Oochie and the Art of Biting

Written by Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy (@danielmondon)

There’s no biting in wrestling. Sure, someone may gnaw on a finger here and there, but the act of jacking another performer’s style is not something to would raise an eyebrow at. As a matter of fact, it’s expected an indicator of the passage of time: new performers inherit older identities and moves. Famously, Ric Flair—modern hip-hop’s favourite rapper if we’re going off Pusha T records and Killer Mike interviews—inherited the persona of “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers, one of television’s first wrestling stars. Flair was brazen about what he took wholesale from Rogers: his peacock strut around the ring, the arrogance, the “Nature Boy” moniker, and so forth. Because it was wrestling, this is common knowledge. Some grumble at Flair’s adoption of his less famous counterpart’s style, but most accept or claim ignorance of it. Wrestling is a ludicrous world, but it’s a sport of remarkable fluidity too. You work with it.

Flair’s/Roger’s finishing move, the Figure Four leg lock, wouldn’t leave my mind when listening to Oochie’s recent mixtape, Dewprint 2. I was struck by how many of the DC rapper’s expressions were plucked from other mixtape stars, and how unsubtle these references were. On first exposure to his music, I called his style “dunderheaded ad-lib pageantry”, unable to find any value. He was slurring his way through the collected oeuvres of Juicy J, Future, Lil B, Waka Flocka Flame, Fat Trel and most noticeably Gucci Mane, lifting their identities and vaporizing them into free-floating trails of nothing.

On Dewprint 2, he finds ways to make these liftings work to his benefit. Appropriately, the turning point arrives in the block-headed “Question of the Day” with a wrestling reference: “I got two words for ya – SUCK IT!” That catchphrase paraphrases the entrance for WWE tag team the New Age Outlaws, a pair that helped to epitomize the profane Attitude Era of professional wrestling. That off-hand joke lets you know a lot about Oochie: he’s crude, he’s young enough to find the “suck it” routine funny while old enough to have witnessed it on TV, and he’s able to draw from experiences unrelated to the last five years of Datpiff downloads. Then you hear the line that the ad-lib’s supporting: “how much dick would ya main bitch suck if ya main bitch would suck wood?” Another gag, with lyrical dexterity reduced to a playground tongue-twister, somehow softening and powering up the regressiveness of the gag. A few songs later, he turns a Karate Kid reference into a series of squawks and titles the song “Danielson” [sic].

The cultural references and their presentation are immature, but they present a world Oochie occupies, where biting dissolves into a series of chameleonic collages. Rather than distracting from the music, the borrowing strengthens his character—an immature mush mouthed slang merchant. When he yells out “SQUAD,” “Skrrrt!” or “It’s Oochie!” in the same way you’d hear “it’s Gucci!”, it sounds cheeky, an artist trying on identities, flexing through all the Figure Four leg locks until he lands on his own calling card. Late in the tape, he comes to “Quarles Money,” a tightly executed rundown of dead friends and the experience of trapping at fifteen years old. Strongly written and rapped, it takes you back with its relative lack of lifted identities, hitting like a sucker punch. When you least expect it, the biter gives you something worth chewing on.

Clap Clap Clap for Wale

Written by David Turner (@dalatudalatu)

The issue with “Clappers” wasn’t subject matter—strip club anthems have recently been one of rap’s most creative grounds—the problem was Wale. Juicy J and Nicki Minaj, an underappreciated combo, do their best to raise some singles for the sorry song, but it’s hard to enjoy throwing racks with Wale saying “Shawty got a big ole butt / O Yeeeaaaah,” in the background. It’s been a few years since “No Hands” allowed Wale to trade his hipster reviews for a MMG chain, yet his not-so-sensitive club persona still falls apart despite the few times it does work (“LoveHate Thing”).

The remix of “Clappers” could’ve been dramatically boring—calls up 2 Chainz, but instead the song is broken down and rebuilt into a fairly unique club song. The song gets a full facelift production remix from Hit-Boy that makes the song go from “Go-Go” to “Trap.” Usually not a cause for praise, the world doesn’t need Wale on another Trap beat, but with a line-up of Rick Ross, Fat Trel and Young Thug it made sense to switch up the home field advantage.

Rick Ross for what he truly does lack in persona it’s hard to deny that he’s a solid rapper when he gives lines like “I walk around my estate like I’m Bel-Air.” The song knows the most interesting rappers on the track, because Wale follows up Ross allowing the youngsters of Fat Trel and Young Thug to hold up the track’s back end. Fat Trel should’ve been on MMG back in 2011—imagine Fat Trel in place of Pill—for that signing to have done anything positive for his career; but his compelling lumbering slurred style remains and that vocal sleaze makes Wale’s “Shawty got a big ole butt,” even sound like a decent rap lyric. Then Young Thug comes slurring more than Fat Trel and at multiple points the beat become undistinguishable from his *inaudible grunts*. It’s great! If I come around on Young Thug in 2014, Wale will deserve a clap clap clap for that.

*The artwork from Linshuttr is far better than any rap remix artwork every need be.