Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Our name is Rec-Room Therapy. Each week, we discuss recent hip-hop tracks.
Today, Kanye West doesn’t have any real friends; DJ Mustard and Travis Scott have so much love to share; and Iggy Azalea is making up numbers.
Our distinguished panel consists of Marcus Dowling, Phil R, Jose Lopez-Sanchez of Dead Curious, Clyde McGrady, Leah Manners of Hip Hop Hooray, and Aaron Miller of Austin Mic Exchange.
Kanye West: “Real Friends”
Last Thursday, Rec-Room was a little tough on Kanye West’s “Facts” – rightfully so – but with a new week comes new Kanye, because G.O.O.D. Fridays is back. What does mean? Every Friday between now and the release of SWISH in mid-February, we get a new Kanye cut. Are these the SWISH leftovers? Probably. Will Rec-Room discuss every one? Definitely. The first entry in Good Fridays 2.0 is “Real Friends”. According to a Yeezy tweet, here are the facts: it was produced by Kanye; the sample came from Frank Dukes and Boi 1da; and Havo provided the drum programming. Also, Ty Dolla $ign is on here. (Kanye appeared on Ty’s “Guard Down”.)
MARCUS: Via “Real Friends,” Kanye West proves that he’s at a huge creative crossroads as the work that’s within his established creative wheelhouse — like this jam — are fire, while when he’s searching for something “new” – ie, previous G.O.O.D. Friday release “FACTS” – it’s hot garbage.
Kanye himself is on the production here, and, Christ, it’s great. Smooth, supple, and simple. The accompanying picture for the release is of “Pink Polos” Yeezy playing an MPC, so I think he’s trying to creatively dig into his past and reclaim some of those old Graduation vibes. Referring to himself as a “deadbeat cousin” keeps us well within that whole “misunderstood artist” thing Kanye’s really seriously still cultivating as an aura for himself. However, I’m all for this when it’s “Dame and Jay won’t let me rap Kanye” instead of “Versace Won’t Release My Leather Jogging Pants Kanye.”
The big lesson here is that when Kanye doesn’t take himself so goddamned seriously as a “next level auteur” and is more “your nerdy friend from around the block who makes ill beats and raps real nice,” he’s on point. Here’s to hoping the G.O.O.D. Friday series lends itself to Kanye figuring himself out. He’s desperately in need of that.
AARON: This weeks installment of the Kanye Show sounds like a rerun.
It’s is more feeling himself from Lord Same Shit. I am so tired of rich dudes complaining about shit.
The beat is alright. I’m hearing the ghost of that Clipse. I think Push gets paid like every two bars.
CLYDE: This beat reminds me of “Blame Game” so already we’re off to a good start.
I’m not a megastar married to America’s most famous reality star/brand/videogame saleswoman. And I don’t jet off to Parisian runaways and dress like one of the last free people of Zion from the “Matrix” trilogy. But I do relate to the guilt of feeling like you aren’t making enough time for your friends and being worried that you could grow apart.
Last week’s Why I Decided to Design My Overpriced Shoes That No One Would Be Caught Dead Wearing if My Name Weren’t Attached to Them For Adidas Instead of Nike: An Oral History left me cold. So, this week, I’m just glad Kanye made a song that an actual human with emotions could relate to… except for that part where your laptop full of homemade sex videos gets stolen by your cousin and he extorts you out of $250K to get it back. That is a very Kanye-specific problem.
JOSE: Clyde, you hit it squarely on the head. What makes this track relatable are the (mostly) real world, interpersonal conflicts at the root of it. That, and the smooth, smooth beat. Though it never really pops off in any direction, this song is the progeny of College Dropout and 808s, and I love it. It is cold, slightly paranoid, and tinged with regret. I could listen to older rappers freestyle over this beat about their mistakes for hours. It’s Kanye’s version of Sinatra’s “My Way.”
In contrast, “FACTS” garnered no sympathy or goodwill because it was just so incredibly petty and stupid – and lacked any smart rhymes or a decent beat, the combination of which is enough to absolve most obnoxious boasting. (See: most of Drake’s discography).
This is not to say that Kanye needs to stay in any sort of creative lane. He’s tried new things out enough times, and has stuck the landing more often than not. However, luxury rap needs to be grounded in something us commoners can identify with, and bitching about a shoe deal is definitely not one of those.
DJ Mustard ft. Travis Scott: “Whole Lotta Lovin”
It’s our old friend DJ Mustard, and he’s back on the beat, ho. This particular beat belongs to “Whole Lotta Lovin”, a collaborative single with Travis Scott. Like a handful of his songs and remixes last year, “Whole Lotta Lovin” finds Mustard going in a clubbier direction. It is a bit of departure for Scott, however, whose 2015 debut Rodeo found him sing-rapping over grandiose and often turgid Yeezus-core production. No clue if this is a one-off or otherwise, but it did get a fancy video.
MARCUS: DJ Mustard feels like the Cleo McDowell from Coming to America of music production selling me the musical equivalent of a Big Mac when Diplo and Calvin Harris’ Big Macs are actually quite alright, thank you. There’s this awkward and very racialized thing about this song where it feels like Dijon MacFarlane woke up one day and said, “these white boys ain’t gonna make all this money.” Travi$ only sounds good when he’s rapping about some sort of next level drug taking and sexual debauchery, so I just don’t buy him getting turnt up in the clurb like errbody else. Progressive trap house is now a thing because of this song, and that’s somehow a waste of Travi$, too. Actually NOTHING in this song clicks, and I seriously question if anyone who likes this song is really truly a dance person ’bout dat rap life, or a rap person who’s all P.L.U.R.R.E.D. up off them Xanax bars. Uggghhhh…this is pretty much everything wrong with everything in pop music right now. NEXT…
LEAH: This is top ten of the worst hip-hop/EDM fusion tracks I’ve heard. It sounds like an empty backyard pool that wants you to think it’s a ferrari. And, yes, that analogy makes about as much sense as this song.
AARON: This is straight doo doo.
All I want to know is whether or not 90’s club diva CeCe Peniston is getting paid off the hook on this abomination of a track.
JOSE: I’m annoyed because I know this will be bumping out of every car, colmado, and club next time I’m in the Dominican Republic. Just wait for the remix featuring Pitbull. Fuck.
CLYDE: I’m gonna need everyone involved with this to Do Better.
I put more thought into that sentence than they did with this entire song.
PHIL: Every time I listen to a Travis Scott song, there is inevitably a point (about halfway through) where I wonder to myself, “Wait, who is this rapping and/or singing right now? I didn’t see any features listed.” And lo and behold, every time, it is still Travis Scott, trotting out some trash new delivery and trying to sound like someone else. What does this man sound actually sound like? Does anyone know? He’s like some next gen X-Men shapeshifter – Gambit meets Nightcrawler meets Cookie Monster immolating himself in a dumpster.
The Kanye mimicry at the 3:44 mark of “Whole Lotta Lovin” just gives me the willies. We’ve all heard “Love Lockdown”, man! You can’t rip it off like that! I like to imagine some “Single White Female” scenario where Scott invites Kanye to studio and is like, “I made you a song, Ye. It’s just like yours. I’m just like you. We’re the same. We should be together.” *Murders Kanye*
All of that being said – and even though “Whole Lotta Lovin” sounds like a #StuffDrunkPeopleSay Twitter trend set to music – I find this infinitely more enjoyable than the laughably “epic” and utterly joyless Rodeo. It’s so dumb and predictable, but I can’t completely hate on a “We Found Love” knockoff.
Iggy Azalea: “Azillion”
Ready or not, here comes the return of Iggy Azalea. Six months after canceling her “Great Escape” tour, she is beginning the roll out for her next album, Digital Distortion. The campaign kicked off last Friday with the release of “Azillion”, a street single of sorts. (The as-yet unreleased “Team” will be the official single.) The 25-year-old Australian rapper implied that more would be on the way, christening this month “Igguary,” which explained meant “a January full of new iggy stuff. Very blessed month for Azaleans.”
MARCUS: Christ. I love the fact that Iggy Azalea is making turnt-up dance raps for house music people. It’s like, this song is for people who love rap, but like, don’t really love rap, but who remember that one time when they really liked that one “Fancy” song that Iggy Azalea did.
The production is that bassline big room house that’s kinda ubiquitous to house music forever, so it’s not like Iggy Azalea’s not going to make another million dollars making this kind of music. I mean, as long as David Guetta runner-ups need fake Nicki Minajs for their music, then hell… Iggy Azalea has just enough credibility to be relevant forever.
This song is exactly how this story was supposed to end. Lovely.
AARON: This the kind of shit 12-year-olds pop Molly to.
LEAH: I think she says it best in the song: “Trill-yawn.” I heard that right, right?
AARON: A zillion is not a real number. This is not a real song. This is not happening. I hate it… except for the odd super slick breakdown beat at the 2:55 mark. Not only does she SHUT THE FUCK UP for a second, the track really changes into something nice for exactly seven seconds.
CLYDE: And lo, in the first month Anno Domini 2016, the Patron Saint of Basicness returned to deliver unto her people a new anthem to move them as they partake in their ritual vodka sodas.
Yo, is Nicki getting a producer credit on this cause Iggy is definitely following the pinkprint Ms. Minaj laid out? I mean Iggy’s never been God MC with the bars like Nicki (which seems like a ridiculous point to even raise since no one has ever argued otherwise) but I feel like she actually tried to reach for some credibility when she came out. And then I guess she was like wait I’m a thin blonde girl with a round ass let me try to get that Starship/Superbass money.
Also it’s hard for me to talk about Iggy without mentioning that “blaccent.” I’m not offended as a black person, I’m a offended as a person with ears. That nasally shit is grating AF.
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