Friday, January 15, 2016

Loosies Of The Week, Jan 9-15

Welcome to the first Loosies Of The Week, a wrap-up of this weeks singles, throwaways, leaks, and any other loose tracks I find. We got appearances from up and comers, like Jazz Cartier, along with massive faces, like Kanye West, in several music scenes.

Courtney Barnett - Three Packs A Day

On the surface it's another Courtney Barnett treat. Many see a bright future for her, and I still do too, but I can see her staleness getting the better of her musicianship, akin to Mac DeMarco. For now though we're welcomed to another morally ambiguous track that harks on the lows of life while sounding all too feel good. Initially presumed to be a track following the daily ritual of a cigarette-smoking life, Barnett slowly transforms it into following her counts of ramen-enduced cravings. It's really quite hilarious, despite seeing the reality of the situation.

Musically it's expected, with a couple twitches to throw a wrench in monotony. The acoustic breakdown leading into a harmonic solo is rather well done and splits up her prototypical sound rather succinctly. 

Overall it's nothing superb, but as a after-album B-side single it's worthy of release. 


I know it's a one-off thrown out during Dr. Dre's Pharmacy show but this was best left for his vault, with the exception of T.I.'s verse. That verse saves this song a bit, being the only artist actually trying to do something with the by-the-books beat, but it's not enough to make 'Back To Business' anything more than a supremely generic song. Uninspired 2000's West Coast Hip-Hop, which, to begin with, is some of the more unimaginative music in recent memory does not make this track anything worth mentioning or even remembering. 

Again, besides T.I.'s verse, which comes with at least partial passion, this thing is pretty much a dud. 

Earl Sweatshirt - Mirror

According to the man himself this was released not by his own will, but damn should it have been. After being taken down from sites left and right I finally stumbled upon it, further heightening my love for Earl Sweatshirt and his musicianship. There's no denying here that it's underproduced, that's to be expected from a presumed album throwaway, even by I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside's standards, but after looking past that what's left is a track filled with more of Sweatshirt's soul-draining lyrics over a janky old sample. It's that sample that makes 'Mirror' most interesting, as Earl's not one to use the technique, only ride over others who've done the same. So while it still goes undiscovered, at least to me, it certainly brings about the sound Earl permeated last year in ways only the repressed artist could unveil.

Lyrically it's more of the former OFWGKTA's style, drenched in lucid recitation of past encounters that tend to drift off with drugs and alcohol. The chorus that bookends the track though aims at showing how far he's come from his dispirited moments. In this light he looks upon his stay at Coral Reef Academy rehab center positively, seeing how it changed him and set him on more solid footing, despite the looming presence of darkness behind him. 

Kanye West - Real Friends

Kanye West's new single is his most soft spoken in years. It doesn't come with some whacked out production, shocking lyrical points or a show on some walls around the globe, it's merely a song about friends and the fickleness of the word. The production style is melodic and nuzzling, with a quiet piano medley layered behind some reverb and Boom Bap drums. Never does it obsess about drawing attention, leaving much of the intrigue to Kanye himself, a risky move in 2016 to say the least. 

And in all honesty, I like the semantics from Kanye. Likely due to his settling down with Kim and family, Kanye's style, at least judging solely by this track, seems to be more reflective than outwardly antagonistic. It's weary of those nearby rather than immediately denouncing all those around, calling himself the best and moving on. On an album-output basis Kanye has always pushed the line. No album sounds like its predecessor, and on 'Real Friends' Kanye retorts back to the style of The College Dropout, worrisome if it'll be on SWISH. Actually every single put out has been worrisome, all for different reasons, none of which being Kanye's own contrarian way of segregating people and their music taste, but merely because they've been recreating existing products, either ones by his own doing or someone else's. 

Regardless, it's a good song. Not great, just good. It proves my beliefs further that Kanye still has sensibilities under all the tabloid tirades, showing a role where he doesn't always pronounce himself as God, choosing sometimes to be a family man who questions the morals of those around him and the greed they thrive off of.

Jazz Cartier - Opera

This dude's got potential. This track, along with the album cover of his debut mixtape, Marauding in Paradise, instantly had me intrigued from what he could do with the prototypical Trap sound. Presumed to be a lead single from his still untitled 2016 release, 'Opera' acts as a wonderful lead single. Now it presents decreasingly less inventiveness than some of the high points on his mixtape but as a welcoming act it's one hell of a banger. The haunting piano medley that carries the floor soothingly presides under the alarming bass and hi-hats. In other words, it's a Trap sound, one that Future has been curating on his darker releases for years. But here, Jazz Cartier sounds more like Travi$ Scott, and not in a good way given that the Houston emcee has already been criticized for biting about two handfuls of styles from various artists on the rise today. 

That being said, a banger's a banger and it still knocks. His titled vocals, distorting the sound just enough to remain intriguing and to mask any flaws, brings a fresh element to the template as he easily glides over the measures. The reason why his potential is palpable isn't because of what he's doing differently, but how good he's doing something the same. Every inch of 'Opera' is manufactured Trap goodness, down to the chorus' lyrics which emphasizes that technique of bringing a pointless phrase into fruition, much like what Migos does. 

Plus, if you ever needed to know how massive this track is it has TNGHT horns playing behind the rest of the production.

Flatbush Zombies - Glorious Thugs

I've always been impartial to Erick Arc Elliott's production. He's scoured the best of Cloud Rap and tends to only put out beats worth investing your time in. 'Glorious Thugs,' not sure if the first single off their newly-named album 3001: A Laced Odyssey, accomplishes the same as all other Cloud Rap producers have seemingly fallen off or abandoned their roots. The piano that dominates the background doesn't do anything to standout but it does provide a pattern for Meechy Darko and Juice to lambast. 

Speaking of which, I, along with the majority of others, tend to prefer Meechy Darko over Flatbush ZOMBiES's production. Marring the gritty street beats of New York with Internet-age Cloud Rap makes the grizzly toned braggart slide in more easily. Whether it's his voice that rises high or his lyrics that display shallowness, Juice tends to slink back the third wheel. Not here though, he decisively trumps both his counterparts with a vicious rap that's only half adored because of the ease in which he produced speed. He gracefully flips flows on a dime and only occasionally stutters or mumbles. 

Overall it's a nice track, easily on par with Flatbush's mixtape work. I am however hoping for more when the album rolls around. After all, there's a reason those tracks fit nicely on a mixtape and not an album.

Isaiah Rashad - Smile

Is it the lead single off his long-awaited follow-up to Cilvia Demo? Who knows. Regardless, 'Smile' is yet another slurred Southern anthem from one of the region's strongest newcomers. He might be too laced in a smokey haze but Rashad has the potential to overtake the quickly diminishing Big K.R.I.T. as leader of the conscious Southern revival. Clearly the South has dominated the radiowaves, that's a mute discussion thanks to FutureYoung Thug, and Migos, but its lingering underbelly has recently been vacated with quality artists. Leave it to TDE to snatch up the promising emcee with versatility to further spread their Hip-Hop domination.

On 'Smile' Rashad doesn't try anything fancy, just does what he knows best, garbling lean and tender words that would typically cause discordance into beautiful vocal poetry. In terms of alluring measures, there might not be a better artist who can establish sovereignty over best vocal chops in the game when combining both his rapping and his singing. Here, as expected, he does both, naturally escaping trailing verses by re-imagining his goal in the form of a chorus. 

Sonically speaking it suits Rashad well, despite it being just a nearly Chopped n' Screwed version of Freddie Gibbs 'Sing For Me'. Overall 'Smile' is essentially harmless. It's not Rashad's best work, nor does it ascertain to being, but as a loosie it's one hell of a relaxing Southern joint.

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