Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Our name is Rec-Room Therapy. Each week, we discuss recent hip-hop tracks.
Today, Isaiah Rashad squeaks by on free lunches; Rae Remmurd and Lil’ Jon set the roof on fire; and Noname reminisces with Raury.
Isaiah Rashad: “Free Lunch”
About seven months after his last single, “Smile”, Isaiah Rashad is back with a new one called “Free Lunch”. It was produced by Cam O’bi. TDE president Anthony Tiffith teased back in February that a follow-up to 2014’s Cilvia Demo was on the way, and the other, TDE co-president Dave Free tweeted out the date “09.02.16.” In the wake of untitled unmastered and Blank Face, is it the Tennessee rapper’s turn? According to subsequent news reports, the answer is yes.
PHIL: The threadcount on this beat is infinity. Cam O’bi is just impossibly smooth.
As for Mr. Rashad, “Free Lunch” might be my favorite performance of his to date. He grounds the production with a flow that’s subtly commanding. It’s not easy to rap this hard while sounding like so relaxed.
I don’t know what the Tennessean’s ceiling is or where exactly he fits on TDE’s roster, but this is as close as he’s gotten to a star turn.
Marcus: Sometimes when you listen to a TDE artist track, the whole roster makes sense as “Kendrick Lamar putting on dope-ass rappers he personally knows and actually enjoys listening to on a regular basis.” Given that King Kendrick’s skill at the art of rapping is so significant, one must presume that the skills of those whom he surrounds himself with are quite high as well.
Behind ScHoolboy Q, Rashad may be my #3 favorite on the TDE team. For the past three years he’s been incredibly consistent at having a flow that’s traditionally Southern in content but feels akin to “Common Sense” Common in delivery. That’s a winning pair in any book, and when you add in the backseat of the Cadillac-ready soul groove, this is stellar.
Rae Sremmurd ft. Lil’ Jon: “Set The Roof”
Rae Sremmurds SremmLife 2 drops Friday, but its fifth single, “Set the Roof” arrives a few day before. It’s called “Set the Roof” and it features the vocal pyrotechnics of Lil’ Jon. The production, meanwhile, represents the unholy union of Mike Will Made-It and DJ Mustard.
PHELPS: I can’t complain about young rappers wanting to celebrate pockets full of dough with garish audacity when it’s with the earnest enjoyment of these two.
Nearly a third of the song is covered by an intro by Lil’ Jon, but he probably didn’t hear any argument from Rae Sremmurd. Hell, they were so appreciative of the look from Mike Will they changed their entire name as a tribute.
I can only imagine how excited their parents were to hear they worked with the guy from “Get Low”, which dropped when they were around six or seven years-old.
This is short on MLK, long on Andrew WK, and that’s way more than OK when you’re 21 and actually having fun with it.
PHIL: This sounds like Rae Sremmurd passed out in the club and got visited by the ghosts of summers past.
The next day, the two wake up in new clothes that smell of stale champagne, smoke residue, and sweat stains. They refuse to change or shower.
Summer ’04 / ’12 / ’13 / ’14 Forever.
MARCUS: 100 trillion times yes.
Rae Sremmurd playing the Ying Yang Twins was something I never considered I’d ever hear and enjoy this much. Dijon can run 100 summers with the combo. Christ almighty this is the most perfect club fodder and makes “No Flex Zone” and “No Type” look remedial by comparison.
Also, Lil Jon is a first-ballot Rock and Roll Hall of Famer by this point, right?
Noname ft. Raury & Cam O’bi: “Diddy Bop”
Noname (formerly Noname Gypsy) released her debut mixtape at the end o flast month. The Chicago rapper – who has appeared on several tracks with Chance the Rapper – is just 24-years old. One song getting a lot of attention is “Diddy Bop”. It was produced by Phoelix and Cam O’bi The latter shows up on the track, too, in addition to Raury.
MARCUS: Noname fits in the grand tradition of black women committing rhyming words to page like some sort of play-daughter of Gwendolyn Brooks who has a taste for sweet brown liquor. Thus, that means that in songs like “Diddy Bop” – a wistful ode for a simpler age – there’s also some heartbroken Billie Holliday in there, too.
Yes, these may sound like grandiose comparisons for a relative newcomer, but they’re not. Listen to how self-assured her bars sound from the start of the track onward. She’s a rare artist these days who shouts from the spiritual interior of the words she says when she raps. That’s accomplished by the way her bars end, and the way that her productions breathe, too. There’s enough space in these songs for the words to actually resonate instead of being dunked on your face. I mean, if a theory is good enough to describe the succes of Ladybug Mecca of Digable Planets, then it’s certainly good enough for Noname.
Raury being here is wonderful too. The moments on his album where he gets to do the same thing with breathing and space are too few and far between. Raury’s oftentimes best as a humble-bragging frontman, but actually, when you get to hear him spit from what feels like his heart, his star rises.
PHIL: Amen. Someone capable of painting such a glowingly warm, finely sketched picture doesn’t come around very often.