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Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Our name is Rec-Room Therapy. Each week, we discuss recent hip-hop tracks.

Today, Vince Staples and Desi Moi get paid; Trae tha Truth and Rick Ross have no fucks to give; and Bilal and Big K.R.I.T. offer their sexual services.

As always, our distinguished panel consists of  Marcus DowlingPhil R, and Weird City Fest’s Aaron Miller and Leah Manners.

Vince Staples ft. Desi Moi: “Get Paid”

Rejoice. In less than two weeks, Vince Staples’ Summertime ’06 will see release. The 21-year-old Long Beach rapper’s proper debut is shaping up to be a doozy, too – a twenty track double-album. (Maybe Staples was listening to Earl Sweatshirt’s recent commentary on iTunes’ pricing practices of one-disc albums: “First off, you don’t get paid over 13 songs, so niggas that be giving y’all more than 13 songs are very generous.”) But those expecting Staples to take Def Jam’s money and make a bloated Blueprint 2-esque Feature Fest are sure to be disappointed. The only other rappers popping up on the tracklist are a couple of local names like Joey Fatts and A$ton Matthews. “It’s about the song and not the name,” he explained to Stereogum recently. “If a feature helps a song then I’m willing to do that 100%, but if it’s just a name being added to something, then I’d rather not do that.” On “Get Paid”, he’s joined by Long Beach rapper Desi Mo, another Long Beach rapper, and if her 283 Twitter followers are any indication, a relatively unknown one. Still here she is, and here “Get Paid” is, our second taste of Summertime ’06. It’s produced by No I.D., who oversaw the whole album.

AARON: Well, damn. Let’s give it up for new rap songs that actually sound like rap songs.

This menacing beat is monstrous. This is bass-in-your-face “Planet Rock” shit. That cowbell and 80’s snare got me fucked up.

I’m a little underwhelmed by the verses on this one. “Money is the means of control”: The last line of this joint hints at bigger message, which I think could have been played through a little better than just talking about dirt being done.

Look, we get it. It’s real out here in these internet streets and you just gotta let ’em know. Wrong. This song is too literal, and lyrically, it’s a little on the boring side. I think Staples hits the lick much better when the message is comfortably buried in the cryptic, sinister wordplay that we have come to love.

Staples is not a dude that needs to dumb it down. He has a little of that quiet gangster magic. Not too soft. Not too loud. Chill as fuck and hype at the same time. He brings to mind the West Coast OG like Kurupt and Ice Ceube who had the ability to go hard as fuck without breaking a sweat. If I could pin down the one thing that separates Vince Staples from his contemporaries, it’s the Chill Factor. Dude is cold as ice. He ain’t yelling; he’s telling.

LEAH: Staples has made it part of his oeuvre to deglamorize slanging and life on the streets, and I may be giving him too big a benefit of the doubt, but this annoyingly screechy and frenetic track is just another in a line of tracks that makes selling drugs sound less than enchanting.

I like Staples a lot. I find this track off-putting in its chorus, Game Boy sound effects, and general erraticness.

In our last write up about a Staples track, I encouraged him to veer away from the neo-gothic doom drone soundtrack, but I can’t say I’m a fan of the lane he’s landed in, though generally I like No I.D.-produced tracks.

Ah well, I’ll have another 21 songs to pick from at least.

MARCUS: I don’t know why I’m listening to the “generic-ass rap song” from the party scene of a late ’90s teen movie in 2015, but that’s exactly what I’m listening to here. I’m not mad at it, though, because Staples is great.

This sounds like the best Warren G b-side on the “Can’t Hardly Wait” soundtrack, and if he can do this when he appears bored as hell on a record, then I really want to hear him when he’s hyper-motivated. Here’s hoping that the next time we get one of those “super-rappy” posse rap cuts on, like, a random Mac Miller single, guys like Staples and Kendrick are there, because even when those dudes are talking about nothing of actual consequence, the flow is so cold that you just ride with the beat and throw your hands up at the hook.

That being said, LA is back. I really want Kendrick to get with Staples, Cube, Dre, and maybe Schoolboy Q (who’s not from LA, but… really… he could be) on a record on some NWA shit. The funny thing is that I can almost presume that the next Kendrick record will probably sound like Ice Cube’s album AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, if for no other reason than I’d imagine that he has the capital to call Dre and folks like Hank Shocklee and say, “What y’all sitting on? Kendrick’s going to explode the sonic expectation for rap again.

But, yeah. I really dig Vince Staples and wish nothing but all of the best rap things for him. He’s tremendous.

PHIL: “Get Paid” goes hard. Draw the shades, pull curtains, then go outside and put up wooden planks, because there is no sunshine allowed. This is the latest entry in a catalog that has grown increasingly claustrophobic.

Don’t get wrong: Vince Staples is very good at this. And truth-telling will always be appreciated. And I love No I.D.’s production. But Staples is an intense rapper, and when the beat is equally taut, the effect can be a little exhausting. Like, I don’t know if I have a whole double album of this in me. There’s something to be said for playing Staples hard-chiseled focus against the contrast of a warm, loose beat.

I also feel as if Staples’ storytelling ability has gotten a little lost in the shuffle. There’s a splash of it here (“Sellin’ cocaine with my daddy out the Days Inn”), but not much. Again, Staples doesn’t need every song to be a soul-sample-scored trip down memory lane, because “Get Paid” works, but his ability to use snapshots of growing up in Long Beach to paint a bigger picture on earlier singles was incredible. I miss it.

Anyway, good song. And using Desi Moi’s voice as Staples’ echo is a great touch too.

Trae tha Truth ft. Rick Ross: “I Don’t Give a Fuck”

Houston’s Trae tha Truth has been putting out records for a dozen years now, but in July he makes the jump to a major label with Tha Truth, his debut for T.I.’s Grand Hustle. And following this week’s trend, it’s a double album. Last week, he shared one of its tracks, “I Don’t Give a Fuck”, which in the ultimate “I Don’t Give a Fuck” move, features Rick Ross. (We kid!) It was produced by Jae the Giant, who does not appear to be a giant, but does appear to be from Texas by way of North Carolina.

MARCUS: I appreciate T.I. for releasing a Trae da Truth album. Trae’s Houston roots are legendary. He’s a Southern street legend. T.I. knows all about hustling the streets and clubs of the South (as many of our favorite rappers do) in order to get on, so offering an olive branch to a guy that probably literally broke him onto Houston radio/clubs (when getting those spins was a *thing*) is cool.

I also appreciate TI ponying up the dough to get a Rick Ross feature for said album (and Rick, for the same reason that TI signed Trae, was probably super-happy to oblige) so that it will enter into the rap reporting press cycle.

All that being said, I was a fan of Trae tha Truth in a major way in like, 2005 or so, when Houston rap was everywhere. Trae was in ABN with Z-Ro, who is literally one of my favorite rappers ever.

It’s not 2005 anymore.

Unless you are Boosie and have a lot of stories in your head from prison about violence and murder, I probably have no desire to hear you rap about your murderous intentions on records. Even more, I especially don’t want to hear you copying Chief Keef’s wordplay. As for Ross, I really don’t want to hear him rapping unless it’s on a collaboration for PETA with Beyonce about embracing vegan lifestyles where the hook is simply, “Pears.”

I mean, if songs like these keep Trae in some sort of major label money and affords him the ability to tour with T.I., Ross or anybody, then I’m all for it.

Otherwise, this is really bad. Bad, bad, bad.

AARON: Bruh. Marcus. I know how you feel.

Trae (and Zero) all goddamn day.

Trae has one of the best voices in rap no doubt. It’s like a scary demon in a candy slab on 40″ inch rims. Or maybe no rims at all, I don’t know. Shit just floating over melting streets like hood-hovercraft style.

Trillness notwithstanding, I don’t like this song at all. Even worse, without Trae, this song becomes a non-thing. He is the only one on here keeping this from being a fart in the wind.

This is the worst way to use Trae, who is arguably one of the most complex rappers in the south. A derivative hook, take all the speed out, and let’s not talk about the signature ABN doubled vocal style that is conspicuously absent from this production. Bullshit, yeah, but please get that money, I guess.

Fuck Rick Ross. It’s a goddamn shame he spent the last half a decade eating up all the food and talking reckless only to end up what we all knew he was in the beginning: WACK AS FUCK. Props on the portion control, big dawg but you need to step off and retire. Kick rocks and go enjoy your date-rape money on an island somewhere immediately.

Bilal ft. Big K.R.I.T.: “Pleasure Toy”

I remember Bilal’s 2001 debut, 1st Born Second, being hyped as the second coming of D’Angelo in the wake of Voodoo. But there’s only one D’angelo, and after the record failed to really take off, Bilal kind of went away for a while. (Not helping matters was the fact that his 2006 follow-up, Love for Sale, was iced indefinitely by Interscope Records.) Since 2010, though, he’s been putting out albums with some frequency, and in a few weeks, his fifth LP, In Another Life, will see release. (Not helping with the D’Angelo comparisons, man!) Earlier this week, a rip of a song called “Money Over Love” and featuring Kendrick Lamar hit the net. (Bilal had a guest spot on To Pimp a Butterfly‘s “Institutionalized”.) But that must not have been part of the planned rollout, because he subsequently dropped a different song with a different critically respected rapper, Big K.R.I.T. It’s called “Pleasure Toy” and it was produced by Adrian Younge. “It’s the summer time, everybody could use some lovin’,” Bilal said of it’s release.

MARCUS: This fucking song.

I get it. Bilal is crazysuperstupid talented, so him getting together with Big K.R.I.T. and super-composer Adrian Younge in a studio could literally go anywhere. Anywhere being “Freddie Jackson-aping R & B single?” Well, like I said, this could’ve literally been “Curtis Mayfield-aping blaxplotiation soul ballad with a 16-bar rap” or “RZA-style rap record where the samples are played in full and Bilal adds the hook,” too. But it’s not.

On the surface, K.R.I.T. getting his Big Boi life on a record is almost funny. I mean, who knew?!?!

And Bilal going from neo-soul loverman to Miguel clone, well, that’s probably him “trying to make a modern soul record” and nailing it a little too close for comfort.

And there’s Adrian Younge fiddling with a drum machine and composing 1986’s hottest slow jam.

All I’m missing from making this record a more perfect throwback is an S-curl, a thin black woman with a perm, and an awkward time to want to smoke a Newport cigarette.

LEAH: Yeah, I like Big K.R.I.T. and 808s as much as the next southern rap enthusiast, but something about this track just makes me cringe so hard.

Maybe it’s that it feels like a Prince-OutKast mashup and I’m uncomfortable about it?

Maybe it’s dudes likening themselves to vibrators?

I dunno, but I’ll pass on this one.

PHIL: I’m sort of onboard with “Pleasure Toy” until the chorus hits, but that’s when this thing gets slimed with Soul Glo and turns into a full-blown Eddie Murphy slow jam – and not the intentionally funny kind. On the plus side, in the genre of Accidental Comedy, this song is fucking amazing. My dude is going for it. Turbo falsetto bridge? Check. Comparing his penis to a rocket? Obviously. Asking you to be quiet lest you wake the baby? Courteous. Spoken word sweet talking? For sure.

Seriously, what is this? How does this exist? Is this a dream? Why is Big K.R.I.T. dressed up like Big Boi? Where are my clothes? I have way too many questions to even consider evaluating this song objectively.


Follow Rec-Room on Twitter, where we’re limited to 140 characters:  @marcuskdowling, @philrunco, @gitmomanners, @jrlopez, @dc_phelps, @Aaron_ish, and @CAMcGrady.