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

Today, Zeds Dead takes Freddie Gibbs home; Domo Genesis and Anderson .Paak sound dapper; and Cassius recruits Mike D and Cat Power.

Our distinguished panel consists of  Marcus DowlingPhil R, and Aaron Miller of Austin Mic Exchange.


Zeds Dead ft. Freddie Gibbs: “Back Home”

Late last year, Rec-Room talked about production by Canadian duo Zeds Dead (for Santigold’s “Who Be Lovin Me”) and new music from Freddie Gibbs (off November’s Shadow of a Doubt), and now these two have joined forces for “Back Home”. The track is slated to appear on Zeds Dead’s forthcoming album on their new Deadbeats label.

MARCUS: All things considered, this is a track involving two things I love: Zeds Dead and Freddie Gibbs. But there’s something really “late to the party, but the checkbooks are still here” about all of this.

Zeds Dead can literally produce anything. They’ve run the gamut in the EDM age from roots reggae-tinged electro to pop sounds, and there’s something about making *YET ANOTHER TRAP BANGER* that just feels like folks settling for six-figure paychecks. I mean, good for all of the individuals involved here to make said checks – including Freddie Gibbs doing his best “don’t give a fuck” drug dealer raps – but I know that everyone here is capable of some shit that can explode the atom, and instead they just gave kids at festivals another good reason to pop molly and do lines of blow.

I mean, the ratchet thing is totally a movement so it makes sense, but this just feels excitingly empty in so many ways.

PHIL: This new Kevin Gates song ain’t bad.

AARON: I saw Zeds Dead at a Fest with a bunch of people half my age a few years ago. I had never heard of em, and I was legitimately shocked at the surging walls of drugged up youth tuned into this marginally inspired bro-step. Shit was like the zombies in “World War Z” just crawling all over each other.

I didn’t understand it.  Odd Future was there too, so it was this insane mix of huggy, might-fuck-at-any-second, LED-finger-dancing nice kids and shitloads of disenfranchised, ready-to-hit-you-with-a-skateboard, mean kids.

I just headed for high ground and watched it from a safe distance like you would a forest fire.

What I’m saying is I still don’t understand it.

Gibbs is WAY too ill for these guys. He is performing at a level altogether unnecessary for a track like this.He is murdering fools with all these weird flows and not using autotune like a motherfucker here. He is not wrong when he says he is one if the best out etc. I feel like he needs a dedicated group of producers/musicians ala Kendrick willing to workshop the sound of that next level Gibbs we all know is there.

Also, the track seems like it’s gonna be scary as fuck at the beginning and then it gets all pleasant and nice.

It’s hard to describe. It’s just a friendly ass beat.

It sounds like a couple of nice guys kicking out their keg party vision of the Trap. This is not nearly as engaging as the Santigold joint we covered.

But what do I know?


Domo Genesis ft. Anderson .Paak: “Dapper”

Next week, Odd Future’s Domo Genesis will release his first proper solo LP, Genesis. The album has a number of moderately high profile guest spots, including Juicy J, Tyler, the Creator, Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller, and Anderson .Paak, That last name appears  on “Dapper”, a track produced by mysterious production team called the Garcia Bros.

MARCUS: This is Anderson .Paak’s year.

If you want the best thing that came out of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, it’s that there’s a whole bunch of young classic soul-inspired vocalists, instrumentalists and arrangers who used to be jobless in LA getting to really dig in and excel. Of these absurdly talented performers, Anderson’s the one with the most crossover appeal.

Thus, when a guy like Domo Genesis is on a track with him, it’s not really Domo’s track anymore, is it? .Paak’s voice and jazzy neo-soul vibe are a thing all unto themselves. It’s similar to that way that Drake gets on a R&B track and everything about the vibe fits him like a hand in glove.

Anderson’s thing, as heard on this track, is this whole space that feels like what would’ve happened if disco, techno and synth-pop had never happened to R&B. It’s like the thing that could’ve happened if Kurtis Blow and LL Cool J rapped over stuff that sounded more like George Benson’s “Give Me The Night” instead of Kraftwerk.

Domo’s just filling the bars where Anderson’s taking smoke breaks. Good lord this is great.


Ok. Call me crazy but I think Domo is channeling some vintage Ma$e on this fucker, amiright? He has always had the swag of the oldest young dude rapping and of course it fits just right with the current not-so-underground king of throwback, Anderson .Paak.

.Paak is definitely one of the most important things happening in music right now, specifically the world of premium weirdo hipster R & B. He is phenomenally talented and is making moves with a real signature brand of thinking man’s pimp shit. (His songwriting style reminds me a little of the Weeknd , if the Weeknd  wasn’t such a moody asshole.) I’m not sure how Paak is so good at writing do-wrong, feel-good shit for white girls to make bad decisions to, yet somehow still sophisticated and firmly rooted in the feel and technique of soul classics.

He didn’t even sing a proper verse on this song – just the hook and a little garnish here and there – and it’s still dope. I can’t wait til he makes a track with everybody.

I want to know more about these Garcia Bros too.

Paak is playing like a hundred shows during SXSW this year and I probably won’t get in to any of them.


Cassius ft. Cat Power & Mike D: “Action”

Here’s an oddity. A decade has passed since the last album from French production duo Cassius, but word is that a new one is the works. The first taste of it is “Action”, a track that pairs Chan Marshal (or Cat Power) and Mike D (of the Beastie Boys). (Philippe Zdar, one half of Cassius, worked on records for both in the past decade.) Mike D shared some background on the track with Pitchfork, saying, “I did bring a couple bottles of wine to the studio. And then started writing my part and went from there… The song came with this world liberation theme and then I came with a modern-day relationship theme, and somehow the two went together. It’s kind of like toast and Vegemite go together only in Australia.” He added that song captures “that era of a Compass Point record that gets played in the Loft in New York City, but today.”

AARON: This sounds exactly like the sum of its parts. Old Rap. Weird singing. French dudes on the beat. Got it.

Believe it or not I’m into all that shit, but this is a little underwhelming. I could use more.

There should be some more weird shit in there to compliment the other weird shit, like some an obtuse spoken word section or maybe a Die Antwoord feature.

As it is now, it is mad tasteful but kind of falls flat.

Shit, I may be too old for Zeds Dead but I am not old enough for this right here.

MARCUS: What in the afro-electro-blog-disco-house is happening here?

This song sounds like what would happen if your Hype Machine feed had a glitch in 2006.

However, it is 2016.

Yes, I know A-Trak is itching for a bloghouse renaissance, Santigold has a new album and is back out on tour, and Baauer’s making music with M.I.A.. It’s been ten years since anything in that last sentence was relevant, so this all just feels really regurgitated. There’s some kind of way to make all of this sound fresh, but Cassius hitting the same Rolodex of numbers they got from a mid-2000s SXSW trip and jamming to the same underground blog mix they made for Discobelle forever ago isn’t making a fresh sound happen.

This is music that’s meant for me to buy blazers at Uniqlo, H & M or Zara to, if only because 10 years later I don’t really hit up Urban Outfitters or American Apparel like I did back in 2006. Hipster fashion pop is lame. I know that this song has a place, but it’s a lame place.

All this being said, if anybody has a Sparks or Four Loko I can drink right now, this track totally has me in the mood for one.

PHIL: On one hand, I want to respect Mike D’s Oy.G. status, which entitles him to roll by the studio with a couple bottles of Pinot, get a little tipsy, and bang out some rhymes on a “glad-mad-sad” level of complexity. This sounds like it was a blast to make. And not to take an utterly cheap shot at the French, but I could understand why Cassius might like this: It sounds like Jerry Lewis spazzed on the track. Again, harmless fun.

On the other hand, the other 75% of “Action” is a fire Cat Power song. It’s not a wild jump from 2012’s Sun (which Zdar mixed) to here, but that’s a good thing.  Sun was a great record. Let’s not forget, eight years ago, when she was dedicating her time to slo-mo, bluesy covers of otherwise enjoyable songs, it seemed like Marshall was headed permanently to the Starbucks circuit. That makes her pivot to a house singer (albeit a low energy one) even more remarkable. Oh yeah, and she’s really good at it! The last 1/3 of this song, where Mike D essentially drops out and more Marshalls show up, is divine. I would gladly commission a whole album of her on this sort of rich, spit-shined, “Fuck That’s Delicious” Cassius production

After a dozen listens, I’m just now getting to the point where the Mike D gimmickry fades into the background when I listen to “Action”. It’s a good place to be.


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