Street Lottery 3 by Young Scooter
I used to think of Young Scooter as mini-Gucci Mane, one of the many understudies the Holy Spirit of Trap (in holy trinity terms the father would be TI and the son is Jeezy) burns through on his long career. It turns out he’s a Frankenstein of Gucci and Future dedicating every rap lyric to drug dealing from a position of power yet hooking like he lost his mind. Anyone who eats off of great hooks and great hooks alone I refer to as a hooker and Scooter is that. He’s not just a hooker he’s a god damn hypnotist. Doin’ Numbers, Rarri’s & Bentleys have the same trap beats your used to and unimpressive word play like “yeah I F_ with Ross my whole hood bout Gunplay (Rarri’s & Bentleys).” You will be singing these damn hooks, he’s so dedicated to the hook he performs every line like its part of the hook.
Scooter is in the street anthem business. If Made It Out Da Hood doesn’t get your blood flowing you might not have much; Kodak Black fits perfectly on the song talking about dirty laundry and indiscretions in Maryland. This is the kind of song that put trap music on the map. For My Hustlas is a classicly zany Zaytoven sounding beat; weird enough for Scooter to fit perfectly. Grind Don’t Stop is an epic continuation of Made It Out Da Hood but on steroids, Will A Fool creates a synth whistle that burns into your ears, Future expands the songs sonic area. These two have always worked beautifully together.
All the Street Lottery mixtapes, even the Juggathon mixtape w/ Zaytoven has just been leading to this bubbling over point where Scooter takes the next leap. Are great hooks enough? Well he also has the production names you need: Metro Boomin’, Zaytoven, C-Sick, Will-A-Fool so this is top level trap but crossing over may not be his destiny or desire. While the project features big names like Future, Boosie, and Young Thug this mixtape has the American flag sitting in cocaine on the cover so it’s not destined for Wal-Mart. The moment that makes you ponder how far he could travel into the spotlight is Ice Game produced by Chophouze and featuring an invigorated & rapping Akon (best feature of the project). Since rap music is so full of street dudes & ex-dealers, hip hop will always be a sucker for anthemic trap music. His hooks raise the stakes and create more of an experience than a hot line could.
Is Young Scooter a great rapper? I have no idea. Hooks are a big part of rapping, if your hooks suck your albums won’t live up to what they are capable of (see: first Jadakiss solo album). If you can make everything sound like a hook isn’t that the genius we loved in Juvenile? That’s dope and while Scooter is not Juvy he’s got time to grow into more challenging writing and he’s certainly working hard enough. He released three mixtapes last year and no one knows what he’s capable of this year.
stream or download Street Lottery 3 below:
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Tagged Boosie, C Sick, Chophouze, future, Gucci Mane, hip hop, hookers, hooks, Kodak Black, Metro Boomin, mixtape review, Street Lottery 3, Trap Music, Will A Fool, young scooter, Young Thug, Zaytoven
Mixtape Review-Trapzuse by Zuse
Having a non-traditional flow or style is cooler than it’s ever been. Weirdo rap runs strong not just from Rich Homie Quan and Young Thug but IloveMakonnen and down the line. That doesn’t mean that some things don’t still take some time to get used too.
I think it takes a project and a half to really fully get behind Zuse. I’ve listened to everything he’s ever put out, largely because of the massive critical acclaim his uniqueness brings, but his newest mixtape (Trapzuse) is on another level above anything he’s done previously. Half of that has to do with the level of production, which has destroyed my preferred headphones (Metro Boomin produced one of the only songs that didn’t bass-destroy my audio setup). The Drumaticz did three songs and deserve a huge shout out. The production is so good that you don’t even realize Metro Boomin and Sonny Digital are a part of this; they don’t really stand out amongst the great contributions everyone makes.
The other half of why Trapzuse rocks has to do with assimilating my ears to the very authentically reggae flow that Zuse has perfected. Once you tune yourself to it you can catch the tongue twisting alliteration on Chipotle, the chilling murder scenario at the end of I Can’t Wait. His hooks have taken a massive step up and are now in the top tier of available trap. On every song he’s chopping chickens and hitting the hook like a heavy bag but it works. Run To It is expertly sung. His voice actually gets weirder on Trappin On Da Clock as he stretches the first word and repeats it following it with the other three in one bunch (holding the end of the last word until you beg for him to let it go). As hip hop listeners we are used to reggae rap in the KRS-ONE way; the I’m-going-to-do-this-for-a-song-or-two, maybe-a-verse-here-or-there, but-I’ll-come-back-to-the-standard-so-don’t-worry style. Zuse has been polishing this flow for a while, it’s all he does and it shines.
The weirdo superbowl takes place on the fourth track: Plug is Latino when Young Thug comes together with Zuse who sounds even brusquer than usual to counter the high and meandering tones of Thugga. It’s everything a weirdo rap fan could hope for; two mad flow scientists just having a ball.
I love this mixtape front to back but the truly strange thing is that the three best songs are the last three. As it ends Trapzuse feels like it is the prequel to some next project that is even more powerful, focused, catchy and strange. Money Come should be a pretty standard I’m-out-for-this-money song but Zuse throws down! His third verse is as good as any trap verse in 2015 and the chorus has infinite replayability. Till I Die might be the best beat on the project; it just writhes and twitches and bumps while Zuse delivers a muted and heartfelt ballad about staying alive. Post Malone has my favorite feature on my favorite song on Trapzuse. Before we are a minute into On God Post Malone is laughing in the background as Zuse brags about mixing Reggae with rap and confusing the world. It’s fabulous adrenaline altering braggadocio and the essence of Trapzuse. He manages to do all the things we are used to in a way that sounds completely different. The energy is contagious.
Stream or download Trapzuse below:
Weekly Hip Hop-up
This week I digested a bunch of promising projects at very different stages of satisfaction. Let’s go over them.
Autotune is a gift with two curses attached, misuse and overuse. While Sean Brown’s nine track project Solitude has the weeks most fascinating and promising individual songs it has some real low points. Rollin is as boring and standard as One Crazy Ass Dream is insane. So which is more important? The high points where you are listening to a sonically huge banger (produced by Sean) where he loses his mind(everyone should hear One Crazy Ass Dream) in verses and laces a flawless hook or the sleepwalking stuff drowned in autotune that rolls right off the 2015 conveyor belt. That’s the thing about Solitude, its only nine songs so it’s too short to judge. We should obey this rule whenever we don’t have sufficient evidence to judge: if you have greatness in you, you can be great; at any time. All he has to do is find out how to mine the focus he has on his best songs (best song on Solitude:Feel Good) for an entire album.
Stream or download Solitude below:
One of the weird things about rap as a genre is how you encounter mixtapes you don’t want to like that MAKE you like them. This Summer is definitely more trap/drill music full of violent imagery strewn about its scorched ecosystem but the choruses are mighty. On songs like YNP (young n_ problems) it’s just flossing and flaunting, sneering and bouncing to the beat but he crafts a melody out of it like a snake charmer. This isn’t to say Issa doesn’t have engaging content, Only God has a moment where his baby’s mother admits she’ll probably never love anyone else and you can tell he doesn’t know what to do with that. He has points where he gives you a doggy door to look at his life and feelings. This doesn’t happen nearly enough (Boomerang gives me a headache…I don’t want to talk about it) over the course of nineteen tracks, however, and by the end you feel like your relationship with This Summer might not be a healthy one.
Stream or download This Summer below:
Ali is probably the mixtape I’m most interested in studying more from these releases. While Philly rappers are known for blistering aggression and scathing flows Tayyib has neither of those. He’s typically at a leisurely pace that doesn’t seem to fits the city’s snarl of a persona. No one could imagine Freeway or Beanie doing a convincingly awesome put-your-red-solo-cups-in-the-air frat anthem like How’s It Supposed To Be (Dave Patten is so great on the hook). Ali talks about days when his clothes didn’t fit right but never drops experiences that would alienate someone living in a different environment(even on Day In The Life which does get quite specific it feels soulfully applicable to you as a listener). He doesn’t fit into a Roots Philly neo-soul category or really anywhere else. 100 Bands doesn’t sound like any song that’s ever had bands in the title.
The Astronauts, DJ Gumble, and Ben Rosen do a great job giving Ali a completely unique sound. One based in bass and drums but not in a boom bap way, in a D’Angelo Black Messiah way. Ali is a mixtape bound to get more interesting the more you listen. At first you may be overcome by how slow the flow is and think not enough is being done but over the course of sixteen tracks you have to admit you’re having a very different experience from any other mixtape released this year and that’s something that demands attention.
Steam or download Ali below:
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Tagged 2015 mixtapes, Ali, autotune, Beanie Sigel, Ben Rosen, chicago drill scene, datpiff, DJ Booth, DJ Gumble, Freeway, Issa, Philadelphia hip hop, Philly hip hop, Sean Brown, Solitude, Tayyib Ali, The Astronauts, This Summer, Trap Music
Mixtape Review: Trap Genius by Tree
Sunday School 2: When Church Lets Out is what broke Tree wide open for the tastemakers. The funny part about this is they all had a shot at falling in love with him on the first Sunday School. That’s when I dove in with both feet (along with MTV) but most people skipped it. So when the sequel dropped and was undeniable a lot of those reviews included short sharp descriptions of Sunday School with words like “unfinished” to get the point across that he’s evolving and NOW he’s good.
Those same critics will see his new mixtape Trap Genius as a regression because they are disappointing; same dudes talking about how brilliant The Ramones were for streamlining their sound and hitting hard miss how sharply effective Tree is when he’s in this kind of zone. Trap Genius is only eleven tracks long built on off signature melody and the oddest most engaging voice in rap music. It’s less emotionally complete than Sunday School 2 which soared on thankful memories and crashed into vengeful warning. This time Tree is building you the stressful, violent world he wants you in and trapping you there. If you’re a fan of trap music you won’t get a more satisfying chant along than Red Yella. Listen after listen peals new layers and you can really hear the desperation at the beginning of Betta Than Eva when Tree is imagining a world where he never sold and stayed in school. The violence is everywhere on Trap Genius and the snarling doesn’t feel like it comes from a hardcore maniac just someone trying to stay on top of it. Better Than Eva ends with an interlude, an argument between a policeman and a man on the street. It acts as another piece adding to the claustrophobic I-gotta-get-out-of-this-place feeling on the project.
Not sure I expected to make it this far without discussing New Or Leins/Training Day. Blue Sky Black Death produced it and the spaciousness of the sound is utterly remarkable. On the first listen the combination of Tree’s bluesy growl and this Seattle duo’s production had me exclaiming an audible GOD DAMN! As a sparkling centerpiece perfectly sung and orchestrated New Or Liens is awe inspiring but still ends with local news reporting about more arrests. Trap Genius makes a point of grabbing the listener by the collar and pulling until your face to face with the Chicago violence you’ve spent the last year (or two) fetishizing. You love yelling CHIRAQ in your mom’s minivan, huh? Tree doesn’t simply give you the violence but the horrible fear of more violence that pollutes your psyche. So songs like Don’t Een Kare aren’t pumping full of evil adrenaline for nothing, you need that to survive in Tree’s world. The liquor and the women seem like drugs taken to artificially create a comfort that won’t ever stick.
Trust me I know that everyone has their favorite Chicago rapper. Some swear by Chief Keef (and he is getting better every project), some yearn for more King Louie (understandably) or Chance The Rapper. My favorite Chicago rapper for the last few years has been Tree. End of discussion. I don’t like my music neat and tidy. Tree has crafted a brand of music that steps out of the jagged edges of sound: both in his voice, sampling, and production. How punk rock is that? On the first listen Trap Genius sounded very good but on the second I was flabbergasted. On top of everything else Tree provided the perfect argument against one listen reviews.
stream or download Trap Genius below:
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Tagged 2015 mixtapes, Blue Sky Black Death, Chance the Rapper, Chicago Hip Hop, Chief Keef, King Louie, mixtape review, punk rock, Soul Trap, Sunday School, Sunday School 2, Trap Genius, Trap Music, Tree, When Church Lets Out
Mixtape Review-Beast Mode by Future x Zaytoven
I’m incorrect but I always think of Future as an amazing raw talent. The way basketball writers must have looked at Wilt Chamberlain. He’s not raw at all. The music always feels that way because of how he attacks it. A new project roll out for Future never encompasses a new direction with a different look and feel. He attacks what he does whether it’s about selling dope or buying cars or achieving love; always with no fear of seeming cheesy or emotional and always with the autotune at its highest setting.
When his album Pluto smashed rap music I called him king of the hookers, able to nail the chorus so precisely that you needed the song in your rotation. Not just his hooks but guest hooks. Beast Mode proves that the boundless energy it takes to throttle every opportunity is not just something Future brings to the hook, he brings it everywhere.
The whole project is nine songs long and entirely produced by Zaytoven, who has a great understanding of the push and pull needed in a good trap-ish beat. Zaytoven has been trending weird and minimalist at the same time, finding a way to make every beat sound signature and different at the same time. Listen to the sparse, strange Peacoat and you’ll understand. For Futures part he rarely relies on his R&B sensibilities on Beast Mode instead making his growls and verses catchy on Oooooh and even when his voice pulls into appealing croon it’s for the classic get-wealthy-with-me anthem No Basic which carries a heap of adrenaline pumped muscle.
As amped as No Basic can get you Where I Came From is a thousand times more subdued and doesn’t feel too far away from any other song on the project. Zaytoven weaves piano into his baseline better than 90% of producers and that sound fits Future like a glove. In a hushed melodic mumble Future talks about the feds coming to get them, selling out of his grandmother’s house, and lots of stark shocking images you may not catch if you get wrapped up in the melody. Maybe that’s the joke of it all. East Coast cats hear the melody and dismiss him but people that know how to listen to Southern rap can tell you that not only can Future sing and rap he does both about real situations. Even Real Sisters which is supposed to be about having a three-way with ladies and not caring if they are real sisters has a lot of penitentiary and trap talk.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t beg you to listen to Beast Mode in order to catch another fantastic Juvenile feature. They remake the structure of his Ha hit into Aintchu and Juvi is damn solid. He’s like the southern Jadakiss; wherever his solo album content may be (fantastic or forgettable) he still kills every feature in front of him and is almost on your top rapper list.
Watching Future make everything work on Beast Mode is like watching Wilt pull 40 rebounds and score 50 points over sweaty slow white guys and shaking your head like “man, the game is changing…” remember when we all thought he was just the new T-Pain? Feels like a long time ago.
Stream or Download Beast Mode below:
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Tagged Atlanta hip hop, autotune, Beast Mode, future, Jadakiss, Juvenile, mixtape review, Pluto, R&B, T-Pain, Trap Music, Wilt Chamberlain, Zaytoven
Mixtape Review-Young Jefe by Shy Glizzy
A weird voice cuts two ways; one mans innovation in intonation is another’s fingernails down the chalkboard. I have to warn you about this because Glizzy has a whine flow all his own that might shut you down before you even get the chance to think about what he’s saying or what these songs sound like. Glizzy is a dude who has been praised right from the get go for youthful exuberance and an emotional depth to his coke talk that a lot don’t possess. I wasn’t sold. He was much more chalkboard than innovation in my mind but that was before Young Jefe.
I spent most of early 2014 tired of the trap sound. I felt like I’d heard every Zaytoven and Metro Boomin beat and pillars of the genre like Gucci Mane were flooding the market at all costs sacrificing quality. This all makes it strange that to fall so hard for Young Jefe which is squarely Trap music carrying at least three Zaytoven production credits (although more subdued and interesting than I remember his norm being) along with features from Trap mainstays like Peewee Longway, Young Thug, and Young Scooter. More than any mixtape in recent history Young Jefe portrays a Scarface attitude to match its cover. It’s got genuinely funny moments like the interlude Call From Cannon where you get to hear our narrator laugh and have fun but these moments are rare. Even on a brag song like I’m On Fire Glizzy is talking about the death of his father, the choice to sell dope and the people who constantly reminded him he had no future.
The sing song cadence of the chorus’s (I Can’t Trust Myself, I’m A Star, Mula, Coca Loca, pretty much any song) are hypnotizing and while Glizzy does weave tales of death and depression they slide underneath a resounding confidence/arrogance that would garner the respect of Tony Montana himself. I’m A Star is so brazen and catchy that you have to listen to it again. Over the course of the 18 track opus Glizzy’s young and ready to fight the world attitude becomes contagious. You might start to puff your chest out when Glizzy calls himself macho on Medellin or snarl along with him when he asks “where’s your pistol?” on Or Nah. That feeling connects to the reason we all come back to Scarface after all these years.
We all live in fear of things: losing jobs, family, friends, or our health. Tony Montana was a character who felt like he was born at the very bottom of life’s possible outcomes so he wasn’t really scared at what happened by the end of the movie. He came from nothing and now he had everything, the only thing that made sense to him was to push it as far as he could and what was the worst that could happen? He would lose what he was never supposed to have had in the first place. On moments like Coca Loca where Glizzy brags gleefully about having cocaine he seems to carry that same joyful anger. The fearlessness of youth mixed with the spirit of vengeance from the bottom. It’s an acidic mixture that still connects with me the same way Never Mind The Bullocks by The Sex Pistols did the first time I listened to it.
stream or download Young Jefe below:
Mixtape Review-Its Tha World 2 by Young Jeezy
If Its Tha World 2 was a vehicle it wouldn’t be a minivan. The eight track smash mouth Young Jeezy and company mixtape would be a muscle car riding at top speed along a dirt road, leaving trails of dust on the competition.
Young Jeezy might be the most frustrating artist of my time. His great verses are few and far between. The most famously interesting thing about him is the ad-lib (that everyone does a variation of now). Jeezy is the artist people most often turn to me and laud while I’m scratching my head. I’ve never been able to figure out why everyone is so interested in him while so many other great artists are out there. Its Tha World 2 provides my answer.
The sonic world of this thing has no comparison. It starts off with a soul shattering Drumma Boy fist fight trap beat (Foul Play) which will make you want to upgrade the speakers in your vehicle and transitions into DJ Mustard ratchet. Except it doesn’t transition it digests the Mustard sound and snowballs. Jeezy makes everything trap by sheer force of persona. You can feel his twisted smile through every bar and he’s constantly hype, imploring the audience and the beat to get crazier and crazier. The strength and determination of the music go beyond the verses and make every chorus something you want spit out along with him (“Whip it right here in your face! Benihana.” –Benihana)
Jeezy has never been a star builder (hence the Freddie Gibbs problem) so don’t expect songs from YG(Left Right) or Doughboyz Cashout(I’m Dat N_) to blow you away. He needs a crew to fill in whatever spots on songs he’s not interested in filling but it doesn’t matter. Benihana is one of the more star studded songs (featuring 2 Chainz and Rocko) and it’s not even close to the best moment on the project. By the time you get to the super duper catchy In My Head you’ll be head nodding like someone under mind control. It’s Tha World 2 isn’t good or great its unbelievable. Every producer from Childish Major to Tony Rey to Drumma Boy and Mustard just hand over their best beats excited to see what will come out the other side.
My favorite lyrical image is on the song Birfday when Jeezy says “See I’m trying to get these units off then cop a flying saucer, come through w/ a Spanish B_#$ top down banging salsa.” The notion that on the other end of spending all this time in the kitchen and moving this weight is a smiling Jeezy with the top down riding somewhere with salsa music blaring from his car as he lets out a thirty second long YYYYEEEEEAAAAHHHHH is indelible.
For any fan of coke rap the coming together of Pusha T and Jeezy on Pure (with yet another of Big Krits amazing 2013 chorus assists) is the high point. The track (produced by Cam Wallace) whistles with D-boy Colombian flavor while hand claps propel it forward. As great as that song is the next one (Left Right) will have you jumping just as hard. After the second listen I decided that Its Tha World 2 is something I’m going to have to work hard at not listening too. My fingers will want to hit the play button on it everyday. All I can do is sit across from it and enjoy the mad voodoo of Jeezy somehow not being a part of any genre while cackling at the center of everything. Now I need to dig into his older stuff and see if it’s always been this good and my vision was obscured.
Download or stream Its Tha World 2 below:
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Tagged Big K.R.I.T., DJ Mustard, Doughboyz Cashout, Drumma Boy, Its Tha World 2, mixtape review, Pusha T, Southern Hip Hop, Trap Music, YG, Young Jeezy