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

Today, Macklemore preempts deadbeat dad accusations; Danny Brown and Clams Casino are worth it; and Warren G hangs with the ghost of Nate Dogg.

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

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ft. Ed Sheeran: “Growing Up (Sloane’s Song)”

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are back! Yeah, boy. #rap.  “Growing Up (Sloane’s Song)” is the duo’s first new music since The Heist, a record that went platinum six times over in the U.S. and dubiously won a bunch of Grammys. The song is about becoming a father. The Soundcloud page contains a six-paragraph note that contains the phrase “the density that is Seattle.” Apparently, there is a new album on the way, too.

CLYDE: Macklemore is the most literal and painfully earnest rapper I’ve ever listened too.

MARCUS: A few things.

  1. Foremost, if Macklemore doesn’t get the Human Rights Campaign and Planned Parenthood to fund the first day distribution of his next album, he’s insane.
  2. Hopefully Lou Reed is somewhere cashing a huge check for the “Walk On The Wild Side” sample. Big ups to Lou Reed.
  3. It took Jay Z 20 years to release Decoded. Macklemore “decoded” the lead single for his second album on a Soundcloud page. Not judging, but it’s a statement: a) of the times, and b) just how emo/self-reverential/hyper-aware (you choose the adjective) he is.
  4. They fucked up by not getting this out in time for Father’s Day.
  5. However, it will still hit #1 with a bullet because most people that aren’t “old rap heads” are basic as fuck and this is the kind of rappity raps they love because they’re not what “old rap heads” are checking for…
  6. The old rap fan in me wishes that Slick Rick’s character from “Teenage Love” would meet up with 16-year old Tricia while she has her bus pass and is on public transportation. Just things to think about when you consider how much pop rap has changed.

Overall, Macklemore is such a literal rhymer. Like, there’s no tricky wordplay here, no bars floating up over anyone’s head. For a really over-diversified and now ultra-mainstream rap marketplace, he fills a very specific need for a nice white young man to break it all down and assure middle America that Tupac and Biggie don’t get shot at anymore at the awards shows. It’s a sad job, but Macklemore’s certainly happy to do it.

AARON: Mayne. “Literal” is an understatement. Macklemore manages to take everything I hate about Atmosphere and make it even more hateable. What’s the opposite of a punch line and how do you make a whole style out of it? This kid is gonna listen to “Growing Up” at 13 and be mortified. His friends are gonna bust his balls and post the lyrics to Skynet and laugh and laugh.

To be fair, the kid will listen to it again in the year 2047 and shed a single tear as they dedicate a statue somewhere in Seattle to Macklemore after his tragic crying-related death.

I also don’t like that Mack seems to be making preemptive excuses for not spending enough time with the kid. Don’t get it twisted, deadbeat, you rap, you won a fucking Grammy,  you are rich as fuck, and you ain’t got nothin but free time. You didn’t think we heard that, but we did and it’s a dick move.

I’m a horrible person.

Wrapping up, can someone please explain Ed Sheeran to me? After that, can you explain to me why he’s on a rap track?

CLYDE: Ed Sheeran is Taylor Swift’s favorite British ginger Muppet.

I think Macklemore is physically incapable of putting together a metaphor. (Sorry to harp on it but this is a pet peeve!) If he had a rhyme saying “I eat MCs for breakfast,” I would be like call the cops cause this dude just confessed to cannibalism.

PHIL: So, Macklemore, a dude who last seen catching shit for making public a message to Kendick that should have been kept private, releases as his first single – or whatever this is – a message to his then-unborn daughter. What the fuck is wrong with this guy? He’s one of those people who feels compelled to screenshot and post on social media “funny” text interactions because heaven forbid a moment of humor exist between two people and the world not recognize it.

Whatever, the world doesn’t need me bringing another hate baby into the world over this pap. I’m gonna go find “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand” on YouTube.


Danny Brown & Clams Casino: “Worth It”

Rumors of Clams Casino’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Sure, the Jersey producer isn’t lighting the Internet on fire anymore, but what exactly does blog arson pay? Instead, in the wake of his A$AP Rocky aided ascendency, he’s consistently landed a song or two on a few pretty good albums every year: “Gravy” on ScHoolboy Q’s Oxymoron; “No Right Thing”on Blood Orange’s Cupid Deluxe; “Hours” on FKA Twigs LP1. Most recently, he helped produce a a trilogy of cuts – “Norf Norf”, “Summertime”, and “Surf”- on Vince Staples excellent Summertime ’06. Today, we have on our hands “Worth It”, an Adult Swim-funded loosie. It features Danny Brown, who needs no introduction, which is why I just listed a bunch of Clams Casino songs. As an update, however, the Detroit rapper said in April that he had taken a break from recording his follow-up to Old because “I’m so ahead of schedule with it knowing it ain’t coming out no time soon.” Record labels are the worst.

MARCUS: Danny Brown’s only rapping at a time signature that’s a half a bar faster than sections of this track are, yet somehow also squeezing in enough syllables to make it sound like he’s rapping in double time against Clams Casino’s production. That’s some other other level shit, like something you figure out while smoking acid laced blunts while eating pot brownies after having popped two Xanax bars before eating a pizza made with magic mushrooms for dinner. Only Danny Brown can live like this, and only Clams Casino can produce a track that allows for this to happen, too.

This is a wonderful development for Clammy Clams, who’s basically makes well-contained free jazz. Some producers are awesome because they can make tracks that own the rapper, and you get approximately 97% of turn-ups ever made. However, Clams just makes music that’d be dope without bars and hooks. It’s the best artists who understand how to be creative, appreciate freedom and excel with these wild, yet clean canvases to turn into songs. Between Danny Brown, Schoolboy Q and Vince Staples, he’s definitely working with the right people now.

AARON: Clams is the truth. He’s the most underrated and underused producer of the decade for my money. Everybody should make an album with him.

The first notes of this track got me. Fucked. Up. I started it over like three times just to turn up.

Fire fire fire. I can’t even speak on how fresh Brown is anymore. He’s just good all the time. I would listen to him rap over the fucking emergency broadcast signal test tone if I could.

Clams Casino has a true talent for creating tension in his productions where other other producers just keep you waiting for a boring drop. I remember reading an article a few years ago called something like, ” While you were up all night EQ-ing that kick drum Clams Casino doesn’t give a fuck”. Evidently, for a dude that makes some of the most intricate and inspired beats for weird rappers to rap on, he doesn’t put a lot of tedious thought into it. He just grabs random stuff, chops it, and sends it back out into the world.

The “drums” on this track are bananas. Very strange. Rambling. Very organic. I’d be curious to know if he plays drums for real. There is a pocket here that doesn’t show up much in standard beat production em in a landscape that includes mega, envelope pushing weirdos like Ras G and Arca etc.

Just the best kind of strange on this song. I could listen to a whole album of this, please/thanks.


Warren G ft. Jeezy, Bun B & Nate Dogg: “Keep on Hustlin'”

Prior to last Friday’s announcement of Dr. Dre’s Compton, the week’s biggest 90s rap comeback was probably Regulate… G Funk Era, Pt. II, a modest offering from the Beats overlord’s stepbrother, Warren G. The sequel to his 1994 debut features unreleased vocals from the late Nate Dogg on four of five tracks. “I finally have records that I had in the archives that I put together to let the world hear some of that G Funk that they’ve been missing and wanting to hear for long time,” he said in early July, before YG went ahead released a G Funk song called “Twist My Fingaz”. “Keep on Hustlin'” features Jeezy and Bun B, two guys definitely not from Southern California. As with the rest of the EP, it was produced by the 44-year-old Warren G.

CLYDE: Love the bass line. Love the guitar licks. Love the piano riffs. Love the hook. Love the melody.

Damn, I didn’t realize how much I missed Nate Dogg til I heard his voice on this song. A dope listen.

MARCUS: I want to write a cinematic treatment inspired by this song, something like former Blaxploitation star resurrection vehicle Original Gangstasbut instead with like all of the old stars of 90s gangsta flicks. Give me Larenz Tate, Tyrin Turner, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding, Jr. The plot is that the casts of Boyz N Tha Hood and Menace II Society actually grew up in different sections of Compton, but are now fighting an evil multi-racial crew of 21st century gangbangers who are actually being employed by crooked gentrifying developers. The idea that all of these kids who grew up around guns and crime are all now independently wealthy property owners who have to go back to their old ways one last time to save their hood. I think this would be a lot of fun I think. Or maybe I think that Mark Wahlberg’s Four Brothers has such an underrated premise for a plot. Who knows?

Oh yeah. Nothing blows me away here on the song except for Nate Dogg on the hook and Warren G on the production. But yeah, that movie concept would be so great. Amirite?


I agree: Hearing Nate Dogg’s voice from the Great Beyond is nice, but this beat is a little square. Bun B gets the hottest verse, of course. Trill OG can basically do no wrong and has a serious knack for collabos.

I’m all prepared to geek down on this Compton record this afternoon. There better be some goddamn heaters on there or I’m gonna act like I forgot about Dre. I know he’s gonna direct all the proceeds to build a G Funk planetarium or some shit, and that’s cool, but please don’t go out with a whimper, Good Doctor. We still need you. Kendrick cannot carry the whole coast forever.

Just kidding, he can. I’m just playing. We don’t need you, but we like you. More importantly, we like rap that’s good and that carries the culture instead of just pimping it out for a quick buck. Rap is currently stuck in a ravine chewing its own arm off just trying to get back to basics… but not too basic. Yunnerstand?

Unrelated: Anyone else think Dre looks like a buff Yul Brenner these days? Botox all da,y son.

PHIL: Tell me you didn’t both laugh and choke up when Nate Dogg hits that a-little-too-high: “Those n*ggas know they can’t fuck with Warren G and Nayayayayayte!”

This Jeezy verse is exquisite nonsense. Lil Boosie is free, man. Also, he is Boosie Badazz now. Speaking of which: Is Jeezy back to being Young? He needs some tighter QC on his iTunes tagging.

Bun B continues, in perpetuity, to be a pull-string doll of slyly fire guest verses. Do you think he even breaks a sweat?

I don’t think a G Funk revival stands a chance of commercial radio play, but this – and the recent Kendrick and YG output – is a hell of a palate cleanser.


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