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!).
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.
Shinin - Stuey Rock (feat. Future)
WHTA’s top 7 songs on 5/11/11*
7. Watch This- Future (feat. Rocko), 6. Shinin - Stuey Rock (feat. Future), 5. Oh My - DJ Drama (feat. Wiz Khalifa, Fabolous, & Roscoe Dash), 4. So Far Away, 3. Racks - YC (feat. Future), 2 - She Ain’t You - Chris Brown 1. Goin’ Steady - Rocko (feat. Yo Gotti)
Hopefully listening to local radio stations raises questions about current music trends, because if it is not the radio is sorely lacking—passively radio listening makes no sense to me. Considering lots of music genres are hobbled together by music writers trying to find the next new trend; I am surprised others have not run this in the ground yet—I have, but whatever. YC, Future, Stuey Rock, Rocko, Roscoe Dash, and plenty of rappers based around Atlanta have been forming a particular type of music, where Rap and R&B are blurred and made one by the studio magic glue auto-tune.
The tracks however are not auto-tuned infected rap or R&B songs, as they do away with the separation of verse and chorus structure in favor of a song distilled to pure chorus. Nearly all of these rappers would flounder if they were only rapping, so why not add enough auto-tune turning rapping into singing, then not allowing the vocals to be overpowered by the production. The producers of these tracks are relatively unknown producers like Sonny Digital or DJ Spinz using the happy horns of K.E. on tha Tracks and—actually they only seem to follow the template of a K.E. on tha Tracks songs. Drumma Boy’s production on “Oh My” is not too different than his previous club work (“Put It Down” & “No Hands”), but Roscoe Dash’s chorus pushes the song toward Auto-hop; his auto-tuned voice intertwines with the track better than any YC, Future, or Stuey Rock songs. Not all of these songs sound the exact same, but when listening to the radio it is hard not hear this as a separate style of Rap music, where rapping is minimized and “catchiness” is their main aim.
Listening to WHTA, I happened to catch the top 7 requested songs a couple weeks ago. I have already written about a lot of these songs on my blog, but hearing them all together was a bit surreal. Not, all of these songs are heard all across the country, but at least on WHTA this trend of “Auto-Hop” songs has not yet run its course. ”Shinin” with its Future feature, soaring auto-tune singing, and sub K.E. on the Track production; it is the first the first post-“Racks” song to get airplay. This trend will probably not end too soon, especially as summer is about to begin and these songs are ready to fuel many summer party sing-a-longs. Which, raises the main question I have when listening to these songs, which is that besides “Racks” and Roscoe Dash’s songs, none of these tracks have really caught on in a huge national way; yet these songs are some of the biggest attempts at a crossover song short of a hair metal band doing a ballad. People may complain about auto-tune, but the pop charts shows that a majority of people still loves with the effect, so I am a little amazed some of these tracks have not caught on with a broader audience.
*During the show a girl called in to name all of the songs and the artists. The girl who called remembered the song names, but not the artists of the songs, which might point to why these tracks have reached this limited level or popularity.