Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Our name is Rec-Room Therapy. Each week, we discuss recent hip-hop tracks.
Today, Gunplay wants to know what’s happening; Jamie xx has a good time with Young Thug and Popcaan; and 50 Cent advises us to get low.
Gunplay ft. YG: “Wuzhanindoe”
Gunplay’s full-length debut has been stuck in production hell longer than Jodorowsky’s “Dune”. In early 2013, he said that the LP would be called Medellín, and that he was almost done with it. A few months later, he announced that the name had changed to decidedly less cool Living Legend. Then basically all of 2014 passed with not even a single. Finally, at beginning of 2015, Gunplay announced another name change: He would now be called Don Logan, because apparently MMG doesn’t want to release an artist called Gunplay. (Note: His real name is Richard Morales.) Anyway, it is now May, and we have a new Gunplay song, “Wuzhanindoe”, where the Florida rapper teams with the California duo behind My Krazy Life: rapper YG and producer DJ Mustard. Living Legend is allegedly coming out in July.
PHIL: Not only is this song a year late – completely missing the Summer of Mustard – but it literally sounds like a collage of “BPT” and “Left, Right”. That being said, fuck it: I ride for “Wuzhanindoe”.
DJ Mustard has a habit of giving his beats to generic-ass West Coast rappers (e.g., Jay 305, Tee Cee, Dom Kennedy, Nipsey Hussle), which is an issue, because when your production is minimal, you need personality and presence to fill the empty space. Gunplay’s got all of that to spare. Dude could rap the phone book convincingly. It’s on display here: slightly unhinged, slightly menacing, still kinda charming. On paper, “Shots fired / Probably one of us” looks stupid, but when Gunplay says it, man, you can see his smirk from outer space.
Meanwhile, YG remains the reigning champ of “stay in your lane.” The guy has “made it” at this point, but does he want to talk about money and success? Nah, he just wants to remind you that you were a bitch in high school. He’s seen the yearbook photos.
AARON: I had almost forgotten what little I remembered about Gunplay, aka that pretty OK rapper that I forgot about immediately after that joint with Kendrick. Both he and YG are all right. I would put them firmly in the category of hard(ly) working, off-brand rappers that might still shoot somebody and then do a record from jail.
As much as Gunplay doesn’t suck, this one is a little boring. Mustard is boring me with his boring beats. I think wuzhaninhere is that Dj Mustard – his star having risen to great generic party beat heights – is no longer trendsetting; he’s riding a static wave of industry approval. He only has to be as good as his last beat – exactly as good. Like, identical to the last beat.
MARCUS: Can we just close MMG already? Like, seriously. Maybach Music Group started off with so much promise, but at this point I’ll gladly argue that Rick Ross’ vanity label (and let’s be real, that’s exactly what it is at this point) is the worst run label that once had a world of promise in the history of rap music. I mean, putting aside Ross almost dying on multiple occasions, Meek getting arrested, and Wale’s decision to dabble in R & B and poetry, their releases just never meet expectations anymore.
“Wuzhanindoe” is not just unpronounceable, it’s terrible, too. Is it possible to come up with anything better than this paint-by-numbers bullshit thing for this guy? I mean, he has a winged-eagle WWF Heavyweight Championship belt tattooed on his stomach for crying out loud. Isn’t that worth anything? Gunplay sounds like 2002 Busta here, all “Pass The Courvoisier”-style flow and everything. I’m not saying there’s anything bad about that, but, yeah, that was almost 15 years ago, and it’s not like that sort of flow is timelessly iconic or anything.
YG and Mustard carry most of the work here. This track is all swap-meeted out with left-coast swagger and Gunplay is just hopping on board the money train, gathering pennies. This is wack in execution and irrelevant in concept. The whole song sounds like all of the old men who think that cool rappers still brandish firearms in nightclubs got together and made a track. Unless you’re M.O.P. and over the age of 40, that’s not going to work. Nope, not happening. Every time this song plays on the radio (and it’s released by Def Jam, so it will get played on the radio), I hope that the disc jockey feels a little bit of their soul die with each passing second.
CLYDE: I love this beat, but I gotta dock DJ Grey Poupon five points for self-plagiarizing.
JOSE: How can you not crack a smile reminiscing about the Summer of Dijon? It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
Jamie xx ft. Young Thug & Popcaan: “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)”
“I was living in New York for a couple months, and I was doing a drive to Manhattan while I was listening to Hot 97. It was the perfect setting, and it made me want to make the track like that,” British producer Jamie xx said of making “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” recently. “I just think [Young Thug] is the best at the moment, him and Popcaan. I sent the song to other people who did versions, but [Thug and Popcaan’s] version fit best on the record… Young Thug has such a weird style I love, especially the things he does with his voice… I like that Popcaan is so young and he comes from a different place, but they complement each other very well… Young Thug did a whole version of the song and Popcaan did a whole version of the song. I ended up splicing it together for the final version.” After Young Thug’s version of the song leaked last week, Young Turks released the official, spliced version, which features a prominent sample of 70s R&B group the Persuasions. Jamie xx’s In Colour is out in a few weeks.
MARCUS: I’ll say it right here. Jamie xx’s album will be for UK-borne dance music what Kendrick Lamar’s record was to American black music. On his one man classic club vibe reclamation tip, this record combines the best parts of the music that kids listened to while getting ready to head out to Northern Soul parties and Lover’s Rock reggae songs in the 1970s. The idea of believing that Popcaan and Young Thug have the type of vocals that could compare to Gregory Isaacs or Maxi Priest is a bizarre, but for the purpose of this single, it’s actually apropos.
I’ve played this one like five times already. Popcaan deserves more looks as a R&B superstar. He’s that excellent and ALWAYS delivers the goods. As well, if I were YMCMB, I’d have Young Thug cover Dennis Brown’s “Money in My Pocket.” It’d be a hit. Like a giant, unavoidable radio smash that would make everyone forget about Lil Wayne comparisons ASAP. But I’m writing this at my computer in basketball shorts and not sitting in a boardroom, so there’s that.
JOSE: One of my greatest regrets from 2014 was getting way too drunk at the Union BBQ last year and having to go home before Jamie xx’s set. He has continuously demonstrated having one of the best ears in the industry, bringing novel ideas to each of his songs while still paying homage to the classics. This song is perfect. Young Thug is just the weirdo it needed, and Popcaan has that dance hall swag on it. I love this so much.
PHIL: I can’t tell if Young Thug is fascinated or repulsed by the female anatomy. Here, a girl is “gon’ squish it like squish.” On “Dome”, she’s “leav[ing] an aroma.” On “Lifestyle”, infamously, something is “wrong with the pussy.” It’s obviously a one-sided conversation, but has any rapper ever dedicated so much thought to the grossness of our privates? Also: He calls them privates!
Jamie xx done changed the finger-snap game with this song. The way he cycles between the distant and present snaps is brilliant.
Hell, all of “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” is great. Young Thug is “weird,” sure, but there’s levels to this shit. There’s “OMG”, where he’s a crazy dude talking to himself. And there’s “Lifestyle”, “Check”, and this, where his knack for slippery melodies is undeniable and far less “out there” than some people seem to want to admit.
AARON: “Nothing will fuck up a brilliant beat quicker than a wack rapper.” -Gandhi
50 Cent ft. Jeremih, 2 Chainz & T.I.: “Get Low”
Remember a year ago, when 50 Cent was “freed” from his Interscope Records contract, and he was going to release a quasi-album called Animal Ambition as a teaser for his comeback record Street King Immortal, and then all of a sudden Animal Ambition was a proper album, but 50 said he was going to release Street King Immortal immediately anyway, because that shit was already done, but then he never did? Oh, you don’t remember? Well, it happened. There is a 5,000 word Wikipedia entry for Street King Immortal to prove it. Go read it if you have absolutely nothing else to do with your life. While you do, listen to “Get Low”, which is technically the album’s first single. It was produced by Remo the Hitmaker, features Jeremih, 2 Chainz, and T.I., and discusses how to get a low fixed-rate mortgage. Or it’s about the strip club. It could go either way.
MARCUS: Props to 50 Cent for being able to spend his own money to be able to make dope rap records with his friends where he can talk shit about strip clubs and strippers. He’s living the dream.
I really enjoy the production here. It’s New York boom bap but done at trap’s tempo and swing, which is something that 40 or Boi-1da would’ve done already if Drake was obsessed with Brooklyn instead of Memphis. I love it.
50 fucking around with autotune is funny, but I really enjoy 2 Chainz and Jeremih here. In an era where rappers fake like they can sing their own hooks, Jeremih’s totally available to do that and actually highly talented at it. Also, Tauheed just shows up here and effortlessly shows out, as if he’s got almost 20 years in the game or something, lol.
TIP is as consistent as ever, and this track just makes me want the 50 and Tip to do a Best of Both Worlds EP and write really misogynistic raps about women that will make people feel uncomfortable when they hear their records but still want to pop bottles of expensive champagne when they hear them in the club.
Job well done all around.
PHIL: Shitting money doesn’t sound very comfortable. 50 might want to get that checked out.
Is anyone going to want to play this in a strip club? All this beat makes me picture is possessed animatronic dolls, marching in lockstep, rising up in the middle of the night to overthrow the toymakers. Maybe I have bigger issues.
“I’m getting paid off ad-libs / All I gotta do is say ‘Yeaaah.'” That’s the realest shit 2 Chainz ever wrote.
As for T.I,, Marcus is absolutely correct in noting T.I.’s consistency. It’s also the most boring consistency ever. I’ve never heard T.I. fuck up a song, but I haven’t heard him make one better in years. He’s just sort of there, making words rhyme, collecting a paycheck.
JOSE: I agree with Phil: The music doesn’t really have that “strip club grime” flow to it, even if the lyrics do. The only place this is getting played is regular clubs on Thursday nights – and sparingly so. It’s weirdly abrasive and unpleasant; a couple of listens with headphones was enough. Is this one of Timbaland’s leftover tracks from Season 1 of Empire? Drippity-drop.
2 Chainz is the highlight here, by a country mile. He killed me with that Cuban link line.
AARON: Honestly, 2 Chainz and TIP saved this track by doing exactly what we expect and not a bit more. Chainz is comfortably in his wheelhouse of feelin himself, and T.I., predictable as he may be, was necessary at the end. This beat was about to kill me with sleeping sickness until he came in with his patented weasely little double-time.
Other than that, the only thing that really got low during this song was my blood sugar. I need to drink some juice before I pass out now because this song is boring as fuck.
That being said, I love 50 cent no matter what he does. He’s one of the few gangster rap mini-moguls that knows how to get better, not just stay famous. He’s earned it. For every track that’s instantly forgettable track like this, he has one that you will never forget. And as Marcus so duly noted, he is rich as fuck and can do what he wants.