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

Today, JAY Z and Future have the keys; Lil Wayne and Wiz Khalifa head up a Suicide Squad; and Dizzee Rascal and Calvin Harris complete their EDM trilogy.

Our distinguished panel consists of  Marcus DowlingPhil R, Hip Hop Hooray’s Leah Manners, and Aaron Miller of Austin Mic Exchange.



DJ Khaled ft. JAY Z & Future: “I Got the Keys”

Earlier this month, we gave a listen to the first single from DJ Khaled’s forthcoming record Major Key, “For Free”. It was essentially a Drake song. But the excitement over a DJ Khaled record – to the degree it exists – is the pairing of big budget  rappers who usually don’t inhabit the same tracks. Think: “I Feel Like Pac / I Feel Like Biggie”, “All I Do Is Win”, and the granddaddy of them all, “We Takin Over”. The second single from Major Key does follow in that mold, however. It’s called “I Got the Keys” and it pairs Future with Jay Z for the first time. Production comes from Southside, Jake One, and G-Coup.

MARCUS: Oh god. This is great.

Jay Z is rapping like a legend here. It’s pretty much ONLY because he’s rapping on his management client’s track, which means that he’s getting paid like, three different times probably from one single, but I’ll take it. That kind of capital creates an INCREDIBLE level of motivation.

Khaled’s entire album will likely all be posse cuts, as they always have been. However, this is the first EVER top-40 pop-over-just rap album he’s ever had, so in many ways it’s a “debut” of sorts. That’s why EVERYONE is so on point here. I mean, let’s *really* think about this. If Khaled wins, then well, A LOT of people get to win, too. Linked into Khaled’s victory is rap getting a lifeline into sustainability that’s been owned by R & B of late. Like, Beyonce, Rihanna and Drake can’t make EVERY dollar, so if this album hits all of the right notes (and it’s Jay and Khaled working the record, so you know it will), the potential here is GIGANTIC.

But yeah. This is Khaled’s Diddy-style come up. Rap won’t let this fail.

“My wife Beyonce. I brag different.”

Game over.

LEAH: Yeah, it’ll be a hit, and no, I don’t think it’s very good. Hov delivers some really satisfying lines, but the production is so very played out, and poor Future has to repeat that terrible hook a hundred times.

AARON: Rats. Foiled again.

All I can think of is how much better this song would be without Future… and maybe even Khaled. Shit, I don’t know.

Basically, if you rate this track according to who is doing what – well, Hov is doing all the rapping. Future is doing Future on the ” hook.” And Khaled is just in the background, on brand, jingling the keys.

I have to say JAY Z is on some shit the last few releases. Fire. His ability to absorb the inflection of the rappers he records with is – and has always been – unbelievable.

It works both ways, though. I don’t like it when Hov gets sloppy, and if you put him in the room with a wack rapper, that’s what happens. Sure, his brag is off the meter but he’s been doing that since 1956. Is he really rapping that great here? I’m not so sure he is.

It must be hilarious for businessMAN Mr. Carter to listen to Khaled holler about success like, “How could he logically even have another one of anything or keys to stuff when I have them all. FOH. Check, please!!”

This one gets 5/7.

PHIL: I like this more than I thought I would. Most of the songs Khaled brokers (that’s what he does, right?) sound like they were grown on recombinant bovine growth hormone. Even when all the right people are in the room, they just feel… unnatural. And swollen in the wrong places.

But this actually comes together alright. These JAY Z verses are light years beyond “Drug Dealers Anonymous”. I can’t get beyond those cheesy, dad joke bars. He still sounds old here, but it’s Watch The Throne old – which is to say, not great, but not bad. He doesn’t like he’s giving himself a sponge bath with his sense of self-worth. That’s frankly the best we can hope for right now.

As for the Future hook… fuck it. I like it. It’s earwormed into my cerebellum. My head bobs whether I want to or not.


Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa & Imagine Dragons ft. Logic, Ty Dolla $ign & X Ambassadors: “Sucker for Pain”

Speaking of blockbusters, just look at this roll call of artists! Who dreamt this up? How did they determine the featured artists? What the fuck is happening? For starters, “Sucker for Pain” is the second single from the “Suicide Squad” soundtrack. Like many of the overblown soundtracks of the late 90s (never, ever forget), it’s being billed as Suicide Squad: The Album. In addition to the train wreck above, it pairs Skrillex with Rick Ross, and Action Bronson with Dan Auerbach. It also features new cuts from Grimes and Kevin Gates (not performing together). Let’s be suckers for pain and give it a listen.

AARON: Omg I’m scared.

CLYDE: Life, like politics, is all about managing expectations. I took one look at this roster and expected and overwrought Imagine Dragon-y joint like that “Radioactive (Remix)” they did with Kendrick, with a bunch of loud drums and balls-in-a-vice-grip yelling.

But no, this is some understated shit. The beat grooves, the lyrics are as good as they can be considering they are (contractually obligated to be?) thematically focused around a DC Comic summer blockbuster. Even Lil’ Wayne sounds awake!

And yet I would like to imagine a song where there are 110 percent less dragons (he he) cause I am not here for the lovechild of Chester Bennington and that dude from Incubus. Why isn’t Ty on the hook?

MARCUS: Holy Hot Topic, Batman (or DC Comics-related corollary).

This song was made for kids with six piercings and gauges in both ear who have all of the Fast and The Furious soundtrack CDs, and use the Guardians of the Galazy soundtrack as makeout music.

Fuck. Can we just get this onstage as the close for Warped Tour EVERY night this summer?

How in the hell did we end up back in 2001? Is this the record industry’s “solution?”

If so, then I’ll totally grab my red Yankees cap and pray to our rap-metal overlords right now.

More “Nookie” please…

LEAH: Hey, not every soundtrack can be Batman Forever I guess.  In the pantheon of extreme sellout soulless hollywood movie crap songs, this track isn’t the worst, but it’s no “Kiss from a Rose.”

AARON: The song is me, I am the song (title, anyways).

I don’t like this lazy song.

Logic is the best rapper I hate right now with his rapping ass.

I can never tell if Weezy is on a comeback or dying of acute Lean poisoning. Pretty lively here, but they could’ve just given him one of those “Pulp Fiction” shots in the chest. Don’t trust it.

Wiz is like is in my bottom 10 list forever so there’s that.

TFW the squad commit suicide by jumping a shark, I guess.


Calvin Harris & Dizzee Rascal: “Hype”

Following on the heels of “Dance Wiv Me” and “Here 2 China”, “Hype” is the third song in the Calvin Harris – Dizzee Rascal trilogy. That first one happened to be the first major radio hit for both. “Hype” is tagged as a Dizzee Rascal track on iTunes, but Calvin Harris appears to be ramping up for a new album. He released “This is What You Came For” with Rihanna two months ago.

MARCUS: The electro-meets-steel pan sample from 2 Much’s “Wild Thing” (and Grace Jones’ “My Jamaican Guy”) that made LL’s “Doin’ It” a hit is in here. Also, the track keeps building and never quite drops in, so it’s like Calvin’s trying to do some sort of  big room Chicago juke thing. I mean, that’s actually really cool. A lot of people don’t remember Calvin Harris being a hipster indie electro GAWD, so this is a neat little throwback of sorts with some modern day effects.

What’s funniest about Calvin Harris always is that people don’t get the levels that he works on in pop production. Everything he does is intentionally meant to fuse together two VERY pop friendly things that seem to have zero correlation and toss a soul vocal on top of it to win. Part of me is thus VERY hopeful that the decidedly not-so-soulful Tay Tay doesn’t release any of the material that you know she and Calvin worked on together. Maybe on a hook with say, Drake rapping or something. That seems like it’d be the best way, because even if it were say, pop-country leaning, Taylor’s voice isn’t big and heavy enough to work on the razor thin and loud percussion that Harris’ more pop stuff tends to lean in the direction of sonically.

But yeah. Some people will hear this and think “oh Dizzee’s on this because grime is cool again.” Naaah, not really. This is just it’s own thing and very much mot where grime is at these days. Therefore, this song is not an amazing thing, but certainly solid.

LEAH: I like Dizzee Rascal, and I think he’s broke out of his grimey roots pretty well by now.

The track itself is pretty inoffensive, but that’s not exactly singing its praises. I’m looking for a little bit more from Dizzee in terms of verses. This sounds like a soundcloud remix. I know Calvin’s got talent, and I like his throwback 80’s style from “Dance Wiv Me” but I’m not blown away by the follow-up.

PHIL: This song loses me the dancing Kia hamsters show up at 0:48.



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