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

Today, GoldLinks spans the spectrum; Puff Daddy is still working on that comeback; and Zuse and Young Thug espouse cross-border partnerships.

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


GoldLink: “Spectrum”

Last November, our own Marcus Dowling called GoldLink “one of many rappers representing a second wave of rising-to-mainstream emcees from the D.C.,” alongside other notables Shy Glizzy and Yung Gleesh. In the year since, D’Anthony Carlos’ national profile has only risen, fueled in part by his landing on XXL’s Freshmen list, however dubious of a distinction that is. That trend should continue with next month’s release of And After That, We Didn’t Talk, his full-length debut for L.A.’s Soulection. The album’s first single is “Spectrum”, a Louie Lastic-produced cut that features a sample of Missy Elliott’s “She’s a Bitch”.

PHELPS: It sounds like Louie Lastic has spent a lot of time with the last Disclosure record because he just mic-dropped a more exciting track than anything the UK duo put on their most recent one. Goldlink is no slouch, but he smartly raps roughshod and rapid fire for an economical 60 seconds, and then gets out of the way so Louie Lastic and Missy can freak the fuck out. That’s just good business.

MARCUS: Remember that time that Wale rapped over Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E.” and we all freaked out because it sounded like the future, a future where it appeared that Wale would be a Drake-like superstar? Yeah. The simple reason why our DMV superstar-to-be GoldLink is more successful already than Wale will likely ever be is because he’s continuing in that hyper-curated “quasi-hipster yet still cool enough for the streets” direction established by Mr. Folarin a decade ago. Then he dropped it for basic-ass MMG raps.

Soulection is a perfect crew to supply GoldLink with those left-leaning beats. From Kaytranada to Mr. Carmack, Louie Lastic, Sango and more, the possibilities for where GoldLink’s sound could possibly end up are limitless. I’m ready to hear as much of that as possible.

JOSE: I saw GoldLink open for SBTRKT about a year ago and was curious as to what kind of local-area favoritism had landed a (relatively unknown) rapper that cush gig. Of course, this was all before listening to GoldLink’s body of work. He’s got an appetite for challenging, progressive tracks, an adaptable flow, and most impressively, doesn’t have that chip on his shoulder that seems to plague so many DMV rappers.

DC will never be Brooklyn, Compton, or Atlanta, but we still have our own proud musical history – one that’s influenced and shaped by the our transplant and transient populations in equal measures. GoldLink is riding that wave right now, working closely with producers who scrub together mainstream hip-hop, r&b, grime, and electronica. This is the future, now.

AARON: This is super tight.

I don’t want to beat a dead future horse since everyone has pretty much touched on the progressive nature of this track, but yeah, this sounds like 2019. It’s like one of those movies set in the “not too distant future:” It’s convincing and believable, and the tech is new but somehow familiar because all the new stuff looks (dirty) and well worn.

I can’t say that I’ve paid much attention to Goldlink thus far but after this I might just get blazed, get on my YouTube shit, and figure out what I missed.

Trap might rule the Nü Rap scene but real hip-hop is hiding in the weirdest places right now. This is pretty refreshing stuff. Louie Lastic is doing the Lord’s work with beats like this. Why all the best producers have the silliest names these days tho?


Puff Daddy & the Family: “Workin”

In July, Sean “Back to Being Puff Daddy” Combs was finna get loose and Rec-Room was not finna hear it. But Puff is not one to rest on his laurels. No, now he’s “Workin”. The track – which samples Toro Y Moi side-project Les Sins’ “Bother” – was premiered at this week’s BET Hip Hop Awards, which is not be confused with this summer’s BET Awards, which is where Puff premiered “Finna Get Loose”. Perhaps more interestingly, the performance also featured the debut of a song called “The Auction” that features Lil’ Kim, Styles P, and King Los, but “Workin” is the song that was released to iTunes, so “Workin” is what we shall discuss. All of this music is set to appear on the forthcoming kinda-sequel (sigh) No Way Out II.

AARON: Puff, you old motherfucker. This is where we are now?

“Don’t bother me I’m working” is the kind of shit Puffy now says without the slightest hint of irony. Incidentally, this is also the same way my grandpa said that shit if you bothered him, while he was working.

I think B.I.G. would take the money that comes with mentioning his name in a single if he were still with us but he would prob be making Vines with Fiddy snapping on Diddy. He’d be talking shit and making records with Kendrick or something.

This is wack as fuck and no hipster sample can save you, Mr. Combs. I don’t mean to be the Old Guy that makes fun of old guys but come on. It’s hip hop and a lot of the time you are only as old as your publicist feels. Fire somebody old and replace them with a 24-year-old white girl right now, Puffy. Do an animated video and wear some skinny jeans if you have to; just not this. It is so tired.

There’s plenty of rap vets riding the wave and staying/sounding relevant.  What the fuck? Is Puffy the only dude on earth that hasn’t copped Run the Jewels?! You can sound cool as fuck and be old no need for this get off my lawn shit.

The rap is doo doo even for a dude that could never rap worth a damn and the beat is boring. It’s like wack-on-wack crime up in here.

PHELPS: Wow. I’m glad the liquor and TV business is “workin” because this is just terrible. Is this the worst song of the year since his last one?

“Shout out to my people with a job. I hope you don’t fall asleep tomorrow while you’re workin.” Ugh.

Entertainment’s most annoying tiger dad is taking a break from assaulting UCLA football coaches to pen gross lines like “She a stripper or a waitress if it’s past midnight and she tells you she’s ‘workin'”

Or this gem: “Fuck you and the building you work in.” Sick burn. What?

This is just embarrassing, even by Diddy standards.

MARCUS: This is the realest shit Puff actually ever (didn’t actually) wrote. Any artist still working within a label structure in modern pop music is actually hustling for dollars harder than ever before. The paradigm shift from comfortably popping bottles of Cristal (oops, Ciroc, sorry Puff, I’m all off message and shit) and watching ad and sponsorship dollars really roll in and instead heading back to that street corner dope slinger mentality (a mentality that Puff seems to have not forgotten) is real.

As far as the track goes, the Les Sins sample is sweet, but this trap take on it is tired as hell and actually makes Puff sound 50-years-old. He’s too tired to really turn up anymore. Intriguingly, when this album drops, how tired Puff sounds and how bland this all sounds will probably be what plagues it from crossover success. Amazing how art imitates life, huh?

PHIL: Sure, half of these lines are unintentional laughers, but “Workin'” isn’t exactly raising my blood pressure. Unlike “Finna Get Loose”, the beat is fresh. I just don’t understand why Puff is trend-chasing. This is, allegedly, No Way Out II. This is his chance go big. This is his chance to step into the time machine and make bombastic, over-the-top, orchestral rap. Would it be dated? Oh, absolutely. But it would be fun. And “Workin'” is a drag. Minimal beats are not Puff’s friend; there’s too much focus on the words escaping his mouth. “God sent me here to inspire you”? Actually, that’s kind of funny. Can I get it over a Led Zepplin riff and a beat that sounds like Alexander the Great invading Persepolis?


Zuse ft. Young Thug: “Plug is Latino”

Last summer, dancehall sorta-rapper Zuse jumped on Young Thug’s “Treasure” and the result was an absolute monster of a track. This week, Young Thug repays the favor by guesting Zuse’s ode to drugs and Spanish 101, “Plug is Latino”. The track is from the Jamaican’s recently released Trap Zuse mixtape.

MARCUS: The hottest producer in the world that nobody in America is paying attention to is Corpus Christi’s El Dusty. He’s been tearing shit up with tracks like “Trapanera,” (no, really, take a listen – the sub-genre’s called “screwmbia,” thank me later) which if Young Thug wanted to hop on and really talk about how his “plug is Latino,” I’m 150% certain neither Dusty nor his label would get mad.

A fake Migos beats with a guy who sound like second-generation Kid Frost clones isn’t enough anymore when Dusty’s fire-ass beats are out there, plus crazy dope Mexican rap dudes like Atlanta’s Kap G. Imma give this a fail until Thugger and his team actually do their research and do this right. Because this could be fire as hell. Get D.R.A.M. on the hook with Thugger, too? Naaah, I demand Slim Thug go back into the lab on this one.

JOSE: Ok, I can’t stand this song. As a Dominicano raised on reggaeton and living in a post “Livin’ La Vida Loca” world, I’m used to seeing gringo artists try and pull the cross-over hit money-grab by showing their Spanish chops. (I’m looking at you, Drake & Christina Aguilera). It’s passable at best, even with perfect execution. But this song is grating and boring.

Fuck everyone involved in making this song. This is the Cinco de Mayo of rapping.

AARON: Well, damn. When I first read Jose’s response (not having listened to the track yet), I got real excited with hate, like, “What is this song that immediately pissed off Jose. I must listen”

It’s not that I enjoy seeing Jose upset or anything, but he usually has the most man-of-the-people politician responses here in the Rec-Room. You know, like, “This song X is not terrible but not awesome. I don’t like it but it is likeable. I predict the people will put it in their Jeep speakers. All hail the people”

Nah. Jose was straight up fuck this song. Out.

That being said, y’all know I hate Young thug. Fuck this song. It’s racist and bad weird and he said “Doritos” in there somewhere.

PHIL: You guys need to get in touch with your lizard brain. It misses you. It needs this. Plants crave electrolytes. Lizard brains crave Jamaican dudes rhyming Latino with hijo with burrito with kilo. This is science. There’s a good, autotune-free Young Thug guest verse in here, too. Ask your lizard brain about him.


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