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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 assembles the G.O.O.D. Music gang; Rihanna hugs her money; and when it rains Danny Brown, it pours.

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

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5khVzuRGEg

G.O.O.D. Music: “Champions”

We’re crediting “Champions” to G.O.O.D. Music, but here’s the actual roll call of artists that show up: Migos’ Quavo, Kanye West, Gucci Mane (twice!), Big Sean, Travis Scott, 2 Chainz, Yo Gotti, and Desiigner. G.O.O.D. Music, of course, is the imprint of Mr. West, and he has promised that there is a 12+ minute version of “Champions” featuring everyone on his label. For now, though, we have the five-and-a-half minute version. It was produced by A-Trak and Lex Luger. But, wait, we’re getting ahead of ourselves: Cruel Winter is on the way (supposedly)! And “Champions” is (supposedly) the first cut from the long-rumored sequel to 2012’s massively uneven Cruel Summer compilation.

JOSE: This is some neon tube, early-2012-sounding shit, and very much in line with what I expect from the Cruel series. The opening is glorious, even if the sound is extremely dated. In fact, there’s absolutely nothing new about this song except for a couple short Gucci Mane verses, but how you gon’ be mad at a Gucci verse?

Goddamn it feels good to be alive. I can run through walls and shit right now, as long as dumb-ass Travi$ Sc0tt keeps crooning this vapid chorus. It’s a combination of a lot of many terrible things (Big Sean, Yo Gotti, the aforementioned Mr. Scott) and a lot of excellent ones (2 Chainz, Quavo, Ye’), and it works well, despite all of the sound having just thawed out after being found in the back of the freezer behind the tupperwares full of tomato paste.

I’m not being sarcastic: I love this and hate this at the same time.

PHELPS: Is that Travis Scott on the hook? Is that Desiigner too? Does it even matter? I just can’t be bothered with this aggressively mediocre song on the heels of TLOP. Maybe that’s not a fair comparison but when you feel the sleepless nights and constant edits that went into the rollout of that record, it’s easy to tell this was picked up off Luger and A-Trak’s Low Pros cutting room floor.

Gucci left jail with a hard body and apparently soft raps. Quavo was lucky and dipped out the song early. Poor 2 Chainz has the best verse after truly horrid sex and Honda CRX raps from Big Sean. Champi-enn? Anth-em? Dog, what?

If the Saint Pablo tour becomes an ensemble celebrating Cruel Winter, I’ll burn my tickets so no one else has to go and endure the 12-minute version.

MARCUS: I’m not quite ready yet for Kanye to go post-modern rap on me, which is exactly where he’s pushing the art on this one. This song is “GOOD Music” in the sense that it was curated by the label, and that’s where it falls off for me. I’d say that MBDTF was Kanye’s last album where he operated in a space as a solo artist working with other people. This is more from where he’s at now, working as a composer using rappers and their cadences like instruments alongside the other elements present in the production.

I think that’s the idea from whence this song originates. That “neon tube” electro house and horn bombast concept is indeed VERY present and VERY 2012, almost to a frustrating degree. However, what’s definitely frustrating is that he’s using the “southern” cadence here as it’s own instrument, pulling together eight different takes on one style and playing them like a piano to create a melody against the beat. 2 Chainz’s whole career is defined by this, and I think that if there’s any one thing that Sean’s had hammered into his head during his time under Mr. West it’s how to use his voice like an instrument. Everyone else here appears pretty much as if they’re really just doing business as usual with minimal guidance/awareness of what Kanye’s doing. This is an attempt at making high art out of things that are perfectly happy being scrawlings on the back of Metro seats. That’s why this falls short.

I get the sense that West is operating like a mad scientist in the studio these days. It’s probably for the best that most people aren’t aware of just how many atoms he’s splitting trying to create rap game cauliflowers when most people in the game are cool with smoking broccoli.

CLYDE: I really like this song because the beat is fire and for me it overcomes so much, namely a weak-ass chorus from Travis Scott. I am always willing to re-evaluate my tastes and opinions (see: $ign, Ty Dolla) but this dude annoys me to no end. It’s clear he developed what little personality he has from an amalgamation of what he thinks cool #teenz want to hear these days.

Druggy raps (check)

Auto-tune (check)

Sing-songy warbling (check)

There is no way Pusha T actually likes this dude. But even young Travis can’t ruin this for me cause there’s so much to love.

GUCCI HOME and I didn’t even know I missed him til this song.

I am a sucker for financial raps and I really appreciate Kanye bragging about being out of debt.

I made it through a whole Big Sean verse without rolling my eyes!

2 Chainz continues his streak of verses that make me wish he was my uncle.

The way Quavo says “Cam-e-ra”

AARON: I heard the board of KFC won’t let all the guys who know the 11 secret herbs and spices be on the same plane at the same time. This is an awful lot of highly marketable goons on one place.

Welcome to the most underwhelming track of 2016. I would take an edit of just the Gucci and 2Chainz verses and call it a day. Even then, this song is  5 or 6 kinds of boring.

Big Sean said, “I can’t dap you without hand san(itizer)/I don’t know where your dirty ass hands been”. Evidently the game has germs all over it. It’s lines like this that make me hate him.

2Chainz is like “AM I THE ONLY ONE HYPE IN THIS BITCH?!” Also, he is the first person to use the word “slewfoot” in 150 years.

I actually don’t mind Gates on the hook. As dumb as it is, at least it keeps him away from whole sentences and fully formed thoughts. Not tryna hear his sex offender game in detail anymore.

Anyone else I have not mentioned by name in this track is invisible to me.

Yeah. Whatever “Clique” was to 2012 this song is not that to 2016.

CLYDE: Travis Scott’s “personality” is so shapeless that Aaron thinks it’s Kevin Gates.

AARON: Fuck, all these dudes sound the same. I’m dead.

Push definitely should have been on here.

“Chandelier” does not rhyme with “cam-er-a.”

PHIL: There’s nothing like a G.O.O.D. Music mega-single to remind you how much trash Kanye has accumulated. Has anyone ever exhibited such incredible and such horrific taste simultaneously like him? 2 Chainz has to look around the studio, see Desiigner and Travis Scott, and think, “These guys are not Future. This is not my beautiful rap career. How did I get here?”

G.O.O.D. Music singles usually succeed in spite of their glaringly weakest links: Big Sean’s assquake, CyHi the Prince’s divine iPod, Kid Cudi’s existence. The problem with Travis Scott is that he has a way of infecting an entire track. “Champions” feels like a Travis Scott with a bunch of guests, doesn’t it? Not good.

That being said, even if “Champions” is creatively reductive and haphazardly assembled, it still works as spectacle. I know it’s bad, but it still feels like an event. It’s basically “Transformers 3”. Anyone here who bitches about the smallness of Drake’s “big” singles, here is the creatine-dripping antidote.

Speaking of Mr. “Antidote” (again), I feel like maybe I’ve lost the culture war on Travis Scott. The people have spoken. But if you’re telling me that I have accept this doofus’ fame in exchange for Future and Kevin Gates getting paid, I’ll take it. And if we’re being honest, I do fuck with “Pick Up the Phone”.

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Mike WiLL Made-It & Rihanna: “Nothing is Promised”

Mike WiLL Made-It is preparing Ransom 2, the sequel his 2014 mixtape. In December, we heard his collaboration with Rae Sremmurd, “By Chance” (which will also end up on the duo’s forthcoming SremmLife 2). Now, the Atlanta producer is back with “Nothing is Promised”, a new single with Rihanna (and some sampled Future ad-libs). Rihanna currently has four songs in the Billboard Hot 100: “Work” and “Needed Me” (from the critically well-received ANTI); the Calvin Harris track “This What You Came For”; and her duet with Drake, “Too Good”. So, there are worse people for Mike Will to make a song with in the summer of 2016.

MARCUS: WIth all respect due to Quavo, Rihanna’s got the best trap vocal cadence and flow in the game. Must be something in that Bajan water.

Throw some really chill 808s under her vocal (plus the Future yelps) and it’s fire.

This is like “BBHMM’s” post-Xanax come-down reality.

Rihanna’s untouchable right now.

CLYDE: Agreed, Rihanna’s trap flow is effortless and actually makes me think I would enjoy an album where she just straight up rapped or maybe out-Draked Drake with sing-raps.

Rihanna is one of the most fascinating artists in the game right now, and what’s scary is she’s just now touching her creative peak. She’s been around since a teen and the talent has always been there but becomes more evident the more she asserts her own ideas into her music, kinda like an R&B Lil Wayne. I generally like her Mike-Will collabos, and this is dope too.

Also, how has she not done another track with Future since 2012?

AARON: She really is the best. Did she say she was gonna wake up and hug the sun at the end?!

I would listen to ole girl make a whole rap record. Right. Now. The third time the hook rolls around and she dials up the patois is fucking delicious.

This is a tasty little jam.

Pros include:

  • Rihanna stunting
  • Self-awareness and the faintest hint of humility
  • Not 12-minutes long

Cons:

  • Mike Will Made it.

The beat is good ok. I like the nuance he keeps stashed away for the big clients, and this fits the jam perfectly. That’s not the point.

I have this nightmare where I wake up and I’m like, “Honey, these eggs are delicious. What did you put in them?”

“Not sure, baby. Mike Will Made Them”

Or: “Bro, the craftsmanship on this cabinet is outstanding. I didn’t know you could…”

“Mike Will Made It”

Or: “Do you know why I pulled you over”

“Uhhh. Not sure. Did Mike Will Make You Do It?”

“Step out of the vehicle sir, and yes…”

Then I gets tazed.

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Danny Brown: “When It Rain”

Danny Brown was notably very frustrated with the label Fools Gold and how it dragged its feet in releasing his 2013 album Old. So, it’s no surprised that he’s made the jump to Warp Records for his forthcoming album. Or maybe the two labels are working in partnership. Regardless, the Detroit rapper is back with a new single called “When It Rain”. It was produced by frequent collaborator Paul White. Brown tweeted last week that he was “putting the final touches on [his] next masterpiece,” so maybe we’ll be hearing the new record soon.

MARCUS: Danny Brown hibernates in a trailer at the end of 9 Mile Road and is woken up by assorted record label execs carrying beats, bags of assorted pills and LSD-laced Red Bull. That’s what I think when I contemplate Danny Brown’s life in my dreams.

The barely there footwork aspects that make this track outstanding are amplified in the video and that’s phenomenal. Danny’s probably been fast-stepping backstage on tour for years and might have a Teklife connect, too. Ever the weird kid who’s super-thorough in the streets, Danny Brown is the one rapper we probably want to be, but on every level are too afraid to attempt to live his life.

AARON: Still hybrid after all these years.

This is some mean weird shit.

Danny Brown is one of those rappers that doesn’t waste a single word, whether he’s getting deep or going dumb like he is here. There is nobody better at mining EDM tropes and beat styles from the fringe of accessibility and putting doper-than-necessary rhymes on ’em.

This song is way better than it needs to be given it can only be marketed to two crowds: Danny Stans and Drug Kids That Don’t Care About Rap.

He has a good ear for producers and is consistently fearless in his choice of strange beats to rap on. I don’t imagine a lot of rappers would fuck with this kind of production.

I’m on a permanent Footwork kick so anything even close is my shit.

That lick “oh you ain’t know that did you…” – the way it fits right on those horn stabs is the shit. It’s like a hook inside a hook.

I shall fuck with this.

danny____________

 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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