Song of The Year-College Girls by P-Lo featuring Skizzy Mars
People who love fun hip pop music were a little let down by Lil Yachty’s debut album Teenage Emotions which turned out to be oppressively long and confusingly muddled with several elements that don’t serve Yachty well. If you are looking for the album to fill what Yachty was supposed to achieve P-Lo has done it with his new album More Than Anything.
It’s not fair to compare Yachty to P-Lo because the latter is a veteran who has worked closely with IAMSU for years and helped build the ratchet sound. P-Lo produces his own music as well as handing out bangers to other people. He knows exactly what works about his sound and builds on it without straying from it.
College Girls is the best example of P-Lo cracking the code on an earwig hit. The autotune isn’t overwhelming; the content is playfully sexual but not insulting. The baseline is amazing. Neither Yachty nor P-Lo are the world’s best MC but both have the ability to give the listener what they want, I vote for More Than Anything not just because it is six songs shorter but it is a tight shot group of the fun P-Lo knows I want to have. All the guests are in the right places. He’s been around too long to worry about proving anything. For P-Lo every song needs to win and as a listener I appreciate that.
FME 2016 MVP HONORABLE MENTION-YG
We used to crown “mixtape MVP” but the distinction between mixtape and album is unimportant at this point. Everyone has streaming services and no one pays per album, it is a heartless profit starved reality but it is our reality.
YG was almost my pick for 2016 MVP because he distinguished himself as an artist from everyone else on the planet this year and he did it with his music, his words, and his beliefs. In 2014 when YG released My Krazy Life to an avalanche of critical praise a lot of that went to DJ Mustard.
Mustard was having a huge year and he had hits but it was being presented as if he was the white hot sun of the ratchet movement…which is ridiculous. YG’s follow up album to My Krazy Life called Still Brazy is so important. It features two songs produced by P-Lo of the HBK Gang (IAMSU’s crew) and they were doing the exact same sound at the same time Mustard was. Rick Rock, Droop-E, League of Starz and anyone connected to E-40 predates them. People following the West knew this. Mustard was a part of it but not an originator and not the best at it. People reading the headlines and not the articles thought Mustard owned the West and was propping up YG.
YG charged into 2016 throwing B’s at the listener and smashing each song with his impactful delivery. Terrace Martin brought the burbling West Coast thump and the Roger Troutman talk box to Twist My Fingaz, Swish used all his colors to render the deepest most beautiful landscapes behind Still Brazy’s best tracks (Gimmie Got Shot, Don’t Come to LA, Who Shot Me, FDT). The guests are impressive from Lil Wayne and Drake to Kamaiyah, Slim 400 & Sad Boy. YG became a central part of this year’s narrative by releasing the smash mouth election anthem FDT (featuring Nipsey Hussle) and in a real way he had all the West Coast artists shouting “F_ Donald Trump!” Many were making references to Trump as not a reputable character (see Smoke Dza-Don’t Pass The Blunt to Trump) but YG is way more straightforward than your “lyrical” rappers and way more lyrical than your fun “party” rappers.
Before the end of the year he dropped an eight song project called Red Friday. It featured fun anthems full of braggadocio like I’m A Thug but also serious venting on police brutality (One Time Comin’). When I heard him on Left, Right in 2014 I thought to myself “this is a real move the crowd rapper” someone with a voice and tempo that needs all your attention. Still Brazy and Red Friday add more to our shared definition of YG. On songs where he feels personally affronted by someone it is shocking and powerful because he has deep wells of anger that are fascinating. The songs that are about his beliefs resonate because he can’t help but make his views of right vs. wrong vigorously present. His gang lyrics aren’t sensationalist but grounded, straightforward and powerful. Everything he speaks is vivid. He doesn’t approach these songs like Ali did Frazier, more like how Tyson approached Spinks.
He was one of the first names I thought of because he destroyed the box he was put in and that is what everyone is trying to do. It is not what he did wrong that cost him the award it is the unthinkable performance of the winner.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged DJ Mustard, Drake, Droop-E, E-40, FME MVP 2016, Honorable Mention, Kamaiyah, League of Starz, My Krazy Life, Nipsey Hussle, P-Lo, Ratchet, Red Friday, Rick Rock, Sad Boy, Slim 400, Still Brazy, Swish, Terrace Martin, YG
Mixtape Review-HBK Gang-Gang Forever
I can think of a lot of things the HBK Gang compilation isn’t. It’s not a taut concept record, something that feels like an album given for free. At the same time it’s certainly not a lazy collection of freestyles. The only thing I can think to compare it too is an outrageous musical house party with yelling and red cups and hook ups all over the place. Just like a packed house party it’s hard to keep track of who is in the room. At any given time you could be hearing CJ, P-Lo, Kool John, IAMSU!, Skipper, Sage The Gemini, Rossi, Jay Ant, Kehlani, Dave Steezy, Mike Dash-E and guess what…they are all rapping about the same thing. Almost every verse contained within Gang Forever relates to hooking up and who you plan to hook up with.
Most label compilations are trying to showcase the diversity and talent of the roster. This is not the case with rapping on Gang Forever. Since everyone is talking about the same thing and only one (IAMSU) has a transcendent flow the rest become a somewhat indistinguishable posse. Gang Forever showcases a brilliant diversity of production however. P-Lo does a remarkable job taking the legendary Message beat from Grandmaster Flash and filling it with hand claps and moving it into the ratchet genre on Can’t Hold Me Down. Jay Ant kicks off the speaker destruction with the beat for Go Crazy and SU jumps all over the beat. Not only does SU do the best rapping on Gang Forever but he contributes multiple slapping backdrops. She Ready is an example of his excellent production, it burbles and kicks into another wonderful IAMSU hook. Don’t let anyone tell you that ratchet production begins and ends with DJ Mustard. As talented as he is Rick Rock, Jay Ant, IAMSU, League of Starz, and a gang of others are just as good.
Every single song on the seventeen track mixtape feels like the smash lead single. It’s just as impressive as it is tiring. If you want to call it one note you are accurate but it’s proudly and admirably so. If HBK songs all sound the same they at least sound like one fantastically fun song.
I was certainly worried about playing this collection in the car with my wife. Any collection of music that includes the line “I’m up in your girl like mixed emotions” might not appeal to female listeners. My strategy was to skip right to the song Anita Baker and start from there. While it is true that Anita Baker does include the line “I’m a slide in it no I can’t swim but I dive in it. She got them thick thighs I’m dividing them.” The beat from HBK Joe is so gently soulful and the chorus is integrated with the sample so seamlessly that the experience of listening to it is like passing a painting at an art gallery and feeling your feet freeze you in front of it. Some things are just spellbinding. My wife felt similarly.
Having listened to SOOO much HBK music over the past two years I feel confident giving an “After IAMSU who is the next to blow?” power rankings
1.CJ-very good rapper and beat picker
2.P-Lo-great producer getting better as a rapper
3.Skipper-flow is very slow, slow sex jokes are creepy
I’m not including Kool John. Kool John is a whole other organism. A write up for a different time.
Stream or Download Gang Forever below: