Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Our name is Rec-Room Therapy. Each week, we discuss recent hip-hop tracks.
Today, we talk to Run the Jewels; Sporting Life has nothing to hide; and Jeezy and Weezy are bout that.
Run the Jewels: “Talk to Me”
Last week, Drake rele- OH SHIT NEW RUN THE JEWELS. “Talk to Me” is the first song from the forthcoming Run the Jewels 3. It was produced by El-P (duh), features the scratches of DJ Trackstar, and was released as part of Adult Swim Single series. Let’s go.
JOSE: Fuuuuuck wow wow wow.
Killer Mike and El-P have done it again. It feels silly to call this “formulaic” because it sounds unlike anything else out there except other RTJ tracks, but these two have mastered the pummeling track/rap combo. This is the pinnacle of electro rap, and I’m excited to see where the rest of the album goes.
AARON: Another one.
I find a certain comfort in the fact that reviewing an RTJ track will never be a choice between bad or good; just a choice between varying degrees of awesome as fuck, and this track is just that.
Killer Mike still killing it? Check.
EL-P, King of a thousand bangers still banging it. Check.
What more do you need?
The most immaculately branded and hyper-relevant old-powered rap machine has done it again.
Three albums deep and I’m still geeking that they’ve managed to disguise some Public Enemy, Dead Prez-level resistance rap as party music. I know what old heads like but do you think all of their young fans are aware that they are being Trojan Horsed like a motherfucker while they buy the t-shirts and sweat out the drugs at festivals?
This is straight game being run here and I want two more albums.
CLYDE: This is my favorite EL-P beat, and Killer Mike is always flames with the raps (All Live Matter-ass white folks).
But I have to confess: I feel like RTJ is one of those things I’m supposed to like a lot more than I do. Like, I know it’s technically great, and I enjoy it some, but compared to the hype among rap fans and critics I respect, I just don’t have the same enthusiasm.
What don’t I get? Am I not a real hip hop fan? Am I a fuckboy? I’m having an existential rap crisis here guys, HELP. I mean this is called Rec Room THERAPY, right?
PHIL: Yup, it’s an Run the Jewels track. It’s chiseled. It punches you in the face. It says a lot in a small window of time.
Look, I don’t want to sound ungrateful, because “Talk to Me” is a very good song, but I’d be lying if I wasn’t hoping Run the Jewels would get a little weird. My only issue with Run the Jewels is that, compared to R.A.P. Music and Cancer 4 Cure, the majority of their songs just sound a little… small.
With the first Run the Jewels, I chalked it up to the mixtape (or “free album”) nature of the project. They probably didn’t have to time (or possibly the budget) to go all out on production or what not.
Run the Jewels 2 felt like a refinement of that aesthetic. But, again, it was also made pretty quickly. And the “big” songs were bigger (even if I’d argue it was a more uneven record than its predecessor.)
But here were are a full two years later, and “Talk to Me” is cut from that same cloth again. And that’s cool – again, it’s great cloth to cut from. And it’s neat they’ve established an RTJ sound, I suppose.
It comes down to this: I feel like they’re making more great moments than great songs. I’ve yet to hear an RTJ song on the scale of “R.A.P. Music”, “Oh Hail No”, “Reagan”, or “Drones Over Brooklyn”. There are great textures and great quotables, but I don’t find myself coming back to a lot of RTJ tracks. “Talk to Me” certainly doesn’t buck that.
AARON: To be fair , they started out pretty weird by any rap standards.
They are basically suffering from being too dope out of the gate, and now it just doesn’t hit as hard the third time.
That is why they call it “dope:” you have to take more than the last time to get high.
It’s not the dealers fault.
MARCUS: Here’s the thing about RTJ: It was always a formula. However, unlike, say, Drake’s formula, RTJ’s concept was likely never expected to be this underground-to-mainstream superstar success story. Now that it very much is though, it’s certainly a bit ear-weary of a listen for people that have been down by law with it since before Day One. Now, Killer Mike is a prominent political pundit, and El-P is your favorite “kinda sorta” indie rap fanatic’s favorite underground producer to name in drunken conversations at dive bars they’re ironically attending while ironically drinking shit beer that’s ironically bad by intention.
Humorously enough, it’s the irony inherent in RTJ and Adult Swim representing probably the most consistently sustainable thing in rap right now outside of a new Drake single causing internet apoplexy that makes this very great song “underwhelming.”
But it is what it is. The second you ever see that RTJ x Common collab, though, know that it’s probably time to go digging through the crates for new heroes.
Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.
Sporting Life f. Wiki & Dev Hynes: “Nothing to Hide”
Producer Sporting Life is one half of New York duo Ratking. Next week, he’ll release the final installment of his Slam Dunk EPs trilogy. The opening track is called “Nothing to Hide”, and it features his Ratkinf cohort Wiki and Blood Orange mastermind Dev Hynes.
AARON: OK, I like this but somethings not quite right.
The singing is kind of meh. The raps sound like they should be on a much harder and less ethereal track and there’s only one verse.
It’s like dude is a feature on his own track, and the other two dudes never showed up.
It’s a little thin.
The production is great, though.
This soft edged, dreamy, synth stuff is a winner and I appreciate the musicality, but this one loses me.
CLYDE: I am pre-disposed to like anything Dev Hynes touches but this seems more like an unfinished idea than a song… which makes me wonder is this was supposed to go on the last Blood Orange album? I would be interested in a more fleshed out version.
MARUCS: This would be 100 million times better as a RATATAT-style mashup of Underworld’s “Born Slippy” and whatever these rappers and singers are doing.
Right now, Dev Hynes is creatively above this shit, but I get the sense after watching him perform that he’s, like, amazed he’s even here at this level, so he’s like, “I’ll just do this rap thing for a second.” That’s really unfortunate and just weighs this thing down like a lead weight.
The vocalists on this are at such a level below the production that it actually makes the production sound like it was made by an amateur.
Not good, not good at all…
Jeezy ft. Lil Wayne: “Bout That”
On Friday, Jeezy released Trap or Die 3, his seventh studio album (and third in past three years). It comes on the heels of 2015’s Church in These Streets, which vaguely had something to do with religion. Earlier last week, he dropped the fourth single from the album (or maybe it’s just a song), “Bout That. It features Lil Wayne and was produced by Atlanta’s D Rich.
AARON: Uh oh. I’m not blown away but I feel like there are shades of mixtape Weezy here and that’s promising potential.
Jeezy, in typical style, continues to let us know the we are not about there, and he is a drug dealer who will take your shit.
Also, he rhymed “Schwarzenegger” with ” Georgia nigga,” and that is alright in my book.
Weezy is on that double time again, so guess the Carter VXLII will be alright. He says it’s the best music he’s ever heard from anybody, but I think his objectivity may be suspect. We shall see.
CLYDE: The hood love to listen to Jeezy and Weezy…
This hook is surprisingly catchy, and Weezy is surprisingly sharp. Color me surprised!
I give this 71/100 or 7.1 or 3 1/2 mics or a B+
Sidenote: I wondered if his “ran off on the plug” line was a jab at Plies, but then I looked further down the tracklist and saw that Algernod is featured on a song called “Sexe,” so dissing someone featured on your own album would be some harsh shit.
MARCUS: It’s 2016. Jeezy is STILL the “Snowman,” and Lil Wayne is rapping his rapping ass off on mixtape tracks. There’s a great argument to be made that the mainstream music industry is in an incredible state of de-evolution back to like, 2006, while everything that’s on the fringes is creepin’ on a come up. In that being the case, that makes the mixtape tracks as solid as album singles and indie tracks more fringe-of-mainstream friendly than ever before.