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.

King Ratchet :YG’s “My Krazy Life”

Written by Maxwell Caveseno

Somewhere in the apocalyptic seas of violence on Worldstar, a clip exists of an YG show from a few years back in San Diego. The clip consists of brief moments of the rapper performing, then him and his team square off against a group of gangbangers in the audience. Then chairs, stun guns, human bodies and the gold towers for the velvet rope at the club’s entrance are being flung around with casual abandon. It was something out of some video game that sold 5 billion copies so kids could just blow shit up for hours, eloquences about such things are hard to maintain. Thankfully, Keenan Jackson doesn’t suffer this plight.

My Krazy Life practically defies any expectations about people’s perceptions of the former jerk rapper turned godfather of the “Ratchet,” because the devils in the details here and the details are in devilishment. Not since Flockavelli has there been an album so densely populated with violence, and it’s hard recall a modern street rapper so determined to paint such a vivid bloody picture. Here YG serves the goal of past Los Angeles “dumb angels” such as Brian Wilson: to provide the voice of those who aren’t so likeable and precocious as world-weary traveler and prodigy Kendrick Lamar. If Kendrick’s good kid, m.a.A.d. city served as a sort of Ulysses for Los Angeles, this would probably be its Ham On Rye. Self-centered, arrogant, stripped down, obnoxious, yet above all: Commanding.

The album is littered with these hyper-detailed moments of violence. On “BPT” YG describes his initiation into the Treetop Piru’s by beating down someone and recalling how “The haymaker didn’t connect,” and how he restrained himself from stomping his opponent out “cause that’s disrespect.” Or the carelessly offhand way he alludes to masturbating in the county jail on “Bicken Back Being Bool.” For once, it seems his lyrics have finally caught up to the way his voice used to awkwardly squeak and glitch-out through those bass-heavy tunnels in his teenaged attempts of emulating Lil Wayne’s drug-induced robotic tics on early tracks such as “Still Popping” him in a digitaldripped.com/Myspace Profile Player staple. He just casually careens along on a daredevil path; spasmodically dropping stray loose information like it’s nothing.

And the information is necessary; for the most part, YG’s discography up to now has suffered mostly from a lack of personality. But this time Jackson is out here putting everything on display, such as his struggle to heal the wounds of betrayal on “Me & My Bitch,” or his fraught relationship with his mother on “Sorry Mama.” Despite consistently being written off as unintelligent or incapable by most of rap’s critical consensus, he’s able to speak for a whole subset of rap that rarely commit to such detailed step-by-step portrayals of what makes a person turn out the way Keenan Jackson has. The bizarre paradox of “Meet the Flockers,” where YG informs listeners to prey on the Asian community for better odds, while boldly comforting anybody who’s ever had to break and enter into a household to stay afloat is problematic as hell. But at least someone who’s been there is trying to speak on their behalf. Rap has too many rich kids trying to be voices of their generation, and maybe some of the casualties of places like Compton, Chicago, or anywhere else where life becomes desperate deserve the right to affirm their existence.

Def Jam proposed that My Krazy Life is going to be the next The Chronic for Los Angeles. It’s a pretty fair comparison; the Drake assisted “Who Do You Love,” “Left, Right” and “My Nigga” are all massive bangers, with DJ Mustard’s fully-realized sound finally shoving YG out of the limited kingdom of L.A. radio rap and unleashing him onto the nation. It has the sonic potential for him to remain in the chronology of rap the way that those early 90s West Coast classics linger around after decades, enthralling legions of listeners. The storyline is fascinating and direct, the beats are heavy and evocative. At one point, some unidentified DJ, perhaps Mustard, transforms an old school rap staple sample via Eugene McDaniels into a mass of poltergeist triplets screaming to get out.

But I’d defer that, heretically enough, My Krazy Life is more like a West Coast version of The College Dropout. The rare moment a rapper takes the time to document all the details to humanize the people left behind in a way that’s so artistically powerful, hopefully even those who are miles away from such a life may gain a chance to have their eyes forced upon such a life. It is arguably the finest debut from a West Coast rapper in over a decade—yes, even against THAT ALBUM—and it is true marvel to watch YG deliver after so many years of promise, work and dedication.


West Coast Sunshine with G.L.A.M.

Written by Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy (@danielmondon)

Round where I stay, the night is beginning to roll out a little later than usual, even as the rain and wind push back stronger. It’s a sign that spring is coming, and with spring we’re going to need new riding music, as we leave our sweatshirts at home. We’ll always be happy to hear some bass, but come springtime we want a surplus not just the daily recommended amount.

Oakland resident G.L.A.M.’s third west-coast mixture The Feel sounds like the first burst of springtime. Each of its nine tracks showcase recent L.A. sonics: trunk-rattling minimalism, spacey ’08 Odd Future melodicism, off-kilter groove and a squiggle of G-funk Theremin. Recognizable samples pepper the breezy vibe (“Paul Revere”) that “slappa-de-bass” scene from I Love You Man, Queen Latifah yelling some shit in Set It Off. When the songs aren’t crawling along, they’re pumping and pounding into a familiar groove locking The Feel into easy repeated listens.

G.L.A.M. is certainly a student of today’s web-based rappers, with a number of tricksy triple-time flows used in the hope that the listener won’t find the dud lines amongst the technical flourishes. She doesn’t embarrass, but she doesn’t acquit herself either—it’s competence. She sparks to life on the closing “Coco’s Reprise,” a cool-cucumber hijack story, and that’s the immediate highlight because it reaches for something other than the need to vibe out. But at the same time, it’s getting brighter outside. Perhaps we need something easy to prepare us. The season awaits.

An Idiot Made A Mix

So I woke up this morning with this in my inbox. I didn’t ask for a mix but my friend Woo sent one along anyways. He’s not a dj or even very smart, in fact I don’t really even like him. I’m only friends with him because we like the same kind of rap and before he moved to bitch ass LA we hung out a lot and got wasted most of the time. Anyways check this out because shit you can’t go wrong bumping Fuck Little Bruce, that shit slaps:

This is a compilation I made of classic Northern California story raps from the 90’s. I made it under 80 minutes long so it should still fit on a cd if you still use those things. I do have enough tracks for another volume so if you do enjoy it let me know and I will try to put it together. If you have any suggestions for the next one let me know although I probably already have it. I did my homework. Yes, Mac Mall is featured twice because in my opinion he was the best story teller in the business and he murders these tracks. Anyway soak some game. Woo

mp3 and tracklisting after the jump

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dogg pound ’09

This is sorta like Prodigy sampling Pac for ‘mac 10 handle’ but fuck it, this track is banging — go to Daz Dillinger’s myspace and check out “On & On” (currently track 2).

They also just uploaded a song that features Maroon 5 which is one of the weirdest fucking tracks I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ of hearing.

EDIT: reposting cuz this dude found a zshare for it & says the beat is a soopafly/daz collab.

dubb coast music!!

Dubb Union (actually Westurn Union but THE STREETS KNOW THEIR REAL NAME right) dropped a great fukkin album this year. The group is Soopafly, Damani and Bad Lucc. Record is real solid — the dudes can all rap, charismatic, good times sunny day LA party CD. Although its been getting a lot of attention, the DPG gangsta grillz cd wasnt really all that hot to me, or was only intermittently interesting — this is an underrated banger from this year btw, and a classic Quik verse, “Ponytail on my neck, who do i think I am??” — but the dubb union album definitely does a better job picking up where Cali is Active left off. Damani and Bad Lucc play off each other like a Daz n Kurupt tribute group (or the Dogg Pound’s Dogg Pound), while Soopafly brings that more Quik/Snoop style enunciated flow, great chemistry and really just seem like they’re having a ball throughout. Bad Lucc & Damani are like those dudes who have a few medium-profile cameos and you never expected to hear from them again, sorta like Rick Ross on Thug Holiday (for ex. Damani was on one track on Kurupt’s Space Boogie joint). But the obvious joy they have making a rap record with their idols makes up for any sorta sideman vibes you get, and its obvious they love rapping and know how this shit is done.

Soopafly does a bunch of the beats on this, the best of which has gotta be the bangin “Dippin Thru!!

Helpfully the best tracks on this record have exclamation points after them so u know what to skip to your first time through the record, like this copy of Edwin Starr’s Clean I copped the other day where some DJ had written little DJ hints after the best tracks, things like “DISCO,” “BOP SUPER BAD” and “DISCO SUPER BAD” and several XXX’s to indicate a track’s level of BAD-ness. They got other producers too; in this interview DJ Quik talks about how all the old west coast folks are getting together and working together on projects across the board, mentions doing the mixing for the Snoop and Murs albums earlier this year, working with Teddy Riley on the Snoop album. There’s no Quik on this record but Riley turns up for a track, Kurupt has a verse, Snoop is here presenting the whole project. Basically like Quik said about the West Coast right now; this album doesnt just give Cali iz Active vibes but genuine California-is-active vibes.

And all these beats are solid as fuck; Soopafly of course is a long-time West Coast producer who’s been underrated for a long-ass time. I love his tradermark — sample short, brassy horn lines and sorta filter them so they sound like a modern-sounding orchestra hit, wrapped around some real hard-hitting drums, almost like a filter disco house producer — for ex check Crazy off his (dope) comp Bangin West Coast from a year or 2 back. Hes also got a real solid sense of swing with his drum programming on joints like “Dippin Thru!!” — check out the stuttering kick drums. Love that shit!! I dont have the production credits cuz I copped this through Amazon’s mp3 site but I’m guessing “Tear it Off” is Soopafly too — a tight short fauxriental sample looped and then attached to thundering drums with that loose Soopafly swing, a delayed snare that makes you snap your neck at the last second on the beat.

Basically, the Dubb Union record is one of the most fun rap records I’ve heard all year, and not “fun” like people tell you the Cool Kids are supposed to be, but actually fun and banging, great beats (I didn’t even talk about “Don’t Like You Girl” or the Soopafly’d rock/funk sample on “Dub You!”) and rappers doing what rappers are supposed to be doing.


Yall know what i’m doin!!!

This modestly-weird-prod.-by-Daz track is like a frankenstein monster of LA gangsta past and yay area … more-recent-past. How else to explain the dogg pound, g funk organs and whining synths XXX’d with Turf Talk hyperenunciated verses and that uptight bay area bounce-groove and stop-start bass?? Great song of Cali cross-breeding. On second thought, there’s something extra-perfect about the balance between the two here – not yin yang cuz the styles aren’t really opposed as such. scales of justice is more apt maybe. North and South Cali united in an All Eyez… tradition.