Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Our name is Rec-Room Therapy. Each week, we discuss recent hip-hop tracks.
Today, Ty Dolla $ign launches his campaign with Future’s help; a lot of old heads speak on society’s ills; and Dreezy spazzes.
Ty Dolla $ign ft. Future: “Campaign”
Los Angeles crooner / sometimes rapper Ty Dolla $ign recently announced that he has a new (retail?) mixtape Campaign on the way. It follows last year’s oft-delayed opus Free TC. The first single is called “Campaign” and it features Future. The two recorded the track on a tour bus while on the road earlier this year.
LEAH: With the hook in this, plus the one in “I Got the Keys”, I feel like Future is trying to get some kind of voice recognition software to give him directions to campground. I only hear “camping.” Otherwise, it just seems like kind of a lazy half-banger.
PHIL: Oh Ty Scrillas. Oh Future. Why do you hurt me so?
What is it they used to say about the Velvet Underground? Their debut only sold a few thousand copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band, right?
I feel like songs like this have a similar affect: Only a few people like “Campaign”, but everyone who does will launch a career in wack rapping.
Think about it. If this is your baseline for hip-hop, surely you must believe anyone can be succeed at it.
I love Ty. I do. I love him as an arranger and singer and producer. He is a *trash emoji* rapper.
How funny is it that Ty felt compelled to tell us he and Future freestyled this one night on a tour bus? Yes, we can tell. These days, it’s as if Future is like, “What’s this song about? Oh, it’s going on a mixtape Campaign? Hmm, OK, how about I just repeat that phrase incessantly?”
PHELPS: Future Hendrix > Future Hodor.
MARCUS: There’s this awful “law of diminishing returns” thing happening with pop rap these days. It makes the music industry just look like a giant paper shredder for miscreant currency of all denominations. What that does for the artists is turn making some songs into a bitter exercise in futility against the track instead of with it. The result is an anti-music thing, and this is a prime example of that anti-music sound.
When motivated (by what, I’m not so entirely sure anymore), both of the artists on this track are capable of material that’s at best moderately-to-incredibly engaging. When unmotivated, we get “Campaign,” which features Future just incoherently warbling along, and Ty’s just kinda following Future’s lead down this money-less rabbit hole of basic ass song-crafting.
There’s a belief here that both of these artists just kinda expect the blog-led music media cycle to spend just as much time on a non-album mixtape track as they clearly did making a non-album mixtape track. That’s why someone like say, Drake, wins. The idea that he doesn’t engage in making any “anti-music whatsoever by turning a free mixtape into a cost-worthy album without changing a thing is astounding. Seriously, that’s like, Robert Johnson meets blues and the devil at the crossroads level incredible.
But yeah. Overall, this is almost un-listenable.
Samuel L. Jackson, KRS One, Sticky Fingaz, Mad Lion, Talib Kweli & Brother J: “I Can’t Breathe”
Last week, a lot of very notable artists released songs in reaction to the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile: Miguel, Jay Z, Chris Brown, Boogie. On “I Can’t Breathe”, rapper-producer Mad Lion wrangles a handful of legendary MCs for a six-and-a-half minute musing.
AARON: Can Sticky Fingaz voice get any louder? The answer is negative.
OH MY GOD, MAD LION.
Brother J is still vainglorious.
KRS is so old and fed up. He just wants to kill everyone.
Sam Jackson does not say “motherfucker.”
LEAH: Damn, I didn’t know Sam Jackson could sing. This track is on point: rife with the anger, despair, and frustration that the continued decimation of black bodies by institutionalized racism in the police force has perpetuated. I love when rap is used in protest, to address oppression and lift black voices up, and this track does that very well. It feels cohesive, and even energetic, without losing sight of the dark topic it addresses.
PHIL: I agree with everything Leah says… but I sorta find Sam Jackson’s presence distracting. The intro sets almost a slightly (and oddly) comedic tone. Maybe his name just gets more eyes (and ears) on this track, which is a net positive, I suppose.
Putting that aside, a lot of truth here.
MARCUS: Everybody on here is actually rapping their asses off, and Sam is here like, “Yup, imma make a Statement with a capital S.”
I love it.
I love Sticky Fingaz, in particular, because he has one of the best rap voices in rap history, and I could hear him read the phone book and get chills.
25 years ago, this would be as big as “Self-Destruction” was. Speaking of, why isn’t there a Jay, Drake, Yeezy, Rihanna, Beyonce and Kendrick jam produced by like, Just Blaze or somebody that hasn’t emerged? Like, really? As compared to what “Self-Destruction” or “All In The Same Gang” was for that era, this is the time when a song like that needed to emerge and just, like, be everywhere like Pokemon Go for a month.
But that didn’t happen.
AARON: This song is pretty heavy and all about the voice.
Sam Jackson sounds good in that “South Park” way where all black people play the bass or something. His voice saying pretty much anything is either the threat-iest of threats or a continuous Negro Spiritual. Here we have the latter: a distinct old man voice that will obviously inherit the estate of Morgan Freeman.
Unfortunately, we are not yet free(man) and this song, while not the greatest thing ever, is greater than the sum of its old-ass parts. It’s a who’s who of legendary voices trying to give a voice to the plight of the voiceless.
Sticky’s voice is top 10 no doubt and evidently at a career high volume. Is he rage-crying the whole verse?
Everybody forgot about Mad Lion when you should never, ever, forget about Mad Lion. It’s hard to have a truly unique dancehall voice when dancehall is essentially an entire genre of unique voices, but damn if I’m not gonna spend the afternoon listening to old shit like “1, 2, Pass It” over and over again
You got Kweli with his know-it-all, disdainful substitute teacher voice like “All white people see me after class you are in trouble”
Brother Jay’s style of speech is stil Vainglorious.
And then here comes KRS at the end… arguably the best rap voice of all time letting Talib teach the class while he rolls the clock back 40-years and just wants to kill you after school because he’s had enough of your shit America.
This is a much needed song that will not get enough play because real justice is not very marketable these days.
Guru should have been on this motherfucker.
Dreezy’s major label debut, No Hard Feelings, comes out today, and “Spazz” marks the fourth single that the Chicago rapper has shared from it. The track was produced by 808 Mafia’s TM88.
LEAH: I’m a big fan of this track. Her laid-back flow’s carefully modulated to give the impression that street life is so very quotidian to her. She just don’t give a fucc, and instead of shouting it (cough Future cough), her tone matches the sentiment. The beat is pretty timeless too, hi hats balanced with strings and bass drops. Into it.
PHIL: I hereby invoke the “Twist My Fingaz” right of safe passage, whereby any rap song containing the term “emo” gets an automatic thumbs up in my book. That said, I wouldn’t have minded a little more “spazz” in this “Spazz”. Why are Chicago street rappers always so unexcited to be here?
MARCUS: We’re officially at the “letting the hood girls from Chicago who enunciate and clean up nice on tracks” part of the regional seven-year lifecycle of Chicago rap.
By the way, the best of this lot is Noname, and her Telephone mixtape is out at the end of the month.
As far as Chi-town rappers not being more excited, Phil, you ever tried to smoke a blunt after somebody shot your girlfriend’s boyfriend and all his man’s and them? Exactly. Chicago’s literally the worst right now, so expecting energy of any sort outside of the anger of say, “hood girls who don’t enunciate nor clean up nice” like Katie Got Bandz isn’t exactly going to happen.
This is aiight, though. The Desiigner flow isn’t the Quavo flow, but I get why she’s doing it, so, it kinda is what it is.
AARON: Marcus beat me to the point but, yeah, I imagine it’s hard to show any real enthusiasm for anything but not getting shot in Chicago…and even then you probably gotta keep it to yourself in the daily mirror self-affirmation part of your morning that comes before the breakfast gunshots.
I feel weird getting hype about dumb shit after the last few weeks/centuries of race drama in this stupid country but this is pretty tight.
Her voice sounds buttery smooth and I probably would not fuck with this lady.
808 Mafia makes silly beats but they always work. SMDH.