Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Our name is Rec-Room Therapy. Each week, we discuss recent hip-hop tracks. Today, A$AP Mob drops its first ‘L.O.R.D.’ posse cut; Death Grips do their thing; and T.I. borrows some of Young Thug’s shine. Along for the ride is our distinguished panel of Marcus Dowling, Phil R, and Joshua Phelps. This week’s “Summer Inturn Down For What?” participant is Morgan Fecto.
A$AP Mob: “Hella Hoes”
“We just basically wanted to give people an official album and give people real work,” A$AP Ferg said in early April, explaining why we still have yet to hear A$AP Mob’s debut LP, L.O.R.D. “So what we did was take our time with this album really give people bangers… That’s the reason why the dates have been pushed back.” Bangers or not, what we’ve heard thus far have been showcases for the collective’s lesser known members: A$AP Nast’s “Trillmatic”, A$AP Ant’s “See Me”, and A$AP Twelvyy’s “Xscape”. But over the weekend, A$AP Mob released its first real posse cut, “Hella Hoes”. It features Nast, Twelvyy, Ferg, and Rocky. (Uh, sorry, Ant.) Not featured on the song: Danny Brown. Not happy about not being featured on the song: Danny Brown, who apparently had his verse cut without being told about it.
Marcus: Given how many women I know in the Manhattan/Brooklyn area who really like rappers (some even in *that* way), I can only imagine that A$AP Ferg and three other men are likely calling one of my acquaintances a whore. All that aside, this song is terrible. There’s something about the A$AP Mob that makes me equate them to a bunch of hypebeasts who literally read the same blogfeed, download the same mixtapes, drink the same mixture of lean, puff on the same rare strain of marijuana from the same dealer, then rush into the same studio to replicate the same Ace Hood, Migos or Young Thug mixtape they all heard earlier.
In a way, this makes them no better than the teenage rap fans who would pool together some money and buy one hour of studio time when I was a recording studio manager. I’d feel so embarrassed for my engineers for having to deal with such mockery of the craft of rap music. What’s hilarious is that if you look at the lineage of rappers that the A$AP Mob want so desperately to emulate, is that what made the early-late 90s era of Southern/Midwestern rap so great is that these guys a) realized that it wasn’t enough to be different, but they had to be good, too and b) they had absolutely no rule, guideline or historical precedent upon which to base their success.
The A$AP Mob are all gifted imitators. As a corollary, I know there’s a market for knockoff purses, and as well, I know people who carry them around proudly. But it takes a real fool to walk up to someone actually carrying a Louis Vuitton handbag into a room and act like your own fraudulent version is just as impressive. But yet, in 2014, if we extrapolate this comparison to rap, four dudes with fake purses are consistently stealing the spotlight from those carrying around the real deal. Moreover, these guys happen to be from New York City, (which, given its the home of the genre, is even more damning) too. Surreal.
Phelps: A$AP Ferg had one decent song (more of a fun chorus) in “Shabba” and Rocky’s best posse cuts feature none of the A$AP Mob. They feature actual, certified platinum stars (“Fuckin’ Problems”) or street-platinum grinders like Action Bronson, KRIT, Joey Badass, etc. (“1 Train.”) The more shit the mob releases, the more they’ll expose themselves as hot NY garbage. Except “Goldie” – that shit bangs forever.
Morgan: That really sucked. It’s like Shabba without the danceability or the catchy chorus, although I appreciated that I didn’t have to google who “Hella Hoes” was (we can smell our own.) Even still, the easily digestible title and arbitrary gun shots can’t polish the crap off this butt diamond. It’s boring and irritating, like barely perceivable buzzing. Maybe if it had like…just spit ballin’ here…one gold tooth? Or maybe eight gold rings? Then it might be a solid “banger.” Perhaps A$AP Ferg can serve the next one with potatoes? Delicious.
Phil: Damn, yall out here acting like “Murda Something” isn’t molten lava. And, wait, why is A$AP Ferg the whipping boy for this song anyway? Did anyone actually listen to “Hella Hoes”? Dude is on here for thirty seconds. And he makes a reference to 2007 flop “The Beautician and the Beast”, which is so thoroughly WTF that it defies all possible categorizations of “good” or “bad.” As for the rest of this song, yeah, it’s a pretty lame retread of “Work”, which I didn’t even like to begin with. The less we say about Twelvyy’s verse, the better.
Death Grips: “Black Quarterback”
You can knock Death Grips for flaking on concert appearances, and you can knock them for being maybe too eager to provoke, but you can’t knock the hustle. Over the past two years and change, Zach Hill and Stefan “MC Ride” Burnetthas released four albums: The Money Store (its 2012 Epic Records debut), No Love Deep Web (the self-leaked record that got them released from Epic), last year’s Government Plates, and, now, the double record the powers that b. The duo posted the powers that b‘s first disc – titled niggas on the moon – late Sunday night, and, most notably, it features Bjork samples on every track. (Bjork is cool with this.) Disc two, Jenny Death, is due later this year. Today, we talk about “Black Quarterback”, because Leah says so.
Marcus: If Death Grips can be seriously written about any of us, then maybe I should try to find transcripts of all of my AOL email conversations with punk rock black girls I met in the 90s on Black Planet about how great Wesley Willis was. That’s all this is, right? Like, Death Grips could be locked in a room with a bunch of Wesley Willis cassettes and come out of the room as the reincarnation of the Gym Class Heroes, right?
I mean, I saw Death Grips live and stood next to some sweaty asshole who worked on Capitol Hill who was in his seersucker shorts and long sleeve oxford shirt who called these insipid kids playing badly onstage “dangerous.” Wesley Willis “whipping Spiderman’s ass” is more dangerous than this guy “rapping” alluding to the idea that he thinks he’s Doug Williams. Well young man, I met Doug Williams once at the Redskins Super Bowl victory parade in 1992, and you, young man, are no Doug Williams. Ugh.
Morgan: This shit is poetry. It’s like Teris, the way the phrases and sounds fit together. The spacial awareness makes this a super interesting song from Death Grips, as always, and so do the lyrics. “Xeroxed man dressed in gauze, spiders soaked in menopause” I believe? You can’t beat that. Or how Ride develops these really round sounds with the lyrics while still delivering them with his quintessential thrust. It could only be better if, at the end, he spit in my face.
Phelps: I agree it’s poetry in terms of that I don’t really understand most of it – but that’s not a knock on him. He flows pretty fluidly (yes that’s a piss joke) over the beat. Sometimes HIll’s productions are just too abrasive and frenetic (he did this right?) which is OK if I want to listen to Hella, but, I can’t fux with rap without some head nod factor. This is probably a comparison made many times over, but, “Black Quarterback” gives me some irreverent Kool Keith “Black Elvis” vibes and I’d love to hear Ride drop into a Keith flow at some point and blow minds like “Livin Astro.” I think he has it in him.
BRB gonna go listen to Kool Keith all day now.
Phil: As much as I want sign on to Marcus’ ethering and never give Death Grips half a second, these guys made “Hacker”, and that is legitimately one of my favorite songs of the past three years. So, I always volunteer for an ass-whooping whenever Hill and Ride mysteriously drop an LP, searching for the next “Hacker”, even though it never comes. Alas, “Black Quarterback” is not “Hacker”, but it is my favorite thing I’ve heard from them since The Money Store. There’s melody in here. And the Bjork sample isn’t actually a big part of that – it’s not graphed onto the track as a novelty. This song knocks. It’s nice when Death Grips allow rhythm to sit at the table.
T.I. ft. Young Thug: “About the Money”
As discussed a few weeks back on Rec-Room, Young Thug’s ascendance has been one of 2014’s more unlikely stories. But, it’s important to note that the success of “Danny Glover”, “Stoner”, and “Treasure” have came very on his own terms: Thugger in his own weirdo world, working with Atlanta mainstays like Dun Deal and Southside. Now, with his stock is rising, more established, conventional rappers will come looking to borrow his shine. The first to do so is fellow Atlanta native T.I., whose forthcoming LP – the awkwardly titled Paperwork: The Motion Picture – is slated for later this year. The move makes sense: T.I. hasn’t had a hit record since 2008’s The Paper Trail and may think he’s losing his edge. (He did, however, recently hit Floyd Mayweather in the face for insulting his wife, so props there.) “About the Money” follows Paperwork‘s first single, “Turn It”, and was produced by London on Da Track.
Marcus: God bless T.I. for playing the hook man in this mess because without him, this would have been the hottest of garbages. Like, seriously, this hook is something else. And London? Who is he? If “sadboys” are going to be the new “normcore,” then hell…go find Kevin Gates and lock him in a room with this guy until they have ten hit singles. Given how magical this production is, it shouldn’t take long. The producers in rap are SO much better than the rappers right now. This doesn’t benefit hyper-lyrical emcees whose bars have to fight for space against symphonies. However, if you’re Young Thug and your warble just sounds like one more instrument, then you get to win. But god bless T.I., as he really comes through on this one. There’s nothing incredible about the performance, but he just nails the execution. *standing ovation*
Morgan: I didn’t catch any of that except something about a Smartcar, a dick taking shape, and the fact that it’s probably (maybe?) about the money (kinda?) Either way, I also found this fairly exceptional. Give me all of that you got.
Phil: just want to float the idea that Young Thug might be from Endor. I’m pretty sure that his ad-libs are in Ewok.
As for “About the Money”, there sounds like there’s a good Young Thug song in here, and there’s a decent T.I. song in here, but they never quite mesh into something whole.
Young Thug forever. Keep Rap Weird.
Phelps: This is my favorite T.I. song in maybe forever – maybe since “What You Know About That” which featured similarly earworming fake organs and a black quarterback from my high school that’ll go unnamed. And lest we forget, T.I. is prone to some squealing of his own over his own hooks in that song so this duo sort of makes sense – if you can call it that. Props to T.I. for giving the east coast Ice JJ Fish some room to shine on this.