Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Our name is Rec-Room Therapy. Each week, we discuss recent hip-hop tracks. Today, we play make believe with Rick Ross and Future, ritualistically launch our bodies at ScHoolboy Q, and visit Rich Homie Quan’s sleepover party. Along for the ride is our distinguished panel of Marcus Dowling, Phil R, Joshua Phelps, Damion McLaren, Aaron Miller, and Hip Hop Hooray’s Leah Manners.
Rick Ross ft. Future: “No Games”
“Your shit pushed back ‘cuz it ain’t buzzin,” Rick Ross taunted on last year’s “Rich Forever”, despite the fact that his own shit – God Forgives, I Don’t – kept getting pushed back due to lack of buzz. (Its initial dead-in-the-water singles, “You the Boss” and “I Love My Bitches” were left off the album entirely.) A year later, he’s talking his shit again on “No Games”: “Heard your shit keep flopping and your crib got foreclosed.” We can’t speak to Rozay’s homeowner status – Jordan Sargent’s recent diary of an MMG weekend in Miami seems to indicate that his crib is doing just fine – but there’s some irony again in the former boast, as “No Games” follows two songs from the forthcoming Mastermind that pretty much flopped: traditional banger “Box Chevy” and the more contemplative “I Wonder Why”. Ross is hoping that third time is the charm with “No Games”, a chest-thumper with a Future hook and Justice League production. Announced in January, Mastermind is still without a release date.
Marcus: Rick Ross survived everything from losing his Reebok deal to rape raps to apparent Gangster Disciples assassination attempts, all to just merely tell us that he’s playing “no games.” Really, dude? Okay, so when I was in pro wrestling, the logic behind cutting a promo was that you always listened to what your opponent had to say, then responded with something that fit the tenor of the attack. It’s like the world screamed at Rick Ross, “Fuck you, you ignorant, fat motherfucker,” and Ross comes back with rappity raps about “fake and phony” contenders to his riches and rap throne? If Rick Ross is okay with capping his rap fortunes and putting the development of MMG’s musical earnings on the back of Wale (and others), then that’s his prerogative. But wasting a paycheck on Future (which a lot of folks in the industry are doing these days, by the way) to do so? Insane and unnecessary.
Leah: Fuck this song. For an artist like Ross, who has so thoroughly been exposed as a fraud to rap on a track about not playing games with fakes and phonies might be everything that’s wrong with mainstream rap, and it’s served up to the club-going crowd on an over-the-top Justice League beat that bears more resemblance to an Excorcist theme song than it rightfully should. If this ends up being a hit, I will be so sorely disappointed with today’s audiences, because it’s so transparently cliched and counterfeit. With any luck, it’ll be the death knell for Rape Ross’s career.
Damion: This track bangs. We already know Ross ain’t really bout dat life! Fine. But this is exactly the type of beat that accentuates the power in his voice. On top of that, Future is back to his bread and butter: Providing the hook on up-tempo, bass-heavy tracks. Trying to dissect tracks like this for lyrical content is frivolous. It ain’t meant for that. Would you bounce to this at 2 a.m., knee deep in Patron shots and Bud Lite (yes, this is the life that I’m bout)? Yes. #Honest
Phil: THESE BLOGGERS CAN’T HOLD RICK BACK. I’m with Damion: Why so serious, guys? This sort of head-buster is Rozay 101. And even though his batting average is well below the Mendoza Line – you would think that he’d have the formula down pat at this point – he knocks one out occasionally. Which is what he does here. “No Games” is the best Ross banger in a minute, mostly because everyone plays his part. Justice League summon a plague of apocalyptic locusts. Future says nothing with great vengeance and furious anger. And Ross does his incensed exasperation thing with an usually high amount of energy for the big guy. Seriously, when was the last time he sounded this fired up?
I get that Ross is not a likable figure right now. He’s had an awful year. The exposed inauthenticity of his past claims will always cast a shadow over what he says in the present. But on “No Games”, Ross is a rich dude rapping mostly about being a rich dude. His story checks out. And to the degree that it doesn’t, I’ll say this: I’m willing to suspend my disbelief that Sandra Bullock can fly space rockets. I can live with Ross’s tall tales when he’s selling it this convincingly.
Phelps: I don’t know if this is going to be a radio hit, but it’s hitting me in the fucking head like a Rivera fastball through these headphones right now. Justuce League is on that Michael Bay soundtrack shit. Future and Ross are thespians, and the fact they (and billions of other rappers) reference Scarface is telling: They’re actors and want that movie money! They don’t really want to be treated like Tony – they want to be Pacino. A minority of their fans may do actual dirt but the truth is they’re making bangers for the club heads, for the gym, and for the IT guy rolling up his windows and blasting Geto Boys at the end of a long work day. It’s fake, but it’s fun as hell. It’s the gratuitous “Grand Theft Auto 5” track of the week, and that shit made a billion already. If the brothers Thornton can get past the veracity of Ross (and let’s be honest, when’s the last time that they sold coke?) then I certainly can.
Aaron: Sweet Yeezus I think I fell asleep before the beat dropped. Rick Ross has elevated the art of being wack to a whole new place. All talk. Dude is like a big fat scarecrow in a field full of rap corn. Is there such a thing as reverse street cred? How can I be down? How many Bentleys do I have to crash? How many sandwiches must I eat to get into fake gangster heaven?
I still can’t stand Future. How does this guy do so little on a track and still sleep at night? Probably on a bed made of cocaine and money – that’s how.
I did come up with a fun game for this track. Every time he says “they treat me like I’m Tony”, in place of the played out Scarface reference, I just imagine some other famous Tony: Tony the Tiger, Tony Danza, Tony Scott, Toni Braxton… You get the idea.
Phelps: Sometimes I’m conscious of what I eat, riding a bike around town with a backpack full of fresh veggies from Whole Foods, and sometimes I wanna fake ball out in an uber limo and fall unconscious into a fat-ass plate of Wingstop-engineered chicken wings with extra blue cheese. In hip-hop and life, I think we can allow ourselves a cheat day.
ScHoolboy Q: “Banger (MOSHPIT)”
According to bucket hat connoisseur ScHoolyboy Q, his much-anticipated sophomore effort, Oxymoron, has been turned into Top Dawg Entertainment and is in the process of crawling out of the dreaded sample clearance limbo. Last week, label head Anthony Tiffith said just a few more issues remained and then leaked “Banger (MOSHPIT)” in order “2 show my appreciation 4 yall patience n loyalty.” Produced by Miami production duo The Renegades, the song is our third taste of Oxymoron, following proper singles “Yay Yay” and “Collard Greens”.
Marcus: YAWN. Seriously, though. Kendrick’s out here rapping for his life, and the TDE camp’s going to let this see the light of day? I feel almost certain that Q’s got mind-blowers in the offing for Oxymoron, but this one doesn’t grab me. I suppose we should be patient and wait, but Q’s one of those guys that has “silent but violent” voice of a generation type feeling to his work and I don’t quite hear that on this one. Sounding more like Big DS from Onyx than a superstar here, this feels more like a drug dealer sitting on a bundle and rapping than a dude out to steal the minds of a generation. Chief Keef recalls? Laconic flows? Ugh. YAWN.
Leah: For a song called “Banger,” this sounds like anything but. Marcus is right about the listless rapping. And does anyone else hear Ras Trent when he lets loose with “biddy-bye-bye”?
Phelps: I think the title gives context here – not only does the 808 bang out relentlessly over Renegades’ organs and xylophone, it’s ScHoolboy going stupid and flinging rhymes with the wanton but harmless violence of a mosh pit. He may or may not be rapping well depending on your view, but he’s definitely on theme, and that theme is “let’s fuck shit up together” – hence the inclusive last verse. If you’ve ever been in a mosh pit, it’s more communal than adversarial. And some days that’s the kind of catharsis we all need.
Phil: I don’t think there’s an MC this year who’s displayed more growth than Q. When I go back and listen to Habits & Contradictions, I hear someone with personality to spare, but not nearly as much presence to fully project it. There are times that it still takes a few bars to distinguish whether it’s him rapping or a guest. “Yay Yay”, “Collard Greens”, and now “Banger (MOSHPIT)” are something else entirely: Q’s simultaneously amplified the seemingly feral quality of his delivery while unleashing it with greater precision. There’s no mistaking Q for someone else any longer, and that’s especially the case on his own tracks, where he’s free to record a dozen vocals and let them mosh it out. Where before he rapped over beats, he and his army of one inhabit them now. He feels ingrained into productions, to the point where it’s hard to imagine anyone attempting to freestyle over them. You can hear the chorus of “Banger (MOSHPIT)” as nonsense, but I hear a guy in scary control of using his voice as an instrument, something carefully calibrated for maximum carnage like the sprinkler M60 in the trunk of Walter White’s Cadillac.
Aaron: I like Q alright. He’s like diet Kendrick sugar free lite, and he’s always making noises in place of actual words. I’m not too keen on this track. It seems a step down from previous offerings(“Collard Greens” is my shit), but the magic is still there and he does have one of the more unique voices in the game right now. Black Hippy shit. I give this a strong 6 out of 10 boom-shock-a-locka’s or whatever.
Rich Homie Quan ft. Jeezy & Meek MIll: “Type of Way (Remix)”
Aside from Migos, the biggest upstart to break out of Atlanta this year has unquestionably been Rich Homie Quan. In February, the rapper followed his 2012 mixtape Still Going In – which birthed regional hit “Differences” – with a “reloaded” version of the same album. Validating the existence of this endeavor was “Type of Way”, a forlorn shit-talker in the melodic key of Future that slowly grew inescapable over the course of late spring and early summer. The song would go on to crack the Billboard top 50, and get the freestyle nod from pretty much everyone – Lil Wayne, Ludacris, Kevin Gates, Ace Hood, et al. Now Quan has trotted out his own remix to producer Yung Carter’s original track, roping in marquee names Meek Mill and “Don’t Call Me Young” Jeezy to guest.
Marcus: Maaan, if people just, like, aren’t going to care about FM radio anymore, give me 100 of these Yung Wun “Tear It Up” knockoffs. They serve their purpose for cashmoneyhoesanddrinking shit-talking for the utterly mundane world that radio-friendly rap has become. Somewhere on my iPod I have a collection of one-offs from Shawty Lo and a bunch of other dudes who got on the trap rap bandwagon the last time it made a stop in the mainstream. Between Rich Homie Quan and Trinidad James, I don’t need anyone else. It’ll be fun to see what happens when Waka Flocka’s EDM album hits, though. When vapid EDM meets more-than-vapid pop-rap, some incredibly ridiculous things are bound to happen.
Leah: Did this soulless, stilted, turnt anthem really need a remix? This track is a useless perpetual riff on unprovoked violence, the myth of “respect,” and grating misogyny. So, I still hate it. I’m a hater this week, sorry, buds. I’ll turn in my positivity badge at the next earth mother yoga conference I don’t go to.
Damion: This is great production wasted on the wrong rappers. Whatever happened to riding a beat? Meek Mill sounds like he decided he was just gonna rap how he wants on this track. Quan’s verse even drops off. This is terrible. I always maintain you have to get the right rappers for these remixes, and this is a perfect example of what goes wrong when you don’t. Quan should have gone with someone like Rocko, Future, TI, Wayne, Wale, Luda, Andre 3k, or even Kendrick. The remix is always suppose to be better!
Phelps: Rich Homie Quan’s raps are unlistenable. This should be a single verse Meek Mill remix, if anything at all. To be honest, I wish I’d never heard it. This is hands down the worst rap song I’ve punished my ears with in the last month.
Aaron: Yawn. You know I hate singing-ass rappers, and this song has me feeling some type of bored. Shout out Old Jeezy: jyeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. He’s always been one of those rappers that I hate but secretly kinda like a whole lot. I honestly don’t know why any of these dudes are on this beat though. Meek Mill is no slouch. I get a kick out of his diss tracks and freestyles, but I feel like he’s dumbing it way down to be on this track. There are no levels to this shit. This beat could have been a hot dancehall joint with a few tweaks. Where’s Movado when you need him? Get Vybz Kartel to phone it in from whatever scary Jamaican prison he’s chillin in and put Busta on the remix. Boom. You owe me a million bucks.
Also, you can sing the verses from “Wrapped Around Your Finger” by The Police almost perfectly to this track. If you are into that kind of thing. Which I am. Now I feel some type of weird.