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

Today, 50 Cent absorbs nine shots to the frame; Blackalicious is backalicious; and BJ the Chicago Kid takes Chance the Rapper and Buddy to church.

Our distinguished panel consists of  Marcus DowlingPhil R, Joshua Phelps, Clyde McGrady, and Weird City Fest’s Aaron Miller.

50 Cent: “9 Shots”

The history of 50 Cent’s forthcoming sixth LP, Street King Immortal, is more convoluted than the plot of  “Interstellar”, but suffice to say, it’s been “coming soon” since the summer of 2011. And we’ve talked about it before. And there’s a massive Wikipedia page for it. And 50 has already announced his next album, Beautiful Nightmare. So, fuck it, here’s a new song allegedly from that record. It’s called “9 Shots”. It has something to do with that time 50 got shot with nine bullets and what each meant or something. For more information, please see the almost-seven-minute music video. I will point out at this time that the song itself is two minutes and fourteen seconds. [Insert frog and cup of tea emojis.] Production comes courtesy of Frank Dukes, the Canadian producer who got this first big break with G-Unit.

MARCUS: This is a beautiful sketch of a song that I’d love to see turned into something more significant. Related to this song, 50 Cent is the first rapper who really saw the modern game becoming a legal hustle and cashed in with vitamin water, Reebok SMS, Street King and a ton of other brands. Thus, as the grandfather of this, he’s now on his “I don’t need to release songs to be relevant” swag, which is likely why this album is taking forever.

I mean, honestly, if the Compton movie weren’t a thing and Dr. Dre wasn’t an Apple employee we probably never would’ve seen an album from Dre, either. Jay Z only released an album because Samsung footed the bill, and we’re still waiting for Kanye’s album because I bet dollars to donuts he’s shopping it around to a fashion brand to launch alongside a fall or winter line. With labels pretty much only wanting to touch distribution, and artists trying to save, insofar as albums, this is where we are.

But yeah, back to this song, I love it conceptually. Wrapping your breakout iconography around a pop-friendly song is smart. However, 50’s really not in a hurry to like, have a massive mainstream hit with this or anything. Thus, I’ll just tune into 50’s show “Power” on Starz and hear it as a bumper between scenes.

Oh the music industry in 2015.

AARON: I approve. “9 Shots” is exactly what it needs to be.

This is what I’ve learned about 50 over the years: He’s like a composite of everything we love about rappers and it’s impossible not to like him. Street cred, skills, swaggadocio, personal brand, verses, hooks, and money.

Don’t get it fucked up. Curtis ain’t broke. I saw that video of him shopping for shoes. He pulled a stack of money the size of six bibles out of the motherfucking man-purse like it was nothing.

If he’s broke, it’s like Trump- style, chapter 11 shots-money in the floorboards of three cribs broke; not Scott Storch-broke.

I’m not sure Mr. Cent will ever regain his top tier status but, as per Marcus’ observations, I’m not sure the top is where you wanna be these days. It’s full of posers and politicians up there, and the middle is looking real good right about now. I mean, we are talking about a dude who can talk shit about anybody, in pretty much any profession, get nothing but high fives, and then make a vine about some dumb shit that will get more plays than the next rappers mixtape.

The City of New York should just pay for a 50 cent record like its public works at this point.

He obviously does not have that Eminem-style immunity to falling off but he’s not done yet.

Why is this song so goddamned short? I want two more verses and a Jadakiss feature at the very least. I want a remix with Vince Staples and a video with a cameo where Dre rolls up to then ER at the Curtis Jackson Memorial Hospital in a money-green Bentley and Kendrick jumps out of his forehead like a Greek legend and spits some introspective, guilt-trip spoken word about guns from the bullets perspective.

I’m an idea man. Work with me, people.

PHELPS: The abruptness is what makes me like it, though. It’s a quick shot like the mixtape 50, the best 50. If he was Scott Storch broke I’d start a gofundme just to get a Sha Money hosted tape of 50 jackin for beats. I don’t even know why he’s talking about albums,it’s 2015 – drop the album talk, drop the awful Ning powered website, and release gems like this.

CLYDE: No one represents the post-bling, pre-Kanye, gangsta rap era better than Fiddy. Before it was cool to slit your wrists and bleed into a microphone, rappers would openly brag about how many times they’d been shot and hop stage in bulletproofs. You weren’t “real” unless you had the exit wounds to prove it. I think the G-Unit crew alone had 14 shots and a stabbing between them.

It’s also hard to think of a more versatile rapper. Dude is a beast on the hooks, can tell a good story and has some nice punchlines. Some of that is on display here but this song is pretty forgettable. Maybe it’s this static ass boring-ass beat? I will say, though, for the first time in a while I’m anticipating more music from 50 Cent.

Also, I tell everyone my favorite book of all time is Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao but, really, it’s 50 Cent’s autobiography.


Blackalicious: “Blacka”

Here’s a cool trend: The return of underground hip-hop groups that helped define rap at the turn of the century before dropping off around 2006 or so. We saw this with Dilated Peoples and Jurassic 5 last year. Now we have a new record Blackalicious. It’s been a decade since emcee Gift of Gab and producer Chief Xcel gave us The Craft, and thirteen years (!) since the duo’s classic Blazing Arrow. Out September 18, Imani Vol. 1 is said to be the first of a trilogy, according to Rolling Stone. And, in very much a sign of the times, the LP will be self-released by Blackalicious. Following first single “On Fire Tonight” is “Blacka”, a song that finds Chief Xcel cutting up a vocal sample from dub legend Lee Perry.

MARCUS: I love everything about this and seriously think they’re missing out on an opportunity to make a ton of money on Youtube clicks and Bandcamp downloads if they don’t pull in actor Daniel Radcliffe (aka the white guy who rapped “Alphabet Aerobics” on Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon) on the remix. I love it when classic artists understand modern branding. Let’s hope they take this very necessary step. But yeah, that Lee “Scratch” Perry sample is amazing as hell and Afrocentricity in rap songs? Probably my favorite rap trend of 2015.

AARON: I’m loving this like you don’t even know.

I mean, it’s always been right there in the name: Blackalicious.

You would have to be some kind of literal monster – or at least Young Thug – to not care about the message in this song.

Did they ram it down your throat? Sure. Can you sneak a message about Black Pride and Culture into your raps and have people actually pay attention in 2015? No, you cannot. You have to yell at people these days.

Normally an impending trilogy from a hundred year old group that never broke out of indie status would worry me.

Not this group and not this time.

You go Black Man. You get on that mic and be black as fuck and don’t use curse words and don’t look back. Make me feel good for three fucking albums. PLEASE. I’m begging you. White people will listen to this shit, trust me.

Scratch Perry sample is bang bang.


BJ the Chicago Kid ft. Chance the Rapper & Buddy: “Church”

BJ the Chicago Kid has appeared on a lot of rap records you might love: Oxymoron (“Studio”), Surf (“Windows”, “Slip Slide”), Compton (“It’s All on Me”), Piñata (“Shame”), Acid Rap (“Everybody’s Something”, “Good Ass Intro”), King Remembered In Time (“Life Is a Gamble”), Section.80 (“Kush & Corinthians”). He was even on that Kanye “Mission: Impossible” song. But with the forthcoming My Mind, the Chicago singer hopes to make the jump from secret sauce to proper entree. So far, he’s given us “Nothin But Love”, which remarkably brought together Joey Bada$$ and Hannibal Burress, and “That Girl”, which less remarkably featured OG Maco. On the recently released “Church”, he’s joined by frequent collaborator Chance the Rapper, as well as Compton rapper Buddy.

MARCUS: “She wanna drink, do drugs and have sex tonight, but I’ve got church in the morning.” What a damn hook, right?

This sounds like Musiq Soulchild meets D’Angelo in all of the ways that make you then throw on Black Milk’s “Sunday’s Best” for some added perspective of another soulful song steeped in such profound dichotomies, too.

BJ’s a grower of an artist, and as long as he sings songs like these there’s spots on Essence Festival lineups, AfroPunk, Trillectro and adult-contemporary radio airplay waiting for him, too. Chance and Buddy actually distract from BJ here who just shows up and shows out. I don’t know if he’s really connecting with the subject matter or amazing at execution, but hell…this guy is something else on this one. Fantastic.

AARON: I’m not a believer or anything, but Jesus take the wheel or whatever.

The hook is nice. For some reason, the fact that he says “have sex” and not “fuck” is just tight as can be.

That Mayfield-esque guitar riff floating all over this thing is divine. The head-nod bounce and the organ makes me want to either put money in the plate or homegirls g-string. I just don’t know.

This song is nothing if not inspired. If they cut a clean version, I would bet all the Tea in China (sorry, Dowling got “dollars to donuts” already) that this shit will get play AT ACTUAL CHURCH.

Old ladies catching the vapors up front, young folk not giving a fuck turning up in the back, and old man’s in the middle, two-stepping, tryna catch a sideboob or some leg from both sides.


CLYDE: Yo, I love this. This song is end-of-the-year list good.

My mind flipped when I heard Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” involved a double entendre about blowjobs because one of my favorite concepts is when artists mix the sacred and the vulgar. (Except for that one Hosier song. Fuck that song.) Even though the sex/drugs/church thing is a pretty easy target (because whats more sacred than religion?), it works here.

I love the production and the singing from both artists, and Chance’s verse is particularly flames. And yes, the hook is dope. Will definitely be keeping this in the rotation. Props to BJ for making a sex jam that’s actually sexy.

My only beef if is that I don’t think anyone from Chicago is capable of making a record without a Derrick Rose reference.


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