Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Our name is Rec-Room Therapy. Each week, we discuss recent hip-hop tracks.
Today, Angel Haze’s mission is impossible; Fetty Wap and Shy Glizzy would like an explanation as to your frowny face; and we dive into the Drake and Meek Mill beef.
Angel Haze: “Impossible”
Angel Haze released two track earlier this year that showcased her softer side – one break-up (“Gxmes”), one make-up (“Candlxs”). Now she’s back with something a little harder edged, “Impossible”, a track produced by Tk Kayembe. For now, it’s a loosie, but maybe it will end up on the supposedly forthcoming In The Winter Of Wet Years EP. Such a release would be her first since Dirty Gold, a record haphazardly released in late 2013 after the rapper leaked in spite of her label, Island / Republic.
MARCUS: Angel Haze is one of my favorite “new” bar-for-bar rappers. Like, I don’t come to Angel for like, the world’s best songs, but when I need an emcee to just stand and deliver and eat off somebody’s face, I know Angel Haze can get the job done. I sympathize with Angel because she knows that 20 years ago that there were plenty of rappers who were absolutely no good at making complete songs, but still they released very well received pop rap albums. So, when here Dirty Gold album was delayed by what I’m almost certain is some label exec asking, “Where’s the radio single,” I was initially angry, but then incredibly let down.
Eighteen months later and Angel’s actually better at rapping because she’s one of those artists who is actually *gasp* an artist, and thus takes the time to do the little things like, learn better breath control. That actually makes the song incredible, as I hear EVERY word she’s saying here, and I can feel them, too. It’s like, actually really wonderful to hear, as she gets into suicide attempts, existential angst and a ton of other heavy topics. The hook has many, many, many words though, and I almost wish that there was still a space in mainstream rap for awesome black girls who do awesome spoken word poetry to be successful mainstream artists.
And this beat. It’s hard and the drums are organic, which is the type of track that makes Angel’s flow feel so much hotter, primal and bombastic. Great selection here.
When I hear this and I think about the idea that I follow Angel on Instagram and she’s constantly in Europe, I’m glad. They appreciate that sort of word-driven rap over there, and she has every chance to deservingly be a super-duper star globally.
LEAH: At first I was a bit critical of this track as it sounded more like a Death Grips rip-off than a Haze track, but she builds the energy well and comes through with some great raw fury and braggadocio. I like it.
CLYDE: Not my cup of tea but I can appreciate the artistry here. You can tell what she’s going for and she pulls it off.
PHIL: This. Song. Goes. So. Hard.
“Impossible” might be the first Angel Haze track where everything clicks for me.
“Considered suicide, I do that these days / I thought about what I could do with my grave.”
[Insert everything else Marcus said.]
AARON: Yup. Hot lava. This is really great. Somebody’s been listening to grime. I just know it.
I have no idea what she’s saying on the hook, but every other word of this song is crispy clear and leaves no room for ambiguous interpretation. A little Deathgrippy but not enough to notice – that lo-fi punk rock vocal thing is pretty far and wide in indie rap for a long while now.
It makes me feel good to know that while Drake and Meek are playing shoulders in the schoolyard, Haze is over here on the left like fuck all you wack rappers, fuck constraints, fuck White America, just fuck all y’all have this fire ass, forward thinking rap shot across the bow.
Looking forward to more. She should do a track with RTJ immediately.
Yet the song is strangely positive.
Fetty Wap ft. Shy Glizzy: “Why You Mad”
At this moment in time, Fetty Wap has three singles (“My Way”, “Trap Queen”, and “679”) in the top 20 on Billboard’s Hot 100 charts, something we haven’t seen from a dude rapper since Eminem in 2013. We are living in strange times. To celebrate, let’s discuss “Why You Mad”, a new track from the one-eyed Patterson, New Jersey rapper. It features DC’s very own Shy Glizzy and was produced by Atlanta-affiliated beat maker Zaytoven (who possibly just made a song with Andre 3000).
LEAH: Shit. I’m mad because I think listening to this song actually made me dumber.
MARCUS: We’ve officially reached that point with Fetty Wap where I get uncomfortable because songs that are meant to accompany black teenage boys selling drugs in high schools in urban communities are now the soundtracks to white teenage girls in the suburbs trying lean, molly and loud in the same night. However, DC’s Shy Glizzy is still waiting in line at 300 to get that shot at dropping an album, so while he waits, making some of that brand new 1738 money isn’t a bad look.
But “Why You Mad” is a bad song. Sweet Jesus is it a bad song. On the countdown of all things Fetty Wap, “Trap Queen” was wonderful because at the end of the day it’s a rap love ballad, and while it’s not LL’s “I Need Love,” it’s a step or two below that time on Bow Wow and Omarion’s “Let Me Hold You” when Bow Weezy said that he’d “hold you down like a crack addict up in rehab.” “My Way” is a love ballad too, so one would hope that they’d have the common sense to just make this one-eyed teenager into “Bando Drake,” but they haven’t. Did I mention how bad this song is? Because it’s really really bad. Like, Shy Glizzy and his hayfever voice can’t even make it remotely interesting for less than 10 seconds. Maybe I’m old, but I didn’t think the point of pop music was to hold the listener hostage for three minutes to make them a fan…
AARON: This review brought to you by the law firm of Lean,Molly, & Loud.
CLYDE: Shoutout Migos. Shoutout Zaytoven. Shoutout Molly. Shoutout Eyepatches. Shoutout Waps. Shoutout Bandos. Shoutou-
PHIL: Putting that baby mama line in the hook is ruthless. On the first few listens, I thought Fetty Wap was saying, “Since I was young I was juggling,” which made me happy. How great would these low rent videos be if someone mean mugging the camera busted out some oranges and started juggling? Like, without breaking eye contact? (It’s “jugging,” obviously.)
As usual, I like the idea of a Shy Glizzy verse more than the actual bars. “My life is a movie, call me young Spike Lee.” Hmm.
Overall, this is pretty solid knucklehead shit. Can’t say I’m mad.
AARON: This is less irritating than I expected. Beat is hot for a few seconds and then starts to numb me out. I’m not a Fetty Wap fan as of yet. Shy Glizzy is the best part of this track for real.
It’s funny. All these trappin-ass rappers talking about threats and struggle and treachery around every corner appear to be the same rappers that currently rule the raposphere, get the most shine, huge guarantees for live shows, and continue to be worshiped by everyone from the actual streets, suburban 12-year olds, and celebrities.
I got news for you, son. You’re famous.
It’s time to take those first steps and get the fuck up out the hood. The real question, Mr. Wap, is “Why you mad?” Money is like a really good neighborhood just following you around in your pocket. You know, the best way to avoid thirsty-ass haters that would do you wrong is to move somewhere they can’t afford. Pro tip. White people invented it, but it’s pretty much a buy-your-way-in thing now. Anyone can do it if they trap hard enough.
Why do you think all the great OG rap superstars live in mansions on the side of a cliff or gated communities next door to movie stars? Because they know that doing dirt gets old but raps about doing dirt are timeless and get you paid as you slowly pack your shit, throw down some smoke bombs, and move to Beverly Hills. By the time your core demographic notices, you will be rich as fuck, with a TV show or a sports team, and geographically unassailable. It’s a win-win.
Drake: “Charged Up” + “Back to Back”
Well, sigh, it was probably inevitable we were going to have to discuss Meek Mill and Drake. We probably don’t need to explain this situation to you, but in case you’ve been hanging out with a volleyball named Wilson for the past two weeks, we’ll refer you to GQ, MTV, and Complex for a thorough breakdown. Rec-Room is here to discuss the two Drake “diss” tracks lobbed at Meek Mill on Saturday (“Charged Up”) and Tuesday (“Back to Back”) nights. Production on the former comes from Maneesh & “40” Shebib, while 40 handles the latter on his own. [Note: Meek Mill dropped “Wanna Know” halfway through the discussion.]
AARON: Scientists have recently confirmed that Drake is the softest, lightest, material known to man. Silence from Meek bangs way harder than these tracks.
I can’t listen to Drake talk hard about shit. It’s like when George W. rolled up in the flight suit and pretended to be a soldier for the ratings. You know hard motherfuckers all over are just looking at him like, “How dare this manicured little weekend warrior use stern language? Fuck outta here.” But they can’t say shit because their girls love Drake and they don’t wanna be on the couch tonight.
Also, the line on “Back to Back” about “…shout out to all my bad bitches wifin niggas”? That is actually a bad look. You cannot flip hooking up with Nicki Minaj into an insult no matter how hard you try. It doesn’t work, Aubrey. Nick-related blue balls got you all fucked up?
I don’t give two shits about Meek Mill, but I don’t actively hate him, so my bias is pretty solid here.
Rap beef is so wack now. Damn. I’m more interested in the Charlemagne/Flex nonsense than this.
Meanwhile, “Charged Up” is toothless and boring. It makes me drowsy. It should come with a warning about operating heavy machinery or something.
PHELPS: If it was 90s beef, maybe they’d both be assassinated, but this is 2015 and mayors and girlfriends on network television are involved. Since it’ll probably stay about music, Drake clearly ethered him this round. I think just going in over “Energy” beat would be apropos considering Drake’s flow can be soft, dimmed mood lighting, and Meek Mill has the charged up kinetic capacity of a festering whitehead on Rozay’s back.
That wifin line was fucking funny. The girl tour/your tour line was funny. Drake is having the kind of fun you can afford to have when you’re hanging backstage after playing in front of 15,000 people whose bread you don’t have to split with your girlfriend and Rae Sremmurd.
If beef was hard as baseball bats and boxing, it’s tennis now, and I’ll applaud a good return shot.
LEAH: Yeah, beefs have changed, and I for one welcome our internet-obsessed rap battlers. It feels way more safe than watching rappers get shot. The only thing these (mostly mediocre) tracks prove is that Drake is much better at the internet. Meek has so much material to work with to slam Drake that I’m pretty sure he’s delayed only because of the amount of insults to sift through, or he’s seriously concerned about setting fire to a very real meal ticket. Honestly, at this point, he has nothing to lose (and Drake’s not going to shoot anyone), so I hope he comes back – sooner rather than later, too, because the wait just make him look scared.
MARCUS: This isn’t a real rap beef. It’s like, that rap beef that the two dudes that everyone thought were fresh as fuck in high school had that was actually at the core about the fact that the valedictorian’s ex-girlfriend is now screwing the captain of the under-performing varsity football team. So, at the talent show, the valedictorian performed a rap song, and it was all about clowning the varsity football star who was like, “fuck that dude. Y’all know that shit was soft. Imma make a rap and whoop his ass. On Monday. Yeah, yo. Monday.” Monday rolled around and everybody was ready for the varsity captain to grab the mic in the lunchroom, but instead his boys showed up and said “Meek got study hall. He’s gonna body Drake at the flagpole at 3 o’clock.” 3 rolls around and Meek’s boys were all like, “Sorry y’all, Meek got detention.”
So, instead of turning down a whole audience, Drake, the valedictorian in this story, on the spot decided to spit some more bars, but instead of the soft bars from the talent show, these were like the hardest, most evil bars he’d ever spit. As each word spilled forth from Drake’s mouth, kids were literally falling on their backs in screaming fits of laughter and exclaiming “oh shit sons” everywhere. How did they know they were “evil?” Well, when he dropped verses about his ex-girlfriend, that’s when everybody knew. I mean, they used to be in love, they used to be proud of each other, and now here he was demanding that when she broke up with him that she couldn’t say shit to him about anything. Wow.
So, again, long story short, this isn’t a rap feud. It’s a high school beef. And the second Meek gets out of detention – when that is, nobody really knows – well, he’s going to be standing all alone, nobody wanting to hear or desiring to care about anything he has to say.
AARON: I don’t want anybody to get holes in the Jeep just yet. I just want fools to raise their voices and make real records, not these throwaway disses on D-side beats that sound like headphone bleed.
Drake sounds like me before puberty hiding behind my big friends talking shit to dudes that would break my arms if I was by myself.
Again. I don’t even like Meek but, shit, to have the whole world scream “Daaaaaamn” about a marshmallow like Drake is just too dissonant for me.
Fuck ’em both, I guess, just to be safe.
Honestly I’m surprised Nicki hasn’t gone in on the Stay Puft God for throwing shade.
CLYDE: Eh, it’s not “Takeover” but Drake gets in some funny jabs on “Back-to-Back.” (“This ain’t what she meant when she told you to open up more.” “Trigger fingers turn to twitter fingers.” “… Not even when she tell him that they better as friends.”) I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the best lines are Nicki-related because relationship gossip leaves a dude the most vulnerable in any beef. There’s a reason Jay Z’s mom made him apologize for claiming he “skeeted in the baby’s seat” of Nas’ babymama’s car.
Continuing the “Takeover” comparison, what I still love about that track is that it functions as an actual song. Take out the disses and it still bangs. Neither “Back-to-Back” nor “Charged Up” can make that claim. The production on both is pretty static and basic.
But at least we’ve evolved from a beef where two grown men are all “Ur gay.” Now we just clown a dude for not being sufficiently insecure or threatened by his woman’s success… so, progress?
I was pretty indifferent to Meek Mill before this episode but now I actively hate him because he played himself over some petty bullshit like a dude not tweeting out an album. Social media destroying relationships once again! And for the life of me I don’t understand why Meek won’t just grab Nikki’s phone and make a song with nothing but quotes from those thirsty-ass texts I’m sure Drake used to (still?) send(s) her. I think Leah is right. Maybe he’s afraid to rock the boat too much or doesn’t want to disrespect Nikki by going in like that?
AARON: I assume we are speaking on the late breaking late response?
I think my problem is just not feeling either of these two enough to take a side. This is like a boxer winning by TKO in a boring fight. Drake “wins” on marketing points, material at the ready to give a fake shoot-from-the-hip appeal, and sending Charlemagne those damn bottles.
I like the beat on Meeks response way more. It’s unnecessarily weird and it makes Meek’s raps sound more like a dude talking to (beefing with?) himself. The last 45 seconds is definitely fire. One can only hope 50 gets involved simply by hearing his name said in a rap. Some 50 shit talking vines would end this national nightmare real quick.
Now that we are the other side of Weak Rap Beef History, I think we have skipped the most important point…
WHO PEED ON DRAKE?
MARCUS: Drake switched the rules of engagement before the fight and cheated to win even before the fight started. Genius.
AARON: Straight out of the Rap Republican play book.