So Many Shrimp Radio Ep. 3 — Saba

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An acclaimed rapper and producer, Saba comes from Chicago’s West Side—“the part of the city that they don’t be talking about.” His 2013 project ComfortZone and its follow-up, 2016’s Bucket List, were highly respected projects, and they capture West Side Chicago in the specific, putting his world on the map with quotidian detail and warm musical ear. His song “World In My Hands” with Smino was one of last year’s best singles.His work as a producer extended to Noname’s celebrated album Telefone, though his most high profile collaboration has been guesting as a rapper on Chance’s Acid Rap and Coloring Book projects.

Though he’s not a DJ, Saba was game to come through to David’s living room last Sunday hip us to what he’s been listening to with an adventurous DJ set, and give us an idea of where he draws his own musical inspiration. We also got to hear his response to a question thrown around on Twitter about the comparisons between his “World In My Hands” and Drake’s similar “Fake Love.”

Thanks again to Nick the Roommate for recording & engineering this project, and Tamika from Swim Team for co-producing.

Follow us on Instagram (@somanyshrimpradio), SoundCloud (@somanyshrimp), and Twitter: @somanyshrimp, @88nae88, and @SabaPIVOT.

Tracklists will be up right here on Wednesday.

Intro music for Part 2 is “Teena” produced by iLLeet.

Download:
Part 1 (David & Charne’s Mix)
Part 2 (Saba’s Mix)

Tracklists:

Part 1 (David & Charne’s Mix):
1. Chief Keef “Check”
2. Kay P “Blood Flow Down My Wrist”
3. IDontKnowJeffery “Don’t Trust Jeffery”
4. SD “Kick A Door”
5. Daddy Dinero “Out That Jam”
6. G-Herbo “Don’t Forget It”
7. THEY. “Deep End”
8. Khelani feat. Lil Simz “Table”
9. NuWorld Kayo “Like That”
10. Bo Deal feat. Mello and G Blanca “Safe Sex”
11. Young Dru “Ganja Stick”
12. Velous “Flipmode”
13. Lady Donli “Fly On the Wall”
14. Bruno Mali “Ha!”
15. J. Addison “Buckin the Law”
16. ThiDaniel “Purple”
17. Young T and Bugsey “Mickey Mouse Ting”
18. Blade Icewood “Walk Like Me”
19. Chief Keef “Falling On the Floor”
20. Lil Billy “She Like It”
21. PJ “I’m Good”

Part 2 (Saba’s Mix):
1. SBTRKT “Pharoahs”
2. Rittz feat. Twista “Bounce”
3. Rick Ross feat. 2 Chainz and Gucci Mane “Buy Back the Block”
4. Allan Kingdom “I Feel Ya”
5. Day Wave “Drag”
6. Sade “Love is Stronger Than Pride”
7. Duke Da Beast “Never Thought”
8. The Drums “Money”
9. Kid Cudi “Balmain Jeans”
10. Young Thug “The Blanguage”
11. Ibeyi “Stranger/Lover”
12. Jay Rock “Money Trees Deuce”
13. Common “A Bigger Picture Called Free”
14. Sylvan LaCue “Best Me”
15. Benjamin Earl Turner “Humble Pi”
16. Noname “Diddy Bop”

Listen to our earlier episodes here:
Episode 1 — DJ Nehpets
Episode 2 —Mano

Best Music 2016

In hip-hop 2016, publicity reared its head after several years driven by the chaotic whims of social media disruption, and The Industry reasserted its hold on new and rising artists. The press remained in a static position, generally aware that its job was to defend The Kids, and artists with savvy management exploited that for literally months of blanket “debate” that served only to solidify Yachty’s bona fides as a divisive representative of the generation gap.

I remain sympathetic generally to the Yachty/Uzi Vert/21 triumvirate, to varying degrees. Yachty’s personality, and Uzi Vert’s embellishment/development of the Bang 2 aesthetic, can be fresh to me, and 21 undeniably made one of the year’s most sonically cohesive projects. Yet I’m also wary of how little skepticism or critical discussion accompanied their rise—it became all-or-nothing, largely because media Old Heads sought to discredit them altogether, and archetypal Teens and their adult enablers cheerlead in response.

The authenticity fetishism that caused so much handwringing around drill music was just as prevalent in discussions around 21 Savage, if not moreso, yet this time few seemed to care; Yachty put out several good records, but so far his personality looms larger than his music. And the elevator pitch for Uzi Vert as hip-hop-goes-pop-punk means that he’ll live or die by his Hits, which so far is a smallish catalog. This isn’t intended to undermine any of these artists: more to encourage better writing about them.

Fixating on the New Artists To Know About crowded out discussion of how artists who’d emerged in previous cycles had grown: Shy Glizzy, Lil Herb (many fans in Chicago refuse to call him by his new moniker G Herbo), Tink, and Dej Loaf all took major forward steps, but we remain fixated on the new.

The either/or of celebrity journalism versus “these might be our new celebrities” journalism is just depressing in part because it detaches music criticism from any sense of the zeitgeist. There was a lot happening in rap this year outside “the discourse.” Baton Rouge became a hip-hop hotbed, between the cacophonous fight music of WNC Carlos and an emerging star in NBA YoungBoy. Kodak knocked out two tapes in which he seemed to find his voice. Famous Dex—whose rap style I’m not enamored of—appeared out of thin air, spinning off more good records than any rapper I heard this year.

A big story locally this year was Chicago’s acclaimed new rookie class, which I appreciated but at times felt filtered through a narrow sensibility of artistic worthiness that unconsciously undermines hip-hop as a project. I saw little attention locally for Tink and CupcakKe, two artists whose work was among the year’s strongest. Likewise, few headlines drifted down to Queen Key, perhaps the city’s biggest new artist this side of Lud Foe and Dex. That said, acclaimed projects by Noname and Saba were strong, and the similarities between the latter’s “World In My Hands” and Drake’s “Fake Love” suggested to me that many of acclaimed Chicagoans could have a much larger imprint in the wider world outside publications as they develop.

Chance’s Coloring Book was good, and I really like several songs on it (“Summer Friends,” “All Night”), but I dunno, when it came time to make this list it felt like including it was taking up space that could go to artists receiving a fraction of the coverage; likewise, songs like “Broccoli” and Uzi Vert’s “You Was Right” were records I loved for a period, but couldn’t justify mentioning here, because what would be the point? If you somehow missed those records this year, check them out, assuming your cave has wi-fi.

I’m experiencing it at a great remove both culturally and in a literal sense, but Afropop, though still one of the most exciting movements in music, had a slightly down year; disappointing projects from Davido and Burna Boy aside, you just had to work a little harder to find the best stuff. I also may have been distracted by Afrobeats approximations, as its influence started to work its way into the international bloodstream: Alicia Keys “In Common,” UK Afrobeats artist Maleek Berry’s “Kontrol,” Justine Skye’s WizKid collab.

Here’s 50 songs and 20 albums I enjoyed in 2016:

50. Lil Peep “About U”
49. Lil Haiti “Good Vibe”
48. Chi Hoover “Adderall”
47. Dreezy feat. Gucci Mane “We Gon Ride”
46. Blac Youngsta feat. Quavo “Come Thru”
45. Plug “Body Bounce”
44. Fight Me feat. Sunny Woodz “No Napkins”
43. Jimmy Wopo “Elm Street”
42. Lud Foe feat. Lil Durk “Cuttin Up (Remix)”
41. Mozzy “Messy Murder Scenes”


40. Rocaine “Eight”
39. Kanye West feat. Ty Dolla $ign “Real Friends”
38. Kid Ink feat. Jeremih and Spice “Nasty”
37. idontknowjeffery “Don’t Trust Jeffery”
36. Nipsey Hussle “County Jail”
35. Chief Keef “Check It Out”
34. Kodak Black feat. Gucci Mane “Vibin In this Bih”
33. Joey Purp feat. Chance the Rapper “Girls @”
32. Yuna “Best Love”
31. Chris Crack & Vic Spencer “Supernatural”


30. Kehlani feat. Little Simz “Table”
29. PARTYNEXTDOOR feat. Drake “Come And See Me”
28. Tobi Lou “Hopefully”
27. Guordan Banks “Keep You In Mind”
26. NBA YoungBoy “Gravity”
25. Jeezy “Let Em Know”
24. PnB Rock “Selfish”
23. Migos feat. Lil Uzi Vert “Bad & Boujee”
22. SiR “Tricky”
21. Young Devi D “Fallin'”


20. Koran Streets feat. KI “Struggle”
19. DJ Esco feat. Future and Lil Uzi Vert “Too Much Sauce”
18. DJ Henry X feat. WizKid “Like This”
17. Young Thug and Travis Scott feat. Quavo “Pick Up the Phone”
16. Babes Wodumo feat. Mampintsha “Wololo”
15. PJ “I’m Good”
14. Alkaline “One More Time”
13. DJ Luke Nasty “OTW”
12. YFN Lucci feat. 2 Chainz, Quavo, and Lil Wayne “Key to the Streets (Remix)”
11. Saba feat. Smino and LEGIT “World In My Hands”


10. Famous Dex feat. 12TilDee “Took Time”
9. Chris Crack “Love Is Still Awesome”
8. WNC Carlos, JMM Larry and SOG Sherwood Flame “Cross Me”
7. French Montana feat. Kodak Black “Lockjaw”
6. Oliver Heldens and Throttle “Waiting”
5. The 1975 “A Change of Heart”
4. Maleek Berry “Kontrol”
3. Kevin Gates “Time For That”
2. Rae Sremmurd “Black Beatles”
1. Rihanna “Sex With Me”

Top 20 Albums 2016:

1. Tink Winter’s Diary 4
2. The 1975 I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it
3. Koran Streets You.Know.I.Got.It (The Album) 
4. Kiss Daniel New Era
5. CupcakKe Cum Cake 
6. Vic Spencer/Chris Crack Who the Fuck Is Chris Spencer?? 
7. Kevin Gates Islah 
8. Famous Dex Dex the Robot
9. Kodak Black Lil B.I.G. Pac
10. Saba Bucket List
11. Alkaline New Level Unlocked 
12. Tweet Charlene
13. Lady Donli Wallflower
14. dvsn Sept. 5th
15. Shy Glizzy Young Jefe
16. KING We Are KING
17. G Herbo Strictly 4 My Fans
18. Ty Dolla $ign Campaign
19. Lil Peep Hellboy
20. Tree I.B. Tree

So Many Shrimp Radio Ep. 2 — Mano / Best of 2016

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Mano: Treated Crew don, tastemaker, outspoken Twitter presence, DJ, multi-platinum producer, Grammy Award winner. With 2016 coming to a close, we needed someone to guide us through the year’s best records, and who better than our main man Mano?

One week after our debut, yet another snowstorm hit Chicago. Consider it a metaphor for 2016—the year sucked, goes the cliche, unless you were only in it for the music. Likewise we had a gang of folks brave the storm to kick it in the living room, eat chicken wings and some sort of cognac, and check out some of the year’s best music for an epic episode. Since we won’t be back til mid-January, a solid 3 hours of content felt just about right.

We got to hear from Mano about his earliest memories of Chicago’s legendary DJ Timbuck2, who passed away in 2015; his experience working with The Weeknd on Starboy; and which artists he’s excited about going into 2017.

Thanks again to Nick the Roommate for recording & engineering this project, and Tamika from Swim Team for co-producing.

We’ll be back after the holidays. Til then, check out our first episode and follow our Instagram, where we’ll announce the next week’s guests first.

For more information on DJ Timbuck2, check the foundation website in his name. (The URL is misstated in the podcast.)

And find us across social media: @somanyshrimp, @88nae88, and @CallMeMano.

Download:
Part 1 (Mano)
Part 2 (David & Charne)

Note: SoundCloud pulled Mano’s mix after a complaint from Universal about a brief clip from “Sneakin'” being in the mix. Obviously, if someone can hear one minute & thirty seconds of “Sneakin'” in a 2 hour mix, they’ll cancel their Spotify subs tomorrow. Mano’s mix can still be downloaded at the above link, for the time being.

Mano’s Tracklist
1. Travis Scott “Uber Everywhere (Remix)”
2. Mano feat. Spenzo “Uber Black (Uber Everywhere Mano Remix)”
3. G Herbo “Run It Up”
4. Jon James “White World”
5. D.R.A.M. feat. Lil Yachty “Broccoli”
6. Rae Sremmurd feat. Gucci Mane “Black Beatles”
7. 21 Savage feat. Future “X”
8. Divine Council feat. Andre 3000 “Decemba (Remix)”
9. S.A.S. X B.S.B.D. feat. Roc Marciano and N.O.R.E. “Valley of Kings”
10. Lil Bibby “You Ain’t Gang”
11. The Weeknd feat. Kendrick Lamar “Sidewalks”
12. Yo Gotti “Down in the DM”
13. Dreezy feat. Gucci Mane “We Gon’ Ride”
14. Queen Key “Hit a Lic”
15. The Weeknd “Reminder”
16. Big Sean “Bounce Back”
17. Lil Uzi Vert “You Was Right”
18. Ramriddlz “Badmon”
19. Drake feat. 21 Savage “Sneakin'”
20. Roc Marciano and Alchemist “All For It”
21. Bryson Tiller “Rambo (The Weeknd Remix)”
22. A$AP Mob feat. A$AP Rocky, Tyler, the Creator, and Playboi Carti “Telephone Calls”
23. Migos “Bad & Boujee”
24. HXLT “Live to Death”
25. O.T. Genasis “Push It”
26. Drake “Fake Love”
27. Saint Millie feat. Mano and Sir Michael Rocks “No Heauxs”
28. Valee “Shell”
29. Lucki “Options”
30. 21 Savage “No Heart”
31. Travis Scott feat. Young Thug and Quavo “Pick Up the Phone”
32. Mayhem Lauren and Action Bronson “Garlic and Oil”
33. White Gzus feat. Mano “All That”
[BREAK]
34. Payroll Giovanni “Sell Something”
35. Young MA “Ooouuu”
36. French Montana feat. Drake “No Shopping”
37. Lud Foe “My Ambitions as a Rider”
38. YG feat. Drake and Kamaiyah “Why You Always Hatin?”
39. The Cool Kids “Connect Four”
40. Calez feat. Alex Wiley, Mick Jenkins, and Donnie Trumpet “Still Good”
41. Action Bronson “Descendants of the Stars”
42. ScHoolboy Q feat. Kanye West “THat Part”
43. Desiigner “Overnight”
44. Saint Millie “Freak”
45. HXLT “Guitar”
46. Playboi Carti and Uno the Activist “What”
47. MadeinTYO feat. 2 Chainz “I Want”
48. RetcH “Bout to Fall Out”
49. The Weeknd “Party Monster”

David & Charne’s Tracklist
1. Frank Sinatra “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”
2. Terrific 3 “It’s Snowing”
3. Lil Haiti “Good Vibe”
4. Dougie F feat. Dice Soho and Love Mansuy “Mixing”
5. Plug “Body Bounce”
6. Saba feat. Smino and LEGIT “World In My Hands”
7. Moneybagg Yo “Narley”
8. Nipsey Hussle feat. Kent Jamz of Overdoz “Picture Me Rollin'”
9. G Herbo “Havin Shit”
10. Rayana Jay “Too Good”
11. Chance the Rapper feat. Mick Jenkins and Alex Wiley “Grown Ass Kid”
12. Smoody “Big Fella”
13. Korede Bello “Do Like That”
14. Maleek Berry “Kontrol”
15. Young Devi D “Fallin'”
16. TiurakhSushii “South Front Street”
17. Divine Council “Council Shit”
18. BJ the Chicago Kid “Turnin Me Up”
19. Jimmy Wopo “Elm Street”
20. Koran Streets feat. KI “Struggle”
21. Roy Woods “Gwan Big Up Urself”
22. Chris Crack “Love Is Still Awesome”
23. Famous Dex “Never Saw”
24. Lulu Be. “Rude Tings”
25. Burna Boy “We On”

So Many Shrimp Radio Ep. 1 – DJ Nehpets

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So Many Shrimp Radio is hosted by myself (David Drake) & Charne Graham. It’s recorded live from my living room in Logan Square/Chicago by my roommate Nick. We’re recording episodes the first two Sundays of every month, and episodes will drop shortly after.

It’s less a podcast, although we’ll do brief interviews with the guests, and more a showcase for DJs, producers, and anyone else with a cultural presence and interesting taste to put folks on to music new and old. To me, it’s a tribute to DJing as an art of selection, because more than “classic albums” or MTV (I never had cable growing up), it was DJs who introduced me to music. And though everyone is not a good DJ, anyone can be.

Our first episode we were lucky enough to get my favorite mix show DJ in Chicago on air: Dj Nehpets of Power 92. If you grew up in Chicago listening to Power 92, you’ve heard him spin, because he mixes for hours per day, six days per week—seven if you count his work with DJ Pharris after midnight Sunday mornings. He is one of the most thorough tastemakers and party DJs in the city.

He’s also been very supportive of local artists, and has put lots of new and aspiring stars in rotation; he was the person to break Dreezy, playing her on Power after hearing “Break a Band” a few years back, before she’d signed to Interscope. (Check out Tiffany Walden‘s great piece on Nehpets in the Reader from earlier this year for more on that story.) He’s a superstar in both the juke and hip-hop worlds, and also just a genuinely good guy.

Download:
Part 1 (DJ Nehpets)
Part 2 (Charne & David)

Sunday was the first snow of the season, but we had a full house for the first episode. The first segment is our interview with Nehpets and his roughly 60 minute mix; the second segment is a mix I did live with contributions from Charne. Hope you guys dig it.

Also special thanks to Tamika from the Swim Team for their help.

12/11/16 edit: David & Charne’s tracklist:

1. Guordan Banks “Keep You In Mind”
2. Shawty Fresh feat. Gucci Mane, Bankroll Fresh, and Boochie “Dopeman”
3. Jim Jones & Max B “We Be On Our Shit”
4. Whodini “I’m A Ho”
5. French Montana “2 Times”
6. Lenny Kravitz “I Belong to You”
7. Johnny P (RIP) feat. Low Ride “The Next”
8. Yuna “Best Love”
9. Davido “All Of You”
10. Sisters Love “Give Me Your Love”
11. Yung Fresh (Bankroll Fresh) (RIP) “Funky”
12. Yung Humma feat. Flynt Flossy “Lemme Smang It”
13. Famous Dex “Chill Mode”
14. Tobi Lou “Hopefully”
15. Young Thug “Pull Up On a Kid”
16. Michael Christmas “Get Up”
17. Father “Heartthrob”
18. Speaker Knockerz “Money”
19. Honcho Da Savage “All I Know”
20. Yvng Swag “Fall In Luv”
21. Chief Keef “Check it Out”
22. Tink “Wet Aquafina”
23. Dora & Dolly “Party With my Woes”

What Happened To the World

….You don’t know ’bout no lights no gas, can’t even use the stove
Cousin made the bul feel bad, I gotta use his clothes
Always been a sav, but now it’s time to use my jewels
Only way to get this scratch, I gotta use a tool
But I’m dope as the smoke that going to a users skull
And jail will slow me down, Sean introduced me to the scrolls
When I got out, still trappin’ at my momma house
Open the Quran and show any nigga that was lost
Little brother and my mother, any nigga that was close
Words so deep they look past the fact I’m packing soft
This gon’ last forever, so this the shit I rap about
Look like we havin’ fun, down a path ain’t shit to laugh about

Travis $cott – Guidance

Look.

My feelings on Travis $cott have been very up and down. I am legit aggravated by the way he basically bit a bunch of people who were hot when he was coming up, and slapped the pieces together in a very obvious way.

With that said, the guy has made some wild shit.

He’s also kind of known for getting two-stepped on by his features, but those songs are usually pretty good. So maybe he just knows who to stand next to, and doesn’t mind getting cooked on his own shit? Is that a skill?? I don’t even know, don’t make me think about this.

Anyway, I like his new album “Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight”, and I am not ashamed. As a 28 year old millennial who dresses like TJ Detweiler, I dig some of the songs on a deeper level. Going to create a “get your old ass out of this party, Robert” playlist and this album will certainly be present.

“Guidance” is that song. IT’S THAT SONG. It makes me wanna slap a dent into a furnace in a sweaty ass basement party, causing someone’s Trini grandma to run down the steps with the big wooden spoon, because she’s tired of my shit. There are really a ton of songs that are basically “Controlla: Remixed” (or Controllawave, word to my man David Drake), and I like most of them. This might have inched into my top 5, or even top 3.

Guidance is frenetic. Pure energy. I’m hype every time I hit play, and I haven’t felt that way in a long time. The song is very clearly about dancing with a girl at a party, or catching a “dub” as we New Yorkers say (or a twerk as Virginians say, or maybe even a juke as they say in Chicago). This brings back great memories and feelings, as younger Robby was a wild thundercat. I hear this song and I immediately see some girl with a huge butt, making me splash my cup of Henny onto my very much unbuttoned RnB thug shirt via her ass placement game. I love it.

With that said, I found out RIGHT before deciding to write this, that it’s a remix, that might be on par with the Travis version (or even better, due to more K Forest and because the dude on the end probably snapped). I’m just going to close my eyes and pretend I don’t know.

Why is so much writing about Young Thug terrible?

There are short and obvious answers to this (“white people” “most music writing sucks” etc.) but rather than being glib I would like to focus on the underlying rationale behind this form of Bad Writing. After all, it’s about much more than Young Thug. And it’s about more than music writing, because narratives like this are never limited to “writers.” They represent much broader attitudes. And these attitudes have real consequences for artists and culture: see Chicago’s effort to tax small venues around the Flashdance-like notion that hip-hop and DJing don’t qualify as “fine arts.”

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From day one Young Thug has received “compliments” that serve to undermine him and hip-hop as a whole. The above quote—about how he’s “evolving language”—isn’t just an oddly anthropological turn of phrase. It’s also an implicit criticism of hip-hop as a genre.

For large swaths of culture writers and in the broader white popular imagination, it’s assumed that hip-hop is, at its core, disposable. Every time an artist in the genre Matters, his or her existence has to be defined in *contrast* to the very genre and traditions that made him (or her). The “evolution of language” argument contends that most rap is remedial, but this one guy is breaking with that obvious truism. He isn’t evolving rap, which isn’t redeemable at its core; he’s evolving language, “transcending” his host genre & becoming important to the rest of us.

In any art form, most art is remedial. But exceptional artists in most other arts are seen as great exemplars of their medium. Great artists in rap are celebrated for being everything their art is not. So writers talk about how Thug is great because he’s “post-verbal” or that he’s evolving language or…some other thesis about how the work he’s doing matters to people who otherwise ignore rap. As a result, artists like Thug become elevated beyond all reason: being great rap artists isn’t enough. To get white America on board, he needs to matter outside of hip-hop.

The problem, then, is that rap as a whole is being ignored, diminished in contrast to its some of its best stars. All good rappers are “evolving language” by definition…because rap as a whole is “evolving language,” it’s an art form shaped by the conversations of *many* voices interacting and pushing & pulling against each other. The press can only sell rappers who they can weave some kind of narrative-of-progress from, one which exists external to the genre. So rap is only good (their thinking goes) if it can further some narrative external to rap itself.

In other words, it’s time that people embraced hip-hop as a genre with a multitude of artists pushing its narrative boundaries; that we can elevate Young Thug without diminishing the genre he came from, the many innovative and creatively powerful artists who GQ has yet to profile. Young Thug is great because he’s a great rap artist, which is all he needs to be.