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Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Our name is Rec-Room Therapy. Each week, we discuss recent hip-hop tracks.

Today, Raekwon learns to speak French; T.I. and Young Thug get furious; and Kanye West runs with the wolves.

As always, our distinguished panel consists of  Marcus DowlingPhil R, Clyde McGrady, and Weird City Fest’s Aaron Miller.

Raekwon ft. French Montana & Busta Rhymes: “Wall to Wall”

Raekwon started promising us a sixth solo record, Fly International Luxurious Art, back in January of 2013, but plans were put ice so he could tour with the Wu and work on the super group’s not-so-super comeback effort, A Better Tomorrow. With all of that out of the way, F.I.L.A. is set for a April 28 release. He has said the record will have a ton a features, and lo and behold, it’s latest single, “Wall to Wall”, features French Montana and Busta Rhymes. Of the album’s approach, he has said, “I want to make an album where people in London or people in Germany will love it. There are certain sounds I want to explore and not make it just a hardcore album from a hardcore emcee. I just want it to be universal – I want it to have stuff for the radio and for the hardest emcees.”

MARCUS: Ugh. It’s a sad day in rap when one-time new school rappers become “old man” emcees and have to call on French Montana to stay “relevant.” It’s even worse when Montana graces said track with his laconic flow and blesses the hook with post-Khloe Illuminati double-speak. Even worse is that both Rae and Busta both were like a half a blunt in when they both wrote and delivered their bars.

For Rae, I always loved the fact that he sounded like he was at the Chinese spot with the bulletproof glass on his cell phone brokering million dollar deals. However, he’s no longer at the Chinese spot. He’s that old dude in the corner of the sushi bar in mid-town Manhattan – still on his cell phone – but trying to lower the price on storm drain repairs at his house. I have no interest in hearing rich dudes rap about being rich. That’s a one-way ticket to irrelevancy for me right now. Ugh.

It’s funny. I’ll just say it right here. Busta’s awesome because you can tell when he fell in love with the coco or put away a half of a brick of loud before getting in the booth. I’m certain that at one point in his life, either substance aided his creative potential (like say, “Scenario”). However, Busta’s 42 and not exactly in the best shape anymore, so all of this pre-recording pre-gaming just appears to finally be slowing him down.  However, I’ll take Busta at 75% over his boy OT Genasis at 100% any day of the week, so this is sort of a rap song-as-Pyrrhic victory.

PHIL: haan \ˈha-ey-n\ interjection 1. used as an exclamation of surprise, bewilderment, disbelief, contempt, or interrogation, while also making your presence known in the most annoying way possible.

Example: Raekwon doesn’t show up for two minutes on the new Raekwon single. Haan?

Example: Someone thought that French Montana doing a 50 Cent impression was a good look. Haan?

Example: Vice said, “Holy shit, haven’t you always wanted to know what a song with Raekwon, French Montana, and Busta Rhymes would sound like?” Haan?

Example: French Montana sings, “Man, this shit is what it is,” and doesn’t trip over the irony. Haan?

CLYDE: Here is a list of Dudes Who Have Banged a Kardashian Sister, ranked in order of rap prowess:

 1. Kanye West
2. Ray J
3. Lamar Odom
4. Kris Humphries
5. Reggie Bush
6. Lord Scott Disick
7. Tyga
8. French Montana

AARON: Wow.  For starters, other than having money, I don’t know what the fuck this song is about. I don’t think they do either. Something like “Don’t want what you can’t have” or “Only have what you see, but you don’t really need it, and don’t believe everything you read, and somebody’s going to war, and bitches turned out.”

The fuck is going on here, fellas?

French is like the hardest working off-brand dude in the game, never getting better, and always more of the same. He is perhaps the living embodiment of “it is what it is.”

Rae just shows up all angry and stressed out in the middle of his own shit.

Busta seems like he got startled up from a blunt-nap and just reflexively spit some cloak and dagger chat bot raps. His is the strongest verse on this track but that’s underwhelming when being one of the best rappers in the world is your established baseline for the last 20 years.

I’m with Marcus: A phoned in verse from the high priest of rah rah is still better than most, even if it cant save this track.

They should’ve replaced Montana with a headier known-for-his-lyrics type like Jay Electdramaschool or even whiny Lupe. French is just out of his league here

I do like this choppy mechanical ass beat though

T.I. & Young Thug: “Off-Set”

The Furious 7 soundtrack is a big, dumb, expensive endeavor, just like soundtracks used to be when the original The Fast and the Furious came out on 2001 and people bought CDs. So maybe it’s oddly appropriate? But there’s an extra gimmick here: Atlantic will release seven singles with seven videos (sponsored by Dodge!) prior to the film’s April 3rd release. Last week brought “Ride Out” (from Kid Ink, Y.G., Wale, Tyga, and Rich Homie Quan) and Wiz Khalifa & Iggy Azalea’s “Go Hard Or Go Home”. This week sees the release of T.I. and Young Thug’s “Off-Set” and Sevyn Streeter’s “How Bad Do You Want It (Oh Yeah)”. I had to Google “Sevyn Streeter,” so we’re obviously talking about the T.I. and Young Thug song. Between “About the Money” and the “Eww Eww Eww” remix, the Atlanta odd couple are becoming a regular thing.

MARCUS: I’ve loved Fast and the Furious soundtracks since they were a great place to find B-level Murder Inc. crew members doing tracks (shout out to Vita and Caddilac Tah). On no other soundtrack will you find as much top-40 ready urban-tending content to be consumed by creatine bros and mall girls. Of course, creatine bros and mall girls have descended from being music’s top buyer demographic to music’s ONLY buyer demographic, so there’s that. Thus, these are songs as bon mots tossed out at label meetings, the “check’s already in the mail (that the label can’t touch)” to an artist that’s going to lose the label hundreds of thousands of dollars in marketing and promo.

I really can’t say much about TI rapping with Migos flows with Young Thug warbling about whatever in the fuck ever. The laziest of rap songs because again, THE CHECK IS ALREADY IN THE MAIL. Ugh.

PHIL: I’m picking up a distinct “Bad Boys II” soundtrack aroma on this one: hardheaded; mildly progressive; slick as fuck; makes me feel like I’m riding through early evening Miami with the convertible roof down.

Honestly, take this out of the Furious 7 context and maybe I’m a little more critical, but soundtrack rap doesn’t come much better in 2015. T.I. and Young Thug have legitimate chemistry and it makes my brain hurt trying to figure out why.

AARON: Damn. Don’t really want to like this, but I’m torn.

I hate Young Thug, but he appears to be trying harder than usual here.

T.I. has always been slick as hell and is probably one of my favorite Shit-Talking Rappers. When he’s not busy selling out and/or upending the entire game with his white girl doomsday weapon, he is a formidable lyricist and just really good at talking shit.

CLYDE: As a really big fan of their first collaboration, I had high hopes for this one but I’m a bit let down.

T.I. is ten years younger than Thugger’s favorite rapper, Jay Z, but he’s nine (!) albums deep. At this late stage in the game, T.I. isn’t exactly kicking down doors with his lyrical content and subject matter, so he pretty much sinks or swims with his production. And this beat ain’t doin’ it for me.

I’m not all in on the Cult of Young Thug, but T.I. has always been one of favorites, and he’s clearly being pushed by Thugger, much like Ye pushed Jay circa 2010-11. Looking forward to more collaborations from these two.


Kanye West ft. Vic Mensa & Sia: “Wolves”

“Wolves” is the third released track from the new Kanye record. Probably. Assuming that “Only One” and “FourFiveSeconds” make the cut. Who knows. Anyway, “Wolves”. It features production from Cashmere Cat and Sinjin Hawke and probably six other people. Vic Mensa is here, as is Sia. It debuted at the NYC premiere of Kanye’s Adidas Yeezy 750 Boost, which was streamed to 50 theaters around the world. Kanye has said the record is 80% finished, and will comprise “bars, songs, [and] cookout music that just feels good… My last album was a protest to music, I was like ‘I’m gonna take my ball and go home’…This album is embracing the music, joy. Being of service to the people. I just hope people like it and enjoy it.”


MARCUS: Kanye’s a funny dude. He’s the only guy in music to ever intentionally go from an album that dissed literally every corporation ever to an album that’s likely being buffered with benefits from every corporation ever in order to be completed. Hip white guys in business suits (and their black co-workers) all apologized to Kanye for treating black people like slaves, so Kanye’s happily taking a lot of their money to put this album together. I can’t imagine that Kanye could live with the ghost of Donda staring over his shoulder if he executive produced his own album in its entirety (when he’s paying for a ton of albums being made right now – seriously, he has an executive producer tag on a TON of projects).

“Wolves” is absolutely a “corporate rap” singles, the song being used in his fashion week presentation and tied to the launch of his new adidas sneakers. I’d imagine the situation involved Kanye already having the track and a desire to put Vic Mensa on, adidas happily footing the bill for Sia (who I can’t imagine Kanye or the label would even want to afford themselves). All in all, it seems a neat little transaction that benefits all involved.

All that being said, this is INCREDIBLY underwhelming. “Love Lockdown” meets “New Slaves” in production, it feels boxed in (in that way that art feels boxed in when it’s obviously imitation-as-flattery). Kanye’s searching for an entirely new style and voice these days – and that’s admirable – but this one misses the mark. I’m all for Kanye attempting to resurrect backpack Yeezy. Fuck all of this art-rap and give Little Brother a call. I think the world would be amazed by that. Kanye getting back to spitting conventional bars is better than whatever in the fuck this is, lol. Also, Vic Mensa is not Chance the Rapper and is just a weird second-generation hipster kid with privilege from Chicago. Yeezy hand-picked the wrong guy.

PHIL: It’s 3:00 Kanye singles o’clock. Do you know where your banger is?

CLYDE: It’s really ironic that Kanye is designing a fashion line considering that THE EMPEROR HAS NO FUCKING CLOTHES.


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