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

Today, Yelawolf goes John Cougar Mellencamp; Action Bronson and Earl Sweatshirt put on their warlord leather; and Rihanna kindly asks us for payment.

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


Yelawolf: “American You”

“Yelawolf is a puzzling figure,” our very own Aaron Miller wrote on Rec-Room a few years back. “As soon as ‘Trunk Muzik’ dropped, I thought dude was instant superstar material. He was the first rapper in a while that I had to Google to make sure that he wasn’t somehow already famous and I just missed it… [I]f everyone had to battle Yelawolf and win best 2 out of 3 before a label would sign off on their next record, there would be about five records coming out. He should be more.”

The latest piece of the Yelawolf puzzle comes in a month with the release of Love Story. And, apparently, there have been three singles already: “Box Chevy V”, “Till It’s Gone”, and “Whiskey Bottle”. Now here’s the fourth, “American You”, which was produced by Malay and Eminem. (Em exec produced the whole record.)

PHIL: Is that fake vinyl hiss on the chorus? Man, no, fuck you, too.

MARCUS:  Aside from Stalley’s Lincoln Way NightsTrunk Muzik (the mixtape) is the most underrated mixtape of the mixtape/blogger/Hypebeast hipster rap era. To now hear Yelawolf with a label’s thumb squarely on top of his head forcing him into the Everlast (white guy appropriating Johnny Cash and BB King with a break-beat) box completely hurts my soul. The funny thing about that 2010-2011 era was that Wale had failed spectacularly after Kanye and Cudi did so well, so labels were kinda freaking out like, “Oh no, maybe these kids aren’t so good.”

Stalley’s at Maybach doing god knows what, and yeah, there’s Yelawolf at Interscope, rotting on the vine. Like, listen to “Pop The Trunk” and “My Box Chevy.” Those are two of the most incredible and totally fresh story raps of the past 10 years. Of course, because they’re about real ass white guys doing real ass black things in Gadsen, Alabama, major label executives totally didn’t push that really unique lane. Instead, he went comic and then faux-believable as Kid Rock 2012, then even worse, Everlast 2002.

This song is stupid and bad, and given that you don’t even see his face, it’s like Yelawolf’s even like fuck you, pay me, let’s get this bullshit done. If there was ever an artist locked into an “x-number” of albums deal who I want to see and hear without said deal, it’s him. Holy crap. He could be the Charles Bradley or Sharon Jones of rap music, and that’d be really awesome (because he deserves it).

CLYDE: No no no no no no no.

Catfish Billy going after that Kid Rock money about three years too late. He even bit the “American”-in-the-song-title thing in an attempt to make this an anthem.

Nice try, dude. WHAT’S NEXT?

AARON: Great Everlasting Balls of Fire this is wack.

My boy has indeed turned into Kid Rock Jr. with this saccharine stadium-ready abomination. This is gonna be the bomb at county fairs and rural high school proms all over.

Right now, there is a kid who had to skip school and work the fields on his daddy’s farm today. He is bumping this track and crying and getting lit up on corn liquor. He’s had enough. He’s gonna let all the cows free, drive the tractor through the garage door, knock his dad out, and catch a bus to The City.

You did this to me, Phil. Marcus gets to predict the future in 15-minute increments re: Iggy Azalea, and I am currently eating hot shit on my high hopes for the Alabama Hamma Slamma.

How did this happen?

Why can’t we have Trunk Muzik forever. Can someone tell me how such a raw dog emcee got turned into John Cougar Melontrap? The least Yela could have done with ” American You” is ditch the sung verses and rap the whole joint. It’s the only thing that could have saved it. I’m always down to hate, but even I can get with the vague “Sometimes I Rhyme Slow” vibe when the bars kick in.

As it stands, this is American Poo.


Action Bronson & Earl Sweatshirt: “Warlord Leather”

Our national crisis came to end this week when Action Bronson finally released his proper debut, Mr. Wonderful. It’s a record that’s noticeably not overstuffed with rap: Of its 13 tracks, two are interludes, and another (“City Boy Blues”) doesn’t have much rhyming. So, it was eyebrow-raising when Bronson recently tossed off (presumed) album outtake “Warlord Leather”, a rappity track featuring Earl Sweatshirt. And, hey, Earl put out his own album this week too! #Synergy. “Warlord Leather” was produced by frequent Bam Bam collaborator The Alchemist, who handled the beats on Mr. Wonderful’s toughest songs (“Terry”, “Falconry”, “Galactic”).

MARCUS: This is great because it’s Alchemist a) stunting SO HARD on the world, and b) showcases that Action Bronson is more than a fat chef who occasionally makes rap albums. I’m all for anything that gives him a little depth these days, as I’d imagine his team is, too. The Bronson press narrative is getting a little too “fat, funny white guy who gives no fucks” for me. As for Earl, he sounds so in the zone here, and actually more spiritually alive than he does on his new album. Alchemist really knows his way around a soundscape, too, which I appreciate. Too many young producers just “sit in the lab and make dope beats and shit.” Alchemist aims for something more and nails it. This is crazy good.

LEAH: This is the kind of rap I could listen to all day; not too serious, just riddled with some stream-of-consciousness raps that sometimes connect with random pop culture references (that makes me feel cool), and generally dark, smart phrasing.  Add a distinctive jangly beat with some changeups, and it just makes me want to start the suggested playlist of Raps That Don’t Make You Think Too Hard But Are Pretty Cool Sounding on Spotify. I’m pretty surprised this wasn’t on the record, honestly, because I like it a lot more than some tracks that made the cut.

CLYDE: A great beat that stands out, yet gets the fuck outta the way and lets two great MCs do their respective things. Peace to tha god, Alchemist.

AARON: This is a good look.

I don’t think Alchemist has ever made a beat less than fresh. EVER.

This is somehow a slight departure from the menacing horn-chop ghetto soul that he flips so well. It’s slow as fuck for Alchemistry, but I’ll take it.

I’m not gonna talk about how good Earl Sweatshirt is anymore.Bronson either. At this point, it’s just a given.

I  agree with Marcus 100% that the current marketing of Action Bronson as the go-to fat guy wacky hi-jinx rapper is distracting. He is almost suspiciously solid gold these days. Just win after win from the New School King of Arrogant Rap. The albums, the features, the videos, the festivals – the whole damn thing. It’s truly wonderful.

Earl is showing some striking maturity these days. Little dude just went straight from 20 to 30 years old. Fuck the bullshit. I don’t even think he’s running at full speed either. There’s a lot of headroom in the rap game for a kid like Earl to work. He’s always gonna be the artiest dude on a track so there’s that. I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of his slo-mo Aesop Doom flow.

His steez may be an acquired taste but tracks like this,in addition to his latest project offerings, got me starving for the next product.

PHIL: If I had heard “Warlord Leather” before Mr. Wonderful, I would have said, “I can understand why this is a b-side. A little formlessly structured, a little densely rappity-rap, OK, fair enough.” But Mr. Wonderful is a record that feels half composed of b-sides, and this is better than all those also-rans.

*Opens iTunes*

*Deletes “Only in America”*

*Adds “Warlord Leather”*



Rihanna: “Bitch Better Have My Money”

Rihanna has released the second single off her forthcoming, as-yet-untitled eighth album, and it’s called “Bitch Better Have My Money.” As the title might suggest, the Deputy-produced track is about FourFiveMiles away from previous single “FourFiveSeconds”. “I wanted songs that I could perform in fifteen years. I wanted an album that I could perform in fifteen years,” the singer told MTV News of the Kanye-executive produced album recently. “I want to make songs that are timeless.”

MARCUS: Cute. It’s the ultra-ratchet version of “Flawless” that Beyonce’s no longer able to make. I just want Popcaan, Travi$ Scott and Kanye with ALL OF THE AUTOTUNE on the official remix. There’s really not much else to say here. Rihanna made the club and EDM festival hit. It’s kind of what she does.

LEAH: Where y’all at? Yeah, this is gonna be a hit. Also, could be the hardest song all year – and from Rihanna no less.

PHIL: Rihanna is the realest since Tupac.

CLYDE: Cocky, shit-talking Rihanna is my favorite Rihanna (see: “Pour it Up”), and you definitely feel the Travi$ Scott influence in this one (in so much as Scott has an influence). I like it, but the grinding trap, screwed vocals phenom is getting tiresome. Switch it up, switch it up.

Also, I hope the album includes some tracks that show off her new-found vocal prowess. I’m really looking forward to R8.

AARON: The thing about Rihanna is that chameleon shit. The same pandering shit that irritates me about a Lana del Ray or Gaga or any number of mainstream mavens, Rihanna uses like a real weapon.

She is always exactly what “we” want at any given time. Dominatrix, victim, ingenue, DOME SMASHING CLUB MURDERER, and so on.

It could be said that she has taken the all time most played out misogynistic trope in urban music – “bitch better have my money” – and flipped it into the R&B equivalent of “The Hand That Brushes The Shoulder”, because, honestly, if there’s a Bitch out there that’s gonna take your money, it’s Rihanna.

She just out-pimped the player. She is unrepentantly young and brash and always looks like a walking middle finger in a $10,000 outfit that was shredded by a tiger that she has on payroll as a stylist.

I can’t say I’m in love with this track, becuase I hate dumb shit, but this will be one of the tightest songs of the year, whether I like it or not.


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