Money Got Me Gik - Young Scooter
I first heard of Young Scooter on some Future’s early mixtapes, and now a couple years later he is signed to Gucci Mane’s 1017 record label. If either of those two names rings a bell in your head Scooter will sound pretty much like you’d expect—a mix of Future’s recent hook writing ability with Gucci’s own heavily southern-drawled rapping style. He isn’t the most original guy to come from the Bricksquad camp, but for a group that has always had a strong pension for hooks he doesn’t disappoint. Even with a basic hook of “Money got me gik/money got me gik/money got me gik” and after a couple listens you’ll start to wondered why exactly you’ve started saying “gik” so much.
In his recent ”Mixtape of the Week" column Tom Breihan praises Iamsu and Juvenile’s rapping ability despite them saying "nothing". The pejorative comment of rapping about “nothing” is a far too common rap writer trope. Usually used to put down a rapper the critic doesn’t feel put enough “real” content in their music, but it is also used as a way to bypass what the rapper is actually saying, and to just simply praise how they say it.
And depending on the writer, I’m sure “Money Got Me Gik” could receive the same backhanded compliment of saying “nothing” but doing it really well. But, I have spent more hours checking Black Friday deals in the last week than writing about music the last week, because you know what buying stuff is fun! The same way I feel fucking happy when I see my bank account after I get paid for my library job or writing about rap music! If critics are going out of their way to of their way to justify why they enjoy the work of a rapper, it might not hurt to notice that something that may be rote and trite to one’s self is actually something that the artist truly actually cares about—or you know they might have not written a song about it—you know.
Itchin - Future
This year I’ve slowly come around to Future, because somewhere between “Itchin” and Maxwell’s amazing breakdown of Future’s verse on Gucci Mane’s “Brick Fair” my indifference turned to fandom. “Turn on the Lights” is Future’s highest charting song, but I’ve become more found of his hyper-detailed crime narratives rather than his spaced-out singing.
"Itchin" starts with "My mama said ‘Fuck it nigga, hit the streets and live’" and dives straight into explaining why Future calls himself a "Ma-fucking-monster” in the chorus. I’m still coming around on Future’s strained auto-tuned singing, but the pain/conflict from his voice makes one hang on every word he says.
Future provides a similar perspective to Rocko’s world-weary “Squares out Your Circle”, where his tortured and stressed-out hook goes “You got people that’s around you, they gone try their best to down you…what don’t kill you, gone hurt you”. That fine moral divide is a bit troubling and binary, but the emotional struggle from Future are some of the few moments of real doubt and worry in mainstream rap music as this type of more street oriented rap has been pushed to the edges.
One of the biggest rap songs of the year has come from the relatively unknown (at least on a national stage) Cash Out with a song simply titled “Cashin’ Out”. The auto-tuned song has slowly risen to not only topping rap charts, but has broken into the Billboard Top 40. While Cash Out’s profile is only increasing, the producer of the song, DJ Spinz is a Producer/DJ whose profile should be rising. He was recently interviewed for the Fader by Andrew Noz, and it gives some nice background details on Spinz life, and shows that he’s been DJing for years and not just something he picked up.
Noz a couple months ago posted a recording of a Saturday night mix by DJ Diamond Kuts, noting how it weaved all kinds of music (Rap, R&B, Bounce, Club, Dancehall, and even Pop Top 40) that have gotten people dancing from the last 25 years. DJ Spinz, radio show doesn’t do that. In fact his worldview for rap music, doesn’t accord for much music beyond the six zones of Atlanta. But, this limited approach to his show, doesn’t mean his show is boring or limited, and in fact shows while Atlanta is known for the music of Lex Luger (originally, and still in Virginia) there are plenty of other strains of rap music. Tex James’ “Smart Girl (Dumb Booty)" with Stuey Rock’s amazing auto-tuned hook is impossible to get out of your head on one listens is able to sit on the same mix as Future’s lost in space love song "Turn on the Lights" and Waka Flocka Flame’s unchecked aggression of "Lurkin”. Atlanta has been Rap music’s center for a decade plus is in part because there has never been a singular sound to the city, even when Snap music was huge in the mid-2000s, Young Jeezy, T.I., and Gucci Mane were establishing the original trap sound (or well their producers Shawty Redd, DJ Toomp, and Zaytoven were respectively). Luger might still be the big name right now for Atlanta rap music, but producers like Mr. Hanky (“Smart Girl”), F.K.I. (“Bring It Back”), DJ Spinz (“Rooster in My Rari) and Mike Will Made It (who did “Turn on the Lights”, and should soundtrack a chessy Sci-Fi space flick) are the guys continuing to push the sound of Atlanta forward.
Quick notes on the actual quality of the mix: 1. Discussions between DJ Spinz, DJ Scream and Cory B are left in, because I didn’t feel like editing them out, and I really like nightclub commercials so those stayed. 2. If the sound is a little iffy, that can be blamed by the internet stream itself and how I recorded it (sorry!).
Wearing the same leopard jacket! At… two different times!
Do you like 2 Chainz? Do you like Future? Do you like the clothes worn by 2 Chainz and Future? Well, I’ve got a blog for you:
It’s run by David (myself, a music blogger and general person about/near twitter), Michelle (better known as there theremixbaby, or better yet “Your nerdy music writer’s favorite tumblr on music writing and other awesome things”), and Meaghan (part maker of rap art, part music mix maker, part hilarious person on twitter, and probably on Iggy Azalea’s most wanted list!).
Same Damn Time (Remix) - Future (feat. Rick Ross, Wale, Gunplay, & Meek Mill)
Gunplay’s verse on “Same Damn Time”
All black Khaki jumper,
Acting a donkey,
Act the same damn time,
Got these bitches popping a monkey,
Metro Zu in here,
Where my crew in here,
With all these hogs in the game,
No room for you here,
Limo tents on my shades,
Skinnys on my blades,
Like my hood the Everglades,
Rich Forever paid,
Do it with no effort,
Now, let’s effing celebrate,
Toaster spilling grapes,
Hoes catching vapes,
She jumped on my pole,
and did a pole trick for me,
Slipping on your pimpin that means more grip for me,
Grown lips on the Forgi damn near shallowing the street,
You own me homie (had at now???),
Imma pull that gat out now,
Must be out your rabbit mind,
I be thugging and rapping, same damn time.
Shinin (Remix) - DJ Scream (feat. Stuey Rock, Future, Yo Gotti, 2 Chainz (Tity Boy), & Gucci Mane)
The “MMG” tag at the beginning of this song is bizarre to hear, because while Rick Ross is at this point known for Lex Luger banger and Lex Luger knockoff bangers, he is not really known for the type of auto-tuned, fake horns type songs that have been running Atlanta for the past few years. But, when you sign DJ Scream—one of Atlanta’s bigger DJs—the range of what might be branded “MMG” can only increase.
I probably find the brand extension of “MMG” more interesting than most people, but the “Shinin (Remix)” is a great slice of 2011 Atlanta. I spent a lot of time in Atlanta during the month of July, and got around to listening to a lot of Atlanta rap stations, and if there was one thing that was obvious it was that: 2 Chainz or Future on your song will grantee plenty of airplay. The original “Shinin” with only Stuey Rock and Future was pretty good, and might be my personal pinnacle example of auto-tuned rap choruses. For the remix all rappers who would expect to get featured on a southern radio remix appear here: 2 Chainz says “shawty wet like Katrina”…why I have turned around on 2 Chainz recently has to be his voice and disaffected charms…because otherwise I still don’t get his appeal; Yo Gotti actually has an okay verse here, not great but he does not get tripped trying to find how many words he can rhyme with “white”; Gucci Mane sounding lazy is always terrible, and even more so with such exciting DJ Spinz and Nard & B beat; Future has the best verse by far claiming to an astronaut and smoking weed in space, how does someone beat that: they can’t. This is the first single for DJ Scream’s MMG album, and it is a good first step to what could be a mainstream album highlighting some of the odder sounds from rap’s biggest city.
YC in “Racks on Racks” says “Need a kickstand way, I lean promethazine fiend, styrofoam, sprite and lean” but the featured guest, Future; is the one that wants the effects of lean to ooze into his music. The influenced of the slowed up drink in not only appearing on rap radio stations in 2011; even rap’s biggest energy ball, Waka Flocka Flame is having the purple drink alter the type of music he is releasing. This influence of lean is nothing new to rap music, but the drink is not only being heard in songs sitting at the lower end of rap station playlists, but also at the top of the pop charts.
Lean, purp, dirty sprite, or whatever you want to call your combination of promethazine and codeine has been referenced in rap music for well over a decade (DJ Screw, Chopped and Screwed music, and Lil Wayne when he was claiming to be a star eater). The chorus of “I’m On One" from DJ Khaled (currently 10 on the Hot 100), Drake sings "Two white cups and I got that drank, could be purple, could be pink, depending on how you mix that shit"; along with Big K.R.I.T.’s "Country Shit (Remix)” mention of “pouring lean”, shows the drug combination getting a higher profile. “Like A G6” a number one song from last year even said “When we drink, we do it right, getting slizzard sippin’ syzrupp, in my ride”.
Waka Flocka Flame has released three mixtapes this year with two more coming by the end of the month: the guy has been working. Releasing so much music should raise questions about quality of his work, and DuFlockaRant: (Ten Toes Down) does raise questions. Not about Waka Flocka Flame spreading himself too thin, but instead wondering what exactly Waka Flocka has been drinking during his recording session of these songs.
One of the biggest R&B songs this year, “Sure Thing” by Miguel does not explicitly mention lean, but there is a particular vocal effect that recalls the drug. The lines “You can bet that, never gotta sweat that”, sounds chopped and screwed, and while there is nothing else in the song that makes reference to DJ Screw or the specific drug, the effect is an interesting one to be inserted in a typical (but excellent) R&B song.
The chopped and screwed music associated with lean are slowed up and dragged out remixes of songs said to be best heard on lean; but “Mud Music”, a song obviously about codeine, is the first sign that DuFlockaRant might a slightly topsy-turvy listening experience. The slurping sounds, Waka Flocka Flame sounding like he has a mouthful of marbles and meshed with Southside on the Track’s production sets the song on a wobbly path. Listening to the track there is so much happening (I did not even mention Waka Flocka’s adlibs) at the same time, yet it is easy not notice how little is also happening as the drums and synths drop in and out throughout the song leaving moments of near silence in this bizarre song. The slightly off-kilter sound is not limited to “Mud Music”: “Drunk 2 Much”, “Pass Around”, and “Clap (Remix)” and a few other songs also have this fuzzy twisted production.
Future’s latest mixtape True Story is not so much leaning back and forth, but aiming straight up as Future’s voice and rhymes soar higher and higher to a point of near meaninglessness—sadly he does not get to that level of abstraction. Future’s lyrics of women and money coming from a rapper like Young Joc would be easily dismissed as derivative and boring for good reason—they are all those things. What saves Future is his auto-tuned delivery of said trite lyrics. Marijuana usually gets rap metaphors about “floating above the clouds” and Future does make those metaphors, as his voice sits comfortable on top of those clouds. His extended end syllables coming from his hoarse voice makes each word he rap sound like there was a struggle to come from his mouth. This unique vocal combination lets him take one of the most unoriginal Lex Luger biting beats from this year in “Tony Montana”, and make it memorial as his worn voice spits some of rap’s worst clichés (“My life is a movie”).
True Story might be more consistent than Dirty Sprite from late last year, but that only means “Long Time Coming” a decent rap love song, can be lost as Future’s auto-tuned voice seems to always been his number one priority in his songs. This would be fine, if he found a producer or even a production style to fit his songs, because so far beyond the novelty of high in the cloud vocals on top of Lex Luger type beats, there is not much separating him from another boring Atlanta rapper like Tity Boy (2Chainz). But, he has not found his K.E. on the Track or Lex Luger yet (using those producers is not helping Future separate himself from the rest of Atlanta’s trap/swag rappers).
Waka Flocka Flame on the other hand has never had a problem with having a defined production style, and DuFlockaRant sees that even if Waka Flocka is not staying on Lex Luger beats he still know the type of production he will do best on. “2 Deep” produced by Mike Will sounds like an even more sour note filled Lex Luger monster beat, as Waka Flocka Flame’s strong hook and competent verses by all of the members of Bricksquad creates one better Bricksquad full posse cuts. Similar “I’m from Grove Street” and “Clayco” produced by Southside on the Track are the post-crunk song that Waka Flocka perfected on his album Flockaveli from last year. Not all of the songs on the mixtape are on the same level of fight hype as the previously mentioned tracks, but the mixtape’s heavy focus on other Bricksquad members does not water down the mixtape at all.
Future’s mixtapes might be full of “dirty sprite”, but he still is has not found a way to convey that feeling associated with the drink to his music. As his vocal effect might be where the influence of the drug comes into play, but it is only really interesting to hear in small doses, and is not too different than Yung LA, Young Dro, or even Max B. Those rappers also had production, personality, an ear for hooks to carry their music if when their main verses were lacking, which is something Future cannot fall back on (Future’s hooks work despite himself). Waka Flocka Flame might partake in varies different substances, but no matter what is in his system he has an intensity and power that few rappers can touch today, all without relying on a vocal/drug of choice gimmick.