9 Songs to Slow Down on a Ratchet Weekend

Written by David Turner (@dalatudalatu)

The obvious term is “Ratchet & B.” That’s what Jeff Weiss coined talking about TeeFlii early last year, when his mix of YG raunch and The-Dream’s slyness sounded a bit more unique if not wholly original. A year later: TeeFlii is on a major label, Ty$ got his own Top 40 hit and the minimalist Cali sound that seemed so limited before has found its way across the country. History is usually not too kind to forced genre names—reveals “Witch House” tattoo—but “Ratchet & B” feel right for these strip club, sex obsessed tunes that beg for summer sun after this polar-vortexed winter.

“2 AM (Young California Remix)” – Adrian Marcel (feat. Problem & Sage the Gemini): Problem and Sage the Gemini are two guys whose careers could easily subsist on R&B singles and being those “California Ratchet Guys.” Not that they haven’t created excellent music on their own, but their respective personas only need 16 bars to shine. This “2 AM” remix from the young singer Adrian Marcel proves this fact, because while I’ve been told that Marcel is one to lookout for, the late-night minimalism here fits effortless rapping far too well. And, I’ll admit this might just be myself, but there is a very “Chill Out” vibe to “2 AM” that almost hints at Owl City, which a place I never thought I’d desire R&B to approach.


“2 On” – Tinashe (feat. Schoolboy Q): To keep chucking up 2s, here is Tinashe’s “2 On” with a sadly leaned out Schoolboy Q. But no amount of mediocre rapping can hold back this immaculate single. DJ Mustard’s production and Tinashe’s suave recall less Cassie’s “Me & U,” but one of Diddy’s late 2000s singles which had a sonic tinge of one too many shots of Ciroc. But, Tinashe isn’t dealing with love lost, she’s faded with her clique on a mission and DJ Mustard and Schoolboy Q are just buzzed along for the ride.


“24 Hours” – TeeFlii (feat. 2 Chainz): The good and bad column for TeeFlii is pretty even. On the Pro-side is that hooks practically form from him just saying any phrase; on the Negative-side is that he leans on repeating certain words (“Annie”) to a point of obnoxious meaninglessness. “24 Hours” leans on his strength, where nearly every line could be its own hook and it doesn’t hurt DJ Mustard’s beat is only a side-step away from his biggest 2014 hit “Show Me.” And just in case future radio listeners want to be even more confused by this potential hit, 2 Chainz verse regurgitates a number of lines from previous songs. Ratchets don’t need originality.


“Do It To Ya” – YG (feat. TeeFlii): The way that 2010s rap has started to cannibalize its own history could be a cause for concern for the genre that traditionally treats history as an unwanted used napkin but that isn’t the case here. DJ Mustard swiping The Dogg Pound’s “Let’s Play House,” reduces down the song to just a few piano chord and snaps to distinguish it from the suave of the original. And while TeeFlii might have the unfortunate task of repeating “do it to ya,” YG even on his major label debut remains a going down first kind of nigga. *praying hands emoji*


“Drop It” – Trevor Jackson (feat. B.o.B.): This is probably the least “R&B” song on this list and honestly fits closer to the more party oriented Ratchet songs I discussed a couple months ago. “Drop It” doesn’t have the personality of “Paranoid,” the fucking perfect sample of “Show Me,” or even the star-studdedness—Chris Brown and Lil Wayne—of “Loyal,” B.o.B. doesn’t count. But, Trevor Jackson, again could there be a less star-ready name, has an effective song though not thrilling song that unfortunately cannot keep up with its sonic brethren on the radio right now.


“Na Na” – Trey Songz: There are a number of sonic tics that give away a DJ Mustard song. The “Ha” chants, the drums, the way that the subject matter seems to be invoking a strip club no matter the artist. Not that Trey Songz hasn’t relished a kind of Post-R. Kelly kind of sleaze (see: every time attempts to rap), it’s just that with a Mustard beat everything gets an intentional, or maybe not, layer of grime. The song isn’t a great Mustard or Songz single, but it’s an interesting show of form in just how malleable a singer and a producer can be for a specific sonic moment.


“Or Nah” – Ty$ (feat. Wiz Khalifa & DJ Mustard): Ty$ already has a one Top 40 single with the insta-classic “Paranoid.” “Or Nah” doesn’t have the immediate narrative conceit that makes “Paranoid” so repeatable even after one knows “that having two bitches in the club” cannot be a good idea. Instead the song leans on the other strength of Ty$ as a songwriter is that he understands how is voice can linger to string out a song’s hook. The song takes on a smoked-out conversation where our narrator is either talking to a woman, or maybe just himself, once he asks a question like “you gonna make these eggs cheesy or nah?”


“Slide Through” – Rayven Justice: First off shout to site owner and untouchable random regional hit finder, David Drake with mentioning this over at Complex last week. Somewhere between an YG mixtape deep cut and John Hart’s “Who Booty,” this song again shows the kind of amped up bro-ness of these “Ratchet & B” songs. A hook that interpolates C-Murder’s “My Niggas,” which has become an almost foundational text for this current rap generation, and a silk smooth beat makes this worth every listen after the first two dozen.

 

“$nitches” – Lupe Fiasco (feat. Ty$): Lupe Fiasco at one point rapped on a major label rap album from the perspective of a hamburger. Though Fiasco has been a strong rapper for over a decade and his sneaky ear for pop hooks, which he and others would likely deny, has been lose recently with him too caught up in his own #twitterdeep thoughts. “$nitches” isn’t a Rashomon like tale of black love instead it’s a 5pm three drinks deep convo amongst the bros talking shit and scheming about the opposite sex. Uplifting or conscious-minded this isn’t. Enjoy the Cali weed, a cold Lime-a-rita while relaxing with those closest to ya.

Yiken in the Bay

Written by Maxwell Cavaseno (Tumbls here)

Corny as it seems dancing is still one of the main elements of hip-hop, even in 2014. To be honest nobody except highly proficient Japanese cyborgs or ridiculously enthusiastic teutonic kids still getting buzzed off of Red Bull sponsored TRU MC hosted tournaments of B-Boy standard technique gives a damn about “breakdancing.” And why should they? Hip-Hop is the world’s most rapidly developing musical virus, and every other year they throw out a new dance style, or five, to fuck us up, both in the head and the ankles. And sometimes it’s married to a specific sound/genre, sometimes just something to do. In the current year alone, we’re dealing with the nascent steps of “Bop” out of Chicago, the “Nae Nae” out of Atlanta, and least heralded, but nonetheless interesting to watch, the Bay Area’s latest style: Yiken.

Physically, Yiken itself is basically the human centipede of dances; conjoinment and following the leader is everything. In this case, the leader is usually a young woman, thankfully blessed with something for her partner, the young man, to follow. Bent over and swaying, she proceeds to perform a snake-charming slow swish, which her dance partner follows with his own hips. The end result is a dance that is almost like a smoother, slippery version of “jacking,” or a soft grinding ride when contrasted to the pummeling daredevil antics of “daggering.” It’s also realistic to assume that somewhere in California this dance is causing one young man to sock another in the mouth for taking liberties with a young woman, in the age old saga of adolescent hormones and enthusiasm colliding with dance. Ah, to be young.

But when it comes to dances in rap, there’s usually always a strain of rap following around. Jerk had New Boyz, Snap had D4L, and for Yiken, we have faces that are actually already pretty familiar. Right now the dominating voice of most Yiken videos and parties might just be the post-hyphy hitmaking phenomenon of last year, Sage the Gemini. Obviously his older gems such as “Red Nose” and “Gas Pedal” still gain mileage, but specifically doing rising damage is the late blossoming of his friend and associate D-Mac. Produced by Sage and additionally featuring him on the hook, as well as C.F.O.P.A staple Show Banga, “Panoramic” is a riptide of bass-weight. Armed with Sage’s depth charge kicks and ear-snatching robotic baritone, D-Mac peels out bars gleefully, sounding like an overenthusiastic nerd calculating the algorithms to finally get a girl in bed. In the video, rappers are typically giddy and goofy, while dancers wear the movement’s motto on their chest with “Yike Or Die” shirts.

The motto’s owner, and the other main administrator of Yiken in trying to take it from Bay Area rap craze to semi-movement, is Priceless Da Roc. Once a post-hyphy rapper known for raunch, hard beats and nimble flows “Yiken” finds him in the same musical milieu. However, gone is the overexertion of older songs like “Face Get Blue” to a more slinky and cautious sounds that still manages to rattle trunks and eardrums with ease. Other names building up steam are Chonkie F Tutz, 99 Percent, and C2Saucy, amongst others. And while trying to pin it down to a true “signature sound” is incredibly difficult, the general wave of talented and enthusiastic youth signifies yet another burst of innovation just waiting to realize their potential.

So, how does a niche California rap scene sustain itself? Like anyone else in the current rap climate, the internet serves as an oasis in the information desert. Scene figures Priceless, Ms.#GetItIndy & DJ J12 promote endlessly via Youtube videos showcasing new dance moves, songs, and generally enjoying themselves. However, in a true amount of foresight, these groups have extended their movement into a touring crew who demonstrate and celebrate with people all over the west coast. Slowly but surely, the gospel of the Yike is being preached across America, and it seems only a matter of time before we see just how long this dance lingers around in the hearts and minds of all.

Top 20 Ratchet Songs of 2013

Written by David Turner (@dalatudalatu)

Welcome back to So Many Shrimp. We’ve missed you gals and guys. I’m David Turner, not Chief Keef biographer and Complex writer David Drake, and I’ll be leading this ship into 2014. To start off, I was just posting a brief life of my personal favorite “Ratchet” songs of 2013. And just because, I know commentors will say “That’s from the Bay not LA!” or “‘Paranoid’ is an R&B song not Rap.” My general rule for “Ratchet,” those quotes could be used more tepidly, is if a track is done in a Post-Snap/Post-Jerk minimal style or have some kind of connection to the state of California it is “Ratchet (Rap Genre),” if not also “Ratchet (Adjective).”

20. “Team Up” – Problem

Gonna start off with a mixtape #deepcut, cause why else do an internet list. Problem’s The Separation was a really strong summer tape, but I’d understand if no one talked about it enough. It isn’t “weird,” “exciting,” “sad,” or whatever buzzword that SEO rap writers needs to give a rapper proper coverage. Whatever, “One on One You Ain’t Fucking With Me.” Preach Pastor Problem Preach.

19. “On Citas” – Iamsu! (Keak Da Sneak & Mastah F.A.B.)

Iamsu! and the Heartbreak Gang released a lot, A LOT, of music in 2013. Some of it good (Jay Ant’s Blue Money), some of it bad (that HBK Gang full group project), but most of it forgettable (Su’s own Kilt 2). “On Citas” stood above the rest of Kilt 2 by sticking to his Bay roots alongside Keak Da Sneak and Mastah F.A.B. by making an oddly memorable song without sounding like Su was trying too hard.

18. “Make It Clap” – YG

DJ Mustard like most rap producer makes car music, not weak-laptop-speakers or overpriced-Beats-headphones music. One can still hear all the detail of “Make It Clap” on some ten buck ear buds, but the sun doesn’t stay up longer in the summer for no reason, it knows there is a season for track like these to blare with the windows down on evening rides.

17. “R.I.P.” – Young Jeezy (feat. 2 Chainz)

To think in 2005 that Young Jeezy’s career in 2014 would still be going strong and that he’d actually become a pretty dexterous rapper. Who’d a saw it? That lumbering flow that he used to reveal in, back in the Trap or Die days, has entirely been replaced with a rapper who nimbly can go from a Drumma Boy beat to DJ Mustard and oddly sound more at home on the West Coast than in his usual Southern rap pocket. In fact “R.I.P.” along with the “Function (Remix)” served as the transition from Jeezy being a Southern living legend to becoming an odd forecaster of the DJ Mustard take of rap in 2013. And, 2 Chainz said “Turnip / Collard Greens,” didn’t want to forget that.

16. “Hella Ice” – Doughboyz Cashout (feat. YG)

Last summer, when Jeezy released his #ItsthaWorld mixtape he tucked away one of the biggest rap song of the year with “My Nigga.” The song would eventually go on to outshine the rest of the tape featuring Jeezy, Doughboyz Cashout and YG on their West Coast gangster shit with YG being on the only one to fill either one of those descriptors. But “Hella Ice” with its crushing stomp squashes any linger questions about the relevancy of Doughboyz Cashout, they have none. And yet, here are 92 words on this great song.

15. “This Dick” – TeeFlii (feat. Jadakiss)

The original “This Dick” was pretty good, but the remix with Jadakiss got a great verse from him and wisely retooled the original beat. The single got minor radio traction during the fall, and DJ Mustard hasn’t made a song that’s crossed onto radio stations with such force.

14. “Bus It The Intro” – Earl Swavey

Last year Que had a song, “Young Nigga,” whose chorus went “Young Nigga Young Nigga Young Nigga Young Nigga Young Nigga Young Nigga I stay with a pistol and hang with drug dealers, gorilla and killers.” Swavey here takes the same thematic idea, except with a few more middle fingers and on a beat that sounds like a metallic bootleg from the League of Starz camp.

13. “Aliens” – Jay Ant (feat. 1-O.A.K.)

HBK might be a gang, but they have an obvious leader in Iamsu!, who’s the most visible member of the crew, while the rest of mostly sit behind laptop creating slaps. Jay Ant’s mellow persona doesn’t have the dynamism of Suzy, but the zoned-outness of “Aliens” showed that a little diffusion to 2am Ratchet behavior isn’t a bad idea.

12. “Open Yo Legs” – Bobby Brackins

Working at my school’s library, I fully understand those strange looks people give me from having the music on my earphones too loud. But the song is so bouncy. And, again I know no one cares about Bobby Brackins, but in a world where we praise Ty$ and TeeFlii, his tape Maxwell Park deserves some shine.

11. “Nigga Get Off” – Reem Riches, TeeCee4000 & RJ

*HORNS* *HORNS* *HORNS* I’m pretty sure the only person that cared enough about DJ Mustard and LA Gangster rap to listen to this tape was A$AP Yams, because otherwise I would’ve entirely missed it. As much as YG’s music is great for a car ride, these opening three seconds could be repeated ad-infinitum and still have one of the best rap songs of the year.

10. “Headband” – B.o.B. (feat. 2 Chainz)

The whistling. That little whistle. The “Ooooos” that must’ve come from Ty$, otherwise why is he in the video for this charming sun-soaked tune. I’d say that B.o.B. in this video perfectly encapsulates the average Atlanta dude style; buuuuuuut 2 Chainz verse is too perfect for me to not devote at least two sentences to this fact. The economically minimal rapping style of 2 Chainz hasn’t been better used his verse on “Mercy.” #BlessTauhee

9. “All I Do” – Jahlil Beats (feat. Jinsu & Problem)

Jahlil Beats got his start with Meek Mill’s Flamers series (“Hottest in the City” and “Rosé Red”), and that hyper charged energy carried him well with his more minimal tracks. Claps. Claps. Drums. Drums. Drums. Claps. Claps. And to quote Problem again: “You fucked up / my life is as sweet as mangos.”

8. “Started from the Bottom” – Drake

“The Canadian went Ratchet.” If only the rest of Nothing Was the Same sounded like this, “Hold On We’re Going Home” or “Trophies.” He might have made a good album! Either way the beat, the video and the fucking sentiment only ring stronger almost a full year later.

7. “Bout Me” – Wiz Khalifa (feat. Problem & Iamsu!)

#teamKhalifa, but this should have been a real single from Wiz’s average second major label album. It’s catchy, rubbery and beyond those elastic band qualities, it’s the most quotable Wiz song since, well he’s never been that quotable so let’s go with ever. And with assistance by Iamsu! and Problem (“Super-duper high / 88th floor”), the song functioned as the perfect transitional track, as evening radio mixes became wall-to-wall Ratchet bangerz.

6. “Don’t Trust Nobody” – DJ Mustard (feat. Killa Kam and RJ)

I previously mentioned this song in a Pitchfork article on DJ Mustard last year, and I’ll stick to the general idea this is an Oneohtrix Point Never song with venomous rap on to the arpeggio chords instead of letting the electronics stand alone. Not that I’m complaining about either!

5. “Burn Rubber” – DJ Mustard (feat. Joe Moses & YG)

*Insert a phrase of phrase for Joe Moses* *Insert a phrase of praise for DJ Mustard* *Insert an emoji of dismay and confusion*

4. “Paranoid” – Ty$ (feat. Joe Moses or B.o.B.)

I “feel” this song. Not because this odd situation of multiple lovers has happened to me. Nah. I’m just a generally paranoid ma-fuck. Email an editor. Worry. Text a girl. Worry. Not sure when the next rest area is gonna appear on the highway. Worry, dear god worry. The beat is also cocoa butter smoooooooth.

3. “Like Whaaat” – Problem (feat. Bad Lucc)

This is from 2012, but didn’t really breakout nationally until 2013. I’d love to have read the #secrete Facebook group that decided that Young Bleed’s “How You Do That” was going to be the Ratchet generation’s “Funky Drummer.” But I’m certainly not gonna complain that No Limit Records continues to inspire another generation of rappers. *Rides Away on A Gold-Plated Tank*

2. “My Nigga” – YG (feat. Young Jeezy & Rich Homie Quan)

A Post-Vine success story of a song, which got increased buzz cause the phase “My Nigga” can be incorporated into humorous 6-second films. But my favorite angle of this particular hit is that even out of context on Vine is that the song in a little six second loop still makes far more sense than the radio edit of “My Hitta.” “My Nigga My Nigga My Nigga My Maaaauuuu-Fucking Nigga.”

1. “Red Nose” / “Gas Pedal” – Sage the Gemini/(feat. Iamsu!)

Goddamnit people. Somehow the whites convinced themselves that “twerking” was something new and exciting, when we all well know that all of them partied to Lil Jon’s “Get Low,” and heard the lyrics “Let me you see you twerk it for me one more time.” “Gas Pedal” is pretty old, but the Bay area hit finally started getting radio play in 2013 and eventually became a Vine viral hit along with its sister track “Red Nose.” At some point looking through Vine over the summer, the actual songs morphed into “My First Twerking Lesson” for young whites across Obama’s America, which was at one point hilarious and forty-nine more points just embarrassing. But, all was not lost, as both songs increased visibility eventually got both of them into the Billboard Top 100?! And apparently Sage the Gemini is actually going to release an album this year, again all was not lost.


Talking With Innovative Street Terminology


Just digitized this MC Twist tape, it was his first joint after leaving Florida and Skywalker.He was repping East San Jose pretty hard on this shit, rollin like BART but riding Cal Train in his video. There is a lot of coke rap on this shit, who would have thought San Jose had it like that in 1990. Figure that’s got to be more influenced by what was going down in the east bay than the south but who knows I’m just guessing. The best part of the whole tape is the first verse of What I Came 2 Do when they cut out the beat and he says “So to the curious you want a serious reply? I eat, make money, fuck hoes til I die.” The last part of the line is probably his strongest delivery through out the whole album. Over all the tape isn’t really that amazing but it’s got some moments that made it worth grabbing. I don’t know what Twist is doing these days, only thing I know of was an album that dropped in 97 and I think moved to Rocklin or some shit but other than that who knows what this he’s up to anymore.

The warning on the tape is funny shit: “Unauthorized Reproduction or Duplication Will Get U Mopped Up!”

Cocaine Bizness

A Step Beyond

Cold Chillin In San Jose

What I Came 2 Do