Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Our name is Rec-Room Therapy. Each week, we discuss recent hip-hop tracks.
Today, Vince Staples steps into the Future; the Chemical Brothers and Q-Tip travel back in time; and Miguel rises and shines with Wale.
Vince Staples: “Señorita”
Vince Staples was everywhere at SXSW this year, and tucked into all of his sets was a new song that flipped some lines from Future’s “Covered N Money” into a hook. Now Staples has officially unveiled that track, “Señorita”. The single was produced by L.A.-via-Chicago-via-Nigeria duo Christian Rich, two dudes whose catalog includes Earl Sweatshirt’s “Chum” and Childish Gambino’s “Crawl”. Singer Snoh Aalegra is in the mix too, which makes sense since she and Staples shared space on Common’s Nobody’s Smiling. Staples’ great EP, Hell Can Wait, was released in October and his proper debut – Summertime ’06 – is out June 30. The album was executive produced by No I.D., whose Def Jam imprint, Artium, Staples is signed to (along with Common and Snoh Aalegra).
MARCUS: Vince Staples is excellent. I enjoy how he delivers rhymes. Is he a star? Not yet. Do I have a narrative on him? Not yet.
That’s the problem with so many of these blog-hot rappers who got locked into deals without having the time to establish themselves. We only know: “Oh yeah, he’s a dope rapper cosigned by X, Y and Z.” Thus, while “Senorita” is trappy as hell and doesn’t blow me away with it’s lyrical content, I don’t mind it because it’s part of *GASP* an album from him, which appears to be all about his narrative voice.
Christian Rich were once the dudes behind the Eyes Wide Shut-aping video for their 2009 single “Famous Girl.” Maybe the most amazing thing about this single is how you go from being awkward kinky sex loving hipsters to being lords of the trap. The mind boggles.
AARON: The fuck? Is that Bill Cosby on the hook?
This might be the first Staples track that I don’t like. It’s just kind of meh. The Future sample is kind of jarring. It’s a little out of context, if there is such a concept to be applied to his signature lip-flapping. The tone of this song seems forced. I like Vince Staples for his conservative flow and his noir-ish vision of the game. He has a little tiny bit of that cautionary tale, good kid in a bad place style that rappers like Sweatshirt and Kendrick wield so well. I guy like Staples doesn’t need to be “thuggin’ in public;” he just needs to ride that creepy smooth shit we have gotten used to on to the next level.
As far as Christian Rich goes, I was a big fan of the production on “Chum” and “Crawl”, but I’m not sure this is up to par with previous offerings. The day that these “producers” learn to move away from these played out, 2-3 note minor key, Halloween beats will be the day that ushers in the New Rap Renaisance.
We have got to get back to the music part of the game before this rap shit gets any better. Hopefully No I.D. will push this project firmly out of Trap record territory and blow our minds.
Vince Staples is not to be underestimated as a potentially game shifting talent. He’s just not gonna get there with tracks like this.
And hopefully there is no Future in the future of hip hop.
LEAH: I think Vince is using the Future sample to contrast Future’s money-over-everything ethos with his own up-from-the-gutter story; he’s contrasting his own interactions with the police with Future’s mamacita knowing how to greet him; he’s making a juxtaposition between Future’s constipated autotune and his own relaxed and confident but dense lyrical style. I think it’s a smart song.
And Aaron’s right on the beat: It hits all the good creepy vibes, but I’d like to hear Vince over something different on his solo stuff instead of Common’s stuff.
PHIL: Brr. Brr. Brr. Brr.
Brr. Brr. Brr. Brr.
Chemical Brothers ft. Q-Tip: “Go”
It’s been five years since the last Chemical Brothers record (2010’s Further); thirteen years since I bought one (2002’s Come With Us); fifteen years since I loved one (1999’s Surrender); and seventeen years since it released a dead-to-rights classic (1997’s Dig Your Own Hole). But the duo reemerged last year with “This Is Not a Game”, a track from a “Hunger Games” soundtrack featuring the very “now” combination of Miguel and Lorde. And in July, the Chemical Brothers will release an eighth LP, Born in the Echoes, with features collaborators both old (Beck, Q-Tip) and new (St. Vinvent, Cate Le Bon). Today, we talk about the first of that cast, Q-Tip, who appears on the record’s second single, “Go”. This marks the second time Kamaal has appeared on a Chemical Brothers record, following 2005’s “Galvanize”. As a bonus throwback, the song gets a video from iconic director Michel Gondry, who helmed videos for their “Star Guitar” and “Let Forever Be” videos.
AARON: Whoa. What am I, twenty-five years old again?
I’m gonna have to go score some regular and put on my big pants before I listen to this.
MARCUS: Q-Tip is cashing new checks in 2015. That’s wonderful. And he might tour with Kanye and Travi$ Scott. This is all great.
The real wonder here are The Chemical Brothers aping “Apache” and “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” in the same track and adding in this quasi-Chic bassline and saying, “To hell with it, let’s just make the easiest dance record humanly possible.”
Q-Tip did “Galvanize” with the Chemical Brothers, so he’s not some electro neophyte either.
Kudos all around on this one. Nailed the vibe, nailed the production, A++.
AARON: I bet y’all thought I was gonna hate this, but I don’t. Not one bit.
Given that the current state of rap finds neo-thug Trap, and it’s complete lack of class, starkly juxtaposed against the current retro-fawning over the sounds of 1977 future disco. I would say that the arc of freshness is favoring tracks like this for the long game.
Q-Tip can literally do no wrong. His wackest joint(if there is one) is still probably a strong 7. While “Go” might be a little on the PG-13 side I have mad respect for the Chemical brothers for basically defining the crossover dance/big beat domination of 90’s party shit without being cornballs.
Q-Tip is that one-in-a-million cat that can flow on anything and not lose one ounce of swagger. He was the first rapper I can remember that was equally respected by die-hard heads from the gritty-grimey and suburban kids in boat shoes with no problems.
Translation: He was the first rapper that both black folk and white folk could agree on.
It’s not my usual thing, but as a life-long Hater with a capital Hate, I need stuff like this to remind me that the Craft extends beyond Lord of the Flies death-trap and emo kids complaining about shit.
The first two seconds of this song sounds like Rush’s “Tom Sawyer”. Marcus, surely you know somebody who would like to flip that. It would go hard.
LEAH: This song makes me really uncomfortable. It makes me feel like I’m wearing the wrong size shoes on the wrong feet. It just feels like that night where you walk into a Mexican restaurant to eat dinner and there are norms doing karaoke. Either of these alone, I guess they’d be alright, but the combo just kind of ruins my dinner.
PHIL: This song makes me want to DJ a late 80s teen center.
Miguel ft. Wale: “Coffee (Fucking)”
Speaking of Miguel, the L.A. singer posted an EP to Soundcloud late last year. It was called nwa.hollywooddreams.coffee, because those were the names of the three songs on it, and it was meant to tease his forthcoming record, Wild Heart. This week, he released the official version of the EP’s last song, “Coffee”, which now has the parenthetical “(Fucking)”. (As in: “Ah, this is the Miguel song about fucking.”) Other notable changes: This take is 82 seconds longer, and it features Wale. And, in an embarrassing turn, no one bothered to tell Miguel that his jeans have a hole in the crotch.
JOSE: I’m a fan of Miguel. He puts out grimy love songs on the regular, and does so with enough sweetness and sincerity that he somehow does not creep anybody out – basically serving as a higher evolution form for crooners like Trey Songz and Jeremih. However, “Coffee (Fucking)” is a sonic scramble. There are way too many things layered over that guitar distortion, and it’s rather distracting. Miguel has a great voice! Make that the focus, and maybe switch Wale out with a decent rapper.
MARCUS: I hate Miguel and Wale equally.
Miguel is a prop for clothes and the adoration of people who like being sold really generic fantasies. Intriguingly enough, that’s better than The Weeknd, who is a prop for the existential angst of confused and oversexed millenials who fake orgasms.
Wale is a great rapper in theory, but in execution just sounds like every Nigerian dude I know from uptown DC who sells pretty girls and wannabe ballers oils that smell like famous fragrances in exchange for phone numbers and daps, respectively.
That being said, the track is basically “Sure Thing” updated, Miguel having like three tropes for songs, like, ever. They are, as follows:
1) I want to love you.
2) No, while I do want to fuck you, it’s more pressing that we get drunk first, then fuck.
3) Yo, fuck getting drunk or whatever, let’s just fuck.
Within those tropes, you do strike the gold of “Quickie,” “All I Want Is You” and “Adorn,” but even those are songs so dependent upon things that are in no way related to Miguel that it doesn’t really matter. Put Wale on this thing and yeah, you get the sense that these are a bunch of dudes either talking about fucking or otherwise being the kind of guys who openly discuss the amazing sex they’ve never really ever had.
As much as people hate Trey Songz, you get the sense from his music that he’s totally doing the thing that Miguel just sings about.
All this being said, I have always felt that the key to being a great sex-based R&B singer is to live life as fast, hard, thoroughly debauched and epic as possible, then write down a bunch of songs about the stuff you barely remember.
Miguel’s not doing that. Neither is Wale for that matter.
LEAH: Shit’s lame. Call me when either of these dudes have something to say that won’t turn my stomach. This made me cringe.
AARON: Only thing I wanna fuck is this song.
Ladies: Miguel wants to fuck you then watch you sleep but not in a sensitive rom-com kinda way,but in a forgot-your-name-and-I-might-put-this-on-instagram-without-asking way. And Wale thinks your chocha smells like a machiatto.
Bruh. All groupie hygiene issues aside. This is just awkward. This is a song for nobody. Just like Wale’s dumb “album about nothing”
If the overall semi-rapeyness of this song doesn’t get you, what’s with these two rich, famous, successful dudes SOUNDING SO GODDAMN THIRSTY.
Please chill and maybe ask permission to fuck, drink some water, smoke a blunt and lay off the coffee. You both seem kind of anxious and impatient.
Or maybe you could just fuck each other and get that scandal money.
This song is wack as hell.
PHIL: Wale says his “stroke is a scone,” which makes me think that he doesn’t what a scone is.
Wale says he wants to “emulate 50 Shades over Jodeci grooves,” which leads me to believe that he has not seen “50 Shades of Grey”.
Wale still says “celly,” which is pretty consistent with what I know about Wale.