Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Our name is Rec-Room Therapy. Each week, we discuss recent hip-hop tracks. Today, we walk down memory lane with Vince Staples, cruise around in Big K.R.I.T. and A$AP Ferg’s Cadillac, and smoke and drink (really) with YG and Kendrick Lamar. Along for the ride is our distinguished panel of Marcus Dowling, Phil R, Jose Lopez-Sanchez of Dead Curious, and Hip Hop Hooray’s Leah Manners.
Vince Staples ft. James Fauntleroy: “Nate”
Long Beach rapper and Odd Future affiliate Vince Staples has a new mixtape on the way, and it’s the sequel to his 2012 debut mixtape, Shyne Coldchain. There has been more than dead air between the two offerings, though. Staples had a productive 2013. In June, he released Stolen Youth, a well-received collaborative mixtape with Mac Miller (operating under his Larry Fisherman pseudonym). He also popped up three times on Earl Sweatshirt’s Doris, most notably on the paranoid, tough-talking “Hive”. That album’s liner notes revealed Staples was now appearing courtesy of one Def Jam Recordings, so perhaps a studio fill length is in the works. But for now we have Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2. While the majority of the mixtape’s tracks were produced by Chicago’s No I.D., its first single, “Nate”, comes courtesy of L.A.’s Scoop Deville, and it features in-demands songwriter / hook man James Fauntleroy. It’s a father-son story of sorts.
Leah: After his stellar, violent, and edgy verse on “Hive,” I was truly worried Vince would veer towards money, drugs, and violence rap and future tapes, and I guess, in a way, he has. Turns out I’m far from disappointed in how he uses it in this track – this is too real. Vince on this track remembering a drug addict father and his dissolving marriage from his standpoint as a child is so dark and so well written and delivered. This isn’t the thug life corporations push on unsuspecting white suburbanites glamorizing crime. This tale is heartbreaking and does more to explain why inner city youths fall into drug deals and gun slinging than any Chief Keef lyrical vomit.
Marcus: This is terrific. Vince is a honest storyteller telling a story that is becoming altogether too commonplace from next-generation West coast emcees. Scoop Deville is quietly amassing a solid resume crafting in the shadow of Dr. Dre’s legacy, “Poetic Justice” and “The Recipe” from the aforementioned Lamar’s g.o.o.d. KID, m.A.A.D. city. among his gems. Staples rides the beat well, and in toiling in well-tread lyrical soil, just continues in a fine tradition of reaping the best fruit from the vine. Again, Odd Future represents the honors class of rap music, and they’re reaching a level where they tear down the house (via a classic standard) every time.
Jose: This song just grabs you from the first beat, and doesn’t let go. Compelling origin story, lush and beautiful track that stands in contrast to the dark subject matter (in particular that breakdown/bridge towards the last quarter of the song with James Fauntleroy) and as Leah said, some real-fucking-talk about the socioeconomic conditions in the hood. Vince reveals a lot about his worldview, and makes himself immediately empathetic. Could this be an RRT unanimous pick?
Phil: Yeah, this song is near perfect – the little details that Staples captures, his mix of reverence and unflinching observation, the steady knock and nostalgic bent of the beat. I remain ambivalent (at best) on Odd Future as a whole, but the guys on the periphery – Staples, Casey Veggies, and Earl – are making music that’s hard to deny.
Jose: I’d like to give a shout out to The Internet as well – they’re fantastic, though clearly a different kettle of fish.
Big K.R.I.T. ft. A$AP Ferg: “Lac Lac”
Last week, everyone’s favorite so-sincere Mississippi rapper/producer Big K.R.I.T. very generously gave away a song a day – which, come to think of it, is really just a social media savvy way to release a #mixtape. The tracks are meant to chum the water for K.R.I.T.’s forthcoming second proper LP for Def Jam, Cadillactica. (Side note: Cadillactica!!!) The week of releases included “Egyptian Cotton” (where things got sax-y), “Conscious Effort” (which repurposed Hi-Tek’s production for The Game’s “Letter to the King”), “New Agenda” (an odd couple pairing with Rick Ross), “Wolf on Wall Street” (a Childish Major production with actual wold howls), and “Steps” (which featured Big Sant and Smoke DZA). The last of the bunch is “Lac Lac”, a braised Big K.R.I.T. production with screwball-made-good A$AP Ferg. This will have to tide us over until the release of Cadillactia, which still has no release date, despite its Future-assisted first single dropping back in August.
Leah: #weekofkrit was an amazing marketing move – much savvier than a mixtape that tends to be talked about for a few days and then put away when the next one comes out. I really enjoyed the anticipation of the week of releases; it gives you a chance to savor every song as a stand alone single. “Lac Lac” fits so perfectly into the mythology of K.R.I.T. as a street-cruising, smooth-talking southern rapper. The “Wolf on Wall Street” beat bangs, but “Lac Lac” is my favorite of the week exactly because of its effortless nonchalance and explicit southernness.
Marcus: I can’t imagine a rapper who’s benefited LESS from a label deal in the past decade than Big K.R.I.T. #weekofkrit worked because it was the inverse of everything that traditional music structures have ever done to push music, yet, K.R.I.T. (and A$AP Ferg as well) are signed to major labels. All that aside, this is the calmest turn up in recent memory, the 808s buried so deep in the cut that when they cut against the smooth wood-grain feel of this track, they feel like the bumps you expect when taking your Cadillac on a Sunday ride, and not a pothole in the road. K.R.I.T.’s incredibly gifted, and in finding a comfortable space to tour, record and eat well, he’s succeeded. If expecting him to cross over, break, and become a trillionaire, don’t hold your breath. But if you want to hear solid ass raps over solid-ass beats (and tracks where his co-conspirators try to match the pace), then K.R.I.T.’s your guy.
Jose: This song is just so damn cool, and it glides along with a lot of soul. For a while there it seemed as if the entire weight of deep Southern Rap was resting squarely on K.R.I.T.’s shoulders, seeing as everybody else sounds like they are more interested in goofing off and providing shock value with their lyrics and harsher beats. While that may sound like a slight, it’s really not meant to be – it’s just that KRIT seems to be operating in a totally different space from 2 Chainz, Gucci, or even Future (despite their collaboration). He’s fantastic on this song, as is A$AP Ferg; I had to do a double take to make sure this wasn’t an old Bone Thugz lost cut, or something Big Boi and Andre were thawing from the freezer. Even the album name evokes old school Outkast. Is K.R.I.T. going to be eclipsed now that the masters of his sound are coming out of retirement?
Phil: Ferg Ferg Ferg Ferg Ferg Ferg, now tell me whatcha gonna do when there ain’t no where to run?
I liked how “Wolf on Wolf Street” spliced K.R.I.T.’s southern formalism with something more forward-looking, but I’ll take comfort food like “Lac Lac” when it’s made this thoughtfully.
It’s some cruel shit to be dropping this when it’s 40 degrees outside. I just want to be a crowded, late night deck party, running into people I haven’t seen in a while, exchanging hi-fives and hugs in slow motion.
YG ft. Kendrick Lamar: “Really Be (Smokin N Drinkin)”
“A lot of older motherfuckers from New York and The South say my shit reminds them of Snoop and Dre in the ‘90s. N.W.A. The new version. Everybody tells me that,” YG told Vibe recently. “Me and Mustard, we got a lot to do with West Coast being what it is today. The sound of the music, the content, visuals. I’m coming out the gate with an album and a platinum single. I’m about to turn up.
Things get officially turn up next Tuesday, when said album – My Krazy Life – hits shelves. Rec Room already discussed the record’s third single, “Who Do You Love”, but now we turn our attention to the slightly more introspective “Really Be (Smokin N Drinkin)”. The song features Kendrick Lamar and was produced by ratchet singer-producer Ty Dolla $ign and his D.R.U.G.S. compatriot Chorz 3D.
Phil: “I woke up this morning. I had a boner.” Rap stars are just like us!
Marcus: Not mad at this. The track creeps along at a snail’s pace, and YG’s voice is bold enough to really punch against the bassline. DJ Mustard is to West Coast rap what Harry Fraud is to the East: They’re not exactly re-inventing the wheel; they’re just going back and touching up the design for the current generation. YG’s “turn up” raps against the laid back beat work here because he sounds like he’s really telling us the truth about his life. As well, you get the sense from listening that Kendrick isn’t mad at YG either, and definitely wants some tracks from DJ Mustard, too. All the way around, this is top-notch execution and definitely worth more than a few spins.
Jose: You really knocked it out the park this week, Phil: This is another one of those dark, creeping beats, prowling around the back of the club kind of shit. The lyrics hit every other cliche, and are pretty damn immature, but YG is just tryna get ignant, because he’s going through some things, ya hurd? Despite it, I like it, and Kendrick kills it as usual. His delivery is consistently good to excellent, which just reinforces his boasts on Control.
Leah: “Somebody need to teach ’em: less talk, more sex.” Ugh. Sorry all these women are bothering YG with their opinions, driving him to drink and smoke. And the industry is all over his ass. Poor guy. I’m prepared to be empathetic toward Staples for the shitty conditions of his youth, but I think once you get a couple million in the bank, I’m not really into hearing you kvetch over how stressful your life is because of the trials of fame.