Song of The Year-Other Guys by ILoveMakonnen
I’m probably addicted to ILoveMakonnen but I’m not alone. His new mixtape Drink More Water 5 starts with a freestyle under the same name that is a train wreck. It’s more clear than ever from his new output that Makonnen is that weird character in the fighting game that no one wants to play as (because he’s hard to figure out) or go against (cause his unorthodox style is hard to beat). If you try and fit him into the typical structure of a rap song he won’t. The 10 tracks after that first one never come back to it; they represent his herky jerky, croaking heartfelt mumble. The beat on Other Guys rides a steady drum wave while jangling like janitor keys are in the background.
Try getting this out of your head. The satisfied mmm’s, the high note attempts, the creepy “I’m not a stalker” stalker bits like how she’s changed her name trying to get away. The internet says he produced this and you can feel how much he loves this kind of oddness but it’s not even close to the limits of what he can do. He sounds great alongside Migos and Rich The Kid on the Whip It remix. He can do triumphant drug talk or heartbreak it’s all available to him.
I’m glad he’s aligned with OVO because I’m sure 40 and Drake can’t wait to flush out all the directions ILoveMakonnen is capable of going. Songs like this are a complete pallet cleanser for the unconvincing posturing bad rappers do. Other Guys is raw and a step off of sane and purposely so. Those two (40 and Drake) are too smart to ask the golden goose to go silver.
stream or download Drink More Water 5 below:
Song of The Year-Jungle by Drake produced by 40
Right as the anniversary of So Far Gone approached Drake was planning a mixtape that went retail and I was writing about how So Far Gone changed masculinity in hip hop. I wish I could tell you I planned it this way. Who knew when Drake dropped If You’re Reading This Its Too Late that it would be as transformative as it is; not nearly as clingy or insincere as he’s been in the past. It actually has the feeling of a dangerous industry entity on the attack.
I recently went back and watched an MTV special on the making of Drake’s first album called Better Than Good Enough where long time producer Noah “40” Shebib explains that Drake is dangerous because you can’t tell him no. 40 looks right into the lens and says “because between him and me we can give you a mastered copy of what he wants to do.” Think about that? If the label says no, he says yes…goes and makes it and maybe he leaks it? Maybe he leaks a song that hits so hard the label has to release it his way. In a lot of ways 40 is Drake’s secret weapon.
While the new project is dense and emotionally layered to the point of filling, it’s Jungle I can’t get away from. I’m addicted to it and impressed by the delicacy of Drake’s singing and the absence of cringe inducing imagery (#ridingequestrian). The light cooing tip toes out of the speakers on crashing waves of bass. Does it sound like 90’s R&B or does it sound like what we remember 90’s R&B having sounded like? It sounds like the spirit of 90’s sexually charged R&B but more advanced. This is the OVO sound and while everyone was busy saying Drake is no Jay-z or Tupac they were missing what was right in front of them. Isn’t Drake’s ceiling this generations Sade? No, he needs his emotions center stage. Isn’t Drake’s ceiling this generations Janet Jackson?! Linking his sexuality to his bravado and an emotional tapestry we can’t look away from; all the while staying strangely unexplainably relatable to his audience. Dudes talk about how ladies love Drake but we will hit a point where dudes freely admit they love him just as much.
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Tagged 90's R&B, Drake, drake mixtape review, If Your Reading This, Its Too Late, Janet Jackson, Jungle, Noah 40 Shebib, OVO, sade, So Far Gone, song of the year, YMCMB
Mixtape retrospective: looking back on Drake’s So Far Gone
So Far Gone is like a mixtape rubik’s cube. I keep picking it up and listening and getting confused; how do people like this? It seems needy and emotional but not thoughtful. Drake was constantly referencing women but not with any distinct intelligent things to say about them. The fact of the matter is that if you look back on it So Far Gone changed the rap universe. If your listening for the ramifications turn on the radio.
Even when Kanye was backpacking he was talking about political and social issues. He got a lot of credit for changing masculinity but it all boiled down to having the stones to wear a pink polo shirt…which seems like a small accomplishment (Cam’ron nods). So Far Gone really does change things. It’s not a break up album full of anguish like 808s& Heartbreak; the level of barren emotion you can hear on the Trey Songz assisted Successful is Drakes resting place. Goofball fun Kraftwerk-sounding tracks like Lets Call It Off with Peter Bjorn & John are natural and not stretch tracks, where a tough guy rapper does a goofy song to have a single (Eminem nods). How many rappers were jumping all over Lykke Li’s Little Bit for a singing duet? Listen to the beginning of Say Whats Real “Why do I feel so alone? Like everybody passing through the studio is in character as if he acting out a movie role.” It’s not just about him feeling lonely it’s about the hollowness of male bravado in hip hop circles. The never smile attitude that leaves a world without smiles.
He jumped on Ignant Shit with Lil Wayne and flossed (although he still says the phrase eager beavers which is not very flossy) then shared the Teddy Pendergrass-esque sex breakdown song A Night Off with Lloyd. R&B dudes used to play at rapping but rap fans didn’t really care/acknowledge it. Drake was comfortable in both spheres with a real knowledge of rap that extended to Houston hip hop and Little Brother underground. Balancing both is something that really hadn’t been successfully pulled off before (Domino nods).
Best I Ever Had changed the industry. The notion of a hip hop song not even really solely about love, like the old LL Cool J stuff, but a song about a woman being the best sexual partner you’ve ever had. A lot of credit goes to Noah “40” Shebib who put the bass knock in that song that makes it undeniable. This is a hip hop song. Whether you believe Drakes sincerity regarding women or don’t try and find a Dr. Dre song that’s complimentary of female sexual partners. It just wasn’t done, women were reduced not pedestaled. After Drake became Drizzy the male MC had more he could do. If he mixed feelings or relationships into his songs he would get thoughtful points but still having the gun talk (absent from a lot of Drake stuff) the fans would still consider him hard. Before that if you made a sensitive song everyone assumed you were riding the Common lane and were playing community leader. If you listen to what a lot of us consider the high point of rap (90’s) it’s an emotional wasteland. What’s the most emotionally charged Das Efx Song? Black Moon? I love all that stuff but we have to respect that So Far Gone broke things wide open. Is Houstatlantavegas a faux pimpish sleezeball anthem soaked to the skin with the kind of R&B you used to make fun of? Yes. It’s also really really good; Drake can sing and construct a hook and what he’s doing is unlike your favorite or least favorite rappers. You can always say this dude sounds like Drake but I’ve never said “Drake is just ___” cause who would that other name even be? Not Kanye, he’s more Phonte from Little Brother and he’s darn sure not Phonte. He’s still very vein and self-centered; lots of braggadocio but never ever convincingly hazardous.
Maybe the thing I love most is how stupid he is sometimes. On So Far Gone, his first major major mixtape he has a song with Bun B & Lil Wayne called Uptown on his time to shine he says the corniest line “sipping Pink Floyd, puffing Wayne Brady. Damn…Whose Line is It Anyway?” Really? A Wayne Brady, Whose Line name-check on your big southern style collabo jam? Yup. That’s some Drake ish. This is the only platinum artist who raps about muffins.
Stream or download So Far Gone below:
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Tagged 808s & Heartbreak, Black Moon, Bun-B, Das Efx, Drake, Drizzy, kanye west, Lil Wayne, Little Brother, Masculinity in hip hop, mixtape retrospective, Noah 40 Shebib, Phonte, So Far Gone