Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Our name is Rec-Room Therapy. Each week, we discuss recent hip-hop tracks.
Today, The Weeknd and Daft Punk are starboys; Juicy J and Kanye West ball out; and Jermaine Dupri and Da Brat get familial.
Our distinguished panel consists of Joshua Phelps, Clyde McGrady, and Phil R.
The Weeknd ft. Daft Punk: “Starboy”
We’re a smidge over thirteen months removed from the last album from the Weeknd, Beauty Behind the Madness, but the Canadian Lothario is already preparing another LP. It’s called Starboy. Here is the title track. It was produced with (and features) Daft Punk. In the video, the new Tesfaye kills the old version of himself, who has different hair. Cirkut and Doc McKinney get co-production credits. The album arrives on Black Friday in November.
PHELPS: New hair don’t care.
Did Daft Punk just license their name to this? I can’t find them anywhere in the mix, unless they were going for the most frustratingly boring Daft Punk track in a decade.
This is fine for milquetoast R&B, but I’d rather go listen to Romeo Santos for my nasally falsetto.
CLYDE: If you would have told me five years ago that this drugged out sad-partying Canadian weirdo with the Predator hair would be Mr. Top-40 performing on SNL, I would have said, “No way he wears his hair like that for five more years.” And I would have been right!
I like this song OK. I can definitely see this as a 1:30am dancefloor turnup when I’m six vodkas deep yelling “Side bitch outta you league too, ah!”
PHIL: Since he made the jump to Republic Records, I’ve found The Weeknd to be most palatable over electro production (80s-tinged or otherwise), as opposed to the bloated tracks (symphonic or industrial) that he tends to favor. I’m thinking of songs like “Wanderlust” or “Odd Look” or even “I Can’t Feel My Face”.
So, putting aside my issues with his general sadboy shtick, I dig “Starboy”. He slides into the percolating groove of Daft Punk’s production rather than trying to upstage or carry it. The duo’s introduction of the vocoders on the chorus is a nice touch, too. I could listen to a whole album of these three together.
All of that being said, this song fumbles the chorus a bit, huh? I’m a motherfuckin’ starboy? I don’t know how that got past the writing committee. It definitely holds this song back.
Also, “fall time” is not a thing. Minus 20 points.
Juicy J ft. Kanye West: “Ballin”
Juicy J says his second solo album Rubba Band Business: The Album is on the way this winter. If the release of Stay Trippy is any indiciation, that means it will come out in September 2019. Putting that aside, we did get some fresh Juice (ugh, sorry) this week with “Ballin”. Kanye is on the track, but production comes courtesy of TM88, Crazy Mike, and Juicy J.
CLYDE: It’s nice that Juicy J switches up the classic Three Six cadence for the first time in twenty years, but please keep Michelle Robinson Obama’s name out of your mouth. She is the greatest argument for American Exceptionalism and should be treated as such, not be included your silly codeine raps, J!
Kanye kinda superfluous here but whatevs.
PHIL: This is the hardest I’ve heard Juicy J try to rap in a half decade.
Aside from his guest verses on the Life of Pablo compilation album (slam!) and maybe going dumb on “THat Part”, it’s been a weak year or two for Kayne cameos. I don’t know if I’m all that into his niche as a repetitive hook dude.
This is a Juicy J song, so it’s formulaic as all hell, but “Ballin” still works for me.
Serious question: What kind of man puts a maze in his own house? I question the utility of this.
Jermaine Dupri & Da Brat: “Big Brother x Little Sister”
’90s fixtures Jermaine Dupri and Da Brat have a mixtape coming out. True story. It’s called Business as Usual. Here is some audio proof. It is called “Big Brother x Little Sister”. Philadelphia producer Jahlil Beats handled the beat.
CLYDE: I had to check Phil’s notes because I could have sworn this was a No I.D. track. Didn’t know I was missing either of these two but apparently someone did? Brat seems excited to rapping (again?) but I kinda wish this beat would have gone to someone else.
PHIL: I didn’t realize I missed Da Brat. She can still kick it. Who knew?
Also, um, this whole thing is great? Dupri and Da Brat don’t say a whole lot, but hearing these two play hot potato is infectious.
What a pleasant surprise.