Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Our name is Rec-Room Therapy. Each week, we discuss recent hip-hop tracks. Today, Jay Electronica and Jay Z repurpose Soulja Boy’s epic “We Made It” production; Young Scooter calls on the Southern rap triumvirate of Future, Young Thug, and Juicy J; and Mobb Deep declare themselves legends. Along for the ride is our distinguished panel of Marcus Dowling, Phil R, Aaron Miller of Austin’s North Door, Joshua Phelps, and Hip Hop Hooray’s Leah Manners.
Jay Electronica & Jay Z: “We Made It (Remix)”
A mere seven days have passed since Rec-Room last discussed the man born Timothy Elpadaro Thedford, but Jay Electronica bars are few and far between, so we’re going back in. This week, the topic of conversation is “We Made It”, a slight tweak of Drake’s remix of Soulja Boy’s “We Made It”. Here, Jay Elec shares the stage with his Roc Nation boss, Jay Z, who notably takes a few shots at Drake. As background: October’s Very Own threw shade on Jay-Z in Rolling Stone’s infamously non-cover story, saying, “It’s like Hov can’t drop bars these days without at least four art references… I would love to collect [art] at some point, but I think the whole rap/art world thing is getting kind of corny.” Here, Jay responds: “Sorry, Mrs. Drizzy, for so much art talk / Silly me rappin’ ’bout shit that I really bought / While these rappers rap about guns they ain’t shot / And a bunch of other silly shit that they ain’t got.” With that out of the way, maybe Hov can get around to releasing that Jay Elec full-length.
Marcus: When you think about this track, it can only be regarded as the ultimate statement in black superhero music. The story was started by Soulja Boy, the teen hustler who took a dance pop song and made a fortune off of ringtone sales, then cashed out of the mainstream game like Superfly. The track was then visited by Drake, who is the evolution of the African-American “American Dream” for the 21st century, the Canadian rapper with American roots who has globalized the dream for a world of rap-loving aspirational millenials. He cashed out of rap before he was even in the game, and now merely exists to tell the truth in his bars and excel to a standard of excellence that only he is able to uniquely define. In final, the track was visited by Jay Z, who has gone from the “King of New York” to being “President of Popular Culture.” He’s joined on the track by Jay Electronica, his “Secretary of Rapping Real Good” in the Pop Culture Cabinet. That Jay and Drizzy can exchange verbal barbs about the validity of rapping about purchasing art versus the validity of rapping about unresolved desires, generic bullshit, and complete fuckery is important. This is an evolutionary period for rap, and to have four very important modern emcees all having “MADE IT” by their own definition speaking on black culture having “MADE IT” (and what black folk need to do next) is incredible. For certain, this is an early candidate for one of 2014’s best songs.
Jose: I think Jay Electronica’s verse is fantastic, both in content and delivery. The last week or so has made me a fan – he’s showing that he’s deeper than the competition, without veering into Common’s pity party/preaching territory. That full length album needs to drop stat. Between sampling Ryuichi Sakamoto last week, to keeping it real this week, I think Electronica is poised for a big future. Let’s hope it happens soon.
As for Jay-Z trash talking Drake? Yawn. First time I heard it all I thought was CAT FIGHT!!!! Seriously. Get over yourself, both of you.
Leah: This is the best Jay Z verse since Watch the Throne, so it sounds like Jay Elec really brings out the best in Jay Z, which is nice, but this as a standalone track doesn’t really blow me away (with the exception of the spectacular East Bound and Down sample). Jay Z vs. Drake is soft like gesso, y’all. That’s the softest beef since tenderloin. Call me when Act II drops.
Phil: Oh look, it’s Jay Z biting Migos on a Soulja Boy track:
This shit goes hard in the abstract paint(ing). Honestly, I never expected to hear these two on a track ever. Makes sense now that it’s in my face but it seems like two different worlds.Can you put a Benz hood ornament on a horse and carriage? CEO and Whistleblower on the same track? Tycoon and street protester on the collab? You decide. Jay Electronymous gets to drop History Channel raps disguised as “club banger” and Lord Carter takes off the tophat and tails for like 4 bars and drops some reverse anti humble brags.like “…yeah yeah I’m a slave too, but check out this Rothko in my bathroom.” I have my own problems with Jay Z as Black Frank Sinatra. I feel the hate rising in my throat and then I readjust and remind myself that he is where he is because he is undeniably one of the strongest in the game,but like Sinatra, he comes dangerously close to self-parody as he gets older.I am convinced that Hov will slowly,but surely, turn into an actual old rich white man.
I also like how Electron just casually drops names of ancient cities and statues and shit like they are old homies.
+1million level up for the Drake hate. #FUCKDRAKEFORLIFE, Drizzy should just stick to wine and Cosby sweaters and leave the shit talking to professionals.
I agree with our sage scribe Dowling that this is a heavy offering for 2014. Could you imagine if it had been Jay and Jay instead of Jay and Ye on a whole record?. We’d still be watching the Throne.
Young Scooter ft. Future, Juicy J & Young Thug: “Disfuncton”
Young Scooter holds dual citizenship in Atlanta’s rap scene: He’s signed to both Future’s Freebandz and Gucci Mane’s Brick Squad. These places seem like a good fit for him. “I don’t really care what I say on a beat as long as it’s about some money. When you try to think hard and write it out, that’s when it’s gonna be fucked up,” he explained to Complex last year. The rapper has dropped a Street Lottery mixtape on New Years Day both this year and last (and spent six months in jail between the two), but he isn’t waiting to release a Street Lottery 2 Remixed – that allegedly coming soon. Whether “Disfuncition” will be included on it is unknown, but we do know that it was produced by ATL mainstays Metro Boomin and 808 Mafia, and that it features Southern heavy hitters Future, Juicy J, and Young Thug.
Phil: “Disfunction” is [sic]. #COPYEDITHUMOR
Jose: This is probably the most Atlanta sounding song out there. And that’s good. However, something about it feels…claustrophobic. The classic trap beat needs something a little more expansive to go with it, and the current chord progression bogs it down (minor keys, y’all), or cripples it. I don’t know. Something feels off.
The verses are great, but I think after listening to Drake imitating Migos on his version of We Made It, feels like Young Scooter is also doing a bit of a tribute act to them. That staccato delivery over a rolling bass gets old fast.
Aside from that, it’s A-OK!
Marcus: There may be no more boring and antiseptic sound in popular music right now than the sound of one lonely 808 machine turning up as a Southern voice raps about the wealth they’ve attained (and what they’re spending it on). The turn up has been a farce since Lil B did “Wonton Soup.” That was almost four years ago. Everything from Flosstradamus happening to Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” isn’t that played out trap sound, but just the sound of a cash register ringing up so many dollars as this thing gets so played out. I appreciate Jose referring to this as being claustrophobic. That’s perfect. It’s songs like these that represent the stopper being pulled and all of those dollars that flooded into trap now swirling down the drain into a meaningless cesspool. Rapping in a sewage pipe certainly qualifies as being absolutely and completely claustrophobic in every way.
Phelps: STRAIGHT OUT THE SEWER.
Leah: I like the beat a lot, mostly because I feel like it would have been perfect for the Leprechaun in the Hood Soundtrack. Spooky minor keys FTW. The problem here is the rapping. I feel like I’ve heard this song a million times. I am so very, very tired of it. Maybe that’s why I started hearing Future singing the hook like he’s a math teacher: “I’mma be all on that function.” I think this hook would go over well in High School Algebra, is my point.
Aaron: “I don’t really care what I say on a beat as long as it’s about some money. When you try to think hard and write it out, that’s when it’s gonna be fucked up,”
This is why I hate hate Future. Pure anti-culture. I saw him up close during a certain little music festival here in ATX and he looks like Fraggle Rock after an 8 year bid. Clown shit for real…and Young Thug had to skip a show at my venue because he was locked up.When keeping it real goes wrong etc etc. (You print that shit, Runco, it was already on the internets)
I think if you beat me with Cristal bottles to the point of life threatening sub-cranial injury, only after a lengthy recovery involving Lean transfusions directly through the blood-brain barrier, would I like this song.
Its fucked up that these dudes rap so bad that, by contrast,Juicy J might as well be Nas on this track.
I too, grow tired of the vast wasteland of 3 note horror movie Trap beats.
Phil: Future plagiarized his own “Covered N Money” hook. He can expect to hear from his lawyers.
Aaron: Damn can you sue yourself for sample clearance? Maybe I spoke too soon. That’s some next level shit.
Mobb Deep ft. Bun B & Juicy J: “Legendary”
“Prodigy abitch and I’m gonna show it” Havoc tweeted two years ago. “[I] got niggas in the jail system to back up that prodigy was fuckin homes in jail… u long island ass bitch. I’m about to expose u!” So, to state the obvious, the odds of Havoc and Prodigy hooking up for a new Mobb Deep record didn’t look so good not long ago! But as is sometimes the case when long-term friendship and money are on the table, things have a way of getting worked out. The two toured in 2013 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut record, Juvenile Hell, and now they’re back with The Infamous Mobb Deep, their first record since 2006’s Blood Money. That title throwback is no coincidence: The Infamous Mobb Deep is a double record with one disc of new material and another of outtakes from their 1995 classic The Infamous. “Legendary” is from the collection of new songs, even though it’s two features – Bun B and Juicy J – were on the scene when the original Infamous dropped. Production on the track comes courtesy of Havoc, Boi-1da, and the Maven Boys.
Leah: This track is about two rappers too long.
Marcus: What a stupid song. Prodigy wrote a book. Havoc is almost 40 and had a beat placed on Eminem’s current album. That being said, I really don’t believe their struggle raps, even if they’re old man struggle raps about the struggles they used to have. Like, what’s their demographic for this album? Other 40-year old dudes trying to be rap stars (who have never been rap stars)? If so, that’s absolutely pathetic, and I have no desire to listen to this album. Like, I know that there’s a demographic for everybody, but the demographic of struggle rappers who will always still be struggling (and need these records to enforce their failure) is really not worth my time.
Jose: Succinct observation, Leah. I’m inclined to be a little more generous – it’s a “feel good” song, with some elder statemen rapping about how they made it. Why? What is compelling them to tell us that they have already been elevated to the pantheon of rap greats? Why not let somebody else (and popular opinion) hold you in that high esteem? Instead, they have to sully their legacies with some weak-ass shit, like Jordan suiting up for the Wizards.
Make room, gentlemen. Leave this kind of flow to Big K.R.I.T.
Aaron: Wow. So much hate.
I like this song. I like the beat.I like all these old ass rappers. Is that bad? People don’t like Mobb Deep? Is that a thing now? I am so confused.I mean, I could do without Juicy J but he slides in on a legendary technicality. I can’t even begin to talk shit about Bun B. That is illegal in Texas and I am not about to risk being un-Trill like that.
They validating key to Struggle Rap is success. If you are 5 records deep and still yelling about how hard it is, you are not struggling son. It’s called failure.
I don’t want young dudes anywhere near this type of subject matter. I get tired of dudes 3 years out of high school talking about heavy shit.
Give me some party raps or some new slang and let these veterans live.
Phelps: It’s not the insidious, bloodthirsty M O B B shit we’re used to, but after a few listens I can fuck with this. These are guys who paid dues and actually deserve to pat themselves on the back and have others do it. Real recognize real, right? Will we talking about Young Thug or Young Scooter in 20 years? Not to discount whatever they’re doing creatively right now, but, probably not. I’ll take a smoothed out bbq jam from Mobb Deep and Bun B – it’s something different you can put on while grilling and not scare the hell out of people. (See: rock you in your face and stab your brain with your nose bone.)
Aaron: Whenever I feel at odds with the world around me or fragile or unsure if myself, I just rap the first verse from “Shook Ones” til I feel better.