Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Our name is Rec-Room Therapy. Each week, we discuss recent hip-hop tracks.
Today, ScHoolboy Q and Kanye West are mean mugging; Paul Banks and RZA form Banks & Steelz; and YG and Drake have more questions.
ScHoolboy Q ft. Kanye West: “THat Part”
Ok, ok, ok, ok, ok, OK. On the heels of “Groovy Tony”, we have another new ScHoolyboy Q song, and it features Kanye West. Production comes courtesy of Cardo, foreverYeX, and cubeatz. The L.A. rapper is working on – or perhaps has already finished – his follow-up to 2014’s Oxymoron.
MARCUS: I’m totally okay with ScHoolboy Q giving Kanye the W on this one. In some sort of reverse psychology, this actually gives ScHoolboy Q a bigger cosign as “Yeezus” appears here, the wild ass dude we haven’t really seen since 2013.
Importantly, Q’s also aware that even when he’s half-asleep he’s more iconic than 99% of mainstream rap right now. That combination of vibes gives all of this the perfect feel for being the soundtrack to riding in the whip gettin’ ratchet while passing something around, which is pretty much directly up Q’s alley.
Comically, Uncle Kanye talkin’ Kobe while errbody else in the ride is wearing James Harden jerseys kinda says everything about everything right now when it comes to Yeezy and why he’s really pushing hard with his verses these days. Irrelevance is a motherfucker.
AARON: I guess Troy Ave isn’t the only one shooting himself in the foot this week.
Not even Q’s hyper swag can save this awkward-ass hook.
Anybody watching these famous motherfuckers anymore? Anybody around in the studio to make sure that shit doesn’t sound all weird and uncomfortable. Write it down and say it a few dozen times like a theater warm-up and tell the kingmakers that it sounds dumb.
Example: “That sounds dumb. We are not doing that.”
Or even: “No.”
Are there guys in the studio that get to say “no” anymore?
“No, I will not let you do that high-pitched yelling thing for a whole verse.”
“No, that is weird and you shouldn’t do it.”
While Q might be hate-proof for the foreseeable future, I feel like Ye is so far into the Cult Of Self Worship that there is no coming back. With every half-assed track, his catalogue is diluted and loses power. The college dropout is now the self-appointed Dean with an honorary degree in Everything and no one can stop him.
If he can deliver a whole album on par with “No More Parties In L.A.”, we can talk. If he can actualize his grandeur in some medium other than daytime TV-bring it, but this is a little too eager, off-kilter, and not too focused. Kanye’s current biggest problem is that for a guy who claims to have so many big ideas, the subject matter in his actual raps is getting smaller and smaller.
How big can you get before you disappear is the permanent game now, I guess.
PHELPS: I’m a pretty big fan of the bottom end in this Cardo & Friends beat, and I think it fits perfectly within Q’s drugged-out oeuvre.
If Kanye wants to sip something in the studio – or before “The Ellen Show” – to fit in, I’m not mad. I don’t think he needs to snap too hard on other people’s songs, given the insanity of his own production schedule he might have an aneurism. But sounds like he just havin’ fun with it!
Banks & Steelz ft. Ghostface Killah: “Love and War”
Wu-Tang Clan sonic mastermind RZA and Interpol frontman Paul Banks are… Banks & Steelz. This is not a buddy cop movie. This is real life. These two made an album together. In an interview with Rolling Stone last year, RZA explained how the project came together: “My manager came to me and said, ‘Who do you want to do an album with?’ I said, ‘Well, Paul just has an energy about him. I think if we put our sandwich together it will be great. Me and Paul, we play chess together and just hang out. We went to the studio and we started writing songs and they sound very, very different than what I do, but very unique and very peculiar.” The first single from this effort is called “Love and War”, and it features Ghostface Killah. It also got a fancy “Reservoir Dogs” homage video. Warner Bros. Records is financing all of this.
MARCUS: Oh. So I see somebody decided that RZA needed a Big Boi and Phantogram come up. Interpol, though? Crazy. Hitting up Ghost? I’m sure he and RZA don’t exactly text each other during “Walking Dead”, but, you know, money’s money.
That being said, I’d kinda love to see this video extrapolated into some sort of Robert Rodriguez-directed show for El Rey Network or something. This is too good for clickbait YouTube fodder and festival gigs. Give me a budget and like, access to Ghost, Meth, Meyhem Lauren, Action Bronson and like, Danny Trejo. Game on.
This is really really great.
AARON: AWKWARD HOOK CHRONICLES, PT.II
This is alright. I’m not gonna go Mad Rapper on this one. It’s ok. I’m all for cross-genre collabs ,and this has a fresh feel to it, but it’s just regular, literal fresh – not rap-fresh like it needs to be. My ears light up when I hear any kind of real melody or composition in a rap song these days so that’s a positive. I guess if this track makes Wu heads pick up an Interpol record or vice versa then only good can come of it.
I can just see Ghost in the studio whisper-yelling at RZA like “Yo, Bobby who is this Chadwick lookin’ motherfucker on the boards, B? Oh word? Aiight aiight, I didn’t know, you got mad white friends, God, you gotta warn a n***a, ok let’s do this.”
It is also hilarious to cap off this mellow,slightly introspective think-joint with the balls out, domestic disturbance screaming outro.
PHELPS: It’s very smart to get Ghost on this: He’s an OG for this type of stuff.
As far as vanity projects go, I guess this is fine, but are they really doing anything that Mark Ronson or Ratatat weren’t doing eight to twelve years ago?
If RZA isn’t leading or carrying songs alone, I think it could be interesting sonically for sure. Gonna need to hear more!
PHIL: This isn’t Paul Banks’ first rodeo. He guested on El-P’s “Works Every Time”. There as here, I kind of dig him on hook duty. His strength has always been his voice. Throw in actual verses and he exposes himself as a *trash emjoi* lyricist.
That said, if Banks has a kindred spirit in terms of ruining songs with at least complete one airball line, it’s RZA. “Fish and chips with the vinegar.” #neverforget.
I just haven’t been able to get behind this dude’s rapping for, like, at least a decade. Hard pass on his relationship bars.
YG ft. Drake & Kamaiyah: “Why You Always Hatin?”
Still Krazy, YG’s sequel to 2014’s My Krazy Life, is due this June. At this point, it’s not clear what will end up on it, but we’ve heard a fair number of tracks from the Compton rapper in the past year, most notably “Twist My Fingaz”, “I Wanna Benz”, “Cash Money”, and “FDT”. Now we can add “Why You Always Hatin?” to the list, but given the Drake feature, it’s probably safe to assume it’ll make the cut. The song marks the first time the two rappers have appeared together since 2014’s platinum single “Who Do You Love?” (These guys ask a lot of questions, amirite?) Also in the mix is 24-year-old rapper Kamaiyah, who broke through earlier this year with her A Good Night in the Ghetto mixtape. “Why You Always Hatin?” sounds like a DJ Mustard production, and the producer has tweeted the song out, but I don’t hear his tag, and YG has said DJ Mustard won’t feature on the record, so who knows. At this point, with ubiquity of Mustard clones, does it even matter?
This is the most paint-by-numbers left coast rap shit since the last YG single.
I mean, this guy is anything if not consistent. I feel like he’s what happens when nerdy guys in gray suits are allowed to smoke marijuana in board rooms. Somebody had to make all of these west coast pastiche raps, and YG’s the guy willing to do the dirty work.
Drake’s here in the most “yes yes y’all, from the TO to the left, y’all” sort of way, making listening to this song about as entertaining as watching paint dry.
This is everything right about capitalism and everything wrong about the mainstream music industry in one song.
When Trump becomes President, hopefully he’s taking orders for doing hooks, because that’s all that’s missing here from making this perfect.
I can’t believe that YG would say “Fuck Donald Trump” when he’s trying to perfect Trump’s “no work” work of a hustle.
PHIL: I don’t like the Dej Loaf’ing of Kamaiyah – i.e., relegating an interesting female to hook duty – so it hope this isn’t a trend.
That said, “Why You Always Hatin’?” slaps.
I find YG to be a genuinely compelling presence. His words don’t look like shit on paper, but he has a way of bending and stretching words in a low-key masterful way.
Shout out to throwback Drake verse. I forgot what it was like to not reflexively hate the sound of him rapping.
It doesn’t have to be rocket science. This is good enough for me.
CLYDE: The obvious analogue here is “Who Do You Love?” which is somewhat unfair considering all parties involved – Drake, YG and Mustard – were clicking on all cylinders. “Hatin'” doesn’t reach those heights but Drake’s recent guest verses sound more joyful than anything on that 80-minute suicide note, VIEWS.