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

Today, Oddisee is out of sync; Ludacris and Big K.R.I.T. slip on their crunk slippers; and Chief Keef’s gang is in this bitch for ten whole minutes.

As always, our distinguished panel consists of  Marcus DowlingPhil R, Joshua Phelps, Jose Lopez-Sanchez of Dead Curious, Clyde McGrady, and Weird City Fest’s Aaron Miller and Leah Manners.

Oddisee: “Counter-Clockwise”

Oddisee’s latest LP, The Good Fight, is out in early May on Mello Music Group. The accompanying press releases says that the record is about “living fully as a musician without succumbing to the traps of hedonism, avarice, and materialism. It’s about not selling out and shilling for a paycheck, while still being aware that this is a business requiring compromise and collaboration.” Today, we listen to the most recent single from the PG County rapper, “Counter-Clockwise”, which comes on the heels of “That’s Love”.

MARCUS: Before I say anything else, let me say that I love everything about this song. I love Oddisee’s flow riding the break. I love the vocal sample that he probably had re-created live in order to save on the sampling fees.

However, when Kendrick Lamar jacks your whole entire style and puts it out on display for the entire mainstream world to hear, what does Oddisee do next? He doesn’t suddenly release turn up raps or engage in 10% diss sessions on social media. Rather, with tracks like these, he says absolutely nothing about the brave Mr. Lamar entering his zone, and soldiers onward.

If there was any one rapper besides Rapsody or Big K.R.I.T. that really understands the space that Kendrick Lamar is navigating on an intrinsic level, it’s Oddisee. Seeing through the money hungry vultures that circled around internet-hot mixtape rappers around 2007, he instead signed with the independent Mello Music Group and is nine albums into a career that’s seen him travel the world. As well, he’s developed a sustainable fanbase, and without 1,000 thinkpieces, seen him speak with a sound mind and clear voice about the world around him for seven years.

It’ll be fun to see if Lamar reaches out to people like Oddisee as he pushes ahead with his career. I see Kendrick like Bobby Seale right now, bravely at the lead, but you know the Panthers really didn’t get cranking until Stokely Carmichael joined the crew. If Kendrick’s black empowerment movement wraps around artists like Oddisee, it would be a beautiful thing, indeed. I mean, he’s got Kanye involved, who I see like Huey Newton, so this all just makes sense.

Rap is an amazing place right now.

LEAH: The Kendrick comparison is interesting, Marcus, and not one I have heard or made before, but I can see it. And, honestly, even though I will likely get destroyed for this by someone, I think Oddisee is the better talent.

It takes a lot of thought and talent to make a listenable, enjoyable, and even catchy track about the weight of personal relationships while playing with the time spent in those relationships by playing with the time in the track. Going forwards and backwards (heard, but also seen in the video), and writing a track in 5/4 time isn’t just about showing off – it’s about how you can feel like you’re going backwards with people and how you’re out of sync. Just a fucking great track.

JOSE: I didn’t even notice the 5/4 measure initially, and I’ve been listening to this track nonstop for the last few days.

Oddisee’s entire catalog is extremely enjoyable, even if it’s not readily accessible. He’s got mad insider respect, and fairly so: Every project is more ambitious than the last one, and he pulls it off more often than not. I know I’ve been guilty of slamming lesser rappers for putting some stuff that’s beyond them (and that frankly, doesn’t work), but Oddisee keeps walking tightropes with elegance and poise, even as they get higher and higher.

CLYDE: 5/4 beat measures? I didn’t realize that I was amongst my fellow AP Music Theory nerds in the Rec-Room!

I confess that I had never heard of this Oddisee cat, but he has certainly gained a new fan. I look forward to digging through his catalog. Great flow and a good ear for melody. And, Leah, I love that he uses the time signature to subtly give the track an out of sync feel and drive home his point about relationships.

Bravo, sir.

AARON: Oddisee is quietly assuming next level status, and what Clyde is experiencing is what happens to everyone that finds out about this dude.

It takes about five to ten minutes to realize that this humble “indie” rapper has an extensive catalog of instrumentals that give Pete Rock a firm kick in the legendary nuts and is a gifted emcee with an inspiring live show. It’s exactly good enough to be true.

We are not even at the halfway mark of 2015. This song is super dope, and his new record is sure to be one of the best of the year.

And if I may get in on this Kendrickian shit y’all are talking: I see what you are saying, and I’m just saying that if these two had to battle a cappella based purely on terms of positivity, enlightenment and narrative flair, shit might be a tie.

PHELPS: I don’t have anything to add that wouldn’t just be piling on the same praise. This shit is dope. He is dope. And also cool: He didn’t find me to punch me in the face when I put his tracks up on BYT to stream but they were accidentally downloads.

He’s a hell of a producer, too. Y’all should go find “Rock Creek Park” on your YouTubes and Rdos and Spotifies and listen right now. It’s a soulful serenade to our beloved, polluted, beautiful, and dangerous stomping grounds.

If he’s not getting the same shine as a producer as he is for rapping, he should.

MARCUS: Oddisee is a funny dude. I appreciate the fact that the second he reached a level of comfort and sustainability,  he pretty much shut down and created a giant wall around him and the pop-friendly music industry. Like, he really didn’t “need” those people to make a living wage, so he doesn’t court them or open himself up to them, either.

Everything this guy does is for the once-insular fanbase that he’s welcomed into this unique atmosphere. It’s really something that more rappers (and musicians overall) should consider. And yeah, “Rock Creek Park” is incredible. Oddisee gets it.

Ludacris ft. Big K.R.I.T.: “Come and See Me”

Did you know that Ludacris put out a record last week? It’s called Ludaversal and it sold less than Wale’s Seinfeld thing. Sigh. It was supposed to come out quite a while ago, but early singes “Jingalin”, “Representin” and “Rest of My Life” failed to find an audience (back in 2012!), so the album stalled out. (Those songs didn’t make the record.) Anyway, let’s focus on the positive: Ludaversal is here and the new “Fast & Furious” made a truckload of money. The albums second single is “Come and See Me”, and it features a Big K.R.I.T. appearance and production from Mike WiLL Made It.

MARCUS: This is terrific. This is that type of throwback rap that every thirty-something person in the world can totally co-sign because when Luda made the same song 15 years ago, it was the freshest and most fun thing we’d ever heard in the world during a time where all of us were either drunk and/or engaging in questionable behavior at a level that we’d never really done either before.

Everybody on this record loves Ludacris more than Ludacris loves himself because without him setting the standard for Dirty South shit-talking over crunk ass beats that he set on so many records like these (namely, “Phat Rabbit” springs to mind), they wouldn’t have careers. That’s why Big KRIT’s able to set down his gavel as Southern rap’s judge, jury and executioner and just say dope raps that involve him talking all sorts of mess. It’s also refreshing to hear a Mike WILL Made It track that isn’t ideally target marketed for the ears of a 19-year old sorority pledge.

At this point, Luda is a jiggy rap legacy act and made all of the money when rap made all of the money. As well, let me break this down with a basketball metaphor. Never one to completely slam dunk a bar, thankfully as the George Gervin of rap, we’ll never get tired of hearing Ludacris finesse his rhymes and deliver a finger roll.

DAMION: I’m feeling this. The beat is tough. The verses are a’ight. This sounds like something Outkast would have merked back in the day, but I’ll take what these dudes did with it.

PHIL: I could do without the Smurf asphyxiation joke. Bridges is a bit player in major motion picture film franchise now! He can’t go around choking people with Little Luda!

CLYDE: I really like this song but do you know who loves this song? Sixteen-year-old me, driving around southern Georgia in his mom’s green ’96 Dodge Caravan with four of his friends. That’s who. It’s impossible for me to hear Luda and not get nostalgic for my teen years. A time when I thought the apex of cool was a former DJ who rocked mutton chops, cornrows and a Dirty South FUBU jersey and who made silly songs about hoes and even sillier jokes about asses and pooping.

Anyway, enough navel gazing.

These two emcees have a great chemistry and it’s always fun to hear them on the same track. I like this production too. It’s a fun high energy song that I’ll throw unto the playlist for when I’m doing the Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred in my living room.

LEAH: Seriously? No one else is hearing “cum and semen”? No one?!

CLYDE: WELL, NOT UNTIL NOW. THANKS LEAH!

LEAH: The  comfort between these too is like slipping on a pair of crunk slippers. They nail back-and-forth, honestly, a little too much. I get a little tired of the seedy refrain (get it?) and the trunk line, but besides those minor complaints, these Kings of the South can pretty much do no wrong as far as I’m concerned.

JOSE: God damn it, Leah, now I can’t stop hearing that.

This song is dope. These guys really nail their verses and capture that Southern Swag effortlessly. Ludacris may not be the star attraction he once was, but he hasn’t lost a step in terms of his machine gun delivery and juvenile lyrics. And K.R.I.T.’s flow is so, so smooth. How this guy isn’t a household name is beyond me.

PHELPS: I think what Leah’s saying is that ever since these two penetrated the southern rap scene, they’ve left us awash in crunk raps that impregnate a Mike WiLL beat until it explodes.

It’s easy to forget what a good, clever emcee Luda is in the face of his terrible acting – and I’ll probably continue to forget – but this will get a few spins.

AARON: Y’all nasty.

This track is indeed fire-ish. It’s funny that these two – already southern-swag-as fuck – somehow get more country when combined. Is it just me or is K.R.I.T.’s normal accent straight chicken-fried out of control on this one? It just sounds like rubber bands or a really ill banjo.

Luda is throwing a damn fit these days. He is really really tired of you motherfuckers thinking he fell off.

I guarantee you Luda was on the phone with LL a year ago, like:

“Uncle, I have a question”

“Yes, Grasshopper?” [Licks lips]

“How the fuck do I maintain authenticity and yet remain highly marketable to mainstream white people? How do I wile out without limiting my access to roles in wildly successful but forgettable mainstream action-comedy movies?

“Have you made an uncharacteristically confrontational diss track and/or whole album of threats and shit-talking? Have you reminded people how much money you have? NO?! Ok. Do that every five years and they will eventually leave you the fuck alone. Call it Ludatronics or something. Peace.” [Licks lips. Winks at nobody. Hangs up.]

Shit I don’t like:

  • The parts where the beat drops out for too long. Irritating.
  • The hook. You’re telling me that Ludacris, punniest rapper of all time, and southern rap visionary K.R.I.T. can’t do better?
  • 60 bars of trunk at the end.

This song gets a strong six out of ten inches.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZIZmrIjlWw

Chief Keef ft. Lil Bibby, Lil Herb, King Louie & Lil Durk: “Faneto (Remix)”

If the DJ sets at SXSW were any indication, Chief Keef’s “Faneto” and Future’s “Fuck Up Some Commas” are the two monster underground tracks of 2015. Lil Durk can’t really vouch for this, because as he shouts on the recently released, ten-minute remix of “Faneto”: “SXSW! I ain’t go!” OK! Who else joins Durk and Chief Keef on this double digit odyssey, though? Lil Herb, King Louie, and Lil Bibby. So, this basically all of the heavy hitters of Chicago’s Drill scene jumping on one track, and getting all of the room they need to beat their chests. As with the original, production credit goes to Chief Keef and Da Internz.

AARON: PHIL, YOU DID NOT HONESTLY EXPECT FOR ME TO LISTEN TO A HALF HOUR OF THIS BULLSHIT, DID YOU?

SWEET BABY DADDY JESUS, WHO IS WATCHING THE KIDS IN CHI RIGHT NOW? YOU KNOW THAT I DON’T LIKE THIS EVIL SUB-HOOD SHIT. THIS IS WHAT RAP SOUNDS LIKE IN MORDOR. IT’S FUCKED UP.

Seriously, are they saying “gangs in this bitch” over and over again?

Note: Vivid description of pulling brains out of someone’s neck at the 26-min mark?

I’m no lawyer, but I think there’s like ten cases in this fucking song.

And I’m no snitch, but I think a stray bullet from this song just hit me in the leg and Chief Keef did it your Honor. Yes, he’s in the Rec-Room. He’s sitting right there, and he will probably just kill again if he is not punished for his crimes.

Surely, we can arrest people for being this wack now, it’s 2015. This is bullshit.

JOSE: This is nondescript, unmemorable, and insipid trap-vomit. What in tarnation is this about? WHY DOES IT GO ON FOR SO LONG?

DAMION: At the 2:50 mark, I realized this song was 10 minutes long and quit.  I can’t do it, Phil.  Not even for you.  I wanted to hear Durk, and this beat is fire, but these initial verses are so turrible that I really cannot continue to listen.  One day a great rapper is going to take all these trap beats and devour them. Until then, we get Chief Keef.

LEAH: As much as I can respect a posse cut and the flippant spelling of “finito,” I just don’t like being yelled at for ten minutes. (Ask my mom, HA!).

MARCUS: I listened to all ten minutes and 24 seconds of that remix. Why? Because, well, here’s some facts.

  • Kendrick Lamar put out the greatest rap album of all time (or so we’re all kinda quietly/not-so quietly believing) and has sold just under half a million copies in three weeks… yet everyone’s heard the album.
  •  300 Entertainment is a label based off of the idea that grown-ass businessmen have decided that the only way to succeed in the modern music industry is by pimping Twitter buzz for trap rappers into gold records. This means that Lyor Cohen and Kevin Liles are both basically “Rap Game Rumplestilskins.”
  • Trinidad James lost his record deal with Def Jam, yet returns to major label success for a remix for what is possibly statistically the biggest thing in music since Adele’s 21 album, “Uptown Funk.” “Don’t believe me just watch,” indeed.

All that being said, here’s similar-to-Trinidad James dropped from a major label Chief Keef along with four other rappers who have a song here that’s popular and sustainable that’s likely very minimally affiliated with major labels. For as terrible and insipid as this song is, kudos to these five for getting club play and hopefully some knockoff Louis Vuitton duffle bags filled with drug money and club dollars for their efforts. That’s the most sustainable money right now, and on some level in rap, has always been.

Jesus, rap’s a goddamned mess right now.

CLYDE: This song wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t ten minutes long. And if the beat was more dynamic. And if Chief Keef wasn’t on it. And if you replaced all these other scrubs with Kendrick Lamar. And if you gave it the beat from “King Kunta.” And if Kendrick rapped all of his verses from “King Kunta.” And if this song was “King Kunta.”

PHELPS: I like this stupid shit, but I’ll stick to the 3:27 version on The Chiraq Villain. Anything more starts to sound like a bunch of mumbling zombies from “The Walking Dead”.

AARON: I didn’t think that it was possible to yell and mumble at the same time. These guys would all be in jail if anyone could understand them.

PHIL: You all are attempting to intellectualize the guttural and lizard-brained.

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

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