Readers of the World Wide Web, rejoice: Rec-Room Therapy’s pilot floored the Internet and BYT has ordered an entire season of new episodes. What can you expect? A weekly forum for the discussion of recent hip-hop tracks, albums, mixtapes – whatever we feel like arguing about. But mostly tracks. We think. Much like the creators of “John from Cincinnati”, we’ve made promises that some day it will all make sense and urged BYT to continue throwing money at us until it does. Our panel has grown to include BYT’s own Logan Donaldson, who joins seasoned vets Joshua Phelps, Joseph J. Minock, Phil R, Steven Place, and Thomas McLeod of You Heard That New. This week, we take on a supersized remix of Rick Ross’s “Hold Me Back”, Odd Future golden child Earl Sweatshirt’s “Chum”, and Young Jeezy’s state-of-the-union address, “We Done It Again”.
Rick Ross ft. Gunplay, French Montana, Yo Gotti, and Lil Wayne: “Hold Me Back (Remix)”
Conventional song lengths can’t hold Rick Ross back. Rozay recruits Yo Gotti, Gunplay, French Montana, and Lil Wayne for an XL remix of God Forgives, I Don’t‘s meanest (and some would argue best) track “Hold Me Back”.
Phelps: Is it me or is it lazy as fuck to issue a remix with the same beat? “Hold Me Back” might be overly simple in its meanness and thuggery, but that’s what I love about it. This “remix” just dilutes that. It’s unnecessary.
Steven: Agreed! What the fuck is this? Did he really have to elaborate that “the haters can’t hold [him] back?” I thought that was well established in the original. Also, we all know Ho Hos are the only thing that can hold Rick Ross back.
Tom: I think a heart attack might hold him back for a bit. I actually don’t mind the posse track remix with the same beat, as long as everyone comes with it. Generally, I find this track acceptable in that regard. Gunplay is a guilty pleasure for me. I think the big thing to note here is that this still isn’t a Lex Luger beat. This track is indifferentiable from a Luger track, but they found some kid named G5Kid, paid him in weed, and here we are. America!
Steven: BYT is paying us in weed for this post, right?
Phil: I’m all for letting “Hold Me Back” run a few minutes longer and letting a handful of guys go crazy on it. It may be a Lex Luger knockoff, but it’s a FJ Cruiser to Luger’s H2s. Point being: It gets the job done, and it’s light years better than the Suziki Samurais the rest of MMG are cruising around in. But, if you’re going to jump on a tectonic plate shifting beat, don’t just bring a collection of one-liners. The way Ross attacked the original “Hold Me Back” was inspired. It’s the only song on God Forgives where he sounds hungry for something other than turkey bacon. When he launches, wheezing, into the chorus the third time around, I’m legitimately concerned he’s going to have a stroke before the song wraps up. Logan, whatever he loses in the mind-numbing repetition, he makes up for with intensity of his vocal. In contrast, everyone on this remix does a half decent job and absolutely no one goes for broke. All I want is for one guy to lose it. I think the worst offender is actually Wayne, who sleepwalks through his bars. That’s pretty much par for the course at this point with Wayne. Remember when he used to walk away with these sort of tracks? To their credit, Ross and Gunplay bring up the cumulative batting average.
Phelps: I have to question the thesis of someone who thinks Rick Ross eats turkey bacon.
Phil: “Now I get a hundred racks for the 16 / Waking up to turkey bacon and my thick queen,” the great Rozay doth proclaim on “Ashamed”. You’re not trying to insinuate that Rick Ross would lie on one of his songs, are you?
Steven: Just a theory, but what if he meant “a Turkey bakin'”? Dude could obviously down a full bird for breakfast.
Logan: Maybe he’s considering cutting down on transfats since the seizures. “What’s your body mass index, bruh? I’m down to double digits”
Phil: I think the Rolling Stone Rick Ross cover story – one of my favorite articles from this year – specifically mentioned his affinity for turkey bacon, as well as getting lobster bisque to-go and having that for breakfast too.
Tom: You guys know way too much about Rick’s gastroentological and dietary habits. Citing and quoting both lyrics and articles: That’s crazy.
Phil: 25% of that Rolling Stone feature was about Rick Ross’s food consumption. I’m still waiting for the opportunity to channel my inner Boss and tell a girl, “You ever had shrimp and watermelon on the same plate? Well, tonight you will.”
Earl Sweatshirt: “Chum”
After a brief appearance on Frank Ocean’s “Super Rich Kids” and a slightly lengthier spot on Odd Future posse cut “Oldie”, “Chum” is the first taste of 100% Earl Sweatshirt that we’ve received since his release from captivity. It’s still up in the air whether this very personal offering is a sampling of a forthcoming LP – which Earl has promised will alienate many OF fans – or a one-off.
Joey: I’m not touching this one. I don’t wanna end up like Steve Harvey.
Phelps: Am I supposed to feel sorry for him? I mean, I kind of do if he really got sent to an island somewhere far away. That happened, right? I like how he gets a little excited in the 2nd verse, but, man, he’s all-in with the LLoyd Banks monotone here. He has bars though, and I’m a sucker for NBA-related rhymes. I’m not super high on Odd Future stuff but this is good. Are those shots fired at “Complex” near the end?
Steven: I think this track shows how his situation was really misunderstood. Apparently, he wanted to go to that school in order to change where his life was headed. When “Complex” blew up his spot, it made everything even worse. I feel like the story before was about how Earl was captured or something. In reality, he was just trying to figure shit out. This track just reminded me that these dudes are still kids. They’re talented as fuck, but surrounded by adults and bullshit making even normal stuff a little bit harder, to the point where he doesn’t even feel like rapping anymore.
Phil: This is one of my big issues with Odd Future: Too much critical discussion focuses on backstory. In 2012, I expect more interesting production than OF’s in-house team are capable of. I know it’s not an entirely fair comparison (apples-to-apples) and this track isn’t a large enough sample size to fully draw a conclusion, but I was hoping that some of Channel Orange‘s experimental spirit and its attention to detail would rub off on these guys, especially Earl, who seems to exist in a separate – if parallel – orbit to Tyler et al. Phelps, with regard to the monotone, I think he’s all-in on puberty.
Phelps: So when your nuts drop you don’t like rapping anymore? I don’t think he’s rocking Rampage type bass-y voice, I’m just saying he sounds a little disinterested, but maybe it’s the subject matter. Maybe he’s rapping whilst looking out a window on a rainy day with a tear drop (non-tattoo) beneath his eye.
Tom: I dig the hazy lazy flow, but I’m not sure what he’s talking about. There are a lot of mixed metaphors, long pauses, and weird hesitations. The beat is… nonexistent, though I don’t know what he would sound like on a hyped beat. He might need to do “Duet Album” number X with 9th wonder. It’s like his whole style begs for a pitched up soul sample and “high in the mix” snare. He’s got talent, though. He’s also not offending my ears with deliberately-gutter-snipe-serial-killer-for-the-humor lyrics like the rest of OF. It’s not amazing, but it’s definitely not bad.
Young Jeezy: “We Done It Again”
Our President is yet again black, and Young Jeezy is yet again rapping about it. Released election night, this sequel to “My President” is another piece of slightly confused rage and uplifting choruses. To stress the historical significance, the song’s cover art repurposes the iconic shot of the flag raising on Iwo Jima. Like most things Jeezy, it’s best not to think too much about what exactly he’s trying to suggest.
Phelps: “We Done It Again” is a little more reserved, if not downright morose, compared to its predecessor. On a beat that’s sparse versus celebratory, Jeezy acknowledges that Obama hasn’t been perfect with a line about how he can’t fix what Bush did in two terms. I doubt you’ll hear this bumping down Peachtree Street given the grave words on some of the nation’s more visible problems (Trayvon Martin, auto bailouts, Afghanistan troop surges) during O’s first four years. It definitely rings truer than the first iteration though, and thankfully lacks Nas’ meandering proselytizing on integrity.
Phil: I’d like to imagine that there are a handful of rappers sitting on some just unabashedly hateful fuck-Mitt-Romey-this-world-is-going-to-hell songs that will never see the light of day because Obama won.
Joey: Lots of questions and not many answers seems apropos for folks (including, evidently, Jeezy) that are a little more sanguine and realistic about what to expect out of the “powers that be” and their ability to solve intractable problems, even extending that perspective to a figure as iconic and meaningful as President Obama. Take that, and pair it with the subdued production that I think we all agree is pretty fantastic, and I’d venture to say that just as he encapsulated the triumphal mood following Obama’s election in 2008, Jeezy captures the 2012 mood quite perfectly as well 0 something well worth celebrating, but a little more soberly.
Phil: I don’t want to discourage Jeezy from getting reflective, but the way he free associates through the laundry list of social ills reminds me a little of Cecily Strong’s “Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation with at a Party” bit on SNL.
Tom: I love the vibe of this track! However, now that Obama was re-elected and I can stop caring about literally everything again, this song fits perfectly in with my theme of forgettable stuff. If Jeezy ever finds his way back to Trap or Die, I will be beside myself with joy and a most likely enviable amount of cautious bus mean mugging. When Hilary wins in 2016 ,I expect Too Short to make a “My President Has a Pu$$y” track.