Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Our name is Rec-Room Therapy. Each week, we discuss recent hip-hop tracks. Today, Danny Brown atta(c)ks a Rustie beat; May-December duo Bishop Nehru and DOOM join forces; and Busdriver lands on the moon. As always, our distinguished panel consists of Marcus Dowling, Phil R, Jose Lopez-Sanchez of Dead Curious, Joshua Phelps, and Weird City Fest‘s Aaron Miller.
ICYMI: Check out Rec-Room’s Best Rap Songs of 2014 (So Far) and From Bompton to Black Portland: 2014′s Best Rap Albums (So Far). You should also be planning your trip to Weird City Fest.
Rustie ft. Danny Brown: “Attak”
“Attak” is the second single from Rustie’s forthcoming Green Language. The first – “Raptor” – was an instrumental track. This one has Danny Brown. Rustie and the Detroit emcee have a history: The Scottish producer was responsible for three songs on Danny Brown’s Old: “Side B (Dope Song)”, “Break It (Go)”, and “Way Up Here”. Green Language is out August 25 and features the English rappers D Double E (and a few non-rappers too).
Marcus: If a person that likes doing things like believing in the power of the internet to unify culture and making statements like “the future is now,” then Danny Brown is one of your favorite rappers. As well, the idea that a guy with chipped front teeth who has survived a myriad of addictions is making brain-warping trap records with Scottish heavy bass producers is incredible.
The fact that the Danny Brown train just keeps on moving should shock nobody. He’s a son of black rock, namely that weird and funky time in history when Funkadelic fans dismayed at the end of P-Funk’s major label run turned to techno and house records because they needed to find the next great and uniquely soulful party.
Danny raps with an unflinching awareness of the depth and scope of Rustie’s production here, as if, well, he’s listened to more than a few grime records in his day and wants to make a fair accounting of himself. If wanting to hear a recording that proves that in a world gone wrong, the craziest of things can be done right, keep listening.
Phelps: I was listening to “Attak” while walking around the Guatemalan streets at 4:00 a.m. last night, looking for an after hours bar and quetzalteca. Pleasantly amused at how Rustie’s pitched up Rockwilder squeals paired perfectly with Mr. Brown’s own vulgar whine, I thought to myself: “Where could I plug in and bang this track appropriately?” Several minutes later, behind an unmarked door surrounded by drugs, un-concealed machetes, and enough cop cash to keep the party going til dawn, I had my answer. God is great.
Marcus: Realer than rap.
Jose: Rustie’s Glass Swords was an interesting concept album, one of the first really gripping iterations of the EDM/Trap hybrids to come out back in 2011. A mostly instrumental album, it was all sharp snares, lasers, bleeps, bloops and bass drops. It’s kind of curious to see a kid from Glasgow producing a love letter to Southern Rap, but that’s exactly what Rustie did with his BBC1 Essential Mix, released in April of 2012, where he married his original beats to the finest raps brewed in the Sunshine Belt. Rightly lauded by Pitchfork as one of the 50 Best Albums of 2012 (despite not being a proper album), this was the germ of an idea. And “Attak” is where we reap the benefits – this song is truly outstanding, and a hell of a banger. Neither one of these men is a household name yet – I had a hard time convincing folks to join me for Rustie’s show at U Street Music Hall two nights ago – but this is a lot more interesting than the vast majority of rap out there presently.
Leave it to one of rap’s most creative and adventurous emcees to jump on the wave of the future, once again. Danny Brown has repeatedly shown that he has an ear for fresh, new sounds, as well as the ability to raise his game to the level of those around him. Not all is lost with Frankentrap.
Aaron: This right here is the shit: “…must think they real or somethin, go on ahead and pop a pill or somethin/you ain’t fuckin with me/might as well OD/after that one take 10 times 3”
Brown is just bananas on this one.
At this point, I’m struggling to understand how one rapper can so effortlessly shift between styles. Got a throwback track? Put Danny on it. Got a Trapped out banger? Put Danny on it. Got a backpacker joint? You get the point. He is currently tied with Action Bronson for New Raps do-right Feature King. While I prefer the Old Brown, he’s one of the few dudes working right now that I just can’t complain about. Rappers always talk about new shit and then come out sounding like some old shit. Brown reboots rap every time he drops a new track. Shit, his interviews are better than most peoples records, so yeah, I like this track.
I’m pretty deep into Grime and this is close enough. It never made sense to me that America rap fans weren’t all over that shit 10 years ago. The beats are insane. All of the rappers act like it’s 1996. Hungry as fuck like they made it up. I really want to see Danny all over some tracks with Wiley, Skepta, JME, Kano, Bashy, Giggs…any of that shit. Fuck Americans. Dude is perfect for a true UK crossover. He should just move there, pull a rap-game Hendrix, take over the island, and come back world famous(er).
“Om” is the first track from forthcoming the DOOM + Bishop Nehru album, NehruvianDoom, which is also the name of the project and was hinted at earlier this year. It’s out September 22 on Lex Records. Production comes from the venerated MF DOOM himself.
Marcus: I mean, how long has MF Doom been doing this now? It’s intriguing to consider that rap has gone so far left of center that a track that bangs this hard and has such progressive-seeming inspiration feels so conservative. Nehru stays within himself here, delivering the rhymes that the track expects. It’s boastful, yet not ostentatious, and lyrical without needing a backpack to carry a notebook. I’d want to call this track solid, but that feels like almost a slap in the face. Calling it great feels pretty empty, too. That’s the problem with rap right now, is that everything that’s just classically on-point slides under the radar because the scope is set so broadly right now. So, yeah. Let’s just call it classic rap for classic rap’s sake; raising up the art form like a sabre rattling in the breeze. That feels about right.
Jose: One could call this a rap classic because it seems frozen in time. I love MF Doom, but I think I’d appreciate this song a whole lot more if it was released in 2004 instead of 2014. My main issue with it is that these guys aren’t showing us any sort of new tricks or nuance. It sounds polished, tight, and crisp precisely because Doom has been doing this exact thing forever and could (and probably did) put this beat out in his sleep. Contrast this with the exciting, forward-looking track by Rustie we’re looking at and this feels like we’ve just pulled out a mosquito from the amber.
Phelps: Basically, this track is like the Spurs. Better than even fundamentally sound, it’s actually pretty damn good. MF Doom’s track rattles in your ears like a Tim Duncan bank shot, delivered with the precision of a perfectly executed chest pass while Bishop Nehru bangs it home with the dispassionate grace of Kawhi Leonard. I appreciate the hell out of this. I just like my bangers to err more on the side of Meta World Peace.
Aaron: Sometimes I pretend like Phil looks at his Rec-Room choices and is all like, “FUCK. I forgot to pick a fanboy song for Aaron.”
This is fantastic. I’ve been pimping Nehru as phenom harder than his fuckin manager for like four whole months (which basically makes me like Columbus or Ben Franklin, doing it first, up out in these mainstream streets).
DOOM is DOOM. Nobody has ever been fresher and more “out there” than DOOM. A lot of dudes think they are slick with these half-ass concept albums. Try theme-ing your whole goddamned career around the illest inside joke ever made. Nehru is indeed the(very near) future of rap(to some people) I like him for the same reason I like Joey BadA$$ or Mac Miller: throwback appeal, all skills, wrapped up in a layer highly marketable youth dollars.
I agree with our esteemed colleague Dowling that this song is too good to be ok and too ok to be great, but I have lost all sense of objectivity when it comes to tracks like this. It reminds me of when rap songs used to be fast and that’s ok with me.
It’s strange how hip hop fans always grumble like DOOM is actually gonna fall off one day,or he’s undependable,or stuck in Europe and cant get back. There’s this vague self-supporting notion that DOOM is going to let us down and we should be prepared for something that will never fucking happen. Nobody has done more for the weird side of rap. I personally don’t give a shit if he died 5 years ago and the Mask is making beats and hooks all by itself.
Busdriver ft. Pegasus Warning: “Colonize the Moon”
Phil: I think I’ve read this book before.
Marcus: Any single that by name alone makes me think about Gil-Scott Heron is fine by me. If we’ve already put “Whitey on the Moon,” then why shouldn’t there be a gang of progressive brothers and their multi-ethnic community of friends spiritually (if not, physically) living there by now. The atmospheric effects surrounding the ultra-played out trap 808s here really make this into something moreso lush and voluminous than anything cloying and commonplace. As an emcee, Busdriver really does remind me of Wesley Willis in his delivery, frenetic, impassioned and surprisingly meaningful. His connection to LA’s Low End Theory collective is promising, too, as if you really look at that clique as a group of component parts, it’s where the 21st century Native Tongues are, and that’s a wonderful thing, indeed.
Jose: I was going to talk shit about this Gregorian Chant intro, but this song is actually pretty dope. I love the semi-aqueous, lava-lamp like melody that swirls and dips around a well-paced trap beat. As Marcus said, Busdriver really does bring a different element of energy to the song, and his wordplay is both clever and substantive. It isn’t so much storytelling as it is painting a picture, setting a scene. I’ve listened to this song close to ten times, and it just grows into itself with each play. Very good.
Aaron: I am not going to talk about how Driver is fucking secret-sauce, bizzaro dope. I will not speculate whether or not he is even human. Not likely, but I have to assume so because Wikipedia says he is from Los Angeles, California and I am not one to disagree with cold, hard facts.
I will not review this song, but rather I will leave you with this quote from the dude that invented my 2nd favorite drug, because it clearly describes what happens when you bump Busdriver.
“I suddenly became strangely inebriated. The external world became changed as in a dream. Objects appeared to gain inrelief; they assumed unusual dimensions; and colors became more glowing. Even self-perception and the sense of time were changed. When the eyes were closed, colored pictures flashed past in a quickly changing kaleidoscope. After a few hours, the not unpleasant inebriation, which had been experienced whilst I was fully conscious, disappeared. what had caused this condition?” – Albert Hoffman, “LSD My Problem Child”
Phelps: Marcus, now I feel silly that it made me think of Cedric The Entertainer.
The track is ticking all boxes for me on this one. Earnest crooning about actually colonizing the moon, shuttle launch 808s, and twinkle star synths that inspire the wonder of Cosmos before the beat smashes your face in with the industrial clang of a Caterpillar P-5000 power loader.
Lyrically, it’s hard to define how hard he smashes it here. I keep listening over and over for the same reason I always dip my hand back into my crumpled bag of Cheetos – more often than not there’s one more crumb of something fucking delicious.
Aaron: Busdriver said “make sure all my lines resemble Pimp C fan fiction.”
He said that.
Phelps: This track moved into my #1 moon track of 2014 spot, ahead of RiFF-RAFF’s “Jody 3 Moons” skit. I’m partial to the shots fired at running back contracts as well as visuals of drop top pumpkins in the driveway.
Marcus: The running back contracts line is epic as hell.