Friday, July 29, 2016
Earlier in 2016, Denzel Curry went on record as a gook. A rapper from the Bay is now calling himself Yid. And while he may be Black Hebrew Israelite or a member of the Stoudemire sect, he has yet to cover Judaic matters in his work. Until further notice, I have to assume that Yid is not a yid.
Before we charge this young man with the crime of cultural appropriation, let's go beyond the moniker. "Keep It On Me" revisits the early '00s trend of vaguely Asiatic production, commonly associated with visionary jocks of the guzheng like Timbaland and Ja Rule. What might have been dismissed as cultural appropriation in another context was celebrated for expanding the possibilities of rap music. And it did. Culture runs on appropriation; people only care when the appropriation is executed poorly. In this case, "Keep It On Me" is so catchy it would have even the students of Oberlin dabbing muskily around the compost heap.
We talkin yins 'n' yangs in this transcultural mash-up: Yee with the lilting rap-sanging, Yid sounding like he's rapping through a bullhorn into a cheap computer microphone. As Richard Gere once said, Form is emptiness, emptiness is form. You can't have the sweet without the sour, the Yid without the Yee. It's a combination so winning I only wish they'd gone full yellowface like Jin in the "Learn Chinese" video instead of blowing their budget on a pricey Lil Blood cameo. Somewhere in the ether, Bruce Lee is sippin Heem and nodding in approval.
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
No Limit nostalgia may have reached its fever pitch with Usher and Young Thug's Billboard-charting paean to the golden age of The Tank. Time to move on. Today's accelerated culture is ripe for an outbreak of Gucci Mane nostalgia. If "Swing My Door" is any indication, it's only a matter of time before young rappers, no longer content to merely run with his style, sink their talons into the themes, titles, and ad libs of his back catalog.
No Limit and Cash Money nostalgia consisted mainly of millenials reaching out toward a faded era of their youth. That the artists and music were accessories rather than actors is obvious if one remembers that people still don't give a shit about what Turk is doing. Gucci is as wanted and desired as he's ever been.
What fuels the nostalgia? Retrospective appreciation for his 2008 and 2009 hot streak? Anxiety that the drug-addled pudgeball we all loved is irrevocably changed? Or is it the persistent suspicion that the original model Radric Davis was murdered and cloned by the Bilderberg Group? Soon, perhaps, our nostalgia for the Original Gucci Mane will be all that remains—assuming, of course, they leave our memories unaltered. Hang on to your tinfoil snapbacks, folks.
Nostalgia trip #2: In the song's latter half, a bunch of MPA Weed Carriers trade verses like they're taking it back to the leather-man era. Rap: the only context where finishing each other's sentences isn't totally lame.
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Wa gwan, penisclots? DANCEHALL MUSIC HYSTERIA! back in this bitch. Like you, I ignored Konshens for a hot minute, solely on the account of his poorly chosen name. Konshens sounds like some Soundbombing reject shit you'd find in a Fat Beats .99-cent bin circa '02. Ima pass on that one, B.
Turns out he actually got some jams! The riddim on "Bruk Off Yuh Back" sounds kind of like that Gyptian candlewax melter from a while back, except the lyrics is more saturnalian than gooey. Chuuuch. Wassup with the video tho? It begins with a minute-long episode wherein a young, jean-shorted man is led into a remote swamp by hoodlums with a machete and handgun, like a strange marriage of Deliverance and Shottas.
Fortunately, Dread Beatty manages to escape his would-be anal pillagers. Avoiding potential death and certain butt rape, our boy stumbles upon a random dance in the middle of the forest. They got a big-ass speaker cabinet, and no obvious power sources, so I guess they got a generator or something? It's a feast of flesh, and I ain't just talkin about the curry they barbecuin. Skinny broads, thick broads, and everything in between let dem cheeks clap while Konshens looms nonchalantly in the background, croonin his lil slick talk while dressed like a Goldman Sachs associate on a Hamptons summer retreat.
If he wasn't in the dancehall game, he'd probably have a key knee-deep in investment management.
Everyone's gettin loose until our protagonist's hatin' ass dream-killing buddy pours water on his face and clips the gossamer strands of this divine reverie. Bubble-bursting dickhead with his capri-pant jorts, let my man concuss in peace. Was it all a dream? Did homeboy actually get violated? Do faeries and forest nymphs exist? Over two minutes of outtake dancing close out the video on some Inception shit, and we're left with the kind of ambiguity critics be bustin nuts over.
We don't talk to capris.
Monday, July 11, 2016
I got the ratchet in my toolbox / I'm fuckin' thots in my tubesocks!
Despite a long history of eccentricity, the Bay Area's next gen are a remarkably buttoned down bunch. Mozzy is a goth kid. Kamaiyah's greatest strength is her ability to re-contexualize worn conventions. Nef the Pharoah owes as much to Wiz's stultifying stonerisms as he does his Vallejo forebears.
For those of you who like your slaps paired with yuks, who have given up waiting on Ezale's Cambodian Democracy, I recommend the modest output of Sonniebo, the Blowfly to YouTube comedian Lewis Belt's Clarence Reid. Though lacking the mystery of a fully immersive character, Sonniebo is a parody act that pulls off an impressive trick: redirecting itself around the Dr. Demento cul-de-sac, it ends up legitimately good. Local stalwarts Marshawn Lynch, Mistah F.A.B., and Juneonnabeat have abetted the giggles at various points. When they made the delicate transition from YouTube comedian to YouTube rapper, Steven Jo and Deshawn Raw didn't get co-signs like this!
Is it symbolic of our end times that most of my current favorites are novelty dance songs? As our world circles the drain, RAP MUSIC HYSTERIA! will be there, breadfruiting and tip-toeing across the flames like a slightly less megalomaniac Nero.