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

Today, Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar RSVP no; Ka is still super fly; and Isaiah Rashad sees smiles.

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


Kanye West ft. Kendrick Lamar: “No More Parties in L.A.”

As discussed last week, G.O.O.D. Fridays is sort of back, and as long as Kanye keeps it going, Rec-Room will be here to discuss it. Today, we ponder “No More Parties in L.A.”, a new song produced by Madlib and featuring Kendrick Lamar. As has been reported, the seeds of the track – namely, the hook and the beat – may reach back as far back as the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy sessions, but according to West’s wife, he was working on it up until it’s Monday morning release. (She also says he “wrote 90 bars on the plane” to Italy last weekend.)

MARCUS: Moreso than anything, what’s significant about “No More Parties In LA” is that Kanye West probably first listened to what Kendrick likely emailed in and then decided, “Oh man, I really need to do some great rapping.” There’s too many great bars to quote here.

I’ll be 38 this year. I’m feeling like I’m eight these days, too, Yeezy. #Salute to the fountain of youth!

Somewhere along the journey to SWISH, Kanye’s discovered “real hip-hop” again. Like, I think he’s super-aware of himself now and is done with the bullshit. He’s called all of the shots in the past decade, from working with Jay to marrying Kim and making hipster-rap super-cool in-between, plus even proclaiming Drake and Kendrick as better than he is right now. However, I think he’s reached that same point that Muhammad Ali reached when he knew that boxing’s heavyweight division was passing him by. If that’s the case, then “FACTS” was the rope-a-dope strategy Ali used against George Foreman, Yeezus letting the critics’ slings and arrows hit him repeatedly. “Real Friends” was the seventh round in the “Rumble in the Jungle,” and “No More Parties In LA” dope rapping-as-Ali’s victorious eighth round KO.

If this Ali comparison is to play out in full, then SWISH has 10 wins on it, one of which will be epic, one that will be controversial, and eight that really won’t prove anything, but still be a lot of fun. Kanye – like late-era Ali – is out for his legacy now, and thus is going to come at everyone. #SWISHSEASON is starting NOW.

AARON: Alright, ok. I was in a fog last week but it’s all so clear to me now. Marcus is on to something.  This track is what happens to Yeezy when there is no project/brand/gimmick/trend/shoe deal/giant socialite booty to hide behind. This is a motherfucker who can rap when he needs to.

And when Kendrick and Madlib show up you, just can’t come wack.

On one hand, you have Rap Game Quincy Jones lacing you with the deepest shit the Old Gods have to offer.

On the other, you have the newest of the new new Kendrick who, at this point, must be scaring rappers to death in the booth. Wven famous dudes getting shook. His verse on this track is bonkers, and it sounds like he’s goofing off.  I’m almost worried he may be too good.

You all know I have a pathological hatred of a Kanye West. He has always been a sickening mix of inspiration and disappointment to me.

I am not mad at this song. I believe these are the best rappity raps that Ye has spit in eons. I’m gonna take the high road and just enjoy this because I am 100% certain that he will infuriate/let me down in less than 72 hrs.

Kendrick Stans will be like, “THIS THE BEST VERSE EVER.”

Madlib junkies will be like, “Why are there even rappers on this, ugh.”

Yeezy crowd will be all, “Ewww, what is he doing? I don’t have the right drugs for this. Is there something wrong with my speakers? There’s weird stuff coming out ewwww”

JOSE: There is so much happening here, and it’s all so fantastic. Tough to say who shines the hardest here – Kendrick is fire as usual, Kanye is the sharpest and most humorously cutting he’s been since Late Registration/MBDTF (depending on your preference), and Madlib’s track is straight booty-shaking goodness.

This doesn’t feel like a duel between K. Dot and K. West; it’s Kanye trying to snatch back the baton from the biggest threat he’s faced since reaching the top of the mountain. When was the last time Kanye spit so many bars, so quickly?

Frankly, I’m surprised this collaboration took so long to happen, considering these two went on tour together back in 2013 for Yeezus and M.A.A.D. City. I guess Kanye’s been sitting on the sidelines and seeing Kendrick and Drake suck up all the air in the room. We all know his ego wasn’t going to stand for that shit. First effort was him just hacking up all the garbage that had built up, but the last two… damn.


Ka: “30 Keys”

“The Brooklyn rapper Ka likes to do things on his own,” Tom Breihan wrote last year. “Most of the time, he raps and produces everything on his records by himself. He releases those records on his own label, and sometimes he sells them hand-to-hand outside record stores. He directs and edits his own videos. And his meditative, incantory take on wordy, insular New York rap is his and his alone. ” It’s been two-and-a-half years since Brownsville grown man and rapper Ka dropped critically acclaimed The Night’s Gambit, but this week he’s back with a two-song release called The Superfly Single. The A-side is “30 Keys” and, in a mild deviation, it was produced by someone else: fellow NNYC O.G. Roc Marciano.

MARCUS: The snippet from “Superfly” is everything, and if you’ve been following along with the Ka story for a few years now, you already expected this exact song (snippet included) as soon as you saw what the title was.

Ka’s great because he’s from Brooklyn and never acts like he forgot what that means. I appreciate that an actual hustler wrote a song about the actual perils of hustling. Like, this one is completely airtight in a way where pop-rap can’t even see or hear it.

When I was EIC at Brooklyn Bodega, he played the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival and when he got onstage, old men who love old rap all stood up, grabbed their small children by the hand, and forced them to listen to this great man doing this great thing. Of course, there were the ratchet hipsters who were there for the Tribe reunion and what felt like a million blog-hot rappers, but Ka was the outlier who literally made “hip-hop stand up” in the most classic definition of what that term means in smoky clubs and in freestyle battles. Man, that was great.

“The only n*ggas living, lived a life of crime.” Do rappers even do dirt to make millions before they launder it into rap careers anymore? Can we live like that again? Because living like that was actually really awesome…

AARON: The ” beat” is sleepy and a little awkward but I’m feeling these introspective drug raps.


Isaiah Rashad: “Smile”

Let’s check in with Isaiah Rashad, the fifth and sometimes-forgotten dude on TDE. Two years after the release of his debut Cilvia Demo, the Tennessee rapper is preparing his second record. Details have not yet been shared, but as part of that lead-up, this week he dropped the single “Smile”. It follows September’s “Nelly” and was produced by a dude called D. Sanders.

MARCUS: I loved Cilvia Demo because Isaiah Rashad is just one of those dudes who rap real good because he thinks rapping real good is easy. Thus, of course he’s down with Kendrick and TDE, because all of those guys think that rapping real good is easy, too.

I love the Memphis swing on the drums, because it puts Isaiah in a place before he even opens his mouth. It’s like, he’s from somewhere you have a grasp on, and you kinda already know his story… or so you think. If he gave more fucks and did the whole Yelawolf, “I want you to feel my story” type thing, he’d probably be a bigger deal, but he’s just chilling in the cut rapping about being real dope at rapping, making money, fucking your bitch and smoking great weed.

That Too Short-style section about the “bald head bitch, who ain’t worth shit” is golden, and I hope everyone listens to it 100 million times because, JESUS CHRIST, it’s so wrong, but so right.

AARON: Production is nice. G shit.

Rashad pretty much goes off all the time. All the TDE dudes have that same kind of jaw clenching urgency behind the flow that really makes you pay attention to what they are saying. Having said that. I don’t actually  know what the fuck dude is talking about here but I like it. If Kendrick specializes in the extended metaphor and huge flows that expand on themselves, Rashad is like bullet points. Little snapshots of dope shit. Some related. Some not.

Looking forward to more.

JOSE: I like this laid back classic Southern Rap track, but the rest of the song is leaving me feeling “meh.” I never listened to Cilvia Demo, and so am coming into Isaiah Rashad blindly, but “Smile” isn’t doing much for me. Boring.


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