Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Our name is Rec-Room Therapy. Each week, we discuss recent hip-hop tracks. Today, we express gratitude for Busta Rhymes and Q-Tip, get bummed out with Starlito and Ryan Hemsworth, and talk our shit again with Bun B. Along for the ride is our distinguished panel of Marcus Dowling, Phil R, Aaron Miller, Damion M, and Hip Hop Hooray’s Leah Manners.
Busta Rhymes ft. Q-Tip: “Thank You”
The first single from Busta Rhymes forthcoming E.L.E. (Extinction Level Event) 2 – yes, Busta is now in the rap album sequel business – was the bizzaro (and pretty great) “Twerk It”. The second single finds him on slightly more familiar ground, with Busta himself flipping a sample of Alicia Myers’ “I Want To Thank You” into something that sounds decidedly of New York. He also reunites with “Scenario (Remix)” buddy Q-Tip to play some lyrical hot potato. And, for whatever reason, Lil Wayne and Kanye West – labelheads of Busta and Q-Tip’s respective homes, Young Money and G.O.O.D. Music – show up to spout some genial nonsense. In a recent interview with MTV, Busta explained that the union was intended to be a peacemaking effort: “There’s been a lot of talk over the last year or two about conflict between G.O.O.D. Music and Young Money and Cash Money. I just wanted to put it to bed and create an eventful moment where me and [Lil] Wayne being Young Money/Cash Money on one team, Q-Tip and Kanye [West] be on another movement on G.O.O.D. Music, just showing that camaraderie and that alliance and just making it official on a real Hip Hop level.” E.L.E. 2 will see release at some point in 2014.
Marcus: THIS. THIS. THIS. This is the best song. Like, I love it. I obsess over it, all of that. YES. I think I’ve played this song 100 times since I heard it on Friday. Busta Rhymes and Q-Tip stick a hand out of the grave of New York rap on some “this is the end of Carrie” type shit, and all of us old heads that were standing there with flowers all jumped back, screamed, and promptly began to two-step. The Alicia Myers sample is all about bringing the 90s back, when everyone from Puffy and Mase to Queen Pen and the Lost Boyz could take over a party with a funky disco sample. This is the type of record that could offend young knuckleheads wanting to get “turnt” in the club, and you know what? I’m not even mad at that. This is that “grown and sexy,” “Magic 102.3 30-and-over Club Card” music that the game has been missing. You know what, as much as I might seem like I’m young at heart and can “get down like someone half my age,” I see very few redeeming qualities in Rich Homie Quan. And yes, I do feel “some type of way” about that. Busta’s raps speak to my soul, the soul of somebody who remembers when rap songs were about raps but not about punchlines and hooks. This record isn’t just a record when you play it, it’s an event. Know how I know? Because even Kanye West had to sit back and just listen to the masters at work. THIS. THIS. THIS. WOW.
Leah: The rolling, teasing disco sample with delayed handclaps that make you hold your breath listening to it on this is enough to make it a great track. Q and Busta trading bars kills that breath you thought you had. Great track. I don’t know how much of E.L.E. 2 will hold up to the standard set by what’s already been released, but I’m eager to give it a chance.
Aaron: So nice. This is a breath of Fresh air given the bleak and polluted rap game landscape. Bus and Q-Tip is absolutely my favorite team up. Just to give you an idea of what I mean: If I were on a desert island and had to choose three rap tracks to listen to on my homemade coconut-powered stereo, “Cant Hold The Torch” would be one of them. I estimate that I listen to it four to six times a week. I’m not even playing. I know it’s weird but I never get tired of that shit.
If I could get a remix of this with Em and Andre 3000, that’d be great. Thanks.
Damion: This is hot. Flex ran it back 400 times last Friday. He couldn’t get over the “ziggity buff” line.
I like this joint and its old school, uptown Harlem beat. Ma$e is probably at home writing remixes to this right now. I’m not sure how it’ll be received outside of NYC, but this city is gonna love this track. Busta killed his verses, and Q-Tip did his thing as well.
Phil: I want to like this more than I actually do. Busta and Q-Tip are rapping their asses off, and that’s great, in part because it’s not self-consciously “LOOK AT ME. I AM TRYING VERY HARD,” like, say, most of the new Eminem record. But this beat never gets out of third gear. I keep waiting for it to lift off. Ultimately, this feels more “mixtape track” than “lead single.” Maybe it’s a matter of unreasonable expectations.
Also, Kanye showing up irks me. The dude’s been keeping Q-Tip on retainer for most of this decade, paying him to make Kanye songs better, and in return, he’s done what for him? Released “Chain Heavy” for free? He left him off Cruel Summer and aborted Cruel Winter and is sitting on The Last Zulu. Now Q-Tip’s on a hot track, and Kanye shows up like deadbeat dad who just heard his kid made it to the final round of the spelling bee and wants to grab some of that shine.
Ryan Hemsworth & Starlito: “Can’t Get Over You”
In October, Tennessee “best friends” Starlito (of Nashville) and Don Trip (of Memphis) released the follow-up to their 2011 cult classic Step Brothers. A week later, Canadian beatsmith and Converse model Ryan Hemsworth released his first solo LP, Guilt Trips. Now, less than a month later, Starlito and the stylistically slippery producer have joined forces for “Can’t Get Over You”, a song that actually dates back to an August recording session sponsored by Adidas for Yours Truly’s Songs from Scratch series. Previously, that series brought together Lunice and Angel Haze, Danny Brown and Araabmuzik, and Jeremih and Shlohmo, so, yeah, they have pretty good taste over there in Yours Truly HQ.
Marcus: I think the thing I hate the most about Ryan Hemsworth is that he comes off like a herb and is 1/8th as cool as DJ Qualls playing Shelby in Hustle and Flow – who he essentially is. If you’re going to produce tracks that make me want to have sex, please don’t allow your persona to feel like the equivalent of making love in the least interesting way possible. As well, I’m mightily confused by what Starlito means on his Twitter bio by being “…perhaps the last of his kind.” What kind? Generic emo Southern trap rappers? I guess that’s cool? We’re supposed to be living in the future, but bullshit like this – especially when it’s as non-impacting as this sounds – makes me feel like we’ve finally hit rock bottom on the past. Ryan Hemsworth feels like the last of a dead breed, the 500th cousin thrice removed from the lineage of white-boy producers making rappity raps who are not named Rick Rubin. Speaking of Rick Rubin and speaking of Tennessee, man, I’d love to have Rick Rubin “reduce” this song to silence as I sit back and play some Johnny Cash instead. Same emotion, far better feel. Ugh.
Leah: Is breakup rap a genre? I kind of think it should be. I really enjoy how this duo subvert the stoic machismo that dominates hip-hop in this very naked emotional confession (over a trap beat no less). Yes, Ryan Hemsworth might be trading on trendiness, as Marcus claims, but that doesn’t make his music any less listenable or intoxicating. Music that sticks with you captures an emotion, a state of mind, and I while this track is emo as hell, I could definitely see myself curling up and swimming in it for a while after a bad breakup.
Aaron: Seriously, we’ve got to get this guy some help. There’s gotta be resources out there for sad rappers to get the help they need.
This track is weird. A few extra points for being all earnest and shit, but I’m not feeling it.
I’m only sad that this production didn’t go to Kevin Gates, who’s still crawling his way out of the bargain bin. Starlito is good, but the reason his mixtapes with Don Trip are great is because he plays his sensitive side off Trip’s gruff demeanor so well. Alone, he’s a little insular. Gates, on the other hand, can embody both sides of that coin.
This message sponsored by Kevin Gates for President 2016.
Leah: You are all cordially inviting to the wedding of Philip Pennington Runco and Kevin Sadboy Gates to be held November 30th in a really dark basement. Formal dress. No gifts, please.
Bun B ft. Royce da 5’9 & Redman: “Stop Playin'”
This week, veteran rapper Bun B released what is presumably the final chapter in his Trill
trilogy tetralogy. According to Houston MC, Trill O.G.: The Epilogue collects and updates outtakes from his previous efforts: “It’s a lot of good music that either didn’t fit the format of the last album or that we decided to save for another project. I sat down with my long time business partner and Rap-A-Lot CEO James Prince to review the music that we had and quickly came up with an outstanding track list.” “Stop Playin'” is one of those tracks; a Mr. Inkredible production featuring appearances by Def Squad O.G. Redman and Detroit’s Royce da 5’9. It was given away for free last year, but now we get to pay for it!
Leah: I’m so happy this track found a home on a legit release. These monsters of hip-hop display too much talent over this banging boom bap beat to let it reside in singledom. Bun and Royce go the hardest on this, but all are pros and there isn’t a wasted second of Statik Selektah’s beat on this track. So clean, so fun, so perfect. This is a diss track done the right way.
Marcus: Bun goes hard. Nickel goes harder. And Redman is kinda lazy, but still better than most rappers.
Damion: I’m not feeling any of this. Everybody’s verses are garbage, and why they have to go after my man Bieber like that?
Marcus: On occasion, you want to listen to Bun B and believe that Pimp C is still alive, and that UGK could still be a thing. Then, you remember that UGK only exists in memory, and that Bun B has carried on the legacy of Texas rap in ways that are absolutely incredible to fathom – like becoming an adjunct faculty member at Rice University. Listening to this track didn’t make me super excited for rap music or anything, but it certainly made me proud of old rappers. On occasion, rap as a genre will remind me of my favorite reason for why it’s so great. No matter how old you become – and between Royce, Bun and the still lyrically spry Redman there’s like 60 years of rap industry experience on this track – if you know how to deliver bars and tell stories, something this well done and amazingly still semi-relevant is possible. Kind of incredible when you think about it…
Phil: If Bun B wants to get that outtakes money, I’m all for it. As RiFF RaFF said recently, “It’s not free styles; it’s fee styles.” This is as good as I would expect from Bun B and as unremarkable as I would expect from a Bun B outtake. No one is complaining if this comes on the stereo and no one is rushing to replay it. The scratchy mcscartchity beat is by-the-numbers. But it’s nice to know that Redman is alive. He never writes. He never calls. And I saw “How High” in a movie theater.