Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Our name is Rec-Room Therapy. Each week, we discuss recent hip-hop tracks.
Today, Haters want to count Aesop Rock’s rings; Prodigy rebels against tyranny; and Jay Electronica swings at Kendrick.
Aesop Rock: “Rings”
In the past year and change, Rec-Room has discussed Aesop Rock’s “Cat Food” (a one-off single) and “Environmental Studies” (from a collaborative EP with Homeboy Sandman), but it’s been almost Aesop Rock put out his last proper solo LP, Skelethon. That changes, however, with the release of The Impossible Kid on April 29. This week, the rapper gives us its first single, “Rings”, along with a trippy video for it.
MARCUS: I’m totally here for rappity rappers doing cinematic videos. Everything about this is brilliant. That drum is crisp and mixed right. It’s dry as hell, just like Aesop’s voice, and bristles against the synths.
I can only imagine what it’s like to be an artist on Rhymesayers. Like, the levels of rap you have to be willing to reach when putting down bars is like the polar opposite of what it takes to get a mainstream rap single released right now. This falls in that happy place between Atmosphere’s “Trying To Find A Balance” and Flobots “Handlebars” where my jeans suddenly gain two sizes, my v-neck becomes a hoodie, my jaunty cowboy hat becomes a White Sox cap, and my head just can’t stop nodding.
Again, this is great.
PHIL: This video should be administered as an IQ test. If someone can watch these visuals and simultaneously process 34% of what Aesop Rock is saying, he or she is a genius.
“Rings” is an odd choice of a single, but once you drill down, it’s something that hits hard. The story is familiar – the outcast and art school drop out – but Aesop Rock sketches it (sorry) with so many little details. For a dude who’s lyrics are pegged as (and praised for being) arcane, he’s written a straightforward (and powerful) piece of rap here.
All of that being said, I wouldn’t mind if he calls in Blockhead for the next single and churns out a (thoughtful) wall-puncher.
The Hegelian dialectic is the framework for guiding our thoughts and actions into conflicts that lead us to a predetermined solution. At least, that’s this website tells me. It’s also the name of the new Prodigy record. The previous Prodigy record, Albert Einstein, was a full-length collaboration with L.A. producer The Alchemist – and it was one of Rec-Room’s favorite LPs of 2013, too – but The Hegelian Dialectic will be more of grab bag. Its first single, “Tyranny”, was produced by El RTNC. In a trailer for the record, the Mobb Deep rapper says the record will be “based on true shit.” In other Mobb Deep news, Havoc shows up a few times in the The Life of Pablo credits.
PHELPS: If you called Prodigy a God of nihilistic raps, he’d probably rock you in your face and stab your brain with your nose bone.
That would insinuate some sort of belief system on your part and, as noted direly here, faith don’t matter. For all the anti-government, anti-social end of the world raps here, it’s worth noting that Prodigy plans to leave rap dough for his grandkids for “300 years.”
I won’t hold him to that timeline but Mobb Deep still tours globally to packed clubs. Murder muzik still sells and Prodigy’s been scorching the earth for two decades so sullen emcees like Earl could take root. Salute to that alone and if he can still drop napalm bangers, that’s gravy.
MARCUS: Prodigy’s album is called The Hegelian Dialectic. I shouldn’t be so stereotypical, but for the yung dunny rocking the knockoff 49ers jersey in the “Shook Ones” video to be grown up and so seriously contemplative of the tension between thesis and antithesis is impressive.
There’s a level of menace and honesty to his half-time raps on “Tyranny” that I appreciate. He sounds like he’s going to rip off your head and shove street education and brag raps down your throat at the same time.
300 years of rap money? Doubtful, but, like, he’s Prodigy, and he’s going to stare at you with knives in his eyes until you agree with him. Or, he’s aware of the Hegelian Dialectic that governs his life and is willing to play with the thesis upon which his rap career is based and make you believe the fallacy of what you believe him to be.
Wow. It really is deeper than rap sometimes.
CLYDE: Who knew Prodigy was a Tea Partier?
Jay Electronica: “#TBE The Curse Of Mayweather”
As some of you may remember, Jay Eletronica and Kendrick Lamar both guested on “Control”, the Big Sean song that nobody associates with Big Sean. You would think these two heady dudes would get along, but Jay Electronica had some words for the younger emcee in a video that surfaced via Periscope last week. “I like the one Kendrick song with Gunplay called ‘Cartoon & Cereal’,” he remarked. “Other than that, we don’t know what that ni**a talkin’ ’bout.” Elsewhere, he said: “Kendrick is my son. Kendrick is my baby. Kendrick wish that he could be me.” He continued that beef this week with “”#TBE The Curse Of Mayweather”, where he takes shots at Kendrick (and 50 Cent and more). The song was produced by Jay Electronica and it is probably not on his long-awaited debut because it is never coming out.
PHELPS: “My grandmother dies at 82 scrubbing floors.”
Maybe drop an album for sale or do more than 98 shows in eight year, twelve of which you headlined and at least one of which where you opened for The Disco Biscuits.
Yeah, man, “fuck these white people.” We believe you.
MARCUS: Jay Electronica is on that Illuminati level where he can put out a diss record and — like the man he references in the song’s title — score a “win” without really even touching his opponent. This is on some magical rap bullshit, Jay Electronica actually saying that he “created fame out of folklore,” which shouldn’t be discounted as he’s pulling back the curtain and exposing Dorothy to the Wizard. Jay Elec coming at Kendrick is really foolish. Like, I’m happy that Jay’s been reading his five percenter scriptures and Qu’ran, finally listened to the three year old “Control” verse and decided to clap back at Kendrick. However, Kendrick is a KING. And, in Kendrick calling himself “Negus” he’s also on the same wave of progressed Afro-Euro-Centricity as Jay Electronica, so he could easily come back at him and spit some high-level left-field black empowerment consciousness raps (and for shits and giggles, probably should).
This song vividly illustrates that we may be at the point with Jay Electronica where he’s wandered past the place where conventional rap can accept and understand his brainpower. He’s in that same place where Lupe, Kanye, Charles Hamilton and Lil B all get together and eat crepes while spitting bars to nymphs playing harpsichords and nude, lithe angels playing 180 gram Kraftwerk vinyl. I mean, that’s a cool place to be, but Kendrick’s at this other place – that’s elevated to a point where Kendrick can touch Jay Elec, yet still relevant to our ears and minds – and can come at Elec’s empty, salty-ass raps. Kendrick’s dope enough to yank him down from the cloud, and leave him broken to the point where there’s just a kufi, Star of David and Fruit of Islam suit on the ground for Schoolboy Q and the TDE crew to laugh at.
This is a really bad look. A really bad look.
CLYDE: Man, we are a long way from “Exhibit C” aren’t we?
I don’t understand why he’s wasting his time going after King Kendrick, when clearly his biggest threat to that HOTEP crown is Lupe.
AARON: Ok, I can agree this song might be a bad look, maybe came out two years too late ,and takes some very dangerous shots, but….
Damn. It’s not bad at all. I don’t think it’s responsible to throw these kind of poison darts at dudes that are actually on your side, but if there’s anyone who can do that shit, it’s Jay, undisputed Lord of the Esoteric Clapback.
Honestly, the loose cannon disses are my only real problem with this track. The rest is fire, and there are some heavy disses of entire cultures and concepts that only he can pull off. (KISSINGER, WE SEE YOU)
Electdramaca has always had the air of a dude that can keep his cool while the bombs drop around him,never looking up, only forward.
He seems rattled. He is legit a different kind of angry here. The magic in Jays verses lie in the lofty, above-it-all delivery. No competition. No equals. Definitely no one above him.
Here he sounds like he’s forgotten his own mythology and may be grappling with the fact that dudes that talk the exact same shit (minus Fiddy) got more out of the game.
What’s up with that, Jay Selecmemory? Do you not remember how much everyone already loves you? You are preaching to the dope choir sample, my man, and we are worried that you have lost sight of the mission objective here. PUT OUT A FUCKING ALBUM ALREADY, SON. DAMN.
We know you have a hundred joints on deck and commitment issues but this is fucking cruel. Don’t diss Kendrick; put out a record with Kendrick, duh.
Don’t get mad at Hov cause he’s a shitty landlord; just fix the house yourself, and he will take it out of the rent.
And why the fuck even holler at 50? Maybe I missed some plot points in the story. Do they have a problem with each other?
Everybody’s thinking, “Oh snap he went after Kendrick?!?!” But Fif is prob the most dangerous one. Those highbrow arty rappers might indulge in some quality swordplay but Curtis might just make Vines and crack jokes on that ass. 50 will be shoe shopping, not even paying attention, and fuck you up on accident.
Nobody is immune to 50 Cent’s class clown bullshit.
This track is weird and awkward and misdirected but I love it.
Don’t let these rich motherfuckers get too comfortable, Jay. Holler at anybody you want. Win the battle, fuck the war. Everyone knows the game is fixed so what do you have to lose, right?
Ouch on the Rothschild-steal-yo-girl diss. Just damn. For all the illuminati talk thrown around like bad puns in the rap game, there is only one rapper on earth that can spit that line like that. Cold blooded.
Watch your back, Jay Elecfoamatthemouth. These white people have all the goons.