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

Today, Drake and Future make jewelry shake; Run the Jewels gets catty with Just Blaze; and MF Doom finally raps over a Madlib beat again.

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


Drake & Future: “Diamonds Dancing”

In little reported news, Future and Drake released a collaborative, for-sale mixtape on Sunday. It’s called What a Time to Be Alive. It was recorded in six days. It was produced mostly by Metro Boomin, the architect behind Future’s DS2. You probably know all of this. Let’s talk about “Diamonds Dancing”, the early fan favorite produced by Metro Boomin, Frank Dukes, and Allen Ritter. Stream on Apple Music.

AARON: This is the 9/11 of rappers I hate right now.

MARCUS: “Diamonds Dancing” is great because it proves that Drake’s learned that repetition is the key to the creation of amazing hooks, and amazing hooks make for amazing songs.

2015’s been a year where Drake has more concerned with growing as an artist than making pop hits. In fact, I’d wager dollars to donuts that if you stopped Drake on the street and honestly asked if he expected “Know Yourself” to be a hit and for If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late to go platinum, he’d laugh in your face.

What A Time To Be Alive might go platinum too, and it’s because of this song, as well as “Jumpman,” “I’m The Plug,” “Change Locations” and “Plastic Bag”. If play all of these songs back to back, they make Drake, Future and Metro Boomin sound like The Beatles in 1964, where experimental execution sounds like a pop bulldozer being created.

Everybody forgets that Drake’s mentor is Lil Wayne, who spent 2007-2008 doing the exact same thing, except Drake’s making his alchemy available for sale. The game is to be sold and not to be told, right? Play on, playa.

AARON: Fuck me. When will it stop? This is bad. “Bad” meaning the opposite of good. It’s as if the two people I hate the most made an album.

Drake and Future is like the manager at my old job and my ex-girl made an album.

Drake and Future is like that cop that’s been following me for miles and the kid who used to beat me up in high school made an album.

Drake and Future is like a dude went back in time to kill Hitler, but had a change of heart and dropped an album with him.

Fuck it. Can I get Travis Scott, Young Thug, Slim Jesus and Donald Trump on the goddamn remix since things obviously can’t get any worse in mainstream rap right now? I will bump it all day I promise. I won’t just turn up, I will actually turn inside out and die. Is that what you people want? Because I’ll do it. IDGAF ANYMORE.

Why is Future and his brand of special ed rap the hottest thing in the game right now? Is it possible to give actual dirty Sprite a bad name?

And please, lord Jesus, somebody tell me why Drake is always bitching about phones. It’s like his mom was on the phone all the time and it has affected every relationship he’s had since?

I do not fucks with this. What a time for hip-hop to be dead.

JOSE: Aaron, you have so much hate in your heart and it makes me proud to know you.

I’ll confess, I was excited about What A Time To Be Alive, mainly due to how strong DS2 turned out. Future’s cry-warbles are full of spite, rancor, and forward momentum, and they work. “Diamonds Dancing” is alright for what it is: a middle-of-the-road Future track with Drake singing a glorified hook. This is probably the only Metro Boomin beat that doesn’t go straight for the neck, and that lack of oomph hurts. It’s an interminable five minutes, and it never does much with the time it has.

Also, with regard to Drake’s obsession with phones: Who actually talks on the phone anymore? I thought the kids communicated solely via Snapchats, emoji, and retweets.

PHELPS: Did they drop a video yet? I’m seeing sort of a “The Boy Is Mine” vibe where Future is a drug-running, club-going side-piece to Drake’s hard-working, earnest Canadian miner who just wants to come home once – ONCE – without his woman on the phone.

JK this is basically “Blow a Bag, Part 2” and it bangs hard as fuck.

AARON: I heard Drake bought a million dollar station wagon.

CLYDE: 1. I fucking love this song and this album. It’s definitely Drake playing an away game on Future’s turf kinda like Jay was with Ye on Watch the Throne.

2. Jose, I think you can call this “DS3 (ft. Drake)”

3. I can listen all day to these two talk about strippers and drugs and how terrible they both are at actually relating to women.

4. My feelings about Drake can be summed up by this quote from someone I can’t remember: “I love Drake but I wouldn’t wish him on my worst enemy’s sister.”

PHIL: I see all you motherfuckers Gucci flip-flopping on Future after I almost individually had to carry Honest into our end-of-the-year poll last year. What a time to be #FutureHive.

I’ll tell the truuuuuth: It’s good to hear Future’s falsetto resurface.

More truuuuuth: I appreciate what Future has done over the past year – both in terms of commercial strategy and sheer output – and I truly like DS2 and his contributions to What a Time to Be Alive, but there has been a clear drop off in his craft. Or, more to the point, there is a drop off in how much Future goes into a Future song.

One of the joys of Honest was how Future came at the listener from five different directions every single song. Each one was an embarrassment of melodic riches. In 2015, Future comes approaches a song from pretty much one direction. Granted, he’s still a gifted enough stylist and songwriter that it works, but some of the rush is gone.

At the same time, I recognize that Honest could be an intense listen, and if you want to drive around, blast your stereo, and zone out, “Diamond Dancing” – like everything from 2015 Future – is engineered to do just that.

But can someone please make me a radio edit with the final two minutes of Drake moaning lopped off?

AARON: I have never felt like more of a minority than 2015. What a time to be a hater.


Meow the Jewels: “Oh My Darling Don’t Meow (Just Blaze Remix)”

Last year, Run the Jewels raised a bunch of money for charity by promising to remix Run the Jewels 2 exclusively with cat noises. That project is set to come to fruition very soon, and as proof, El-P and Killer Mike have shared the cat version of “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry”. It’s billed as a Just Blaze remix, perhaps suggesting each track will feature the contributions of an outside producer. Others rumored to contribute to the album: Massive Attack, Boots, the Alchemist, Dan the Automator. Zola Jesus, Baauer, and Portishead’s Geoff Barrow. The album will get a free digital release and limited edition vinyl run. All additional sales will also go to charity.

AARON: This is truly amazing. I’ll have you know this is the first I have listened to Meow the Jewels. I did it on purpose: I wanted to be in the best possible company.

What’s so crazy about this track is that if you ignore the colossal marketing wizardry that is behind Run The Jewels and the fact they told us way ahead of time that they were gonna make a cat record, THIS SONG WOULD JAM ANYWAY.

If they just released it with a straight face, we would be none the wiser and it would go into immediate rotation.

These cats can do no wrong. Looking forward to Run the Jewels 4 through 20, the eventual box set, and the commemorative plates-forever and ever all day.

PHELPS: Cat puns! I wanted to like this but it’s making my eyes water like real cats do. Farm this shit out to Weird Al and stick to the raw, please.

MARCUS: I never knew I’d enjoy samples of cat meows as much as I did on that particular track. I’m sure that for Just Blaze this was an especially fun project because he’s got that weird, left-field sensibility about life anyway, so twisting cat samples around hard ass raps without sacrificing any of the edge of the verses is up his alley. I suppose we’ll get some really kitschy stuff out of this (Dan the Automator and Baauer, I’m looking at you guys), but mainly I expect that from the names listed, there will be a ton of this that will actually sound pretty cool because they’ll know how to work with the timbre of a meow to get some really special beats crafted.

Turns out not all hipster bullshit is bad hipster bullshit. Who knew, right?

JOSE: The original was so good and unfuckwithable, and this is just meh. I like it in concept, and the execution is tight, but why did this need to exist?

CLYDE: I’m more of a dog person.



MED, Blu & Madlib ft. MF DOOM: “Knock Knock”

Another week, another MF DOOM appearance. “Knock Knock” isn’t about him, though. The song appears on Bad Neighbor, a forthcoming record that features MED (aka Medaphoar) and Blu rapping over 100% Madlib beats. The album will also include appearances form Aloe Blacc, Dam Funk, Mayer Hawthorne, Anderson Paak and Hodgy Beats.

MARCUS: Dang. I really enjoy how these LA weirdos all kinda hang out with each other and keep money circulating. This feels like a Parliament b-side in the best way, and Madlib’s production is so good that it outshines the flows. This is that attempting to have tantric sex in dorm rooms with black light posters and a gravity bong music that I never properly experienced, but absolutely love. This song never really goes anywhere, but in feeling like you’re dropped in the middle of Bernie Worrell wandering onstage in diapers while Bootsy and the boys are controlling the bassline, again, it’s cool. Madlib here is so on point and smooth. Dang. I just want to run this on repeat for an hour. Terrific stuff.

AARON: You know what, Phil? You alright. I know what you did: You picked a Drake and Future song and instantly realized that my head was gonna crack open with rage and helplessness, so you took my two favorite things- Madlib and RTJ – and put ‘em both in the mix in the same damn week.

You alright. It’s like an antidote to the poison. I can’t thank you enough.

This shit rules. Madlib is untouchable. He is your favorite producer’s producer. There is no one better, and you know what’s even cooler? Nobody knows if these beats are fresh off the brain or 12-year-old b-side bangers that have been laying around the house like old coupons.

I imagine Madlib as a beat hoarder. There are just beats everywhere, piled up to the ceiling. The garage is all fucked up. You gotta go in through the side door because beats are now blocking the front hallway limiting mobility. I know this shit is worrying the family and causing some real structural concerns with the flooring in what used to be the guest room.

Uptown chump Mark Ronson should be chained to a metal chair and waterboarded to this song every time he starts retro-feeling himself.

Bad Neighbor will probably be one of the best hip-hop records in 10 years and no one will care because Drake just dropped a mix tape with Rand Paul and the Ebola virus.

Love. It.

JOSE: I love this track. It’s groovy, space-age funk on a loop. Nile Rodgers and George Clinton are listening to this being like “oh shit!” Yes, yes, yes. More of this.

PHELPS: YeaH, this is that shit. Someone’s gonna make one of those “Soul Train” dance line mash-ups with this, like, yesterday. Even a rapper a groan worthy name like Medaphoar – MEDAPHOAR – can’t hold the funk down. The random keys at the end are giving me that old school, playful Digital Underground vibe, too. I wish Doom would come to my house to mix his mescaline with butter and cheese.

CLYDE: This is some laidback shit, even with those funky ass guitar licks. It’s a liiiiiiiiiitle bit too static but I’m just picking nits. Great song and I’m looking forward to the album.




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