Catching Up with Waka Flocka Flame on “Re-Up”

Written by Scott Brown (@blackbeanage)

A couple years ago when talking about who’d he work with on his second album, Triple F Life, Waka stated all he needed was Southside, currently head of the 808 Mafia crew, and Lex Luger. Waka put an emphasis on remaining loyal to his team of collaborators—sans Gucci Mane, so even Chaz Gotti is featured and shouted out his newest mixtape Re-Up. Despite this claim of crew love, there aren’t any beats from Lex Luger on this tape and the best songs are arguably the ones 808 Mafia’s Southside didn’t work on.

“How I’m Rockin’” strikes me as a great song on the mixtape and there’s something to London on the Track and Waka’s combination. The depth in London’s sound facilitates Waka’s venture into more refined melodies and flows than his go-to team 808 Mafia. It’s as simple as development requires new surroundings and soundscapes, which London on the Track and Metro Boomin are providing. Maybe I’m just reaching to get another “My Life“-type collaboration in the future.

For better or worse, Waka Flocka Flame has been flowing and rhyming more and yelling and “Dem Gun Sounds” mimicking less. Energy is never in shortage here, which is the least one could ask from Waka. Thankfully, Re-Up is a sweet and short mixtape. There are tracks like “Lottery” that would be boring if there wasn’t as much yelling. It’s a track I could picture this being a song by Plies, a rapper who has tried to reinvent to reinsert himself into the rap discussion with little success. Young Thug is a highlight on “Ain’t No Problem” but it’s interesting that Waka is pretty comfortable within Thugger’s weirdness. But he able to puts everything together on “Word to the Wise,” where his energy via loudness and adlibs sounds as if Waka is almost out of breath half way through the two verses on the song. The song used a beat from rising producer Metro Boomin of “Karate Chop” fame, a selection that shows Waka is still keeping up with the current rap landscape.

The thing I’d like to know is if this mixtape is eleven songs short to be a compact, quality over quantity offering. There are interesting features from Young Thug, Too Short, Young Scooter which lead you to believe there was thoughtful selection. Especially compared to Roaches to Rollies, which mostly featured other Brick Squad Monopoly artists; on the other hand, Re-Up unfortunately ends with songs that are just overproduced demos.

Link: Waka Flocka Flame’s Re-Up

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.

Welcome to Black Portland

Written by Maxwell Cavaseno

In the 21st century, to call Atlanta the focal point of the rap game wouldn’t be unrealistic or unfair. From Crunk, Snap, Trap and dozens of other trends that are less easy to pin-down, the Peach State has held reigned over the general rap populace. However, if you wanted to indicate where rap’s going in 2014 based on Atlanta’s energy, the best the city could probably offer is a dazed expression and a non-committal shrug. Right now, the scene seems to be spiraling in a pitch-corrected, hyper-rapping, molly-whopped-out-of-it’s-brain, bellowing, screaming, mess with Black Portland just about the perfect snapshot available.

Look, it’s 2014, you read blogs (including this one!), and I’m not going to pretend you don’t know who Young Thug is. Bloody Jay, on the other hand, has a tape or two under his belt, some tension with Gucci Mane’s camp and appears to be on his way to building national profile. The duo, who have collaborated together in the past, have formed an Atlanta Post-Futuristic supergroup that honestly sounds more like the name of a Neo-Soul collective. Unlike most Rap supergroups however, these two actually managed to bang out enough tracks to serve a tape for the public’s enjoyment.

It’s probably no coincidence that the tape comes out the same year as Snap star Fabo’s comeback; both of these rappers have a deliriously groggy sort of glee in their performances, provided by a combination of neon-bright beats, illicit substances, and perversely brain-dead humor. Thugger has been notoriously out there, so nobody’s shocked at his antics. Bloody Jay, on the other hand, is not interested in being outshone. Between his deranged old man’s croon on “Suck Me Up,” and his bellowing Casino’s Inner Child hook on “Let’s Go Play,” you will probably lose count of the times you burst out laughing both with and at this bespectacled gangbanger. After all, how can you ignore a man who invokes R.L. Stine while repping his set?

What you get is one of the most surprisingly joyful mixtapes, since the Futuristic movement went from cotton-candy sweet melodies and earnestly optimistic teens to a bunch of jaded post-adolescent perpetually rising stars, trapped beneath the shadow of portentously unnecessary grim-faced “Trap-Star O.G.s”. “4 Eva Bloody” sounds like one of the suped-up Saturday morning cartoon “I JUST GOT A BIG WHEEL GUISE, LOOKIT MEEEEE!!!!” jams of Thug’s under heralded true classic I Came From Nothing 2, strapped up to a firework. Meanwhile on “Florida Water,” Bloody Jay serenades lean like Barry White stuck in a trance club with blue haired girls in parachute pants flailing, drenched in sweat or rather, it sounds like he’s there, even if he was just in a studio. His comrade cheekily makes a dipping sauce pun, while Bloody Jay declares himself “Zack Morris Cool!” and we all collectively rub at our temples, stressed out at how far we’ve let Atlanta get ahead of themselves.

It isn’t all Speak & Spell beats and kooky cartoons. “Signs” sounds like a missing Dungeon Family and Hypnotize Minds collaboration, with Bloody Jay screeching and bellowing like an unstable Rick Ross, Thugger Thugger strutting and skipping over flows like he isn’t describing AK-47s blowing apart rivals in drive-bys. Tragically, when it comes to solo cuts, Thug kind of cheats us by giving us “Danny Glover.” And not that they were really competing, but when Bloody Jay breaks out his street sermon flow on solo cut “Nothing But Some Pain,” you get the feeling that Jay got the chance to lyrically outshine his blood brother without a fair fight.

Black Portland not only has one of the hottest young rising stars of the Atlanta continuing his ascent, but he brings up yet rap maniac who seems determined to outrap every one of his competitors, and even temporarily his co-pilot. It’s aggressive, but jubilant and downright silly, and defies the logic of what could’ve been just a quick cash-in on the duo’s chemistry. Perhaps one day we may even see the duo reunite in the future, though who knows what’ll result from such volatile experiments.

Bow Down Nicki’s Back

Written by Crystal (@crystalleww)

Nicki Minaj continues her string of revolutionary yet highly enjoyable verses
in the remix of Young Thug’s “Danny Glover.” In a week that opened with Macklemore
receiving accolades for his white-splained condemnation of homophobia in
hip hop, Nicki showed what being subversive really looks like. Her verse
contains casual bicurious undertones by at hinting making a pass towards
Jessica Biel while threatening the sexuality of Justin Timberlake. Unlike
America’s Favorite White Rapper who’s compelled to stress his
heterosexuality on “Same Love,” Nicki proclaims “I am not gay” before
explaining “but let’s be precise / Cause if she pretty then watch it / Cause I
might be fucking ya wife.” By labelling herself then saying something
contrary with a tongue-in-cheek disclaimer that’s not “precise” at all, Minaj
demonstrates sexuality’s fluidity and the arbitrariness of such labels and

Last week, her verse on YG’s “My Nigga” remix signalled this revolutionary
yet enjoyable direction. Nicki Minaj switches the black bro love of “my
niggas” into her own empowerment phrase with “my bitches.” White
feminists, and conservative cultural critics, tend to single rap out for
misogyny when rappers call women “bitches” and “hoes,” but Nicki, a
successful black woman, take the degrading and anonymizing power away
from the word and give it the power of comradey. Her ad-libbing at the end
calls out to the kitchen not as a site for male taunting but as yet another
place where Minaj can assert her dominance. Never fear: it’s not an adoption
of white feminism; Minaj commandingly ends her verse with a loud and clear
“My nigga!”