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Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Our name is Rec-Room Therapy. Each week, we discuss recent hip-hop tracks. Today, Big K.R.I.T. takes control; Salva recruits some L.A. rappers to drop that bitch; and Waka Flocka Flame catches people slippin across the U.S. Along for the ride is our distinguished panel of Marcus DowlingPhil R, Aaron Miller, Damion M, Jose Lopez-Sanchez of Dead Curious, and Hip Hop Hooray’s Leah Manners.

Big K.R.I.T.: “Mt. Olympus”

A few months ago, Mississippi rapper/producer Big K.R.I.T. took a t-shirt cannon to the Internet and gave away a song a day to celebrate #WeekOfKRIT.  Whether any of those songs make it onto his forthcoming Cadillactica remains to be seen – Rec-Room would lobby on behalf of “Lac Lac” – but this week he dropped the album’s “first” official single, “Mt. Olympus”. (I guess we’re not counting last August’s Future collabo “Just Last Week” anymore.)  Produced by the K.R.I.T. himself, the track finds the emcee in full indignant mode, breathing great fire and furious anger. There’s also a shout-out to Kendrick Lamar’s   Big Sean’s “Control” (“That ‘Control’ beat is like an ugly bitch that everybody done fucked raw/ Maybe you hit it”), which seems about right.  Cadillactica will be out this year allegedly.

Marcus: I wanna book K.R.I.T. to play dodgeball with rocks with a room filled with EDM producers and label executives. Best verses since “Control.” Daddy went and grabbed the switch on ’em. Will his stand make a difference? Probably not. Am I glad that K.R.I.T.’s soul is at ease now? Absolutely. Do I want to hear this album now? Certainly. These are some strange, yet wonderful times in music. So happy that the “artists that they let be artists” camp of label rappers are getting some run this year. Between K.R.I.T. and Jay Elec, some amazingly jaw dropping quotes about how ridiculous this industry has become are certain to follow.

Jose: Man, I forgot how much I love K.R.I.T.  His big, bold delivery is rich in charisma and personality, and he’s definitely giving Kendrick a run for his money with this track.  He nails the machine gun delivery without ever sounding like a tribute to Twista or Migos.  And, Marcus,  K.R.I.T. and Jay Electronica are the “artists that they let be artists”, and are putting out some really great stuff… but we’ve seen how quickly that can backfire/devolve into accidental self-parody (*cough, cough Based God).  It just happens that both of these guys seem to have a little bit more perspective about the industry they’re a part of than your average flavor of the month. This track is the rap equivalent of this:

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I’m really excited for Cadillactica, and hope that K.R.I.T. can find a broader audience base, as he deserves the success.  He’s really the total package, and the fact that he has the producing and rapping chops elevates him to rarified air.  I might spend all weekend listening to Return of 4Eva just to relive the heady days of 2011.

Phil: Man, Jay Z owns the rights to that “Gladiator” sample. And he played it out for 35 seconds on a goddamn single. Legend.

I want to love “Mt. Olympus”. K.R.I.T. raps his off. But there’s a whiff of sanctimoniousness that chaffs me. Sometimes he’s a little too far up his own ass. And, in general, his sincerity has a tendency to smother me. But, on the whole, this goes.

One side note: Is the inclusion of Juicy J’s “YEAH HO” meant to parody the popularity of “trap,” “bass,” and “molly” music?  If so, that’s a brilliant little move.

Jose: YEAH HO. That’s what I read it as.

Leah: To your point, Phil, I think without the fury K.R.I.T. brings to this track I’d also find it boring – like the Sage Francis joint that dropped a few weeks ago and we covered here.  However, I think his biting tone, frustration, and gritted teeth push this track over the top for me – elevating it to one angry sing-along in the car I can fucks with.  It makes me want to give him a list of people I don’t like and have him go off on them while I watch smugly (because I’m a dick like that). Y’all heard him call out “New Slaves” too?

Damion: This is the first K.R.I.T track that I’ve ever really felt.  I don’t know what it is about the dude, but I generally can’t get down.  This is different: Powerful voice and lyrics, and I love the message, because its true.  People yearning for southern rap when they use to hate OD on it.

I think a lot of down south rappers add that “YEAH HO” part because it makes that track makes the song sound more gully.  The first time I heard that chant was in Three Six Mafia’s “Tear the Club Up” way back in the day.  That song was so G that they made DJs stop playing it in the club because people would go crazy and literally tear the club up.  Probably not conducive to running a successful business.

Aaron: K.R.I.T. just did “Control” all by his damn self. This is the best hook in five years.

This is not a diss. This is a goddamn line in the sand for a frustrated country rap dude. He just snapped on everybody but 3 stacks without saying one name. I’ve been fuckin with Big K.R.I.T. since ” No Wheaties” and he is without a doubt the missing link between Old and New South. “You act a fool and people end up thinking your music was innovative/frustratin/rap battles never got me out no public housing/you tellin me i can be King of Hip Hop and they won’t give it to Andre 3000/nigga please”

Leah, you know I take a Kanye insult every morning with breakfast, but I think the call out goes way deeper than “New Slaves”. I think he’s talking about anybody with a damn chain. Just errybody. All damn day

Salva ft. Kurupt, Schoolboy Q, Problem & Bad Lucc:

“Drop That Bitch”

L.A. producer Salva has been going all-in on roided-up trap-house remixes of hip-hop hits like “Mercy”, “Sh!t”, “Gas Pedal”, and “Like Whaaat” for about a year now.  At the same time, he’s been producing like-minded instrumentals of his own. This summer, he’ll look to bring those interests together with the forthcoming Peacemaker project, which will pair his beats his with actual rapping.  This week, he gave us a sample of what that will sound like with “Drop That Bitch”.  The song pairs “Drop That B” (off 2013’s Odd Furniture EP) with a hometown squad of Cali MCs: Kurupt, Schoolboy Q, Problem and Bad Lucc.

Marcus: This is music for white guys in Massiv shirts and their black friends in Supreme hats to listen to while slipping molly into the Camelbak’s of skinny girls in combat boots who score bomb ass weed for them at festivals. All that being said, I’m done with Schoolboy Q’s paint by numbers mail ins. However, I’m all for the Kurupt resurgence. I get the sensee’s that he’s that random Death Row rap legend who has the perpetual backstage hookup at the Avalon in LA and lets EDM managers and agents get high with him. Then, when their clients all want to make their trap anthems (and they all want to make trap anthems), he’s the first guy they call. That’s a great hustle, and god bless him for discovering it. Between this and the scrumtrulescent Far East Movement and Rell the Soundbender track “Murder Was the Bass” (listen to it…trust me), Kurupt may be one of my favorite trap rappers of 2014.

Jose: I can’t really explain it, particularly in light of how generally boring I find frankentrap to be, but there’s something stirring in my chest.  I don’t think I’d listen to this song more than 10 times, but I could get weird to this. Really weird to this. It’s all about context, I guess.

Aaron: Damn, Marcus. Shots fired. That first sentence should be on the “Mt. Olympus” remix.

I fucks with Salva. I first heard of him by way of the Texas homie Ernest Gonzales/Mexicans With Guns. They were always tuned into the edgier, darker, almost industrial sounding Trap shit. Jose is right, context is key. There is a fine line between Salva and dudes that I hate. not sure why, maybe it’s a touch more creative than most? Salva goes hard and this is a damn good team up. I will say that dudes like Q and Problem that get elevated to super dope emcee status sound like kust regular rappers next to Kurupt. Props for still getting that work in.

Phil: Even before Marcus painted his Hopperesque portrait of Generation Where’s the Drop?, I was having a hard time listening to this song uncoupled with the image of a shaggy haired bro, throwing one sleeveless arm up in the air and bobbing his open palm up and down to the beat. (That’s his only move.)

I also can’t listen to “Drop That Bitch” without feeling like aggro trap-house has run its course. The genre peaked and died at the same time = with Kanye co-opting it for “Blood on the Leaves”. And even that came after TNGHT was spinning its wheels with “Acrylics” and Baauer teamed with Just Blaze for whatever “Higher” was. Like a lot of micro-movements, what once felt novel is now connect the dots. There’s just little about “Drop That Bitch” that gets me excited from a production standpoint. I’m not writing off the nexus of rap and EDM, obviously – it just needs to move better than this.

And, oh right, the rapping on here is good. Credit to Salva for assembling this crew.

Leah: I agree, the rapping is good. Otherwise, this is the music I imagine modern RoboCop (robot) doing the robot (dance) to. Meh.

Damion: Is there an element of Eazy-E’s “Boyz in the Hood” in this?  I always say if you’re going to use someone else’s music, it needs to be as good or better than the original.  Otherwise you just have people yearning for the real thing.  Which is why I’m listening to “Boyz in the Hood” right now. “Yo, easy? Ay man why don’t you come off the piano for a minute man and bus dis crazy shit.”

Aaron: I like this track, I don’t love it. Without the words “Salva” and “Kurupt” in the title I might have missed it all together. Leah, what other kind of dance would a robot do other than The Robot?

Leah: The Bernie.

Waka Flocka Flame: “Slippin”

Professional shouter Waka Flocka Flame is dividing his creative energy between two different projects these days. In one corner, he’s working on an EDM album with Flosstradamus, Diplo, and Skrillex, among others. (And if it sounds anything like A-Trak’s “O Let’s Over Do It”, it will be incredible.) In the other corner, he’s cooking up more traditionally hardheaded fare with Flockavelli 2, the follow-up to his last studio effort, 2012’s Triple F Life: Friends, Fans & Family. The Flockavelli sequel is rumored to feature production outside of the typical stable of Atlanta producers like Southside, Da Honarable C.N.O.T.E., and DJ Spinz, etc. Instead, Timbaland, Swizz Beatz and Wyclef Jean have been linked to the project. It’s first single, “Slippin”, is somewhere in the middle, coming from Mike WiLL Made It, an Atlanta native who is now much bigger than Atlanta. That producer is fresh off executive producing Future’s Honest, and “Slippin” sounds like something that would have fit alongside that album’s “Sh!t” or “My Momma”.

Marcus: You know, the more Waka Flocka raps, the less he connects himself to any sort of trap-running, drug-slinging, lean-sipping or molly-popping past that he’s ever discussed. He’s kinda becoming the Jay Z of southern rap, this very sanitized and easy-to-embrace corporate poster boy for going from the boom boom room to the boardroom. I have absolutely no problem with this song on any level. Mike WILL knows exactly what to create for Waka, and he goes in and executes. Some words here about guns, a name drop there of a violent Southern city, adlib here, adlib there, rinse, wash, repeat. The rap music equivalent of a floor that was once filthy, but is now so fucking clean that I could eat off it.

Phil: “Slippin” is a certified Best New Wallpuncher.  I give it four Os out of a possible WOOOOO.

At the same time, when you call up Mike WiLL Made It and ask for the sinister, monolithic banger special (see also: Rick Ross’ “War Ready”), you need to realize that Future eviscerated the genre with “Sh!t”. That’s a gold standard of intensity, and you’re either matching it or falling short. For Waka, it’s the latter.

Still, WOOOO.

Jose: A few months ago, Phil and I were sat next to each other at our buddy’s birthday dinner.  After a couple of beers, the conversation turned to its most logical conclusions: food (because we were eating it), and rappers (because we talk about them every damn week).  The genius idea: a hip hop themed menu.  Start off with some Lil Kimchee, maybe have the Ludacrispy pork belly, Jay Zitti, A$AP Rocky Road… you get the idea.

The only thing we could think of that worked for this song’s featured rapper?  Waka Flocka Flambe.  It looks fancy, full of spectacle in its preparation, but ultimately it’s just burned garbage that leaves you wishing you had the Wu Tang Flan instead.

Leah: OH SHIT CAN I PLAY?? Big Punch, Mackerelmore with Brined Lewis, Steak a Salt N Poive, French Montanion Soup, Sean “Puffy” Combs Tacos.

What song were we talking about again? Oh, the Waka joint. It goes hard, I guess, but dude needs to get a vocabulary book for his birthday.

Damion: I think Waka is more likely to use that book to roll up.  Either way this beat is kind of tough and honestly these might be Flocka’s GOAT verses.  I know, the best verses of his life are on this song that probably ranks last on the songs we’ve heard this week.  That’s a damn shame.

Aaron: I swear, all these “bangers” these days: It’s like Charlie Brown and the football. I know what’s gonna happen but I fall for it every time.

Rap Game Good Grief. will these motherfuckers (read:producers) EVER learn how to move beyond 2 or 3 note minor key jams. It’s like every track for the last 5 years sounds kinda like the theme to “Halloween”. Boooooooooooring.

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