Song of The Year-Pose (remix) by Yo Gotti featuring Lil Uzi Vert and Megan Thee Stallion

Song of The Year-Pose (remix) by Yo Gotti featuring Lil Uzi Vert and Megan Thee Stallion

by Dan-O

Untrapped is full throttle fun. Yo Gotti is a heck of a beat picker and Ben Billions really held him down on this album. He works directly on five of the fifteen tracks and they are all SLAMMING. Add to that Southside producing a song with Rick Ross, great beats from Streetrunner and this is clearly the workout album of the year (so far). This track stands tall above all else for the genius of its casting and the simple brilliance of its theme and hook.

A great rap career is much more than being the best rapper. Yo Gotti is a superb collaborator in his business deals as well as his music. Pose is overwhelmingly bass, built to destroy your car stereo and Gotti kicks off to establish the hook as well as the cadence all verses that follow will hold to. He sets the table and lets his guests shine.  Megan Thee Stallion is a truly unique commodity. When you see the meme’s on Instagram that have Lil Kim on one end and all the female rappers now who have the same vibe on the other side….Megan is not there. Megan doesn’t want to be the new Kim or Nicki she wants to be the new Pimp C.  She roars in a tight spitting window refusing to ever call a dude first, pimp rap on ridiculous.

I want to be on record as saying Lil Uzi Vert is the most talented Lil in the world and maybe the most talented of his generation. He closes the track with unreal braggadocio talking about people skiing off his neck; the kind of supernatural swag he flexed on Bad and Boujee. Yo Gotti has thrown the gauntlet down. You might put the piano sample on and spill your soul more than him but it’s going to be hard to make rap more fun than this. Not impossible but not easy.

 

G.O.A.T. Components-Lil Wayne

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G.O.A.T. Components-Lil Wayne

by Dan-O

Albums (Classics and numbers)-I revisited Wayne’s place all time after his 2020 release Funeral. It is superb but let’s look at how good it is in context. Funeral is twenty four songs and Carter five is 23. That means from September 2018 to January 2020 he’s released 47 songs. Funeral went #1 which gives him a #1 album in four different decades. Think about it this way: Weezy was born in 1982, His first album was released in 1999(dude was like 16) and went platinum , in fact, every album after that went either platinum or gold until 2015’s Free Weezy Album. Carter 5 went platinum. That is 12 solo studio albums NOT counting mixtapes or Hot Boyz and other group albums. He’s worked himself silly, had the kind of success that changes the culture multiple times and done it all while staying as technically sharp (flow, delivery and wordplay wise) as any new hungry artist. Frankly, both Funeral and Carter five are better than 4:44. Longevity is not just about existing longer than others but about how long you can maintain your own high standards. A whole generation has followed him while he stays in his processes working relentlessly.

Mixtapes-Datpiff.com is the greatest online archive of the mixtape revolution. If you go to the search page on the mobile app, frequently searched artists will pre-populate on the side: 50 Cent, Wiz Khalifa, but none of them even close to as large and bold as Lil Wayne. His vast collection of mixtapes record a time in his career where he used the chaotic powers in his craft aggressively. When Outkast took on the hip hop world to gain respect for the South they not only had Organized Noize behind them but the entire Dungeon Family. Wayne went platinum at 16 but by 20 the waves had crashed and it was just Baby and him holding Cash Money up.  The heart and mind of hip hop was still New York and it didn’t care at all about Wayne. All his successes were novelties. So he started grabbing beats from the radio and savaging them (on Nore’s podcast Drink Champs Wayne said he has never been paid for any of the mixtapes he did), laughing heartily as he created better versions. The best rappers at that time were organized with deep crews ,favorite producers, and million dollar videos (think about Flipmode, Ruff Ryders, Roc-A-Fella) and a shirtless tattooed Louisiana gargoyle laughed at all that like it was a joke. Eventually, he had a tribe that repped him relentlessly while the heads frustratingly asked “But what are his classic albums?!” “Are these even songs?!”

Guest appearances (Hooks and verses)-On Drink Champs Wayne stated that in one year he did twenty six guest verses while also explaining that during tours with Drake they have hook battles where they just sing important hooks and let the crowd noise judge who wins. After that interview I started asking people what their favorite Weezy hooks were and so many of them were on other peoples songs. My Life was a Game song Weezy made a hit. Duffle Bag Boy was a Playaz Circle song that put 2 Chainz on the map and he talks about it that way. No one knows it better than 2 Chainz.  Every collaboration Weezy does with Drake he roasts dude. He just has two or three gears he can shift into that you can’t catch. If Drake is Lebron, Weezy is Jordan. Watch the Forever collaboration where Eminem BODIES THE GAAAAMMMMEEE. You can see the work everyone put into their verse. One of Drake’s best hooks and first lines, Kanye comes hard with sex jokes, and Eminem locked himself in the Batcave for weeks cooking up with that verse. Wayne is the only one who feels like he hasn’t changed himself for the occasion, dressed himself up to compete in the market. When they cut to Kanye in the video he has a Michael Jackson Jacket on and is waving himself around to be loved. Just because Eminem said macadamia nuts in a tough voice doesn’t mean he won the song.  When they cut to Wayne he’s in a booth with Baby, blowing smoke into the camera. His verse is the best because it’s the only self-assured one, he delivers it rapping into the air with a hand over the shoulder of two different women.

Conclusion- If you compare any traditional top 5 dead or alive name with Wayne they will seem oppositional. Think about Rakim’s stone face against Wayne’s giggling joviality. He belongs in that special substrata of pioneering weirdos like Cam’ron and E-40. He’s offended me A LOT. His mistakes will live on forever as the most insane. Rebirth is my favorite bad album of all time because his level of commitment is amazing. He has no idea it sounds bad and if you tried to convince him he wouldn’t even hear you. A great artist must master the chase. If you don’t chase down your ideas you’ll never know what they could have been. Weezy has legs to catch every single one.

#BandcampGold-Aloha by Son Little

#BandcampGold-Aloha by Son Little

by Dan-O

I pre-ordered this album with five songs available. I burned through those songs like I haven’t with any album since Vampire Weekend-Father of The Bride. At the same time, My work situation got weird. I was locked in a stuffy room on a project with four people for weeks. Every day all day grinding and I just kept humming About Her Again,  randomly belting out with pain in my voice “You.. gonna mess up my head!”

About Her Again feels like a song that has always existed, like this is the thousandth cover of it and it always fits perfectly into itself. Like one of those plays that is great in every retelling (12 Angry Men) because it leaves no way to be interpreted incorrectly. While that is my favorite song on Son Little’s new album Aloha (and of the new year) it’s not the only one that feels like that resonant: Mahalia, Suffer, Neve Give Up, and Bbbaby all feel like they could have been sung by Donny Hathaway or D’Angelo.

On his 2017 album New Magic the Philly soul singer Son Little figured out that what his voice brings to the table needs accompaniment just as much as it needs space. The instrumentation needs to be immaculate but sparse. The gentle strumming that starts Suffer walks the same pace as his voice. That’s important. Leaving that space let’s the audience connect directly to every sung note and it’s powerful. Pop music is often background music or something to switch our brains off to. That’s not a dig, it’s an important function. It’s NOT Son Little’s function. Pop albums are more likely to get an intense six month run through everyone’s playlist and be forgotten. Aloha sticks to you and it was made to do that.

Think of Son Little like you would Tyler Childers during Purgatory era or J.S. Ondara on Tales of America. A soul singer much more likely to play the Newport Folk Festival than the Jazz Festival. You can pull up his NPR Tiny Desk concert from a while ago and he’s just a guy in a shirt performing with his sister. The collective body of these songs have a gripping approach-ability, The only song I am not into is 3rd Eye Weeping and I just haven’t connected to it yet. I don’t need to skip it or anything. As a unified piece Aloha has an incredibly strong ending. The last song is delicate and beautiful , After All (I Must Be Wrong), the song before that is a very groovy anthem about not quitting(Neve Give Up).

Aloha is the best use of Little’s voice to date. He doesn’t have Marvin Gaye’s pipes, instead he has Bill Withers lived-in-gristle and straightforward humanity. His songwriting develops from unique imagery (Belladonna is sneaky interesting song) but doesn’t over-complicate itself. With that voice he can turn a phrase over and over until it’s a story with a clear arc. All of it done with tone. This album is one we should hold up high when rock bands get bored and do an R & B album. Simply to ask: Can you bring the spirit like this?

Stream a few songs and buy Aloha below:

https://sonlittle.bandcamp.com/album/aloha

#Bandcampgold-The Professionals by Madlib & Oh No

#Bandcampgold-The Professionals by Madlib & Oh No

by Dan-O

It’s impossible to fairly discuss Madlib. If you like any of the levels of rap below pop superstardom, he is everywhere you go. He produced most of the important songs on my favorite Mos Def album (2009’s The Ecstatic) not to mention MF Doom’s high point (2004’s Madvillainy) and has forged one of the most important friendships in hip hop with Freddie Gibbs (2019’s Bandana and 2014’s Pinata). The reverence for his intelligence and execution became embarrassing and has made it difficult to observe his artistic life.

I first noticed this with Raekwon. Since he’s released Cuban Linx he’s a legend and if he releases a new album that slaps the response is “The legend is back! #dopeness” If his new album isn’t good it was “This ain’t Cuban Linx, dog.” It gave everyone a pass to stop critically observing him.

The Professionals is a perfect opportunity to soak in the progress. This is a full length collaboration between Madlib and his younger brother Oh No.  Oh No is a killer producer (he did two of my other favorite songs on The Ecstatic). In 2010 he formed a group with Alchemist where they rapped and produced under the name Gangrene. It was an opportunity for two genius level rap producers to mess around with different song structures and samples while having fun rapping with no pressure. They did 7 projects together and along the way became quite seriously good. Oh No became a dope rapper, as an afterthought, to his immense producing skill.

I am intrigued by what Freddie Gibbs has brought to Madlib’s production. Anyone familiar knows Madlib is a master of all different textures specifically showcased in his Beat Konducta series Jazz, Indian music, etc.  What the kinship with Freddie has done for him is instilled a real urgency to make these songs propulsive. It’s not enough to create an incredible vibe with the right sample and a piano part, this thing has to bang! I’ve been working out to this album since it came out. It’s top tier workout rap, which you might not have expected if you knew Madlib in 2010.

Superhumans is the posse track most heads will be drawn to. Oh No shares the spotlight with lyrical heavyweights Elzhi and Chino XL. Both of them bring their best qualities to bear, especially Chino XL who increases the pace of the song and name checks superheroes. As glorious an experience as it is, I am much more excited by the songs that work incredibly well with just the brothers (Madlib & Oh No). My favorite song is Give N Take, a real bass and synth West Coast banger. It’s a song Tupac would have played riding around Oxnard. This album has a killer run of songs from two to seven that are just trunk rattling fun. From the title track to CDP Smackdown its high adrenaline beats with dialed in verses. Buggin’ is such a great old school rap song. From 88 to 98 we had so many songs called or about Buggin’! Listen to the giant beat stomping forward on Timeless Treasures as Madlib clears a few seconds for the sample to take center stage before throwing it in the background.

The professionals is beats and raps. It won’t end up as the best album of the year, it doesn’t have a coming-out-of-rehab or heartbreak element but what it does have is energy and enthusiasm. The kind that carries repeated listening experiences from the first time to fifteenth without much fade. Other albums have energy like this but these two have been cranking out dope hip hop songs for decades. They should be slow and crusty and bitter, instead they sound like could be signed to TDE. It makes me very happy and looking forward to the full length project between Westside Gunn and Madlib that was announced at the end of last year.

Stream or purchase The Professionals below:

https://theprofessionalsnomad.bandcamp.com/album/the-professionals

Song of The Year-The Pines by 070 Shake

Song of The Year-The Pines by 070 Shake

by Dan-O

Leadbelly would be pretty excited about the 2020 Cover of one of his favorite songs, Where Did You Sleep Last Night? It comes on 070 Shake’s new album Modus Vivendi. She makes it a completely modern experience with heavy autotune and synths, but Shake and her team(Mike Dean produced this! LIVING LEGEND STYLE) do an excellent job of rearranging parts of the song to leave space for her to add new lyrics of her own (along with heavy bass and some finger snaps). While you could listen to this the first time and not connect it to Leadbelly or Bill Monroe until mid-way, the haunting quality is maintained in an attentive way. When violins come in near the end the bass is still rolling like waves and she is still beckoning for The Pines.

I’m very happy that this song continues to live in various forms. It’s authorship is unknown and dates back to the 1870’s (most likely). Leadbelly and Monroe did it, Nirvana in 1993 during their Unplugged. American popular music borrows a lot from other cultures without apology or acknowledgement. We vampire Caribbean and African sounds just to name check a few. It is important we have a healthy reference point for what American songs are, that our entire artistic landscape is not a shopping cart full of other cultures stuff. We created hybrids that are ours. Old Irish folk mixed with the Blues and songs like Where Did You Sleep Last Night are gorgeously painful in a way that is American. That doesn’t mean we should play it over and over again, we should keep rebuilding it to fit us as we change. The emotions contained within the story always will.

 

Marvin Gaye made A P.O.W. Christmas song YOU NEED to hear

Marvin Gaye made A P.O.W. Christmas song YOU NEED to hear

by Dan-O

You need to follow Questlove of The Roots on all social media platforms. He ranked every Prince album release (including unreleased stuff to that point), and it is because of him that I found out Marvin Gaye had an unreleased album called You’re The Man recorded after What’s Going On that JUST got released in 2019.

Marvin has always been king of the intoxicating vibe so I totally missed how hardcore I Want To Come Home For Christmas is on the first listen. When he belts out that he wants to see baseball and Santa Claus I registered the desperation in his voice and that the song seemed intense but by the time I did the second listen in the car it was clear how bold this song is.

My favorite song on the album is actually the alternative mix of Where Are We Going. It has never lift the speaker in my mind. The song that has snuck and stuck in my head, had me snapping my fingers singing “Day in, Day out.” while 2 stepping. That is the one I will listen to for the rest of my life regularly BUT…

I Want To Come Home For Christmas is important for how you think of him as an artist. He did not simply have a beautiful voice. He fought for space from singing covers sweetly under Motown to take full control of his career and content. From that point on he was absolutely fearless and you should never forget. Marvin Gaye made a song about a prisoner of war not just missing Christmas in the states but hoping his family wasn’t missing him that much. Wanting them to move on, secretly understanding he’s not making it out.

Ali is remembered for being loud and having a great jab but what he should be known for is being TOUGH. He got hit straight on by the hardest punchers in the history of the sport and walked out of the ring every time. He got up when he got knocked down. Tyson didn’t.  Marvin likewise is known for the voice and the sexual healing but don’t play with his legacy. What’s Going On is the Pet Sounds of R&B except the songs are about a lot more than a Sloop John B. Marvin was brilliant and fearless. You can hear how much the hurt in the world hurts him in this song. You need to hear it.

Thank you Questlove.

My Favorite and Least Favorite sexual song of 2019

My Favorite and Least Favorite sexual song of 2019

by Dan-O

I love moments. A song is sometimes a story but other times just a series of moments. A vividly rendered song allows you to be in those moments. The interesting part about my favorite and least favorite sexual songs of 2019 is that both bring you into moments. My enjoyment of them comes down to where I like to be pulled into and where I do not.

To start with my least favorite: Boosie Badazz is the best. His songs are personal and confessional and at times …offensive. Every project Boosie drops is a full throttle roller coaster ride. The bumpiest part of that ride is easily his sex songs. Boosie and Kevin Gates are the guys who take sex songs TOO DAMN FAR.

That Fucking Song off his new mixtape Goat Talk is a bunch of steps beyond where Teddy Pendergrass dare trod. It’s not actually a full on song. It’s guttural dirty talk (focusing on updates about how close to climaxing each partner is). The beat burbles and the hook is just him telling you how close to popping he is. We never get past the sweat movement and juices of the act to the people involved. I accept that this is a great thing for listeners who may be sexually attracted to Boosie but not being one of those this song is rough. He presents a window in to a moment I do not want.

The sexual song I loved the most in 2019 comes from a debut album called Painted by an artist named Lucky Daye. His voice is fantastic and the songs really do flow without ever seeming repetitive. Call is the name of the song and it grows out of a gentle guitar strum into a thumping smooth sway. His voice doesn’t just hit the right notes it conveys the giddiness and excitement of being eager to hang out with someone who really syncs with you. Even corny lines like “You been on my mind, on my mind like a toupee,” come off as a genuine part of the story, and the story is sexual it is drinking and finding each other’s bodies but not just that. It’s all mixed in with finding the conversation. Lucky Daye says “new sensations” and that is how the best kind of sex/lust/love has been in my life. A chance to charge into new experiences with someone you trust. It’s just as sappily satisfying as this song.

Rap Radar Podcast can teach you how a song gets made.

Rap Radar Podcast can teach you how a song gets made.

by Dan-O

Rap Radar Pod has interviewed every important artist in hip hop this year (or it feels like that). During the December interview of Burna Boy he showcases the coolest accent ever. He’s got a deep voice with a Nigerian/UK combo accent. Nineteen minutes into the thirty nine minute and fifty three second interview Elliott Wilson asks about the song Location from Dave’s album Psychodrama. A simple softball about how it came about and you can hear his silence for a moment until he says “Dave is a genius, man.” Elliott laughs and references an interview they did with Dave saying “He said the same of you.”

Burna Boy says he expected to do a feature with a rapper, in and out, but he sat down and watched. He says Dave should live in a lab. Dave was interviewed shortly before that interview and got asked about that same song. Thirty Six minutes and twenty six seconds into that interview you can hear Dave talk about Location. He says Burna Boy freestyled his whole part in such a short amount of time he is still processing that speed. Burna Boy comes off his interview shaking his head talking about how Dave building his beats from scratch.

The two couldn’t be more different. The song that got eleven million streams in eight months from Burna Boy is called Ye and saw a 200 percent spike in streaming when Kanye dropped his album Ye people clicked on his during the confusion and liked it. This song that put him in more ears than ever turns out to have been completed in minutes and only came about when BB was drunk at a night club where a dude played him the beat over his phone and said the producer was upstairs waiting to record it. Instead of telling the guy to shove off he went upstairs, made the song in minutes(quickest song he’s ever made he says), and went on his inebriated way. It’s the perfect story. While African Giant is one of my five favorites of the album and is just as thoughtful as it is fun…it’s author doesn’t sit on material or question himself. Burna Boy is always in the flow of himself. His verse on location isn’t just about bringing girls to his location it’s about a dear friend who is on probation for five more years. When that hook hits and you sing along your still talking about the criminal justice system even if you don’t know it. He’s always in the flow of himself and that’s not just melody it’s introspection and political thinking.

Dave is a madman. He talks extensively in his Rap Radar interview about the reason behind making the song Lesley eleven minutes long. The need to not just have the arc but all the details and call backs and Easter eggs. I said it in September when I wrote about his album ” more importantly… this dude has a plan. He’s excited for us to get his FIRST Psychodrama. Great writers love to plan and develop and I can only imagine what this dude has for us in the future.” He opens the album in a therapists office getting personal right off the bat and giving you a setting that makes sense so you don’t feel awkward. He’s meticulous and diligent…maybe that’s not the right word. He’s so in love with finding the depth in art, the kind of depth that resonates, that working harder to achieve it doesn’t bother him in the slightest.

When these two linked up they made one of the years most interesting songs. The interviews gave us a chance to hear each appreciate a way of doing it they would never personally try on but respect intensely. It is much more valuable for an artist to have peers who work successfully and different from them than like them. When you have a window into the other side you can see things you wouldn’t even have gotten to on your own. It’s a good lesson for all of us.

Here is the video for Location

2019 FME MVP =GRISELDA

Joe Budden was blowing his top. The legendary Eminem rant (on Buddens podcast) where he talked about how closed off he was and all the other things that went wrong with Slaughterhouse. He did an excellent job not taking responsibility. The most interesting part was when he indicted Shady Records of taking the wind out of the sails of the Griselda crew. He said they were coming up at a great clip and since signing to Shady hadn’t been heard from. I can’t lie, it worried me. He’s not wrong that Eminem loves to sign top lyricists and let them sit.

Budden’s argument was missing a key piece. 50 Cent did pretty well on Shady, and Griselda have absolutely SMASHED 2019. They are hands down the 2019 FME MVP. The trio came to Shady with a plan. This year they worked out a timeline and flooded the streaming services with new releases.

Take a look at my dope @$$ Griselda release graphic:

GRISELDA TIMELINE

This crew consists of three primary members: Conway The Machine, Westside Gunn, and Benny The Butcher. An argument can be made that New York producer Daringer is enough of the secret sauce to be considered a member. Amongst the key three emcees’ they put out a total of 7 projects in the calendar year. Out of the twelve months in 2019 only six didn’t feature a new release from one of the Griselda crew.  It’s been an unprecedented load of material and all of it at a very high level. A level that never strayed from their core design no matter how it extended itself or how much money betraying it might add.

Benny The Butcher did an EP with the greatest guest list of the year. Right after the intro skit you hear him next to Black Thought. Next song Jadakiss, and closing out the project with Pusha T’s second best guest appearance of 2019 on 18 Wheeler. No matter who was with him Benny blew like Sonny Rollins on the Sax, whether Conway or Eminem was coming on next…it didn’t matter. The Butcher has a gift and no fear.

Conway The Machine’s Everybody Is Food 3 is the opposite in some ways. It only features one guest rapper (Berner) and is highly personal in content. In 2012 Conway was shot in the back of the head leaving him with Bells Palsy. When he gets personal or angry or really anything it is INTENSE. Look What I Became continued the introspection but made room for the crew to feature and go full NY goon rap knucklehead. Conway went beyond skill this year ,into himself, with rewarding results.

Westside Gunn is one of the top rappers in the world. Full stop. Flygod Is An Awesome God is one of the best albums of the year.  His follow up Hitler Wears Hermes 7 has better production and is somehow more fun to listen to! His energy is so intense that when he jumps on FME 2018 MVP Roc Marciano’s song Boosie Fade (off his excellent new album Marcielago) Genius has three question marks(one of those question marks covers like three bars) in their transcription of his lyrics. He comes in HOT every time and it is always worth it.

All year the crew was playing chess with these releases and WWCD(What Would ChineGunn Do) was the checkmate maneuver. All year I anticipated their large scale pop friendly turn as the anticipation built. Everyone talks about making SUMMER music or SUMMER anthems. What that really translates to is declaring you make enormous hit singles to flood the radio. For some people that’s natural(Wiz comes to mind) but most are reaching for another tax bracket. The crew from Buffalo completely dismissed this or may not have even thought of it. WWCD is ice cold. When it dropped I told everyone it is WINTER music. Cruiser Weight Coke, Freddie Hot Spot are songs you can hear your breath too. I’m not the only one who knows. I can hear it in Raekwon as he does the Marchello album introduction. I listened to Wu-Tang in my friends’ cold basement, in ratty jeans and Shaq 95’s. The remorse, the anger, the vision all found their way into one another on every verse. As Raekwon Told them “they covered a lot of ground” and they are his heart…I believed him. They gave us a years worth of twisted soul samples and dark piano loops with rarely a hook to be seen. Verse after verse after verse. 50 Cent features and so does Eminem but nothing changes because of that. I was already debating their top spot when I saw this video of them playing the album for Jay.

As a hip hop fan I feel like I’ve watched multiple Jay-z documentaries multiple times and I know that face. I know Jay’s face when he’s connecting to something special. He can’t fake that screwface. I know what his mug looks like when he’s just there to be nice(Jay recently dropped his 2019 playlist and had some WWCD on it). This year Griselda didn’t take the charts but they took New York and with it a following that might or might not translate to great reviews or world takeover status.  It earned them 2019 FREEMUSICEMPIRE MVP.

Joe Budden made the mistake of discounting how hungry Griselda is. No matter what label they ended up on, they were going to be heard. No back up plan.

FME MVP HONORABLE MENTION

FME MVP HONORABLE MENTION

by Dan-O

No matter what the run time is, a Billy Woods song is a meal. You can spend some real time lost in his lyrics. Read the only full verse from the last song(Stranger In The Village) on his second album of the year, Terror Management.

(Per Genius)

Came through atop a half dead mule
Apostate marabout
Pale urchins put the swoosh on his pointy shoe
A slew of rare pelts, helm a skull of caribou
Blood on the ice shelf, snares is simple loops
Trinkets that bitches think is cute
Dirty pictures that he keep outta view
Minor riches looted from who know who
Piano wire on a spool, thread for the loom
Dog eared first edition of Barracoon
Jah Goo mix grabba that’s the jet fuel
Ivory mouth, skin so black it’s blue
Ain’t never been south, never seen the dunes
Regale ’em with tales of Khartoum/Eyes big enough to drown
Gather round, gather round

The song is two minutes and two seconds and full of the pen game that made Woods top soloist of 2019. He has a real talent for snarling powerfully succinct messages that knock the listener back ” Trinkets that bitches think is cute” and contrasting them with dizzying head-scratching word usage or poetic and HIGHLY literary imagery ” A slew of rare pelts, helm a skull of caribou”. It can feel like you’ve gone from rap song to novel to essay and back again.

If you’ve read my interview with Woods (preceding post) you can tell his answers push back on singular assertions. From Pessimism v. Optimism to his own lyrics, he sees the world from lots of angles. This is not just present in his lyrics but in the form of his songs. Listen to Lauren Kelly Benson singing at the very beginning of Blood Thinner in a withdrawn and trembling delivery. You can hear her lightly hum in the background but she doesn’t do a “hook”. The song ends with an audio clip. Fielded really stretches out over the soulful beat on Western Education Is Forbidden. She comes on at about two minutes and thirty four seconds and takes us all the way to three minutes and fifty seven seconds, closing the song. Every guest star is very well served in placement. The way he structures these songs are so different so strange compared to what I have taken in as accepted normal. On his verse that starts the song Windhoek(Terror Management), he steps off the plane and explains that he is “Calm and cordial, overly formal.” But adds  “I regret to inform you this is the new normal.” The guidelines for a rap song are totally artificial.

My favorite song from Billy Woods this year could be Steak Knives (Hiding Places) which is under a minute and a half. I never thought I would love a rap song that short. The end of this song is the total Woods experience. Someone has been asking after him and he doesn’t know why. Here is how the song closes.

Facial expression lookin’ silly
Kept askin’ me how he got away with all them dealings
I replied I been goin’ through this same things that he had
But that was a lie, I could see he doin’ bad
Second place is steak knives, he said, “What you say?” (What?)
I said, “Nah, it’s just a line” (It’s just a line)
It’s just a line

Earlier in the verse our narrator dropped an album with a thud. Now Old Doug is comin’ to his Mama’s house asking around for him and he’s in his head about what this could be about. By the end he’s left with the realization that Doug is doing so much worse but he’s not going to help. It’s a mirror that reflects at all of us because it’s not written with the gentility of a “meaningful” song. He spits it like Chuck D on Fear Of A Black Planet but he writes it like Ada Limon writes about gardening. Great MC’s, great writers in rap music are like parents in our mind. They teach you things when you won’t listen to anyone else. The line that made me gasp out loud was “Shorty can’t eat no book/ what I told Ta-Nehesi Coates.(Western Education Is Forbidden off Terror Management)” It was Coates in a recent interview, when asked about rappers, who stated hip hop had provided the best writers of recent years and he had learned from them more than other sources. I couldn’t help but wonder if a Coates v. Woods discussion really happened. Either way, I know Coates is somewhere listening as hard to Billy Woods as I am.

Billy Woods release schedule this year:

Hiding Places 03/29/2019

Terror Management 10/04/2019

Bookmark Billy Woods bandcamp and buy. That link is https://billywoods.bandcamp.com/

You can also go to his label and stock up.

https://backwoodzstudioz.com/shop/