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Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Our name is Rec-Room Therapy. Each week, we discuss recent hip-hop tracks. Today,A$AP Rocky multiplies; iLoveMakonnen and Mike WiLL Made-It join weirdly capitalized name forces; and Rick Ross and R. Kelly are gross. As always, our distinguished panel consists of  Marcus DowlingPhil R, Damion M, Jose Lopez-Sanchez of Dead Curious, Joshua Phelps, and Weird City Fest‘s Aaron Miller and Leah Manners (of Hip Hop Hooray too).

A$AP Rocky ft. Juicy J: “Multiply”

“Multiply” is allegedly the first single from A$AP Rocky’s sophomore LP, which we know pretty much nothing about. Rocky launched a website called FlackoJodyeSeason.com, so watch that space for more details, I guess. We do know that “Multiply” was produced by Long Beach, California’s Curtis Heron and that it features Juicy J, who doesn’t really rap so much as hang out and say some things. There’s also been some minor controversy about Rocky dissing fashion labels Been Trill and Hood By Air, but if you know what that’s about, you need to get off your computer right now and go for a nature walk or something.

Aaron: Can somebody please tell me what the fuck is wrong with A$AP Rocky?

Ok, ok, ok, the beat bangs hard enough, but I know teenagers that can make this shit in their sleep all damn day. There’s not really enough to pull me in.

It’s just getting weird. I can’t tell if he thinks he’s some kind of Nicky Barnes-era Harlem criminal mastermind or a fashion mogul. “Come to Harlem if you never seen Baghdad ?!” The fuck are you talking about, son? It’s not 1972. Bill Clinton has an office there. They have coffee shops and shit. Calm down.

The Dirty South-worship has crossed over into delusional territory. There is too much good Texas rap for me to care about your weird UGK obsession. “RIP my nigga Pimp C”?!? You are 26, not from Houston, and the dude died in 2007. Please STAHP.

Also, if you are not Danny Brown, do not shout out your pants. We are not checking for your pants right now.

The Juicy J cameo makes me think of when I used to make my hard-ass cousin go to the park with me so I could talk mad 10-year-old shit without getting bumrushed.

Marcus: Studio gangstas throw 10% disses at fashion brands. That’s all there really is to say about this one, where Juicy J isn’t even paid to rap, but he’s paid to just have his voice on the track – if only to lend a shred of credibility to A$AP’s ersatz fuccboi raps. Rap’s in a weird place when as a 36-year old ex-prep school kid who grew up in the hood, I feel like I have more legitimacy than a millionaire emcee. Is it wrong for me to want an emcee’s crew to read something I wrote and just have them immediately stomp me out on the streets without having to figure out which brand of designer drop-crotch trousers they’re wearing this week? You can’t be mad at Juicy J though, as from Katy Perry to A$AP, he’s making a whole bunch of soft and unlikely folks look comfortable and tough as heel turning up.

Damion: I’m feeling this beat, and I think A$AP’s flow on it is nice.  I can’t speak to his street cred.  He shouts out Harlem a lot, but it just seems like his Harlem is a bit different than, say, Bobby Shmurda’s, which I recognize from living up there for a year.  Either way,  I kept waiting to hear Juicy J’s verse until about 3 minutes into the song and then I realized that it was just not coming.  I feel like A$AP kinda played me with this one.  Real tough beat on this, though.

Phelps: I was feeling A$AP’s verses, in delivery at least, but chomping at the bit for Juicy J to jump on if even for 8 or 16 bars. Something. In any case, this song reminded me that sometimes A$AP can rap to the best of his technical abilities and not say shit. He’s mad boring, and his raps are as empty as the dead eyed looks on the runway models he covets so much. Still this is the first A$AP song I’ve played more than three times since Goldie as the beat is tough.

Phil: Almost the entirety of A$AP Rocky’s appeal was predicated on a certain “nowness.” He latched onto Clams Casino at the peak of his atmospheric influence, shelled out for prime era Hit-Boy, and worked with Friendzone before they broke. (Note: Friendzone still hasn’t broke. Why hasn’t Friendzone broke?) But Rocky’s gotta keep moving. If he stays still, he’s dead, because as Phelps basically said, Rocky is a big chunk of tofu. There’s a reason no one really asks him to be on their songs – there’s very little standalone value. Unfortunately, “Multiply” doesn’t do nearly enough to advance his cause. The production is staid. This is track that could have slipped right onto Long.Live.A$AP. That’s not a good thing. And Rocky’s still out here talking about Tumblr. “Ask Tumblr if I’m accurate”? Bro, no one’s on Tumblr anymore. And if they are, they probably still think A$AP Rocky is cutting edge.

Leah: What a weird throw-away track. Is this supposed to incite excitement? It’s just boring.  And who the hell is still saying “swag”?  Sounds like Rocky’s demo tape from 2010 where there’s an inkling of talent so some label dude starts throwing real producers his way.  Also, like Aaron said, step off co-opting Houston.

MikeWiLLMakonnen: “Wishin You Well”

One of the year’s most unusual success stories continues with “Wishin You Well”, a collaboration between out-of-nowhere Atlanta sing-rapper iLoveMakonnen and industry titan Mike WiLL Made-It.  iLoveMakonnen – who’s hit “Going Up on a Tuesday” went supernova with a Drake assist – and the producer supposedly have more material on the way, and they’re calling themselves MikeWiLLMakonnen.

Marcus: I don’t know what kind of psilocybin mushrooms were passed around in Mike WILL’s studio in Atlanta after the club went up on some Tuesday night, but this track reeks of what happens when you have a studio in the basement of your house and your pill man is also an engineer. I hope that whatever R & B ingenue wanted a track that felt like “Betcha By Golly Wow” by The Stylistics is okay with Makonnen dropping a refreshed hook from the All-American Rejects’ 2008 hit “Gives You Hell” here, too. Yeah, anybody can rap now, and standards ain’t what they used to be. All true. But still, this is just straight up dumb and more basic than a blonde white girl named Molly wearing Ugg boots, J. Crew skinny jeans, and an American Eagle zip up sweatshirt sipping a pumpkin spice latte while humming Meghan Trainor’s “All About The Bass.”

Phelps: Marcus, have you been hanging out with the girls at Patrick Henry Mall in Bad Newz? Makonnen mumbling for 5 minutes does not a dope pop song make, but, I’m feeling the Sophie B. Hawkins vibes MikeWiLL is dropping. Otherwise, this is pure throwaway trash, I wish it was half as good as a PSL mane I fuckin love pumpkin spice, LOVE IT. IDGAFIFWPSL.

Marcus: Dude, when All-American Rejects were cool, I definitely may have stopped by the Patrick Henry Mall a time or two.

Mike WILL really can’t do anything wrong these days, and the production here is crazy. I wish that there was a standard by which you had to be judged by a rap tribunal to get one of his beats right now. He’s in a whole other zone with it. He’s ridiculous.

Jose: That sitar sample makes me feel like I’m about to sit down for a nice meal at an Indian or faux-Middle Eastern restaurant, not on my way to trap out the bando with Daquan.  I don’t care for it. It’s too spaced out and floaty, and doesn’t even do it well – unlike say, a song produced by Clams Casino.

It’s not like it’s offensive or anything – just boring. I can’t give Makkonen a lot of shit, because I really didn’t think he’d be anything more than a one hit wonder (mainly thanks to the Drake bump), but we all expect better from Mike Will.

Phil: (The pre-chorus of Future’s “Side Effects” + mid-90s talk rock) x (a sad emoji + The Weeknd hair) x (20 minutes in the studio – 5 minutes hi-fiving your crew for rhyming “Seattle” with “moving that cattle”) = “Wishin You Well”.

Leah: I like the beat. It reminds me of something Milo’s somnolent delivery would work well over.  The verse is straight rap mumblecore though. Can’t fuck with it.

Aaron:  This is unacceptable. This beat is gorgeous.  But I have never heard a “rapper” fuck up an excellent beat like this. This is bad.  Like, “bad” meaning “actually bad” not bad meaning “good.” Makkonen sounds like one of those dudes on the bus with big headphones, rapping along, and just feeling themselves.

MikeWillMadeAMistake. Hot fire or not, you have got to keep these off-brand roaches out of the studio. Is he rapping about random farm animals? Is he in Arizona or Nevada or North Dakota or what on that second part? MikeWillMakeMeUnderstandIt please. I am tired of famous people co-signing these weird novelty acts like they are cutting edge. Based God forgive me but not every internet rapper is a genius. Who is even running this rap shit anymore?

I used to be able to count on middle age white record executives for some goddamn quality control. This is not cool.

Rick Ross ft. R. Kelly: “Keep Doin’ That (Rich Bitch)”

Rick Ross say his seventh LP, Hood Billionaire, is coming out on November 24th – just eight months after the release of his frequently delayed Mastermind – and I refuse to believe it. But, alas, here is “Keep Doin’ That (Rich Bitch)”, the record’s second single, following the kinda hard “Elvis Presley BLVD” (which featured Project Pat!). This track features R. Kelly in his usual freak mode and Ross saying some pervy stuff. It was produced by V12 The Hitman, who is also a healthy tomato-based drink*. (*Unconfirmed.)

Leah: Yeah… pass.

Phil: Rick Ross says, “Her puppy named Panamera.” Then he repeats it, louder, as if this is a dope thing to say. Then he “rhymes” it with “she got a condo in the area.” And so we’re about fifteen seconds into this song and I already hate it.

“Watch em lick on each other / I’m talking pussy to ass.” Who the fuck is this song meant to appeal to? It’s front-to-back gross. The FTC brought a case not long ago against a company that had literally hired someone to put “Made in the USA” stickers over their products’ “Made in China” labels. That’s how I feel about this song being subtitled “Rich Bitch.”

“Room service for weeks.” Is that supposed to cool? Has Ricky been watching a lot “The Aviator” lately? Let me know whe he gets around to pissing in jars.

Marcus: The beat knocks. Like, it knocks so much that it initially makes you angry because you know that there’s absolutely no way that Rick Ross is the same emcee that he was four years ago, so the performance here will stink. But, no. On a lyrical level Ross delivers here, as well as R. Kelly, too. Social improprieties aside, these two are professionals in the booth, and know a thing or 20 about hit singles.

Foremost they shout out the incarcerated Meek Mill twice in this song. #brandsynergy #doublemg #mmmmaybachmusic #alladat

The topic matter is funny because on some level it’s the first time that rap has truly acknowledged the modern women’s movement. Yeah, Kelly’s fucking her on a marble floor and yeah, Rozay is objectifying her to pieces, but they’re also acknowledging that she’s a rich, independent businesswoman, too. Of course, it’s rap, so cash still rules everything around us, And, when it’s mentioned that they want to introduce her to their dope connect, well…that’s something that Tony would never let Elvira do in a million years in the land of Scarface – so that actually means something. Could this also mean that this is one of the world’s worst female empowerment anthems ever, then? Certainly. But this could be a song about a girl passed out from a molly cocktail being urinated on as she’s being raped. This could seriously be so much worse.

Damion: Rick Ross attacked the first verse like a true Ross banger, but the chorus was wack, and after I heard that, I kind of tuned out.  The only feature artists Ross needs are other rappers.  I want to hear homey shout some absurd nonsense on the hooks.  “CHICKEN GREASE ON THE STEERING WHEEL!  SHE SAID SHE WITH ME FOR THE SEX APPEAL!” (I got bars don’t hate).

To answer your question, Marcus, yes this is one of the world’s worst female empowerment songs.  At the same time, “My neck, my back” was one of the best.  Not sure what any of that means, but it sounds to me like we need more female MCs.  These dudes not really holding it down for them in these verses.

Phelps: I think a palpable difference between Rick Ross and the Khiya song was that the latter assumed the dominant role while the former likes “Rich Bitches” because they “suck a mean dick.” It’s uncomfortable even thinking about any females within 300ft of the studio during this production, and just an uncomfortable song in general. Rick Ross is large enough to take up 3 lanes but empowering women is not one of them – step back, leave the canoli, and actually take the gun – keep it gangster, dummy.

Jose: From an intellectual/feminist point of view, I can’t get behind this song at all.  While it’s maybe a celebration of female empowerment (in rap terms), this is still very much objectifying women in almost every way, as everyone else has pointed out.  I guess it’s a reflection of the sad state of affairs of portrayals of women in most hip-hop that we all see this as “progress”, even if just marginal.  SMDH.  We need to change this up.

From a musical stand point, this beat is fire, the piano vamp is infectious, and R. Kelly does his usual R. Kelly hook.  Not saying I won’t feel grimy every time I listen to this song, but at least it’s sonically pleasant?

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Follow Rec-Room on Twitter, where we’re limited to 140 characters:  @marcuskdowling, @philrunco, @gitmomanners, @jrlopez, @dc-phelps, and @Aaron_ish.

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