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

Today, Birdman demands respek; DJ Quik takes us on a funky odyssey; and Alchemist and Havoc are locked and loaded.

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

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Birdman: “Respek”

Cash Money co-founder Bryan “Birdman” Williams has a new solo record on the way, his fifth full-length and first album in seven years, It’s called Ms. Gladys and it’s out this summer, supposedly. The other day, Birdman released a new single behind the record called “Respek”. If you been living under a rock, the song refers to – and samples – the rapper/mogul’s recent spat with the hosts of Power 105.1’s “The Breakfast Club”. Production comes courtesy of Polow da Don.

MARCUS: I can’t hate the hustle here. Virality is commerce now, and Birdman is just trying to make, as 2Pac’s rap proverb says, “a dollar out of fifteen cents.”

There’s a space in mainstream rap that’s unapologetically terrible right now, and this song occupies it in full. Dragging 808s and synth melodies are pretty par for the course for rap right now, and because trap songs are the musical equivalent of Pop Rocks mixed with the gum at the back of baseball card wax packs, this is so utterly disposable. Maybe that’s as it should be, as this song seems mixed so low so as to be used as the bumper music for FM radio jocks to discuss the “RESPECK” situation while also dropping in drops from the Youtube clip of his morning show interview.

I was wanting some Breakfast Club dis shots fired to really get some movement out of this, but alas that waiting was for naught. If “Mixtape Weezy” were still on his grind, his remix to this would’ve been an all-time classic, but sadly we probably won’t get that either. Oh well.

JOSE: Marcus, a Lil’ Wayne freestyle over this beat is the only thing that could save this track, and that’s you could somehow get 2008-level Wayne talking about 2015-level beef. I would love to see him ether Birdman on his own stupid song. The lack of self-awareness in this track is staggering, but he’s cashing checks on the back of this nonsense.

Those are three and a half minutes I’m never getting back. Birdman’s an asshole.

AARON: Oh Birdman, you clown. You just had to do it.

For a guy that keeps saying he “won’t say it no mo,” you sure keep saying it don’t you?

Respekgate was one of the shortest, sweetest, highlights of an otherwise super shitty 2016. Oh the dank memes, I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. I love seeing the hive-mind just tear people to bits when they deserve it, and let’s not fuck around, Turdman has always deserved it. His internet roasting is right up there with making fun of Nic Cage.

Has anyone ever loved this dude or did people just smile and nod ’cause he was holding the duffel bag? Jose is right. Somebody should go in on this track and just drag homeboy to his doom. Wayne would be good. Maybe a humorless hard knock like Cassidy or an unhinged whiner like Lupe. Whatever.

This song sucks are we done or are we finished?

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DJ Quik & Problem ft. Shy Carter: “A New Nite / Rosecrans Grove”

O.G. Compton rapper-producer DJ Quik and next generation (relatively speaking) West Coast rapper Problem have teamed for an EP called Rosecrans. It’s Quik’s first release since 2014’s fantastic The Midnight Life. The centerpiece of the record is  “A New Nite / Rosecrans Grove”, a near-ten-minute rap song turned G-funk odyssey. Quik’s production revisits the nuts and bolts of “Tonite”, a cut from his 1991 debut. Singer Shy Carter shows up here as well.

AARON: OH MY GOD DAMN IT HAS SCRATCHING

MARCUS: The original that this song samples is almost 30 years old.

On “The Box” Network, this would’ve been released as a three-video set and I would’ve had to spend like $90 to watch it 10 times.

Economics aside, Quik is iconic because he birthed a sound that has been replicated the world over for a generation, yet when he touches it again, he makes it still sound fresh, vibrant, new and relevant. Quik inspired Dr. Dre, Nate Dogg, Snoop and Kendrick, so like, yeah, this one sounding immediate, honest and somehow more powerful than everything else doing well in the midst of The West having a resurgence makes all of the sense.

I’m all for Quik getting into the studio with someone like YG, ASAP. The mainstream label exec not doing that is fucking up in a huge way. I mean, either that or him giving Kendrick some g-funk to keep running the whole industry on. Either way.

JOSE: Wooooo this shit is flame. I want to blast this on some nice speakers and dance all night – or better yet, hire DJ Quik to spin a party for me. There’s some incredible improvisational synth/scratching on this track, including maybe a few references to 8-bit Mario Bros? This is wild, smooth as hell, and makes me feel good.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Los Angeles’ musical output these days is so far ahead of everywhere else, and it continues to evolve in many fascinating ways.

AARON: Indeed, LA killing more than most these days like the mid 90’s all over again. From the Old Gods on their second/third winds,the new school beat scene “underground” and,of course,Kendrick-it may just be permanent.

This.

Is.

Amazing.

“The bass line sound like my fingers set tripping” Bruh.

Quik is like the OG’s OG.

Just solid. The production is bananas. It’s got scratching y’all. I almost didn’t recognize the noise because nobody touches the fucking turntables anymore. The arc of this “track” is phenomenal. (I’m using quotes cuz this is like a mini-album.)

1000 minutes of funk perfection synth epic overture in G-Minor.

I would expect nothing less from Quik but I’m still impressed. When your neighbors are cats like Dam Funk, Low End Theory ,Computer Jay, Jonwayne etc, you gots to make sure the yard looks tight.

LA still has what NYC is slowly losing: That feeling that everyone is coming for you.  Anybody can get it so bring your best or sit down somewhere.

I would say yassss like the kids do but fuck that this is for grown ups right here.

PHIL: I’ve always loved Quik’s production. I’m surprised by how much I’ve grown to love his rhyming, too. He’s a rare example of where age suits someone better. He’s got the perfect way of sitting back and casually kicking knowledge. When I hear “A New Nite”, the only thing I’d change is three Quik verses – not one.

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Havoc & The Alchemist ft. Method Man: “Buck 50’s & Bullet Wounds”

We already know what kind of chemistry L.A. producer The Alchemist has with Prodigy, but now he’s giving it a go with other half of Mobb Deep, Havoc. The two have an album called The Silent Partner out next week, and today we give a lesson to its second single “Buck 50’s & Bullet Wounds”. The track features Method Man for good measure, too.

MARCUS: ALCHEMIST REVIVAL.

Yeah. This is what happens when Alchemist is eating good and slides his OGs some beats ’cause the label can handle paying that check.

These days I’m so used to hearing  Action Bronson dip, dive and harmonize while finding himself in between the dust bunnies on Alchemist’s productions that I can’t quite divorce the two of them in my head. Thus, as compared to Bronsolini, Havoc just stomps through this in the way that both Havoc and Prodigy have ALWAYS stomped down on crunchy tracks like these. There’s a great argument that Mobb Deep are the second best crime rappers ever in NY history after Kool G. Rap. The words match the timbre of the production here which just makes it massive.

“From W to double-crossin my crew…”

After hearing this, there’s an argument now that Bronson is jacking Meth’s swagger as well as Ghost’s cadence. I mean, everybody loves a rap clown, and in many ways this track showcases that’s what NYC’s mainstream rap representative that Bronson is actually has become. As well, when hearing Meth over these beats, the differences in Alchemist’s production techniques as opposed to RZAs are profound. There’s something in the mix here that keeps a lid on the track, this making Meth-as-Wu veteran sound more tai chi than kung fu. The sweep and bang of Alchemist is more soul than salsa here as well, that difference probably owing something to Alchemist NOT being a native New Yorker.

There’s some very (appreciably) weird stuff happening here that makes me actually want to hear more of what Havoc and Alchemist are doing as I’m just not hearing a lot of this breaking through of late. This is catching my ear in a major way.

JOSE: This is excellent. Alchemist’s beat is a gorgeous gothic blanket that consumes everything in its wake. Havoc and Meth are in many ways bit players on this song, as the track’s gravitational pull draws my attention way more than their bars. That being said, both do a good job of trying to hold their ground, even if none of their rhymes are inspired.

Also, maybe it’s because I’ve been listening to a lot of Pusha T recently, but does anyone else think that this wouldn’t have been out of place on Darkest Before Dawn? I can very clearly picture King Push taking Havoc’s place and injecting the first verse with a lot more energy.

AARON: This is a creepy little banger.

This is a pretty good case of read the song title, see those three names, and know what you’re working with immediately.

I don’t think Alchemist has never made a wack beat. At this point, it seems as though his production has always been there with too many bona fides to list without Googling that shit. If there was ever a DJ who is permanently in the right place at the right time, it’s my man Alchemistry. It’s a narrow one-way lane with one dude in it.

While Havoc has been on a number of Al beats, I was surprised to see a little restraint here. It’s mellow for an Alchemist joint. I mean, it makes sense sonically because Havoc,with all of his sociopath-rap tropes and hip hop serial killer vibe-is still kind of a mellow dude. I always thought he was the better rapper in Mobb Deep – not by much, just a little more visual with the wordplay. He just loses shine because who can out-thug Prodigy? It’s like if you are Ted Bundy and Genghis Kahn walks in the room, you have to play the background.

The verse is solid as can be expected.

Now let’s talk about this “new” Mef.

I saw an interview recently-ish where Method Man said he wasn’t gonna curse anymore and my heart sunk, like, shit here comes the Will Smith granddad phase where we lose one of our best soldiers.

Not so much.

It kind of makes you pay attention a little more. I don’t know that I would have ever noticed if he didn’t tell me. PG-13 fire can still kill you. And yes, he is rap-game ancient. Being 45 in hip hop is like being 125 years old in real life, but he has never fallen off and still not a lot of emcees young or old that can fuck with John Blaze. Shit, I just started skipping Wu-Tang songs on the stream last year. It took me 25 yrs to be like, “Nah, not today, Wu Tang, Not today.”

So yeah. I like this one.

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

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