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

Today, Kevin Gates has a family reunion; DJ Premier forms a band (he formed a band!); and Casey Veggies tries to make something wonderful with Ty Dolla $ign.

Our distinguished panel this afternoon consists of  Marcus DowlingPhil R, Clyde McGrady, Jose Lopez-Sanchez of Dead Curious, and Aaron Miller of Austin Mic Exchange.

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Kevin Gates: “La Familia”

The wild ride of Kevin Gates continues unabated in 2015. He started off the year by letting the world know that he was having sexual relations with his cousin. More recently and more seriously, he was charged with kicking a female fan at one of his concerts (and offering up a weak defense). So, is it curious timing for Kevin Gates to release the first single from his proper solo debut? Yeah. Probably. But is it ever a good time for Louisiana rapper / singer / booty eating aficionado? Anyway, the song is called “La Familia” and it comes from the LP Islah. The record is out December 11 and follows a string of popular mixtapes that since 2013 has included The Luca Brasi Story, Stranger Than Fiction, By Any Means, Luca Brasi 2, and this year’s Murder For Hire.

MARCUS: Kevin Gates finally sounds tired.

All that aside, the piano chord at the start of this track is the same one struck to kick off The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” which if you replace “Old Dixie” with “Kevin Gates’ Career” is something I’d like to see the music industry do. Kevin Gates isn’t good at rapping, so the idea that he’d be a drug dealer being hunted down by the DEA is absolutely laughable. I mean, Kool G. Rap was a great rapper, and when he did the same thing in his videos, the DEA never caught him. I mean, I know, that was like almost 30 years ago, but still. All this song reminds me is that Gucci’s in jail, and that when the hip-hop cops can successfully corral emcees doing dirt, something feels off in the universe.

JOSE: What in the fresh hell is this? What just don’t make no fucking sense is this song, Kevin Gates. Is he going for a Southern banger? Is he trying to stunt on everybody about his crew? Is he trying to set back the modern feminist movement by relegating women to subservient, domestic roles?

Beyond how weird it is to release a single called “La Familia” when you’ve just let the whole world know just how close you are to one of your family members (ew), it’s crazier to think people thought this should be released as a single.

CLYDE: I was going to write something about this song but I forgot what it sounded like before I even got to the end of this sentence.

AARON: Gates seems to fill that drug-dude-rapping-raps-only-for-his-homies niche pretty well… If you’re into that kind of thing.

For real, this song is wack.

“I’m the nigga niggas rap about”

Yes, Kevin, you are. Just not the way you think, son.

You are that guy they clown on. You are the one they lock out of the trap house ’cause it’s funny to hear you do the secret knock over and over again. You are the one they ditch when 5-0 shows up. You are the one they make excuses for out in them streets.

“Sorry y’all, that’s just Kevin. We don’t know him that well honestly. No, hes not tired; he’s just a little slow. Ignore him and let him do his thing. We are so sorry.”

PHIL: “Man, I swear to god, I got some n*ggas out there in the street so loyal it don’t make no fucking sense.”

BE QUIET. KEVIN GATES IS TALKING ABOUT ME.

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DJ Premiere & the Baddest: “Bpatter”

At 49-years old, legendary Brooklyn producer DJ Premiere is showing no sign of slowing down. Last year, he gave us an excellent PRhyme album with Royce da 5’9″, in addition to production for Dilated Peoples and, um, Saigon records. This year, he popped up on Dr. Dre’s Compton, Joey Bada$$’s “Paper Trail$”, and a Baauer remix. And he’s still finding new avenues: His latest project, DJ Premiere & the Baddest, combines his turntable skills with a live band’s drums, horns, and bass. Their first single, “Bpatter”, came out this week.

MARCUS: DAAAAMN. This is kind of amazing.

I want to reunite the Digable Planets and get them rapping on this immediately. Or, grab whomever from Freestyle Fellowship is still around to do something, too. At the core of my being I’m a left-leaning 90s rap aficionado, so hearing jazz bands and DJs doing free jazz fusion tracks makes me insanely happy. DJ Premier knows that this game is a hustle, so kudos to him and his management for continuously locating where the checks are. As I tell people on a daily basis: There’s a million dollars floating around out here for each of us if we’re willing to look under some rocks or knock on some very expensive doors. Nobody’s giving it to you in a lump sum anymore, but you know… If you’re willing to hustle super hard, you’re going to win.

AARON: Whoa. Preemo on that Howard Dean Pterodactyl screech shit.

I’m torn. I listen to Gang Starr every. Fucking. Day. And my status as Old Rap Fan legally restricts me from saying anything bad about Premier under strict penalty. Hood pass, race card, Trill status, bus pass, drivers license, girlfriend – all that shit gets revoked instantly. So, you know, I gotta be careful.

So here goes.

I like this less than I want to and more than I thought I would.

You see, I have a secret. I fucking hate most live band hip-hop.  It gets on my nerves. I am a multi-instrumentalist and beat maker and my hang up is weird and dissonant. It leaves me in the minority like hating the Beatles (which I do) or not liking sushi (which I don’t).

It all boils down to the pocket and the Chops.   If the music is sample based, like 90% of hip hop records, I want to hear the machines. I want the comfort of sequenced drums. I want the unforgiving chop and inhuman swing of a goddamned MPC. I want the never-ending automated landscape of Ableton keeping me warm and fuzzy while somebody raps his or her ass off.

I have seen a lot of rappers do the live band thing and I am almost always let down. They all sound like cheesy funk bands or neo-soul with some kind of mega-church drummer.

I don’t expect too many people to feel me on this one but it’s a thing and it bothers me. There is a reason Black Thought is in my Top 10 but I don’t like The Roots. I can’t explain that reason well enough for anyone to not throw a drink in my face and that is my burden to bear.

There are very few exceptions and only a few cats out there that really know how to produce a track with a full band or use full instrumentation creatively enough to not sound like a wedding band. One of those is Thundercat, but he’s on a whole different level. He’s on some Stanley Clarke about to make black folk start listening to jazz again shit. He’s also a big reason Kendrick is one of the only dudes I’m interested in hearing hybrid band-rap from. There’s others out there: Badbadnotgood, Tyler, Earl Sweatshirt, and Shabazz Palaces all do a very good job of bringing hip-hop production to next level fusion status.

Also: Where the fuck is M.O.P. on this track?!?! Props to the venerable DJ Premier for being one of the only golden-era dudes that seems to get more relevant as he gets older, but I think if you need some dudes already comfortable in PreemoLand to yell some hype shit on a track Bill Danze and Lil Fame need the money to buy bullets.

JOSE: I didn’t realize the Mighty Mighty Bosstones made hip hop.

Ok, this actually gets way better during that bridge, but it’s just boring. And contrary to Aaron, I’m a sucker for big, ornate, live hip-hop arrangements. This just is not that entertaining or novel. I feel like so many generic and nondescript artists could have put this out. I expected much more from Preemo.

AARON: I like the joints he did with the full orchestra better than this. Which is still good, allegedly, according to shit my Rap Lawyer tells me is ok to say.

Casey Veggies ft. Ty Dolla $ign: “Wonderful”

Two years ago, Casey Veggies appeared on Earl Sweatshrt’s instant classic “Hive” with Vince Staples. In the time since, those other two MCs have gone on to great heights – at the least, artistically – while Casey Veggies has been mostly spinning his wheels. But according to an album trailer released this week, his studio debut, Live & Grow, will be out at the end of the month. Its latest single is “Wonderful”, a track that reunities him with “Work” singer Ty Dolla $ign. Production comes courtesy of Hit-Boy. Remember Hit-Boy?

MARCUS: This is such a bad song because Casey Veggies doesn’t sound like he really ever went to the strip club and was with the cool rappers in the club. This is such a bad song that the guy whose career pinnacle was making a trap remix of a Britney Spears single produced it. This is such a bad song that Ty Dolla SIgn, who, god bless him, is what happens when rich people cash in music industry favors to make their children stars, is featured. This is such a bad song because it’s what happens when labels think…oh, gotta spend money to make money, but are like…”ehhh…signing Oddisee or somebody isn’t going to work for our demographics.”

There are no demographics anymore. As well, there’s no Santa Claus, the Fader is a lie and shit like this kills the blog rap era dead because the stars we tried so desperately to make back then wasted all of their A material on free mixtapes. Oh well. Lessons learned.

AARON: FUCK FUCK FUCK. WHO THE FUCK LET TY DOLLA IN THE STUDIO GODDAMNIT? SHOO SHOO GET HIM OUT OF HERE.

This makes me sad. Young Veggies is easily one if the most stylish and swaggiest young rappers out. He stands out as a real gem in the game even as his OFWGKTA associates surpass him by miles in notoriety and blogworthiness. He does not need to be doing tracks with off brand, singin-ass, half-rappers like Ty Nickel Bag.

I feel like I’m at a funeral.

Veggies, I’ma let this one slide and just chalk it up to hoes and money or something. We all need shoes and weed, I get it.

Marcus, you are so right about the wasted glory of the free mix tape. Casey Veggies has an near-immaculate catalogue of bangeroos and forward thinking future soul, young pimp shit.

I’m not sure how this happened.

JOSE: The vocals and guitar hook at the beginning of this track are reminiscent of some of the better Miguel songs. I’m not quite sure who is supposed to be flattered by that statement; it just is. I liked this song! It has a pleasant sound, even if I can’t recall any of the raps. I wouldn’t change it if it came on the radio, or was on my Spotify Discover Weekly, or some shit like that.

CLYDE: Anyone have a link where I can just download this instrumental? Really the only part I’m interested in.

PHIL: Ty Dolla $ign is possibly the only guy who always sounds like the main artist on other people’s songs and the feature dude on his own songs. It’s like he knows better. He also only really shines on a propulsive beat and “Wonderful” leaves his mediocrity dangling in the air for too long.

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

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