Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Our name is Rec-Room Therapy. Each week, we discuss recent hip-hop tracks.
Today, DJ Quik turns Spoon inside out; Diplo and RiFF-RAFF go K-pop; and Jezzy and Rich Homie Quan might be doing a lot of things.
Spoon ft. Iamsu!, Kurupt & Boogie: “Inside Out (DJ Quik Remix)”
DJ Quik and Spoon both put out very good records last year – The Midnight Life and They Want My Soul, respectively. Recently, the latter’s “Inside Out” was given the remix EP treatment with new takes by Operators, Tycho, film composer Brian Reitzell, and The Strokes’ Fabrizio Moretti. Now, on the heels of that, comes another, but of a different variety: DJ Quik has reimagined the track and recruited fellow West Coasters Iamsu!, Kurupt, and Boogie to guest on it with him. It’s part of Yours Truly‘s ongoing Songs From Scratch series, and you can read much more about the song’s creation there (or just watch this behind-the-scenes video). One interesting tidbit: According to Quik, Spoon originally envisioned “Inside Out” as “as an ode to the Dr. Dre-era sound that he doesn’t even do anymore.”
MARCUS: This adidas series would only be great if it led to a “KIDS”-meets-“Judgement Night”-meets-Woodstock film about buying adidas sneakers and going to Trillectro or Weird City Hip-Hop Fest. There, I said it. That’s my big idea to save adidas. If you have the cultural cache to waste a bunch of money on songs with hipster producers and real-ass hip-hop dudes, then hell, you don’t have to waste that money. Instead, do the smart thing and invest in say, rap festivals and great content.
Kurupt cashes one enormous rap check a year and hasn’t changed his flow in 25 years. Also, DJ Quik hasn’t altered his style much either. There’s a huge message there.
In case you missed said message, it’s that the true classics never die.
AARON: Interesting. I never know who’s paying for shit and how all the fancy stuff gets made. I just like rap.
I appreciate that adidas is supporting this type of high concept production, because this song is the motherfucking jam.
In traditional Austinite style, I’m so from here that I forget Spoon is famous as fuck until they show up and sell out Stubbs for two days. Awesome band. I believe they were getting famous just as I was settling into a decade long detour of working Austin’s finest liver-killing, rockstar-dream-crushing night spots. I worked a few of their shows. I know – or at least can claim to be marginally acquainted with – a shitload of Austin’s famous people under 40-something-ish. I tend to think of them as regular people until I see them playing in front of a bazillion people or riding a dragon on TV or whatever.
I never in one hundred fucking years would think, “Oh let’s remix a Spoon joint and put Kurupt on it.”
It works, and it works well.
This beat is hypnotic and ethereal and other corny words I don’t like. The meandering synth outro is just the nicest shit. Bars tight. G Funk snare on point.
This is catchy enough to get rotation at hipster parties and maybe a high school prom or two, but don’t get it fucked up: This will get play in a hood near you. No doubt.
And Marcus Kurupt cashing one enormous rap check a year and not changing flow in 25 years is the best career a rapper can have imhmfo.
JOSE: This is such a pleasant surprise. It’s not often that a big corporate “hey, let’s slam these two things together because we can cash in on their disparate, loyal fan bases” works this well, but holy shit – this is so, so good. Smooth, chilled out, and all the raps are tight. It’s addictive. I love it.
PHIL: This song is two-thirds hot and one-third Iamsu.
Young Su has no business being in the same room as Britt, Quik, and Kurupt. These are Gods. IamSu is not only mortal, he’s the kinda dude who says, “That weed got me looking part Asian.” That’s sub-Khalifa. The rest of his bars aren’t awful, but I’m tired of Iamsu just taking up space on good songs. He’s a loiterer.
This song doesn’t click completely until after Iamsu exits – in part because Quik’s tinkering hits full stride, in part because Kurupt sounds so good. Kurupt says “Holy roller killa!” and “In a dark room listening to Spoon”, which are two extraordinarily cheesy things things to come out of one’s mouth, but the man sells it.
Boogie, I do not know who you are or how you got here, but you can stay.
I’m less interested in the wallets that brought this song to be, because the precedent that I hear is the “Step” remix with Danny Brown, Heems, and Despot. That’s the template. And, sonically, this “Inside Out” remix runs circles around it. Letting Quik do his thing was wise. But in addition to being light years beyond Iamsu, that triumvirate strung together something a little more thematically cohesive, which is something this song could use.
It still goes in the rotation, though.
CLYDE: “Inside Out” is probably my favorite track on Spoon’s last album. I have a pretty low bar for smashed together songs like this: Don’t make a song so bad that it ruins the original for me. But even with such a low bar, this song is pretty dope. Kurupt is one of those rappers whose verses always leave me thinking I need to listen to him more. Then for some reason I never do.
Quik tinkers with the original just enough to justify his presence, without overcooking. I’m impressed.
And I agree with Phil: “Inside Out (Remix)” > “Step (Remix)”
Diplo x CL x RiFF RAFF x OG Maco: “Doctor Pepper”
“When you look at the artists in J-pop or K-pop, there is a standard: Seven girls wearing the same clothes, very cute and shy. I just want to say there are stronger women like me,” CL said in late 2014. The K-pop star (and 2NE1 member) is working on a U.S.-aimed debut and has been working with musical sponge Diplo on it. The recently released “Doctor Pepper” is an outtake from those sessions. It was co-produced by Swizzymack, and mixed by Mike Dean.
MARCUS: Korean pop music has literally taken over as an underground or mainstream phenomenon in literally every single country in the world but America. CL actually nails why when she mentions cute, shy and benign-looking groups. In every other country in the world BUT America, pop GROUPS still exist and work. Somehow in America, we’ve gotten away from this concept, and now we’re looking for acts that work in multiples of 1. Thankfully, for the purposes of K-pop killing it in America, CL is that ONE.
So yeah, while we’re at it, let’s put all of the racism, sexism and fetishization out there, too. Hot, blonde and thin Korean women are going to be more exciting to the average American male (and female) than plus-sized Caucasian women are right now. Up is down, left is right and yeah, although all that is happening, the world is still run by penis and vagina feels. America’s never gotten to have significant penis and vagina feels for Korean women before. So, this is a concept that’s going to win.
As well, so many K-pop stars are… get this… FROM AMERICA. CL’s on that list and speaks perfectly unaccented English. Unenlightened folks are going to freak the fuck out when they hear this song and then look at the video and see CL. I actually want Riff Raff to become a huge Korean star too, as he’s just the kind of weird white man that Asians can fetishize the fuck out of, too. Why is OG Maco here? Well, it was probably his track to begin with, and Diplo just decided to make OG Maco ten times as much money from this song as it would’ve had to begin with.
But let’s keep it really real here and say that CL could’ve said “Coca-Cola,” “Purple Faygo,” “Kiwi Soju” or any great number of four syllable drinks and it’d still be a hit. She’s 21st century Madonna, and very soon, we’re all going to just blindly assent to whatever she says and does.
AARON: This shit is weird. I’m gonna have to take Dowling’s word on this one.
Grumblings on the internet have told me that K-pop is a force to be reckoned with, and it’s no worse than the shit we get mainlined here at home every day. The production value is insane and it generally makes nonsense.
I don’t understand. Usually, I fear what I don’t understand, but usually it does not come packaged so inoffensively sexy and strangely marketable. So, CL for president some day. I’m down. What do we have to lose? At this point saving American pop culture is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Forest, trees, etc. we’re fucked. Kendrick and Taylor can’t save us. Hov is dead and Yeezy is too busy fiddling while Rome burns. Somebody has to step in, and I for one welcome our new Sexy overlord.
I love Riff Raff more and more with every dumb word he speaks. He can pretty much do no wrong at this point.
I hate Diplo as a human being but he makes some tight beats. I refuse to acknowledge his status as some kind of jet setting,star fucking,taste maker (which he, is I think?) I cannot humanize him lest I feel emotions about Diplo… which I don’t.
I don’t know much about OG Maco other than that he is slightly more tolerable and raps better than your average neo-trap mumbling dude. Also, I believe it is temporally impossible to be born in 1992 and be an “OG.”
I stage-managed some trap shows during SXSW, and this is my exchange with OG Maco as he threw a fit trying to roll in the back door 10 deep.
Maco : I’MA PUNCH A NIGGA IN THE FACE IF THEY DON’T LET ME IN!
Me: (approaches from rear unnoticed) What’s good? My name is Aaron and I’m in charge today. What do you need?
Maco: I’MA HIT THIS MOTHERFUCKER IF HE DONT STOP FUCKIN WITH ME!
Me: (puts hand on his shoulder like horse whisperer) That’s Josh the Door Guy. Don’t punch him. He’s a nice guy.
Maco: FUCK HIM!
Me: Do you know Josh?
Maco: I DONT GIVE A FUCK!
Me: I need you to stop yelling at strangers and go through that other door. Are you gonna hit me?
Maco: We cool. Fuck y’all.
I guess we’re still cool.
CLYDE: Riff-Raff has never made any fucking sense and I’m glad he isn’t starting to now (“No tint on the glass / #ColonelSanders”), but there’s something about CL’s voice I really enjoy.
Overall, I’m pretty “meh” on this song but I can see it growing on me… kinda like “FourFiveSeconds” has…
JOSE: What in tarnation is this? It’s totally weird and I’m inclined to dismiss it as another example of “formula rap” but it actually kind of, sort of, maybe works for me. CL sings the hook pretty well on this track, even if it’s some dumb shit. I have no other context for who she is or what she does beyond what you’re giving me, Marcus, and I’m not particularly inclined to find out anything further, but she was the right choice for this song. When it sells huge numbers globally, we can all sit back and admire Diplo’s marketing genius – the dude knows how to sell records in countries that still buy records.
Riff Raff is a buffoon of the highest order, and continues to be an unpleasant turd, but this is probably my favorite verse by him of all time. He’s managed to set a pretty low bar for himself.
OG Maco is pretty legit on this song, actually. I like his stuff.
Jeezy ft. Rich Homie Quan: “I Might”
Middle-Aged Jeezy dropped a surprise mixtape last week, the creatively titled Gangsta Party. It’s a DJ Drama Gangsta Grillz joint, and it features a slew of hot name producers (Cardo, Zaytoven, Sonny Digital) and notable guests (YG, Kevin Gates, 2 Chainz, Shy Glizzy). On opening track “I Might”, Jeezy joins certifiable Atlanta hitmakers Rich Homie Quan and London on da Track.
PHIL: This is very modest brag rap. Technically, Jeezy and Quan aren’t promising anything. They are just allowing for the possibility that it might happen. Jeezy might ride through the streets of Atlanta on a literal dragon. It could happen. Magic is real. It’s probably as likely as Jeezy catching the billions that he purports to be chasing.
“I might pull up on your bitch, but I won’t do nothing that she say.” What are these things that my bitch is asking of Quan? Is she asking him to do household chores? Because, honestly, that seems kind of fair to me. I’m tired of carrying the load.
MARCUS: Young Jeezy is doing the musical equivalent of switching up his dope suppliers for worldwide streets here. No need to release an album for Jeezy until he figures out how to cut up the new coke and cook it up into top-40 and club-friendly crack.
Rich Homie Quan has actually seen his stock descend to the point where he has become the lowest common denominator of warbling hood dudes. Thus, away from the spotlight, he’s actually able to do some rapping here, and while not groundbreaking, he’s not terrible either.
But, yeah, Jeezy’s making the re-up here. It’s literally that simple. I’m sure somewhere Pusha T is drinking Chablis from a golden chalice while watching naked German women wearing Margiela masks bag up heroin like Nino Brown and wondering why he isn’t doing the same thing.
Keep an eye on the Snowman. I love this move.
CLYDE: One of Jeezy’s greatest strengths, and the reason he’s stayed relevant in the ten years (!) since Thug Motivation dropped, is his uncanny ear for production. (It damn sure isn’t from switching up his subject matter.) I know it’s just for a mixtape, but this London beat isn’t very dynamic or interesting. Normally, Jeezy’s songs are cinematic, but this one had me falling asleep in the theater.
Rich Homie Quan is actually my favorite of the Warbling Hood Dudes (Fetty Wap, Young Thug, et. al) but I don’t think he adds anything here. HO-HUM.
AARON: Hold up. This isn’t too shabby. I don’t love it, but I can’t not like Jeezy. The beginning of that second verse is the fastest he’s ever rapped, right? I was like, “Slow down, Tech 9, how is your mouth moving that fast?”
I’m not in love with the beat, but I don’t expect too much nuance from this camp of producers at this point. It’s just kind of there.
Jeezy is permanently in that “Nicky Barnes on the magazine cover” portion of his career/own mind, just selling drugs and rapping like it’s no big deal. I’m not sure Jeezy will ever get better, nor am I sure that he needs to. His lane is very wide and comfortable and nobody else drives there since Pusha T started flying everywhere. He can just whip the 2017 Invinciallardo all day on the same beats about the same shit and I will always kind of like it.