Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Our name is Rec-Room Therapy. Each week, we discuss recent hip-hop tracks.
Today, Missy Elliot and Pharrell Williams make the donk move fast; Pusha T is untouchable; and L.A. duo Classixx wants a feature from T-Pain.
Missy Elliot ft. Pharrell Williams: “WTF”
The Missy Elliot revival got off to slow start back in 2012, when the wildly influential rapper-producer released a pair of D.O.A. singles, “Triple Threat” and “Ninth Inning”. This year may prove to be different, though. First, she made a rather high profile appearance during the Super Bowl halftime show. Then, she remixed Jack Ü and popped up on Janet Jackson’s “BURNITUP!”. Now, she has a new single of her own. It’s called “WTF (Where They From)”, and it boasts production from Pharrell Williams and an appropriately eye-popping video. Her seventh album, Block Party, is coming eventually.
CLYDE: Holy shit, I love this.
PHELPS: Bathe in the healing waters of the Chesapeake Bay, my son.
JOSE: It’s as if Missy Elliott never left. Or, it’s like she picked right up after spending the last fifteen years in suspended animation. which is kind of true, now I think about it.
It’s great to see her back to her motormouth ways, considering her health issues of a few years back. We already know Pharrell is an ageless ghoul, and this song is further proof that it’s actually fall of 2001, and the last decade and a half of soul samples and frankentrap was a fever dream.
It’s fun the first couple of listens, but it gets boring pretty quickly, as “WTF” doesn’t offer anything new in terms of style or delivery. However, it’s comfort food for an entire generation that grew up listening to that 757 connection and obsessing over the wild dance moves in Missy’s videos.
PHELPS: Nah, F that, Jose. This is on repeat. NBD, Pharrell gonna press a few buttons on the boards and release Missy from carbonite so she can stay steady talking mad shit like Han Solo. And his Kool Keith karaoke here is impeccable. SupaDupaFly is a top ten record for me, across any genre, and she can bring me back to that future anytime.
AARON: The Internet went nuts for this video last week. It’s dope and weird like only Missy can bring it.
She’s been rocking that B-Girl from the future shit since day one, and it appears the whole damn planet is on super thirst for her 7th wind/3rd career.
I can forgive the stale jam with Janet if this is what we have to look forward to.
This track is hype. Pharrell, with all his producer genius, market savvy, and big ass hats, is about my 500th least favorite rapper, but he kinda goes off a little with his awkward Missy impersonation. I’m surprised.
I’m hoping that 2016 will be the year that all these sleeping dragon 40-year-old rappers take back the torch for a tiny little hot minute. We could use the brief quality injection. Then the kids can get back to the autotune bang-bang and tie-dye sweatpants or whatever the fuck is going on right now.
CLYDE: I don’t even know where to begin in expressing how much I love this shit. I’ve listened to about 57 times — on runs, jamming at my desk, on the metro — and it still holds up. It’s almost 100 percent drum and bass but Missy still finds a melody in that hook when she draws out “fuuuuuuuun” and I love it. Even MC Pharrell is tolerable!
Missy is number one on my list for making Fun Raps. This song is like a party I’m mad that I’m not at.
PHIL: Pharrell might be the only mega-producer who still makes his own beats. I suspect that everyone else just oversees a Santa’s workshop of club elves who keep their bosses sounding young. (Cough, Timbaland, cough.) With Pharrell, on the other hand, most of his production – especially the stuff aimed at the radio – sounds like he went to the fridge and made something with leftovers. Even if it’s delicious and seasoned with fresh cracked pepper, you know those brussels sprouts are a week old.
As it goes with “WTF”. The song gets by on the energy of Missy and Pharrell, but it doesn’t melt my mind the way that I wish this pairing would.
Pusha T: “Untouchable”
CLYDE: President Pusha T(on of that shit that make ya nose run) tells Trump to fuck off. Terrific.
What can I say about Terrance that hasn’t already been said about Pablo Escobar? The flow is immaculate as always and just as menacing as the beat. By the way, if I wasn’t told was a Timbo production, I would have no idea.
AARON: “…part on the side of my ‘fro like Pablo.”
Ok, Push, I see you. I’m sorry I talked shit about that weird dubstep song you did last time
I know it’s played out, but I am a sucker for a Biggie sample. Nice flip on the hook there. It doesn’t really sound like a Timberland beat. Maybe Missy’s not the only one with VIP access to the time warp wormhole. Tim is like, “Let me fuck with this 15-year-old spooky backpacker beat I made for Pharoahe Monch right quick.”
I can dig it.
Push is officially so far into cool cat drug rap lord territory that sometimes I don’t know what the fuck he’s talking about anymore. How is he so relevant? How is this old dude making me feel old by constantly rapping about shit that happened five minutes ago?
CLYDE: Virginia is For Rap Longevity.
JOSE: This is a Timbo beat? Sheeeeiiiit.
I absolutely love this. There’s underlying threat and edge to all of Pusha T’s verses, even if he’s talking about Ibiza or Missoni. Dude raps about pop culture, moving birds, fashion, and running a record label like it ain’t shit.
AARON: I bet all Push has to do at G.O.O.D. is peek into the boardroom, point at his jacket lining, and tell fools not to fuck up the pack. Then he peels down the hallway on a Lamborghini Segway.
JOSE: Do you think he rides one of those blade things? Or is the top brass at G.O.O.D. music all riding around om hoverboards – except Kanye, who just has a giant hologram of his face piped into every room, like Zordon from Power Rangers.
AARON: I like how our combined vision of the G.O.O.D. Music work culture falls somewhere between a rich child’s playroom and that Apple 1984 commercial.
PHELPS: The least surprising thing here is Pusha can rap about being like U2 and still remaining as cold as the driven snow. But Timbaland? God bless him for not gifting this track to the rapidly descending “Empire”.
The first move at Push-era G.O.O.D.:? Have five narcos tell Kanye in Spanish that SWISH is delayed indefinitely and just drop Pusha singles every two weeks.
PHIL: Whether it’s rap minimalism or EDM maximalism, it’s like Push sent out a memo three years ago that he’s only fucking with The Future. (Yes, Hell Hath No Fury was forward thinking, but Clipse regressed hard with Til The Casket Drops.)
My issue with Push’s decision to entrench himself in minimalism is that, partnered with the fact that he’s not all that showy of a technician, it often reduces appreciation of his songs to quotables and sneering attitude. Don’t get me wrong: He’s absolutely on fire here. Bar for bar, “Untouchable” might be his best solo performance to date. But, at the end of the day, this song still feels like a stylish film noir with a great leading performance and not much else.
Then again, this bars-bars-bars streatgy certainly worked with “Nosetalgia” and “Numbers on the Board”, so I can see why he’s coming back to it, especially when more blatant crossover cuts like “Sweet Serenade” and “Let Me Love You” face-planted. It’s just mildly disappointing that given the director’s chair, Push is typecasting himself.
Classixx ft. T-Pain: “Whatever I Want”
JOSE: T-Pain – the Admiral of Autotune, the Viceroy of the Vocoder. His roboticized voice is perfect for Classixx’s tropical-electro vibes, and this track is light and airy. It makes me want to play it off the back of a boat.
CLYDE: T-Pain can do whatever he wants except breathe life into this song.
AARON: I feel like this could have been a great Lionel Ritchie song.
Who brings kids around T-Pain anyway?
PHIL: There are a lot of people who occupy the same space as Classixx, but no one has the quality control standards. Nothing less than immaculate sees the light of the poolside party. “Whatever I Want” is no different. This is a sublime slab of pop effervescence – that just-funky-enough grumbling of bass, those planetarium light show synths, the goddamn children’s choir “oh yeah” samples. I’m taking all of it.
We’re in a weird space with T-Pain. I can’t quite suss out how sincere the current hipster embrace is. But you know what? None of that shit matters when it’s working, and it’s working here. Check the baggage. This is the sound of the electronic dog from a Sharper Image catalog becoming sentient and hoverboarding through South Beach. It’s effortless, even if it wasn’t.
Also, shout out to this song being a little over three minutes. The usual two minute instrumental fade out? Nah. Leave em wanting more. Da-da. Da-da.