Sunday, July 9, 2017

Loosies Of The Week, July 3-9

Welcome to yet another Loosies Of The Week, a wrap-up of this weeks singles, throwaways, leaks, and any other loose tracks I find. The waves of summer come crashing in once again. After the low of two weeks back, and the high of last week, we now recede with a handful of secluded works. 

Rapsody - The Pain

Yes, I'm one of those people who only knows Rapsody from To Pimp A Butterfly. At the time, I felt her presence on Kendrick Lamar's acclaimed classic was a bit forced and unnatural, but that was only because I was unfamiliar with her work. Two years later and that painting becomes clearer on 'The Pain,' a vicious single that honest-to-God poses Rapsody as the female Kendrick Lamar, at least in terms of his concrete, brutally-honest political and conscious half. From the get-go, Nottz's fiendish production that prides itself on simplicity, as if it was a posse cut, cuts into the fabric of 'The Pain,' leaving an open hole for Rapsody to invoke the presence of such politically-charged rappers like Kendrick, Killer Mike, or Black Thought. She begins, and for three minutes straight unleashes a 'Blacker The Berry'-esque tour-de-force around the current climate of black America. Unfortunately, her lack of notoriety means 'The Pain' won't incite much reaction, but it damn sure should. She retreats to her verse on 'Complexion' at times, which is a bit lame, but there's more than enough meat on the bone here to make up for it. One-liners and hard-hitting dialogue attacks you like two fists using you as a punching bag. She's reckless and confident in her morals, which is more than refreshing in our current Hip-Hop era.

Four Tet - Two Thousand And Seventeen

If the title's anything to go by, I don't expect 'Two Thousand And Seventeen' to mean all that much for Four Tet's next LP. The seemingly one-off piece bears the fruits of Four Tet's labor, content with languishing in his now-trademarked style, fidgeting around minute fixtures of repetitious percussion. The sound brings listeners back to his Rounds era, a far cry from his previous release, 2015's everlasting Morning/Evening. His often used Indian influence can be found prominently in the form of what sounds like a mandolin acting as a hook, dancing amongst rigid drums, taking from his IDM side, and erratic keys and strings, taking from his Downtempo side. The result is something that's purposefully pleasant, but a bit too on the nose of his former material. Morning/Evening worked due to the structure's stark contrast and unfolding pace. 'Two Thousand And Seventeen' returns to simplicity, a welcome for longtime fans, but undoubtedly off-putting to anyone who hasn't yet greeted Four Tet with open arms.

Chester Watson - Smog

Much like his more popular contemporary Earl Sweatshirt, Chester Watson doesn't hide behind his clear MF DOOM inspiration. Both artists linked in the darkness, making use of the minimal time they have. With Watson, a hyper-literate who bids every word as if it's a blessing from a disciple, time really is of the essence. His debut LP Past Cloaks featured 19 songs, and only two of them reached the average song length of 3 1/2 minutes. On 'smog,' nothing much has changed, giving us a bite-sized 90 seconds, good enough for one verse and a bookended sample cut. His production, always purposely muddled, messy, and malnourished, echoes sharply here through some scratchy childhood banter and a throbbing voice that punctures through the fog like a omnipresent pastor during a bad acid trip. His lingo, always a mixture of down to earth and mysterious, is in full effect on 'smog.' Problem being, at the end of the day, Watson's not saying much at all, treating his bars much like your stereotypical stoner/conscious rapper. He's saying a lot without saying much at all.

Skepta - Hypocrisy

There's been a lot of talk around the U.K's Hip-Hop scene, known most notably as the Grime scene, and much of that is centered around this man; Skepta. With co-signs from Drake and Kanye West, his popularity and necessity in Hip-Hop has been called into question, failing to transition over to the U.S. mainstream crowd with his accented boasting. I'm not sure if the reasoning goes much deeper than that notable British accent, something most singers from the country avoid. With 'Hypocrisy,' his authentically gritty Pop Rap approach feels as if it should relate to larger crowds, as modern day commonalities like the Internet, trend-snatchers, and Kendrick Lamar are announced and elaborated upon. Rarely does the lyrics go any deeper than typical showboating on why Skepta's better than the rest, but the veracity he quips confidence is quite invigorating. The chorus could use some work though, as the corny line ("I got 15 different iPhones, man I am so not phony") feels incredibly forced, and for what; to push a bad pun?

Japanese Breakfast - Road Head

Michelle Zauner has some infatuation with slight-of-hand sexual innuendos huh? First there was 'Everybody Wants To Love You's' comment about getting head in bed, then there was 'Boyish's' self-depreciation in regards to getting someone off. And now there's 'Road Head,' a track that doesn't hide behind its sexual connotations. Like those other efforts though, 'Road Head' isn't obsessed with the sexual nature by which Japanese Breakfast ponders her life, it's just a mere facet to a larger need. Here she calls upon a love interest to give meaning to said life, doing so by telling Zauner to "dream on baby" and hit the highway with zero inhibitions. The production draws upon that hazy dream-like state, one typically conjured up through endless hours spent traversing a mid-American highway. It's repetitive, whimsical, and never-ending, making for a great summertime ride-along song. Not as good as 'Boyish,' not as bad as 'Machinist,' 'Road Head' finds that balance Japanese Breakfast held quite dearly on the majority of Psychopomp. The soon-to-be released Soft Sounds From Another Planet should hold up swimmingly.

Zombie Juice - Lava

Believe it or not, loosies emerging from the Flatbush Zombies camp are always some of my most anticipated. There's a reason for that, and it has to do with their hyped, egocentric style. For mixtapes, the lack of song-to-song fluidity and overall theme is allowed, hence why BetterOffDead was largely great. However, for albums, the same can't be said, which resulted in the disappointing 3001: A Laced Odyssey that was all bark and no bite. Their aesthetic, pinpointed from a mile away thanks to Eric Arc Elliott's production, is ripe for bite-sized fodder. 'Lava,' a song that only features Juice rapping, is no different. Now I know what you're thinking, the least impressive artist of the group left to his own devices can't be good. While Juice has never been great, he's rarely been bad, and that's on display here, as 'Lava' excites with both halves, entertaining throughout thanks to a strange, but oddly captivating beat switch which centers around handclaps. As per usual, Juice says nothing notable (even starting with the lazy cliche "I don't give a fuck"), but for a loosie that can be forgiven. There's just something about that chemistry between voice and beat with the Flatbush Zombies that almost never goes wrong.

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