Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Our name is Rec-Room Therapy. Each week, we discuss recent hip-hop tracks. Today, This week in the Rec-Room: Drake releases a three-pack of new songs; Pusha T rides in Tiga’s Bugatti; and we find out who has not slept with Nicki Minaj. As always, our distinguished panel consists of Marcus Dowling, Phil 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).
Drake: “How About Now”, “Heat of the Moment” & “6 God”
“You should probably keep an eye on that http://ovosound.com in the next hour…just saying…” Drake posted on Twitter last Saturday afternoon, and then in a very Drake move, he went ahead and posted three new Drake songs. (Note: Drake ellipsis are to be interpreted as heavy sighs when read aloud.) The songs share a common cover image – disembodied hands in prayer and the number six – but Drake went on to clarify their grouping and origins, kinda: “That wasn’t an EP. Just 3 songs that I knew some hackers had. But enjoy! Back to this album.” So, these are three random new Drake songs, potentially recorded for his forthcoming fourth record, which already an announced title, Views From the 6, for some reason. Stay for the credits: “Heat of the Moment” was produced by Drake cohort 40; “How Bout Now” by Boi-1da and Jordan Evans; and “6 God” by Boi-1da again and Sky Sense.
Marcus: Complex Magazine tried to tell me yesterday that if you compiled all of Drake’s free releases in 2014 that it’d make the hottest rap album of 2014. I’m not afraid to find the person that wrote that article and punch them in the mouth. These three songs are on said “album,” and they suck. Flat out, no bullshit, they suck. Drake is getting lazy. This whole, “I’m so dope, my city love me, imma try to fuck this girl, imma lead the kids to salvation, I can turn loaves into fishes, my real father who conceived me with my mom in Toronto via Immaculate Conception and wants me off this Earth in five years” thing has to stop. (Unrelated, Dennis Graham can’t be Drake’s actual dad. He can’t. They trapped Max Julien’s DNA in amber and didn’t tell anybody, and Drake is actually rich enough to clone people, right?) Drake is better than many other rappers in rap right now, but then again, Harry Potter is better than a lot of rappers right now, too.
In three songs, Drake makes rap songs that make him look like he, ILoveMakonnen, Elmo, Mr. Snuffleupagus and DeMar Derozan are up in the club sipping on lean and fighting over trying to fingerbang Amanda Bynes and/or Meghan Trainor. I don’t know. How Drake can release “0 to 100” and “Heat Of The Moment” is astounding and shows that his team has no quality control on the “free” tracks anymore. “God” is listless, too, and “How About Now” sounds like a throwaway track on Jodeci’s second album. Maybe K-Ci Hailey needs to lock Aubrey in a room with some 40s, an 8-ball and a Jason’s Lyric DVD, then show him how it’s done.
Phil: By most accounts – or, the only one that matters – Drake is the most popular rapper on the planet. The transition from star to supernova occurred years ago now, and he has since refused to even momentarily disappear and/or share the spotlight. (Case in point: Releasing singles and announcing his album title smack-dab in the middle of Nicki’s and Wayne’s respective LP release build-ups like a fucking dick.) All of which is, OK, fine, whatever. He’s certainly proven more adaptable than we expected, even if that’s meant vampiring up-and-coming rappers’ flows and production tics, and, in doing, pulling the rug out from underneath them. Again, fine.
But “How Bout Now” drives me up the wall. Drake’s up 85 points in the third quarter and the motherfucker is still spiking the football in the face of his pre-fame ex-girlfriends. This is schadenfreude porn. Jay Z won’t let go of his drug dealing stories. Drake won’t let go of girls who didn’t think he was king shit and just wanted to listen to Ludacris. That is his “struggle.” It is all-consuming neediness. It’s Aaron Rodgers winning the Super Bowl, making dozens of millions of dollars, dating Olivia Munn, and starting every press conference talking about how 23 teams passed over him in the draft. It’s time to let that shit go, Drake. Also, stop trying to get credit for things that a normal boyfriend does. “Remember when you had to take the bar exam? I drove in the snow for you.” Yes, driving people in the snow is something considerate human beings do, you fucking psychopath. Drake’s the type of dude who gives a girl a compliment and then immediately expects his own compliment for having given it.
#WORST, I’d rather listen to Luda too, etc.
Jose: I really like “How Bout Now”. I’m glad that nowadays people aren’t really scrapping entire songs/albums and redoing them when they leak, as Lil’ Wayne did back in summer 2008 when Tha Carter III was put up online. “How Bout Now” crawls under your skin, in a good way. Sure, the lyrical content is the usual Drake “me against the world” narrative – in this case, proving a specific lady-hater wrong – but the production sounds great. I love Boi-1da’s work on this. The vocal sample moves and shifts, the bass line is fat and synth heavy, and the drums have enough snap in them to keep it sounding modern. It’s a beautiful beat, and seems to be staying in line with Drake’s more recent output, which uses a fair amount of warbled vocal samples, with the lyrical “clarity” coming towards the end of the song as some kind of additional exposition (see: “The Catch Up”, “Tuscan Leather”, “Draft Day”). Is it heavy-handed? Absolutely. But Drake hasn’t ever really dealt in subtleties, and it’s unrealistic to expect him to add this kind of nuance to his repertoire at this point. If it’s not broke, he’s not fixing it.
“Heat of the Moment” is weird. He’s making a half-hearted appeal for teenage literacy while trying to re-capture the down-tempo magic of “Marvin’s Room”, all while hating on ignant rappers. It’s easy to throw shade when you’ve already appropriated that Migos flow. Nonetheless, “Heat of the Moment” is going to be part of the Drake easy listening collection. It has a real R. Kelly kind of feel to it, from Drake’s singing, to the general vibe and sound the track has. 40 has mastered the floating, ambient rap track, and peppers each one with enough little details to reward close listeners.
As for “6 God”, whatever. Boring.
Leah: We can speculate all day about why Drake loosed these tracks on an unsuspecting populace – a populace that by and large is singing these tracks’ praises – instead of releasing them on the upcoming album or letting them languish in leaked b-side heaven. What I can say for certain is two out of these three tracks are boring as hell, and only “6 God” delivers any energy or originality, and even then it just sounds like a rehash of mainstream trap. I’m about to say a true thing: I hate his sing-yelling.
Aaron: You mad if I go last on the track?
- “Heat of the Moment”
Shit. I think I was so ahead of the curve on hating Drake that I’m permanently exhausted. I think listening to Drake holler about kids not reading and cops at the donut shop is the most maudlin shit I’ve ever heard. Pumpkin Spice ass.
Why do we still have to put up with this anymore? I’m not a mainstream dude, and I don’t expect everyone to subscribe to my theory that Drakes arrival on the hip-hop scene was, and still is, a harbinger of doom for The Culture, but I’ma quote this very song to illustrate how I feel: “All the niggas we don’t need anymore. Ooooooh, we don’t need anymore.”
Aubrey. Listen. You ARE that nigga. He is you and you are him.
The production is nice, but I will make three beats that sound like this by lunchtime tomorrow. Right now, I would pay good money to see Childish Gambino whip Drake’s ass, like “12 Years A Slave” style. A never-forget-what-you-did-wrong ass-whipping. Absolutely everything Drake does, Gambino does better.
- “6 God”
I like the beat here. Is he doing a 2 Chainz impression? I can’t even.
- “How Bout Now”
Uh, how bout no.
Weak beat. Weak hook. Weak verse. 100% wack.
He must think that copping this off-brand Jay Z lite flow is gonna fool me. Drizzy will always be the Good Kid that wants to be hard. I wish the ghost of Pimp C would come thru like Ghost Rider in a flaming slab and terrorize him.
[Pimp C’s ghost kicks in and/or walks through door… I’m not sure how ghosts do it.]
“Oh, you like to talk about lean? DRINK THIS MOTHERFUCKER.”
[5 gallons at gunpoint.]
“Oh you wanna be daaahhhn with the South?”
[Shoves PCP-laced blunt in nose and lights it.]
“SMOKE ‘THAT SHIT.’”
[Still at gunpoint.]
“OH YOU DEPRESSED ABOUT THE STATE OF THE WORLD RIGHT NOW AND HAVE ALL THESE FEELINGS?!?!”
[Pistol whip with Ghost gun.]
[Would that even hurt? I’m not sure.]
[Giant Purple Explosion.]
Tiga ft. Pusha T: “Bugatti”
In a year when Lil Wayne released the song “Grindin” and Rich Gang another named “Take Kare”, “Bugatti” is the next entry in the ongoing series “Wait, Didn’t Someone Already Make a Something Called That?” But “Bugatti” is a slightly different story, as it comes from an artist who very possibly has never heard
Future’s Ace Hood’s “Buggati”: Canadian dance producer and electroclash pioneer Tiga. The Montreal O.G. has been on the scene for almost two decades now, carving out a sizable niche for neon bright, slightly trashy electronic music. (Side note: DFA’s remix of “Far From Home” is cannon.) Last week he released a video for “Bugatti” and simultaneously a new version featuring Pusha T. We’re obviously going to talk about the latter.
Jose: Oh this is very, very good. I was just listening to “E Talking” by Soulwax, and this is probably what would happen if we brought that song to the hood. It’s got everything: minimalistic production, industrial dance party vibes, Pusha T as Ric Flair. Not at all what I expected, but totally awesome.
Marcus: In 1987, LL Cool J rapped on “Going Back To Cali,” a song that makes the film version of Less Than Zero, Bret Easton Ellis’ novel released two years prior feel so much cooler. When thrown into the world of esoteric excess, hip-hop culture becomes super-incredible. On a racial level, white folks with money living life like black folks who are dead broke is wild as hell. Thus, 27 years later when Pusha T drops bars on Tiga’s new wave/techno single “Bugatti,” it’s similarly amazing.
EDM and molly are to the modern era as cocaine and discotheques were to the 1980s. Less Than Zero taught me about what cocaine was REALLY all about at the age of nine, and though I’ve never used it, that film made getting stupefyingly high and being an awesome shitshow of a human being feel like an ideal life goal. Same with “Bugatti.” Somewhere, there’s some nine-year old surfing Soundcloud who just watched that amazing video and comes across Pusha T’s bars. His brain explodes. Kanye’s influence on Pusha has made Pusha into the greatest on-record dope dealing gangster of all time. He’s like bigger than Kool G. Rap big, and not showing any signs of slowing down.
This is “having sex with six naked women on molly wearing Louboutins (smiles and nothing else) that tear up the satin sheets” music. I expect Tiga to be DJing in the corner while Pusha sells a guy who looks like Patrick Bateman in American Psycho a kilo of coke, all while I’m getting busy. Of course, we all left an underground nightclub to come back to my mid-town Manhattan penthouse before doing this, so none of these women saw what my actual car looks like. Thus, when it’s 8 AM the next morning and we’re all wired (Tiga’s still DJing and Bateman and Pusha are eating sunny side up eggs in the kitchen), and the three women who are semi-awake cooly ask me what kind of car do I drive, well…you know the rest…
Phelps: Did anyone else notice how the beat has a tinge of Laid Back’s 1982 cocaine anthem “White Horse”? That cannot be a coincidence. And that song would make even more perfect sense for Pusha T to rap over, and I wish he would, but this is a close enough second place.
I like this shit. It’s pretty sparse, which is perfect for Pusha since those are the beats he crushes.
Leah: We’ve talked a fair bit on Rec-Room about how Pusha T is the king of cocaine raps, and this track does nothing to knock him from the throne, but I wouldn’t say it enhances his cred either. It’s a solid, fun track, and the sparse video game beat is endearing, but I’m not as ready to sing its praises as much as everyone else here. It’s good, but I don’t have this track on repeat like I did “Move That Dope.”
Damion: I’m feeling everything about this except Tiga’s vocals. It’s a very N.E.R.D. type beat. I’ll be bouncing to this all weekend. Rotation add for sho.
Aaron: This song actually sounds like cocaine.
Nicki Minaj ft. Drake, Lil Wayne & Chris Brown: “Only”
Nicki Minaj dropped a much-anticipated delay of her forthcoming LP The Pinkprint this week – pushing it from Thanksgiving to December 14 – but in a move that has become de rigueur these days, she bundled the bad news with a new single. That single is “Only”, and it features fellow Young Money all stars Drake and Lil Wayne. It also boasts some Chris Brown, though he oddly did not make the cut for the track’s cover art. Production comes courtesy of the ubiquitous Dr. Luke, his frequent collaborator Cirkut, and the comparatively unheralded Baltimore producer J Mike. Dr.Luke and Cirkut had previously been responsible for The Pinkprint‘s first single, “Pills N Potions”, though no one here had a hand in Nicki’s biggest single to date, the butt anthem “Anaconda”.
Phil: Well, this is icky.
Leah: This song makes me uncomfortable. In a way, it’s a meta-joke between performers about Nicki’s incalculable power as as sex object/performer, but it’s also just kinda gross to think about people you feel like you know personally from watching their lives and careers talk about having sex with each other. Just a TMI song, which Nicki has made millions on, and I don’t have a problem with in general. Maybe it’s the unfortunate and creepy insertion of Chris Brown on the really uninteresting chorus that just makes my skin crawl. I guess here’s our real monster for Halloween.
Aaron: I lived with my grandparents during my senior year of high school. One time, I left NWA on blast in my room while I took a shower. I came back and my grandmother was standing in my room with this look of pure judgement and sadness on her face because she could not understand the corrupt and twisted noise that she was hearing.
That’s how I feel right now.
I am usually not offendable. I’m not squeamish about the subject matter in today’s bottom feeder rap. But this song made me feel gross. I cannot imagine a less sexy ménage than Nicki, Drake, and Weezy.
Marcus: Hey Drake, I love big girls, too. But Nicki Minaj isn’t a BBW. She’s plenty thick, but DEFINITELY not a BBW. And yeah man, you didn’t hit it, either, so shut up about big girls who suck d*** and go to dinner afterwards. You’re not about that life.
Drake’s the hottest girl in school right now. Everybody thinks that he’s getting it in, but in all reality he’s going home alone, sitting in his closet, banging his head against a shelf, and waiting for the magic dust to fall on his head as he says, “I wanna be Pimp C…I wanna be Pimp C…I wann…” Wait. That’s the plot of the film 13 Going On 30 and not the real-life motivations of the best rapper in the game, right? No, that description apparently absolutely, positively applies to Drake, and, yeah…Drake-as-Jennifer Garner is gifted, but definitely all-of-the-way odd right now.
Nicki? Well, she’s got a big ass and a sudden penchant for telling all of the truth, so she’s become the patron saint of white girls getting root canals who love Ellen Degeneres, too. Minaj is a great rapper, but none of this is really about the bars, right? I mean Chris Brown is on the hook and Weezy’s doing the Migos flow, so, yeah…no points there, and shit. Rap is more of a soap opera than art form in the mainstream these days, huh? What a weird fucking song.
Phelps: Chris Brown just makes everything so, so much worse. An ever present negative energy that stands out even against this boring track that all artists undoubtedly thought would be provocative. Drake’s monotone raps about staid sex across the same Hollywood streets where Brown caved Rihanna’s face in? Nah, I’m good.
Jose: This song has no redeeming qualities.