Friday, January 29, 2016

Loosies Of The Week, Jan 23-29

Welcome to the third Loosies Of The Week, a wrap-up of this weeks singles, throwaways, leaks, and any other loose tracks I find. A crazy week lead to an updated 'Parties In L.A.' from Freddie Gibbs and the battle to the ends of the earth from B.o.B. and Neil Degrasse Tyson.

Bishop Nehru - Forever & A Day

Has someone explained to me yet how this dude got to do an album with MF DOOM? It's mildly irritating that, even by 90's nostalgic East Coast standards, Bishop Nehru, by far the most mediocre of the bunch, got to make NehruvianDOOM, and proceeded to waste it, with such a magnificent talent. Now he's not bad, at least comparing him to every New York teens whose tried to rap, but as far as relevancy in the game on a wider scale he's entirely forgettable with absolutely nothing original sprouting up out of him. Not the style, the subgenre, the hooks, the lyrics, the flows, the content, nothing. And there is no worse place to be in music than utterly undefinable.

And with 'Forever & A Day' that trend unfortunately continues. I hate to be this harsh, especially when the song is at least competent, but it is completely useless. For every dozen "I'm gonna make it in the music business" song you hear, there's another hundred or so that you haven't. I understand the song and message being important to Nehru himself, with him investigating instances of his past that made him love Hip-Hop, but continuing to harp on banal cliches whilst clearly doing nothing interesting with it isn't a great way to gain followers. So lyrically and conceptually it's inept.

Then comes the music itself, which, as with the lyrics, is about as by the books as one can hope to get. Again, at the end of the day it's fine, but fine doesn't constitute ever being remembered in this ever-growing age of Hip-Hop. The pianos, bass, and kick drums all mesh well, and Nehru does a fine job rapping over them, fitting his flow to the percussion as the late 80's era was prone to do. But where all is lost is where all is suppose to come to a head; the chorus. It's awful. Awfully written, sung, executed. "I've been on my grind for forever and a day, music been on my mind for forever and a day." I mean, can you get more cliche than that? Nehru, whether stubborn or lacking in resources, really could benefit from additional singers to at least beef up the overall appeal rather than attempting everything (the production is by him too) by himself. 

A$AP Rocky - Hear Me

For a seeming throwaway, 'Hear Me' is really, really good and better than the bulk of At.Long.Last.A$AP. Driven by a developed beat (that lightly samples OutKast's 'Pink & Blue') and A$AP Rocky's classic flow, 'Hear Me' is another worthy track that the Harlem rapper has released to extend his catalogue of really good, but not great tracks. With the slight help of Pharrell during the chorus, a forgettable one at that, the track is well rounded and bounces easily between Rocky's verses, which steal the show as they're prone to do. Easy cruising music with limited traction for lyrics, that's been his motto since day one. Rocky could make nonsensical rhymes and no one would bat an eyelash cause the focus of his songs always lies on his voice, delivery, and cadence over the beats. Here he sporadically comes off as Drake-ish, sounding both like 'Jumpman' early on and 'Back To Back' towards the end.

I wonder who produced this track cause they did a hell of a job, as did Rocky picking out such a beat, further showing off his ear of selection. It remains increasingly varied with a huge number of instruments switching roles constantly, as the percussion constantly shifts to make for a really interesting palate. Overall, it may be a bit too directionless, as each piece doesn't really add up to much, but the intrigue certainly helps to increase its value. The bass, as is expected for an A$AP song, comes punchy and overwhelming with details being muddled in the distant background. Take that for good, as a nice way to flaunt aesthetic, or bad, as a amateur way of hiding sounds, either way its inherently trademarked to almost every A$AP song, and goes hand in hand with the faster side of Cloud Rap Rocky's been segueing too. 

B.o.B. - Flatline

The past few days have been very, very strange for B.o.B. More than that, it's been revealing. After a slew of Twitter rants, some of which were called out by famed astropsychdst Neil Degrasse Tyson, B.o.B officially opened up to the world as a Geocentric, Flat-Earth believer. It's a strange world we live in, for sure. Regardless, in less than a day the rapper responded to Tyson in musical diss form. Long story short, 'Flatline' continues to show the uncomfortably erratic behavior of a once popular artist flying off the deep end quicker than Kid Cudi.

It's funny though that whereas Cudi's preposterous beliefs revealed itself through music (with Speeding Bullet 2 Heaven), B.o.B's doing it through content. The music itself is sound. His flow is on point, he genuinely feels aggravated, and the beat does a competent job at leading him on, despite the irony of it sounding awfully spacey. In it he speaks of the Earth as a plane surface and uses a half-assed quote from Tyson himself to 'explain' his theory. Most alarming of all is the line "Do your research on David Irving, Stalin was way worse than Hitler." That second line isn't all that preposterous, Stalin after all was an equally terrible person inflicting death and drought over a longer period of time. However, it's all in the implication arising from the David Irving line, who, if you're unfamiliar, is a famed Holocaust-denier. Words don't describe the sheer ignorance.

It seems as if B.o.B has followed the path of many conspiracy theorists, ones that conflate scientific updates for invalid step backs. In other words, because science has stumbled over itself with the discovery of new truths it therefore, in their eyes, invalidates all statements coming out of their mouths, using haphazard evidence to deflect physical evidence. But I digress, he's wrong and you don't need me to tell you that. Musically, this is sound, shockingly so, even by B.o.B's standards, but it's still hard to listen to given the dominating lyrical content. Needless to say, having a platform like B.o.B does (even if it's shrinking), allows for this misinformation to reach the masses, and that's a harmful thing. 

Earl Sweatshirt - Wind In My Sails

Maybe in an attempt to submerge last week's 'Mirror' leak, which was done not under his permission being that it wasn't a finished track, Earl Sweatshirt has officially released a new track entitled 'Wind In My Sails.' A rudimentary title by Earl's standards. And while Earl's track record of not releasing bad music continues, this piece doesn't really do much for me, a large part of that being it's sample usage taking from the same source as Captain Murphy's 'Children Of Atom.' Knowing how much Earl likes Flying Lotus it's a bit redundant hearing him go over the beat, a bit slowed down in this case. It does follow Earl's typical style of a verse surrounded by small choruses, which makes it even less noticeable, barely escaping two minutes without moving anywhere.

The introductory sample though is excellent, but that's a different song entirely. Rapping-wise, Earl returns to his mumbling efforts, which I wasn't opposed to in the first place so I didn't mind it. Lyrically he's just as tight-lipped as ever, with lines that'll have you troubling for the precise meaning as you go over them time and time again. For some that's pleasurable, and it does show off the emcee's skills at manipulating both the technicals and the emotive resonance that usually are separated when it comes to intricate lyrics. Largely due to his voice, always seemingly in a pleading state, providing a feeling to a meaning comes easy for him.

Freddie Gibbs - Cocaine Parties In L.A.

When you realize Madlib created the beat for 'No More Parties In L.A.' and that, essentially, this is a perfect follow-up to Pinata. I may not have loved that album as much as everyone else but it can't be denied that the unique pairing of Madlib and Freddie Gibbs came out way better than many expected. This track is no different, as Gibbs falls right back into his prime flow to graze over Madlib's chaotic beat to make another beast entirely. Lyrically, what do you expect? It's got some great one liners ("No I don't sell like Macklemore, but I've got White Privilege" is both genius and relevant), but apart from that it's more Gangsta drug-touting bars. If you like that, you'll like this.

Since Kendrick Lamar disappointed on the original and Kanye West was, well, Kanye, Gibbs takes the cake as the best rapper to spit over the beat, both in terms of ferocity and finesse. It seems as if he drew more attention to the bass, bringing it to the forefront, which I actually don't like since it muffles the fine details Madlib littered in between, but it is what it is. Also there's no chorus, which benefits the whole as Gibbs is not known for his choruses (they're usually poor), leaving three straight minutes for the Gary rapper to go all out. At times it's near breathless, fitting so many words into each loop without stumbling is a feat only Gibbs, and a select few other top tier spitters, can do. His vocal inclinations towards the end help push this track over the edge of the over one, bringing in a comic book feel with his scratching quips to match rhymes, something that works excellent with Madlib's already animated beats.

Structured Arca production, that's what I'm getting from this. Whereas Arca, and others like him, make loose and fluid electronic blimps that I'm not much a fan of, Flume (by the looks of it) takes that glitchy template and works it into formidable beats. That is, of course, judging off this one song alone which I shouldn't be doing. It makes for a good pairing with rappers, although its longevity and diversity that's needed is questionable. Here, the Australian-based producer teams up with fellow Aussie singer Kučka and famed up-and-comer Vince Staples for the chorus and verse respectively. The result is fairly original, even though the pieces don't quite match. 

As far as the production goes, it's typical, using light Industrial sounds alongside clashing drums and darting synthesizers. It does achieve the rare 'chaos within structure' approach to music that I love, where even though a beat is formed the constant inner-workings feel as if its ever-shifting. Clearly Flume and Kucka are a great match, as the chorus is the best part here, slow-churning the jagged elements to allow her to sing through multiple effects. The problem comes with Vince Staples. And for those who know me, judging by my Summertime '06 review, I really enjoy Staples' work. But not here, and for the obvious reason that he doesn't fit. Sure he flows fine but 'Smoke & Retribution' really showed me how one-dimensional the Long Beach rapper can be. It's just so weird to hear him spitting about the inner streets of Raymona Park over this type of beat.

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