melodic as it is totally flat and thin. Almost all of K.E.’s tracks follow the same template as “Swag Surfin'” with these totally fake horn blasts burying blippy keyboards and drums that sound like he’s poking holes in styrofoam cups, but his reliance on these plastic midi horns gives his beats a real sense of regality and they work especially well as sort-of underdog anthems. These two tracks sound like kids trying to replicate the, for lack of a better term, kingliness of “What You Know” and they succeed in a sense because K.E. is able to make the tinny feel just as huge as a Toomp beat. This stuff is obviously also post-snap, but where “Laffy Taffy” and “Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It” were all about space and clicks and hisses, K.E. beats smush sounds together like a granola bar. He’s great at writing these circular synth melodies that give his songs a melodic underpinning (to be honest they sound kind of like nursery rhymes, but not in the obnoxious way like “Chain Hang Low”) and on tracks like “M.O.N.E.Y.” and “Turn My Swag Up” he reminds me of nu-Jim Jonsin if the guy wasn’t trying to make it on NOW compilations with every song. K.E.’s production aesthetic is very much “of the radio” and yet he has been able to define the sound of underground Atlanta (along with guys like Nard & B) while at the same time having a melodic sensibility that has helped him carve out a sound that is very much his own.

K.E.’s YouTube channel

OJ Mix

In the past week or so, four songs have leaked with incredible OJ verses, and it really seems to me like he’s stepped his game up from even just last year. He sounds remarkably confident to me right now, like this little buzz he caught from Gucci and probably even Soulja Boy has really emboldened and solidified his style. He just seems like he belongs right now, and even when he’s on a song with Fabolous and Juelz he doesn’t seem out of place— in fact, guys like that seem lost in OJ’s dust to me. And that’s not to prop up OJ as more than he is, but I think he’s gotten to the point where his style isn’t a substitute for his rapping. Instead it’s a totally unique and singular flow used by someone who is also a great rapper and who just so happens to be blowing everyone else on tracks out of the water.

So, I made this mix of the four verses. This is the first time I’ve ever blended tracks into each other and I did this in about 45 mins on GarageBand so the blending is truly horrible. These are the songs:

“Hustlers Anthem 09 (rmx)” -> “Hottest in the Hood (rmx)” -> “Superman High” -> “Gold Grill Shawty”

OJ Mix