Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Our name is Rec-Room Therapy. Each week, we discuss recent hip-hop tracks.
Today, M.I.A. is for the birds; A Tribe Called Red visit South Africa, and 2 Chainz brings in Drake for a big amount.
Our distinguished panel consists of Aaron Miller, Clyde McGrady, and Phil R.
M.I.A.: “Bird Song (Diplo Remix)”
M.I.A. said the 2013 album Matangi would be her last. She lied! Next month, she releases A.I.M. The deluxe edition of the record features the previously songs “Borders”, “Go Off”, and “Foreign Friend”, plus two versions of a song called “Bird Song”. The Blaqstarr version saw release first. And now, after some minor label clearance drama, we get the Diplo version. (Each one is called a remix.) There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding the album in the lead-up to its release, but we’re going to tune out that noise.
AARON: Alright. “Is that a plane or is it me?”
This is another solid jam from a time-tested Queen of Solid Jams. There’s nothing shocking here. I think all of the people who have wasted time hating on M.I.A. will find themselves firmly on the wrong side of history. “Wah wah, she’s too rich to be revolutionary. Boo hoo, she’s culturally appropriating something.”
Sit down with that bullshit.
M.I.A. pretty much invented the new political diva swag in her prime. You may disagree with her version of “real” but at least she sticks to her gold-plated guns.
Like, who wouldn’t want to be rich enough to talk shit all the time? If homegirl wants to keep making Molotov Cocktails out of all those empty Ace Of Spades Armangac bottles, she can go ‘head on with her bad self.
I’d rather listen to her play punk rock freedom fighter than Kanye play the underdog any day.
This track is not super hot fire or anything but it’s a strong 6/10, and it’s firmly within her wheelhouse of sinister, half humble, half narcissistic BBC news jams.
PHIL: Pay half your attention to this song and it’s a low-grade banger. For all the personal bullshit that’s gone down between them, Diplo and M.I.A. remain each other’s perfect foils.
But. c’mon, what the fuck is she talking about? There are references to sixteen different types of birds. Sixteen! What kind of “Seaseme Street” shit is this?
“Aye, I need more birds!”
No, you don’t!
A Tribe Called Red ft. Yasiin Bey, Narcy & Black Bear: “R.E.D.”
First Nations electronic DJ trio A Tribe Called Red have a new album out in a month called We Are the Halluci Nation. Last month they released a single called “R.E.D.”, and now it gets a video. The song features Yasiin Bey (the artist formerly known as Mos Def), Canadian-Iraqi MC Narcy, and Black Bear (a drum group from Quebec’s Manawan Atikamekw Nation). Bey still remains detained in South Africa.
AARON: This track is so ill. The bang on these Black Bear drums is bananas.
A Tribe Called Red is definitely on the short list of acts fighting and winning some kind of silent culture war in the game. The vibe kind of transcends the lackluster label of simple “production”.
Basically, they are on some other shit. If you don’t know you just don’t know. They are important right now.
The raps are outstanding.
Hearing Mos Bey go serious hard on a beat this slow and tough is beyond refreshing. His flow has lost some of the I-don’t-rap-anymore laziness of the last several years, and these bars are heavy as fuck.
I feel like there’s a certain segment of rap fans that continue to believe that Yasiin Def has changed too much to keep the hard earned respect he deserves. They take comfort in the fall-off narrative that hangs over the head of old rappers, no matter how good they are. Dude still got it.
I want to hear more from this Narcy cat too.
Most of Beys features have always put him next to heavyweight emcees with a decent resume. It’s cool to hear a relatively unknown cat hold his own with one of the greatest.
PHIL: Everything Aaron just said. This is most Yasiin Bey-affirming track since “The Day”.
I hate the word “swagger” but everything about “R.E.D.” is immeasurably swagged out.
2 Chainz ft. Drake: “Big Amount”
In the wake of the January mixtape Felt Like Cappin and his spring collab with Lil Wayne ColleGrove, 2 Chainz is back with another 2016 release: Daniel Son; Necklace Don. Yes, that’s supposed to be a semi-colon. The mixtape’s most buzzy effort is “Bug Amount”, largely because it features everyone’s favorite Canadian pop singer / fake Jamaican, Drake. Production comes courtesy of a dude named Buddah Bless. Word on the street is that this Daniel Son; Necklace Don character is being turned into a cartoon, which would certainly sync with the mixtape’s cover art.
CLYDE: Fuck Drake, the Marriott is a fine hotel.
AARON: “Shorty wild like an equestrian and I bought the dress she in”
Not sure if 2 Chainz is deep enough to step into concept record territory, but I like where it’s taking him.
This song doesn’t exactly do it for me as per my extreme anti-Drake leanings. His verse is a little less irritating than I expected, but still the same megalomaniac, fake-OG bullshit that he peddles so well.
Also this “Lord Of the Rings” flute got me hype. Shout out Producer I Never Heard Of. You alright.
PHIL: “Everywhere I go, the rod with me / Cause these n****s actin’ too fishy.”
“Got a car in his and hers / Walk in the zoo and say, ‘Pick a fur’”
2 Chainz is a national treasure. There’s been a lot of talk about his comeback winning streak in the past 18 months. I’ve got some news for you: He never fell off. But I’m glad people are back to paying attention.
How both he and Drake end up a beat this weird is a marvel. I wouldn’t have minded a chorus, though.