The Frozen World of Vince Staples’ “Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2”

Written by Maxwell Caveseno

In 2016, Barack Obama will have his last term as president concluded. On the very first track of Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2, Vince Staples snarls dismissively at our first black president, smearing him as a “house nigger” in a nasally “nyah nyah” of a voice that perfectly conveys the disrespect he wants the words to mean. It’s one of many drips of venom the Los Angeles native offers up on his latest offering.

For the past few years Vince Staples has been a slow-burning flame. Initially a generic hipster rapper, he showed promise and a cruel sense of humor that allowed him to fit well at home with his compatriots Earl Sweatshirt and Mike G on their early Odd Future mixtape debuts. However, his first tape, Shyne Coldchain Vol. 1 was a surprising departure from the rape fantasies and juvenilia of his former peers. Coinciding with the rise of the “trillwave” aesthetics’ fascination with 90s gangster rap, and aided immensely by the fluidic productions of Two-9 affiliate Snubnose Frankenstein; Staples began to be beholden to the ghosts of rap legends past, marrying his humor to the imagery of decades ago. A simple change of costume, abandoning post-Tyler crewnecks for Raider-cosplay flannel, but it made a world of difference.

Since then, Vince has maintained a significant presence with a guest verse on Earl’s “Hive,” and collaborating on whole projects with producers Michael Uzowaru and Mac Miller, under his “Larry Fisherman” alias. 2014 finds the next installment of his Shyne Coldchain series bolstered by production from No I.D., Evidence & DJ Babu and Scoop DeVille. Everything is in place for the young Staples to ascend and claim his rightful place in the spotlight, except for one significant flaw: he has no interest in trying to catching anyone’s attention.

Blame is not solely the fault of Staples. No I.D. produced some of the most uninspired, dull “hip-hop” beats in years. Polished and clean, they provide little more than retro-leaning pomp, offering little dynamic for Vince to toy with. Whereas whenever the other producers flex their work, you see a significant effort from Staples to negotiate much more delicate samples and sounds. Considering that I.D. handles a bulk of the production on this tape however, you’re left with massive gaps of draining, trench-crawling from our antagonist as he snipes away at the world.

This dynamic isn’t the worst thing in the world, as plenty of rappers have turned the “me against the world” mentality into a universal saga. But Staples lacks the charisma to carry this weight. He’s skilled at his evocative sadistic nature, describing people as “candles on the concrete” or muttering how ‘”church only makes you worse.” Yet his voice lacks dynamic or variation, turning into an irritating drone that needles at the listener. Staples has passed on inviting fellow rappers on his project, leaving the only deviations from his oppressive will in the form of the occasional breaching R&B singer (Jhene Aiko, James Fauntleroy). Surely Vince isn’t devoid of confidence, yet Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2 seems hexed with a severe case of rapper’s ego, as he is uncommitted to anything but his own ever-insular world.

Vince Staples is at a curious position in the rap game: most of his peers as far as frequent association have already become phased out from their “next big thing” status, with few maintaining more than an underground audience. On this tape, his scope seems to be narrowing into a magnified sense of tunnel vision put on specific details, but unable to look beyond such a narrow frame. It’s an intense journey that he’s going on, but he isn’t concerned about helping anyone along his path.

Link: Vince Staples’ Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2

The Lure for Potential: Lil Mouse’s “Michael Mouse Myers”

Written by Maxwell Caveseno

If 2012 was the year that “Drill (music genre)” ran rampant, snatching up all eyes towards Chicago as the next “big thing” in rap, then 2014 feels like the hangover. The Chicago youths moved to Bop and it’s sonic and emotional innocence, where now most Drill stars have spent their chips devoid of ideas, if they ever had any to begin with. Curiously enough, however, only two Drill acts appear to have delivered official debut albums. One is obviously enough Chief Keef, the poster boy of Chicago rap for the mainstream world, and the other is the least likely act to follow: Lil Mouse.

Since his viral hit “Get Smoked,” Mouse has remained a key figure despite a comparatively limited output. Naturally the sight of prepubescent youth backed by goons discussing the same street shit of his older peers seemed like simple “shock factor.” Yet Lil Mouse continued to collaborate with figures both in and out the Chicago scene with the release of his debut Michael Mouse Myers to show this wasn’t all merely a trend hopping cash-in attempt.

Lil Mouse is no longer worth noticing for his actual baby-face, but now instead it’s his skill set. While “Get Smoked” at best is a noxious ear-worm, Mouse Myers’ intro is an absolute thunderstorm. Deploying dense flows and a technique that would leave your average Tech N9ne fan moderately impressed given the source, Mouse easily surpasses his idol Lil Durk’s detached cold Meek Mill impersonations. One has to marvel at intensity from a rapper, whose career could’ve easily been mistake for a cheap gimmick a year ago.

But after the remix of “My Team” from last year that featured Durk an especially jubilant Young Scooter, the album’s patchiness is revealed. Dull hooks, generic flows borrowed from Keef or Durk, gaudy singers take and beats that range from startlingly forward (“She Going”) to woefully generic (“Came Up”), unfortunately take up the rest of the album. It’s a highly professional effort, working hard to establish him as a serious rapper, but it’s incredibly undercooked and just plainly lacking in presence and quality.

One’s expectations for someone of Lil’ Mouse’s age and stature in his scene might be dreaming the impossible dream. But the more discouraging matter is the severity of the gaps between his highs and lows. Lil Mouse has the potential, if he truly dedicates himself, to make himself into his generation’s Lil Wayne (something Dewayne might’ve recognized himself, given the remix of “Get Smoked” served as a distant acknowledgment of the other’s significance). Unfortunately he also has the ability to prove skeptics right and remain a Worldstar-casualty. And with the clock starting to wind down on his niche, Lil Mouse has to decide how to evolve and age gracefully into a rapper to watch.

Link: Lil Mouse’s Michael Mouse Myers

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.

#400

Passion of the Weiss & So Many Shrimp Present: Krazy (A YG Primer Mix)

Post by Maxwell Caveseno & Son Raw (@SonRaw

YG_KRAZY_cover_small

It’s been roughly 6-7 years since YG burst on the rap scene. He’s survived two trends/sub-genres coming and going, been incarcerated, and lived a life that the average rap fan fantasizes about. Throughout those years, he’s remained an underground phenomenon, beloved in Los Angeles but only known for one novelty single outside the city of Angels. Today, Passion of the Weiss and So Many Shrimp are here to change that with Krazy: A YG Primer -mixed and selected by Son Raw and compiled and inspired by Maxwell Cavaseno.

With YG’s debut album FINALLY  unleashed on the public, we figured it would be beneficial for everyone to take a look back at the rise of this West Coast star. From his early jerk-era oddities, to the loose ends of his mixtape campaign, to the recent hits that have helped finally convince Def Jam that their initial investment on the “Toot It And Boot It” kid was actually a smart one. There’s DJ Mustard, there’s gang bangin’ on wax. In short, there’s everything that makes West Coast Gangsta rap worth listening to in 2014.

Download: Link

Stream:

Track Listing:

Travis Porter (feat. YG) – Yo Bitch

YG (feat. Lil Wayne, Meek Mill, Nicki Minaj & Rich Homie Quan) – My Nigga (Remix)

YG (feat. Ty$) – Pop Painkillaz

YG – Bad Bitch

YG (feat. Meek Mill) – I’mma Thug

YG – Fucked Up

YG (feat. Tory Lanez) – On The Set

YG – Do It With My Tongue

YG – Bompton

YG – Left, Right

YG (feat. TeeCee 4800) – Keenan Jackson

YG (feat. Drakk) – Who Do You Love

YG – I’m A Real One

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

YG (feat. Dom Kennedy & Joe Moses) – This Yick

Iamsu! (feat. YG) – Igloo

YG – Just Broke Up

E-40 (feat. Problem, YG & Iamsu!) – Function

YG (feat. Ty$) – I’ll Do Ya

Young Jeezy & YG – U.O.E.N.O. (Remix)

YG  (feat. Riko & Reem Riches)- Westside 4 Fingaz

YG – All Fly Shit

YG (feat. Charley Hood & Ray J) – No Sleep

YG – This Year

YG – Riding Like Me

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.

Our Post-Futuristic Present : Johnny Cinco’s “Cinco”

Written by Maxwell Cavaseno (Tumbls here)

Johnny Cinco is jammed up; like bike gears, or staplers with the one staple that got twisted up, ink cartridge ribbons flying off into the guts of the brain and splashing all over. His style has two speeds: On and Off, and sometimes he just doesn’t quite seem to have the ability to get back from one to the other once a song begins. His voice is a weird belly laugh of a sound, occasionally draped in reverb and echo to resemble some comical ghost campfire voice. His adlibs are riddled with spastic tics and gasps, sounding like the neurons in his brain that must be short-circuiting while he drowns himself in whatever chemical concoction he’s up to his ears in.

Johnny Cinco’s debut mixtape, issued and re-released now, is a fascinating document. As a member of the understandably forgotten Hellacoppa Kidz team with Yakki Divoshi. I don’t mean forgotten to say that they weren’t talented; songs like “Lingo Crazy” demonstrate a genuinely playful attitude, whereas overt attempts like the Future-assisted “Ask Yo Hoe Bout Me” fell short. So discovering in the current climate that a pair of dudes who’d never truly established themselves had fractures suggested more of the same from former futuristic kids getting older and more self-conscious.

Now, all of this could have easily translated into the usual outings of Mac Miller collabs, ‘grown-man’ sour faces or rotted-out stripper jams that feel fairly unsexy. But “Cinco” isn’t like your average rap mixtape… The beats, provided by relative newcomer Spiffy and forgotten architect of the “Future” sound Will-A-Fool, are a strange mess of murky swamps of bass and flange, while weird little keybord melodies that sound like baroque parlor music skate overhead like fireflies. The Cinco From The Black Lagoon swims along with only his head occasionally peering out, oddly comfortable in this environment. He doesn’t stand still and belt out with his heart like Skateboard Skooly (the tape’s only cameo feature) or Young Thug, nor does he contain any of the frantic mania popularized by acts like Casino or Migos. This man is proceeding along at his own pace, content.

As far as his rapping goes, Johnny Cinco’s really ‘out-there’. Hesitantly, one can compare his sort of inane, drugged out rambles to the claustrophobic quality of the Based Freestyle Era of Brandon McCartney. Cinco just sort of … talks, and talks his head off, bullshitting. His tape is littered with the sort of cheap trap posturing that 6-7 years later can really wear you down. You’re riding around in a new whip with a new thing on your wrist, new thing at your side, cause you’re the new guy, like those OLD GUYS… yeah, yeah, yeah.

But it’s all about delivery. Cinco’s drugged out slurry cries sound like the unfortunate love-child of Rick Ross and the aforementioned Future. Yet unlike any of his contemporaries, Cinco’s never that focused on the song as much as he is filling it up with HIM. When he cries out on “McDonalds” that he’s got his girl in the backseat of the Phantom, he sells it like he’s doing some sort of sea shanty, trying to visually convey the importance of HIS Phantom’s backseat treasures with his voice and unintentionally echoing Andre Nickatina’s “Dice Of Life” in his pomposity.

And Cinco’s delightfully cocky. On “Yea”, Cinco lists off rap cliches about his liters and the two-seater before boasting “Riding with a bitch named Tina, What Love Got To Do With It!?!?”. Later on, he waxes poetic about walking the walk, talking the talk, and climbing the beanstalk. No, seriously. Elsewhere on “Cinco”, he observes that the feds are watching him, but “I’mma real nigga, so I pose for ’em…!” The idea of Cinco, standing outside some club, as he flexes and postures to a black sedan full of G-Men is some of the best example of post-Gucci imagery I’ve heard in years. Through his conviction and a voice that belongs to someone who might’ve known Sonny Carson instead of DJ Pretty Boy Tank, Cinco goes far beyond the border sounding so self-deluded he comes off as messianic.

It’s hard to say what to expect from Johnny Cinco in the future. His tape suggests a rapper that, if he harnesses his talent and hones his talents in, could turn himself into one of the next big things of Atlanta. Yet at the same time, he could end up being one of those lost causes, just too rough-edged to make it out of his hometown. For now though, Cinco’s gotten the eyes on him, and it’s up to him to keep down this strange path his rapping’s taken him.

Link: Johnny Cinco’s Cinco

5 Atlanta Songs You Might Have Missed

Written by Maxwell Cavaseno 

People have jobs, romances, hobbies, personal crusades and subsequently, sometimes they doesn’t see the necessity of trying to dig around Lil Silk’s Ask.FM page; finding rare freestyles of Slew Dem Mafia in a kitchen somewhere; spending an hour crying because digitaldripped.com went up to the URL heaven taking many rare YG freestyles with it. It’s a tedious, painful task that costs one’s dignity and ensures death from computer screen radiation. It’s not a wonder why so very few put themselves through the torture of endless rap nerd archeology to find something new and remarkable.

So let me to show you some of the smaller rap diamonds that have emerged from the cosmic mess of Atlanta. I’m sure plenty of you’re waiting with bated breath for the hot new Future leak or Migos remix, but these artist deserve your ears and are probably just a bit too drowned by all the blog-bait fodder types for you to have heard ‘em.

Yung LA – F.R.F.R.

Ever since the day when Leland Austin’s shrieks of “I ain’t did shit bruh!” rang out from computer speakers across America, the former Futuristic poster-boy has been a subdued presence. Last year’s “Whoooop” was a subdued return to form, but this slab of Will-A-Fool produced heat does a magma-like creep while L.A abandons his trademark voice for a post-Migos bellowing obnoxiously about how he’s “Crawling like the spider, hoe!” Maybe substituting J-Money for Quavo is a bit obvious a switch-up for a guy best known for a particular brand of cartoon trap nonsense. But he manages to sell the record with an energetic performance that gives hope for the fallen star to ascend back to prior glory.

Rich The Kid – Ghost

While everyone gravitated to “Jumping Like Jordan,” which bears the distinct ‘honor’ of being converted into a star-laden attempt at a hard-hitter (Haaaan!), Rich The Kid’s best song might be his least attention grabbing. Rich still feels slight, most of his songs lacking any defined presence, but “Ghost,” a gem from the premier guide to the current Atlanta underground Lobby Runners finds him working with a bit of extra elasticity. Nimbly ducking and dodging around a lumbering Zaytoven instrumental that feels like some re-purposed soundtrack for a Japanese video game themed around a talking woodland creature; Rich blurts out about escaping to Tennessee and women calling him master with goofy enthusiasm. It’s not an immediate banger, but the sound of someone wood-chopping away at discovering an identity, and that’s not without its own charms.

Jose Guapo – Getting Paid

While his friends in Travis Porter have now become practically inert, Jose Guapo seems to be moving too fast for anyone to pin down. “Fuck The Rap Game” was a welcome comeback hit for the Rich Kidz alumni who’d struck gold with “Guaponese,” but whose 2013 output showed exploring new styles and palling around with other southern outsiders in Young Thug and Speaker Knockerz. “Getting Paid” is yet another example of something seemingly obvious going hideously wrong. What started as a simple, serviceable rap banger starts goes awry, as Guapo bellows out “It’s my court, bitch!” while his flow starts to run off-track. And by the time he starts screeching out about sofas and loafers on the next verse, one wonders how the bright-eyed kid on “Patna Dem” got himself so twisted.

Skippa Da Flippa (feat. Migos) – Wells Fargo

Armed with a vocal tone reminiscent of Busta Rhymes with an aggressive chop, Skippa Da Flippa—formerly “Migos Skip”—serves as the first of what could be the start of Migos attempt to dominate the landscape after their lucrative 2013 run. “Wells Fargo,” yet another Lobby Runners standout, Skippa enlists his patrons to do their usual work and let him get his shine on as well. Quavo chants and storms like a town crier sweating out the bubonic plague, whilst Skippa and Takeoff’s aggressive streams of bars sound like machine guns rattling over the track. Perhaps the track’s greatest gift is that Offset cannot be heard, perhaps too busy  with such difficult tasks as getting his family into more Twitter beef or buying them more weird steam-punk cosplay gear.

Johnny Cinco – No Choices

A former member of DJ Pretty Boy Tank mainstays The Hellacoppa Kids, Johnny Cinco’s been gaining some traction with his “They Gave The Wrong Nigga Money,” a slab of rambly Auto-Tuned babble that sounds like a homeless cyborg with their best Tony Montana impersonation. But “No Choices” a highlight of Cinco’s own Cinco mixtape, as well as a strange addition to various mixtapes belonging to bigger Atlanta stars, just defies logic. Like Chief Keef at his most mush-mouthed, Cinco bubbles and froths about teachers, public transport and leaving all of that in the past, as he occasionally breaches out of the codeine sea murk.