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Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Our name is Rec-Room Therapy. Each week, we discuss recent hip-hop tracks. Today, move that dope with Future and friends, prepare for war with mastermind Rick Ross, and acknowledge the existence of Wiz Khalifia.  Along for the ride is our distinguished panel of Marcus DowlingPhil R, Aaron Miller of Austin’s North Door, Joshua Phelps, Damion M, Jose Lopez-Sanchez of Dead Curious, and Hip Hop Hooray’s Leah Manners.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LN1DDQ6xp0c

Future ft. Pusha T, Pharrell, & Casino: “Move That Dope”

The wait for Future’s second proper LP – once titled Future Hendrix, now titled Honest – continues.  The album was supposed to come out in late November, and then it didn’t.  We heard “first quarter 2014”, but thus far, no official word.  Meanwhile. over the last seven months, “Sh!t”, “Honest”. and “Real and True” have all seen the light of day. Whether they make it on the actual record is anyone’s guess.  “Move That Dope” is the latest single / possible Honest inclusion.  It’s a near six-minute production from Future’s oft-collaborator Mike WiLL Made It, and it features Pusha T, Pharrell, and Future’s brother, Casino.  The topic of conversation is somewhat self-explanatory.

Marcus: I love me some Pusha T talking about dope. He’s the Dalai Lama of D-Boys, so it’s a subject that he can speak on with tremendous clarity and brilliance. That being said, I only like Pusha T talking about dope ALONE. There’s a reason why Phil Jackson used the triangle offense with the Bulls and the Lakers. It’s because MJ and Kobe are great in ISOLATION, where they’re allowed to showcase why they’re great BY THEMSELVES. Yeah, you can put a whole bunch of other role players on the court, but, yeah. They need to know how to be second fiddles. Future, Pharrell and Casino (sadly) are not being pushed as second-fiddle players these days in the music industry, so this track suffers mightily. Here’s Pusha T at arguably the apex of his creative potential being a) first saddled with Kanye’s lukewarm Executive Production in Kanye’s Year of 20-Yeezus-3 and b) rapping with a warbling Martian, a man with a funny hat, and the guy who screams all over Flosstradamus’ “Mosh Pit” like a less expensive Waka Flocka Flame. No. Nonononononono. NO. I’m glad to see Pusha cash a big check, but not at this cost. Frustrating. And yeah, Mike WiLL can produce his ass off. But we already know that. Nothing else to see here. Next…

Leah: Points for the hat tip to Salt ‘N Pepa.  Besides that, Mike WiLL takes it and runs away to Super Drug Island. I couldn’t even understand Future, so he’ll be like the weird old dude you find on the island whose mind is already gone when you get there, and you just try to kinda stay on the other side of the beach. Casino’s his best friend, who you also avoid. Push and Pharell are the island rulers, and they obviously control the supply of drugs. Who’s the smoke monster? I don’t know. This metaphor isn’t very good. Bottom line is, this song is okay I guess, but I haven’t booked my flight to Super Drug Island yet.

Damion: Mike WiLL is up 40 on the rap game with two minutes left.  This beat is serious.  Unfortunately, these verses are garbage. Even Pusha’s verse isn’t that great. He probablu whipped this up quickly because he heard Future and Casinos garbage first. I’m a huge Future fan, but he gotta come stronger than this on a Mike WiLL beat.  As per usual, the hook is strong though.

Aaron: Future is playing at the club during SXSW, so I thin k I’m contractually obligated to nottalk shit. I definitely think his verse is perfect and his talent is vast and beyond reproach…so unless I’m being detained, I’d like to go. I have rights.

Shout out  Mike WiLL, I guess. The beat is predictably bananas, Shout out Push for bothering to speak English and shit.

Jose: This beat is something dark, man.  It’s straight from a parallel dimension where Southern rap never goofed off.  Mike Will has made some great beats since he emerged on the scene, but I don’t think any other sounds this serious.  Fuck.

As for the rapping itself, it’s all solid.  Everybody shows up, does their part, cashes out.  King Push always blows everybody else away, even when he’s dialing it in (though I’m still mad at him for that live show fiasco).  Everybody else does what is expected, I guess.  Mostly, I’m surprised Future can make it through an entire song without using Autotune.  Seriously, the man has a love affair with that technology almost comparable to T-Pain circa 2007.

Phil: “Clique” and “Trill” had a baby.  Doctor Moreau Made It. This beat is coming for Val Kilmer.

Speaking of which, what the hell is Future whippin’ up with Honest? I thought that he had things figured out with Pluto – or maybe I thought that I had him figured out with Pluto? – but he is showing zero interest in recreating the high-flying, moderately thugged pop of that record.  Selfishly, that makes me sad, because I still listen to “Straight Up” and “You Deserve It” and “My” and “First Class Flights” more than is healthy. Instead, though, we have opposite ends of the spectrum: the laughably gooey (“Real and True”) and yawningly resigned (“Honest”) on one end, and hard-as-fuck bangers (“Sh!t”, “Move That Dope”) on the other. I’m not hating on these songs – aside from “Real and True”, because, c’mon – it’s just odd to see someone who seemed like they cracked the code pick up and head elsewhere.

As for his performance on “Move That Dope”, I give it four out of five wall punches.  I’m in full support of this flutter flow. And no one is better at ad-libs right now.  Ah, push it.  Ah, push it.

Pusha T thinks his “nose”/”knows” double entendre is way more clever than it is.  Push, we’re living in a world of post-“Nosetalgia” subtlety.  We get it. Nose. Cocaine. LOLZ.

Fuck Pharrell rapping. I’m not interested in Pharrell doing just enough to not embarrass himself. Every time he raps on a track, he fills a spot that could have gone to a real rapper.

Casino is obviously a dope, and his appearance here is nepotism of the highest order, but I kind of like what a lug he is. He’s here to add texture.  He does that. The way he says “co-co-aine co-co-aine cowboy, like Mickey Munday!” gets me every time.  He’s just excited to be here!  As he should be!

Damion: When Lil Wayne uses this on Dedication 6, we all gonna see the true potential of the beat.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P76sMl8phxY

Rick Ross ft. Jeezy: “War Ready”

Another album with a tortured path to release!  Another extended Mike WiLL Made It production! Rick Ross and Future must have exchanged notes when they were recording “No Games”.  Unlike Honest, however, Rick Ross’ forthcoming Mastermind has an actual release date (March 3rd), tracklist,  production credits, album art, and everything.   “War Ready” is technically the second single from the record – “technically” because earlier singles “No Games” and “Box Chevy” appear to have been cut along the way.  (Curiously, something called “FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt (Reprise)did make the deluxe version of the record.)  Rozay was joined on previous single “The Devil is a Lie” by Jay Z, and now he’s in the company of Jeezy for this seven-minute track.  These two have a spotty past, but it appears they’re cool now.

Marcus: Jesus. As much as I want to hate Rick Ross (and trust me, I hate Rick Ross), you can’t deny that he doesn’t understand and expertly execute the formula by which mainstream rap excels in the current era, and how pop music has always won over everything. Equal parts “Shit” by Future, “Marble Floors” by French Montana and Ross’ own “BMF,” (three giant club and radio rap singles) I have to begrudgingly say he and Jeezy combine their considerable Southern rap talents to slam a home run here. I have a sickening feeling about Ross’ forthcoming album that it’s going to be fucking amazing in every way. The “rap illuminati” have a way of protecting their own, and Ross has Diddy as the Executive Producer for the album, too. So many dominant forces in the past 20 years of rap have a hand in this project that it’s impossible to think that its going to fail on any level. And yeah. Mike WILL is really great at pop production. Genius level, even.

Phil: This hook is definitely full of “Shit”. And I mean that the way Marcus means it – not the way that Leah is going to mean it.

I’m pumped for Mastermind too!  Sorry I’m not sorry!  Rick Ross albums are good for at least three or four genuinely awesome songs! I listened to God Forgives, I Don’t a lot! “Ashamed”, “Sixteen”, and “Hold Me Back” still hold up! “The Devil is a Lie” bangs! I liked “No Games” too!

Man, it feels so good to be out of the closet and into the open as pro-Rick Ross.

As for “War Ready”, I’m not so sure that it earns its seven-minute run time, and Ross’s macho posturing is laughable as usual, but as a self-contained piece of menacing, lurching, hardhead rap, it works. There’s more room for Rozay’s fat man flow to breathe here than the sort of rapid-fire banger he’s favored in past years. That’s a good thing. Ross needs to be thrifty with his oxygen intake.

Josh: I guess Mike WiLL is tired of sharing pop rocks and ring pops with Miley and is now chewing on cuts of raw beef in the studio – this track is tough as fuck!  Did Ross added the 3rd verse after Jeezy bodied him on this song?  Did Jeezy write this one hour after choking his son out and unloading on his loathsome, greedy, gold-digging baby mama?  This is the hardest he’s been since the snowman t-shirts.

Rozay isn’t a slouch on the track either. I feel like he’s decided if he’s going to be a studio gangster, it’s going to be a movie studio.  He drops the wildest, most inane boasts ever by a former corrections officer embarrassed by feminist groups and continuously getting shot at in his own city.

Damion: I had to take a shower after Jeezy’s gutter-ass verse!  That should have been the whole song. Mike WiLLwasn’t lying on his mixtape: He really is taking over.  I wish his takeover wouldn’t be seven minutes per track, but I’m just nitpicking at this point.

Leah: I guess I’m just having trouble making the relate-ability jump on this track. While working at a non-profit radio station is it’s own kind of war zone <brushes off shoulder> I just can’t hop that readily into a track for which I have no point of reference. It’s a banger, sure, but Ross and Jeezy are playing at soldier and it just feels fake. I’ve had a long week guys, and I don’t like these songs. Can we go to happy hour now?

Aaron: “If money is power, I got millions of power.” Rick Ross you are dumb and I don’t like you

Goddammit I wish I could infiltrate the rap illuminati just so I can SLAP THE FUCKING SHIT out of whatever scary 200-year-old white guy is controlling Rozay’s career.

Why is Jeezy so real and Rozay so fake? On the surface they appear to exist in the same Trap-based universe. They ride whips and make money and do dirt just as the Old Rap Gods intended. Why do I believe one and not the other? What calculus should I be using to understand this problem? What leap of faith must I take to not laugh at the Fat Man?  I feel like if I met Jeezy, I would be shook so hard that I couldn’t look him in the eye. I feel like if I met Rick Ross, I would just snatch his chain and throw down a combination cheeseburger/smokebomb and bounce while he wrecked another Bugatti or whatever.

Also, who the fuck let their crazy ass cousin on the hook? Dude needs some Ritalin or some time.

Wiz Khalifa: “We Dem Boyz”

He may be perma-kushed out and laid back, but over three years after the release of “Black and Yellow”, Whiz Khalifia is still standing!  He’s still strong!   He’s still selling records!  And at some point in 2014, he’ll be releasing a third LP for Atlantic Records, titled Blacc Hollywood.  It’ll be his first official offering since last April’s Live in Concert EP with Curren$y, which, despite it’s title, was not a live album.  But he stayed busy in 2013, pairing with 2 Chainz’s for kinda hit “We Own It (Fast & Furious)” (you can guess for which soundtrack), guesting on singles from Chief Keef, Mike Will Made It, and Tyga, and appearing on 60 (!) other songs by Wikipedia’s count.  “We Dem Boyz” is just plain old Wiz though, and it’s the first single from Blacc Hollywood. Production comes from Detail, the man behind Lil Wayne’s “No Worries”, Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love”, and a few Nothing Was the Same jams.

Leah: Is this a cover of Lookin’ Kittie??

Marcus: Blahhhh. This is what it is and what it’s always going to be.

I’m not mad at Wiz Khalifa. Actually, I think he’s great and I think he has a far more pronounced ideal of where he fits in rap than most anyone else in the industry right now. He’s so wealthy at this point that he gets to sit back, watch rap trends develop, then stick his blunt into a lane when it catches on fire. “We Dem Boyz” is that turn up, so much Chief Keef, without the self loathing, ashy elbows, fear of violating one’s probation and going to jail for 90 days at a time. Also of note here in listening to these rhymes is that Wiz Khalifa has de-evolved from being a 21st century Snoop Dogg, and is more like a 21st century Cheech Marin or Tommy Chong. For being a pothead, Snoop’s one of the most motivated and progressive artists of the last decade. By comparison, Wiz is perfectly comfortable with getting blazed in the back of his tour bus, giving his suburbanized and/or lowest common denominator of “pot rap” crowd exactly what they want, then getting back on his bus and hitting the next town. If rap’s all about getting paid then staying paid, then Wiz should be sustainable for the rest of his life. Now did I stay awake listening to this song on my first listen? No. But then again, Wiz’s core fanbase is probably too high to notice that I did, and even so, the fact that I’m asleep, a total buzzkill. Turn up…or take a nap. Your choice.

Leah:  This is terrible. And I will hear it everywhere for the next three months.

Jose: Speaking of Autotune, it seems Wiz picked up what Future was putting down.  This song never really goes anywhere.  Probably could have used a guest spot, or you know, some actual rapping.  Wiz sat down, wrote a couple of bars, recorded a total of 8 seconds and just looped it over.  “Yeah, that’s some real shit.  That’ll pay for this new gazebo.”  The saddest part is this song starts off with some promise, with a nice snapping beat.  I kept waiting for somebody to just kill it.

Aaron: I’m allergic to Wiz Khalifa. Like, real bad. If I come into contact with even trace amounts of Wiz Khalifa, I will break out in hives. Wiz Khalifa is so wack, I wouldn’t even smoke with him. Straight up.

wiz-khalifa-smoking-his-fire-herb

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