Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Our name is Rec-Room Therapy. Each week, we discuss recent hip-hop tracks.
Today, Earl Sweatshirt hears death whistles; Young Thug and Wyclef Jean sing the praises of Kanye (sort of); and Dej Loaf roots out the snakes.
Earl Sweatshirt: “Death Whistles”
Earl Sweatshirt hasn’t given us a ton of new music since his asocially titled sophomore record I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside dropped last March. But in recent weeks, we’ve heard a few brief songs from him. First came the instrumental “Pelicula”, then his Adult Swim summer single “Balance”. This week, we got another: “Death Whistles”. Intriguingly, it was produced by King Krule. It’s an odd track, and possibly won’t see an official release. But with Earl, who knows.
AARON: OMG, this middle finger of a track is so sludgy and confrontational that it’s almost unlistenable.
I. Love. It.
It sounds like Krule is rockin the beat three houses away wrapped in bubble wrap.
CLYDE: I once described Earl as the most aggressively ambivalent rapper I’ve ever heard. I’m not entirely sure that phrase even makes sense but the point I was trying to make is that there is no one so good at making you believe his give-a-fuck balance is sitting proudly at $0.00.
I’m always dazzled by the kid’s wordplay but the beats he’s rapped over on these drips and drabs he’s released since 2013 are downright off-putting.
Doris remains a classic that I grow to love even more each week I listen to it. I would kill for another more focused effort from Earl but I just don’t get the sense he cares to craft an actual song right now.
LEAH: This feels like a throwaway, with the atmosphere of just a very wordy freestyle, and very nothing-to-see-here-this-is-just-practice. It’s nice to hear Earl again, but this is like sitting in his basement recording studio with him while he’s “trying something out.” Definitely not ready for release.
JOSE: My instinct is to love this on the basis of the names attached to it, but it just doesn’t do it for me. While Earl is/was one of the most talented young rappers out there, and King Krule is a wizard of despondency, as Leah said, this sounds like a throwaway demo. Bars are fine, and track is fine, but it never manages to get me going. Meh.
AARON: I feel y’all on most of these points. I guess I’m just still impressed that weird shit like this can even make it through the mainstream firewall of doo doo.
The product may be off the mark, but, honestly, a little creative control and a whole lotta fuck-you is why I love these kids anyway.
I would definitely love to see a more focused effort or maybe a whole goddamn record from these two. I’ll take this obtuse brand nihilism over Lil XYZ and the excess of brand-based party rap any day.
JOSE: Oh I totally agree – with an ounce of dro and a month in the studio, these guys could put out the best rap/acid jazz album of the decade. It could be FlyLo and Kendrick levels of goodness. But while this track has the germ of a great idea, it’s too muffled and muddied to shine.
AARON: Who you know make an ounce last a month? Such discipline.
Young Thug ft. Wyclef Jean: “Kanye West”
As you may have heard, Young Thug released a commercial mixtape called No, My Name is JEFFERY recently. (He also doesn’t want to be called Young Thug anymore, but that’s another story.) A standout on the mixtape is “Kanye West”, which features Wyclef Jean. Another song on the mixtape is called “Wyclef Jean”, but Wyclef Jean doesn’t appear on it. Still with me? “Kanye West” was produced by Wheezy and Cassius Jay. It was formerly called “Elton John”, “Elton”, and “Pop Man”, but the song has remained the same throughout these name changes.
CLYDE: No, My Name is DRAKE. (So “commercial mixtape” is a classification now? i.e. I want to make money off this but don’t want it judged by the standards of a proper album.)
LEAH: So we get Frank Ocean coming out sounding like CocoRosie, and now Young Thug in the Animal Collective/Tuneyards lane. Either hip-hop is taking a page from twee indie experimenters, or there are only so many combinations of sounds in pop that can really ever be made.
I really like this track – from the African drums, to the samba beat, to the faint humming of insects in the back, including the mostly incoherently-delivered vocals, this track is more of an atmosphere than a song and it just nails the feel of late in a hot summer.
PHIL: This is unquestionably RRT’s first CocoRosie shout-out.
LEAH: Twee outchea!
JOSE: It wouldn’t surprise me if Thugger was super into Merrill Garbus’ music and overall vibe – she does some really cool stuff with her vocals, sampling and layering her own voice in really interesting ways and textures, which Young Thug does a decent job of emulating here. This beat is catchy, and even an out of breath Wyclef can’t stop me from smiling every time I listen.
Can’t do it.
Half of rap these days seems like this awkward forced fusion of ideas that were never really meant for each other. But it sells and the Industry is like, “Don’t look at us. YOU bought it, so we gotta sell it.”
Post hoc ergo propter hoc all damn day.
I like the beat alright but it’s wasted on an unremarkable sex track for a fake-weirdo and an unhinged old guy. There’s nothing “out there” about a basic-ass rapper in a dress. I guess one man’s fashion-forward is another man’s age-old reduction of black masculinity to the absurd. There’s a long list of black entertainers that have put on a dress, fat suit, or similar shenanigans, shucking and jiving to break through to that next level of commercial success. You either gotta be the physically dominant buck and scare em to death or put on a dress and call it art.
Dej Loaf: “Snakes”
25-year-old Detroit native Dej Loaf says a new record is on the way. The “Try Me” rapper teases that release this week a new single called “Snakes”. It was produced by YOG$, which is how I will be referring to marathons from now on.
CLYDE: When the grass is cut, the snakes’ll show. I gotta thank the lil homie Dej for that, though. Is there another genre more obsessed with competition, backbiting and deception? Probably not cause none of them were birthed in a culture stressing survival like rap.
I’m at heart a pop vulgarian so I thank Dej for still writing hooks that make me hum along, which is becoming a lost art form in today’s rap. This song is catchy as hell.
LEAH: This is a classic hard AF call-out over a smooth groove, which Dej Loaf pulls off over and over. She delivers both intensity and nonchalance at the same time, and sounds so skilled doing so. I’m digging this.
AARON: Did she somebody “did a verse for a chicken dinner”?
That’s cold blooded.
Loaf is not my favorite, but she has definitely got her own lane and appears to be growing up a little. These raps are a far cry from the blood and guts in her first singles. I’m all for hearing the voice of an independent woman getting play in an environment like modern day Detroit. It must be hard to maintain any kind of real direction, much less floss in Cartier, in Americas only Third World city.
No money and crumbling infrastructure has huge chunks of the city being reclaimed by nature to the point where Hollywood has kicked out at least 3 horror flicks filmed in The D in the last couple years.
Why? Because it’s it is literally horrifying to look at. Shit looks like Cherynobl these days. I’m surprised they don’t have mutant boar-people trapping on the streets.
I wonder how much a snake goes for in Detroit? Gotta be cheap. I think some young, enterprising white people could really change the snake game up there for the better… maybe start some kind of sustainable snake farm or maybe a community snake-share to keep track of these things.