Meek Mill feat. Rick Ross - I’m A Boss (2011)
This will go down as one of the classic rap songs of this decade. Hopefully. No better tune to be a bawse to. No better tune to pretend you’re a bawse to.
Rick Ross - Mafia Music (2009)
An hour into this Joe Rogan podcast Rogan interviews the real Rick Ross (”Freeway” Rick Ross) about Rick Rawzze. It’s pretty interesting. Personally I don’t really give a fuck about how real or fake Rawzze is - if he makes music as swaggering, huffing, puffing as this. Mind you this is a few years old and he’s not doing it like this anymore. But still - come on, who does? It does make me wonder, hearing this and then hearing something so lyrically myopic as ”Presidential” (a bit of fluff, admittedly, even though I LOVE that beat have I mentioned that already?), if Ross is a ”refillable” (as I heard Louie CK describe certain stand-ups in an interview) - a voice for ghostwriters to fill? In which case the parallels between him and an actor like Pacino in Scarface becomes even more relevant. This opens a can of worms, of course, cos it begs the question of how ‘real’ rap music in the mainstream really isn’t… (but but but - what about the cartoon gangsta extremity of NWA? the showmanship that’s always run through rap, including and especially, even, gangsta rap…)
But one thing it IS (or CAN BE): great entertainment.
Buy the new issue of The Wire and you can read a whole load of 2012 round-up stuff which is better written than what this stuff here is. Most importantly, if you flip to the ”A-Z” section you will see what happens when the mega powers of ”The Wire” magazine rap journalism collide as me and some bloke called ”Noz” unwittingly collaborate on a list of the 10 most essential rap releases of 2012. Basically they’ve mashed our two lists together like Jeff Goldblum + a common house fly and the result has got two black-berry eyes, Hiroshima flesh-flaps hanging off its bones and is not necessarily being impolite if it vomits all over the Carbonara you just spent an hour preparing for it.
Supposedly our individual lists will be up on the Wiresite soon but since I can’t see mine anywhere yet I’ll put it up on here for your uninterested perusal:
1. Kendrick Lamar - good kid, M.A.A.D. City (Aftermath/Interscope)
2. Gunplay - Bogota Rich: The Prequel (MMG, DL)
3. Kendrick Lamar feat. Gunplay - Cartoons & Cereal (TDE)
4. Ka - Grief Pedigree (Iron Works)
5. Chief Keef - Back From The Dead (Glory Boy Entertainment, DL)
6. King Louie - Val Venis (Epic)
7. Tree - Sunday School (Gutter City Ent., DL)
8. Roc Marciano - Reloaded (Decon)
9. GrandeMarshall - 800 (Soundcloud DL)
10. Rick Ross - Rich Forever (MMG/Def Jam/Warner Bros DL)
AMIRIGHT? I dunno. This list was a bit scraped together and I heard a couple of things late (Tree, Marciano). Also I don’t really listen to whole albums/mixtapes very often, I just don’t have the patience nowadays and half the time with rap music there’s only about five or six decent tracks, even on a good mixtape.
The only other bit I read today was Noz’s column which is good also, especially as he entertainingly questions the reason why Action Bronson even exists. The answer, of course, is: to chat absurdist bollocks with Riff Raff.
Rick Ross feat. Elijah Blake - Presidential (2012)
This remains one of my favourite beats of 2012. The video is good too cos it equates Ross’s chubby torso to a weathered scrap of Da Vinci’s sketchbooks. There is probably a design for a car that can cure cancer scrawled in ink somewhere deep inside Rozay’s arse-crack or under his left tit which will only be discovered in the year 3000 when Ross’s body is displayed suspended in amber in front of the Smithsonian - and by then it’ll be too late cos he’ll have owned and crashed all 20 of the cars by then. BAWSE.
I also loved ”Ice Cold” off this album - R’N’B singers caterwhauling absurdly cos that’s all you can do in the presence of Obesus Christ. Did I mention Rick Ross is overweight? It’s not gratuitous cos its his whole persona. If he was a skinny little white guy he would be shite and doing tunes about being a farmer with Diplo.
I’ve written a column of rap reviews for the latest issue of The Wire magazine. I reviewed the following records/tapes:
Rick Ross - God Forgives, I Don’t
DG Yola - Mr Broke Da Knob
GrandeMarshall - 800
Oochie - The Dewprint
Curren$y and Harry Fraud - Cigarette Boats
Kendrick Lamar - Swimming Pools
Edits can be brutal, and a couple of words here and there have gone missing (i.e. “you conclude that Curren$y’s strength as a rapper is his taste in beats” [Published] vs. “you might conclude Curren$y’s primary strength as a rapper…” [original] - big difference IMO), but that’s what happens when you submit columns that go hundreds of words over the limit. So big up Derrick for managing to cut it down into a more concise form. Perhaps I’ll post a ”corrective” on here at some point just to clear some things up, but nobody would read it - go and read The Wire instead, it’s full of great writing - INCLUDING MINE (NO EGO).
Rick Ross - Mafia Music (2009)
As Deen mentioned rappers who aren’t known for being lyrical going in for ages and ages, this is a good opportunity to post one of the many Rick Ross tracks that impressed me off of Lattisaw Tapes’s compilation (which I haven’t gone in on properly yet). Once again, Ross demonstrates why he needs to do a cover of ”The REWFF’s on Fire let the Muthafucka Burn” except he should replace the word ”Burn” with ”PEWWWFF!” like a big puff of smoke or something.
“The rumours got turn me on I’m masturbating at the top / These hoes so excited so they catchin’ every drop”… Practically every line on this is a grandiose boast or ridiculous reference to Bob Marley or Marvin Gaye or Jesus Christ Almighty comparing them to Ross, even though he spends the whole time talking about shooting people and selling drugs and sitting on people in fights cos that’s what fat fuckers do in a clinch.
The big organ chords add to the whole overblown vibe and the beat marches along like ”Jesus Walks”, which is great because there’s absolutely no spiritual value to this track whatsoever if anything it would be satanic if the content wasn’t so bland. Rozay is all about audacity - this is probably why everybody knows he’s a liar/fake/fraud/phoney/a stan - and doesn’t care, and in fact probably enjoys his music more as a result. It makes him seem even more ”give-a-fuck” than an actual mobster rapping like this would be. This is the point of all his ”pray to God” lines, surely - not to lamely attempt to give the impression that he’s actually religious, but actually as a smirking middle-finger to the Big Bawse Upstairs. Not that I think Ross actually believes in a God to defy - he comes across (in his music) as not really believing in anything: the Mafia codes he talks about are a) just cliched signifiers and b) not relevant, COS HE ISN’T IN THE MAFIA.
Rick Ross feat. Elijah Blake - Presidential (2012)
Produced by Pharrell. This is great, basically, even though I sort of wish Rick Ross had been taken off it and replaced by some verses for Elijah Blake that match that hook. This happens with R’N’B/Rap tunes sometimes - the hook is the highlight and the raps feel superfluous, perhaps because a singer can tap into an emotion that a rapper - or at least, a rapper like Ross - can’t or doesn’t. Still, Rozay does a decent enough job to render himself non-disposable (deadpan boasts like ”her shoe game remarkable / I feel solely responsible” which you hope are at least slightly tongue-in-cheek).
I haven’t heard ‘God Forgives…’ yet but if the rest of it is this good I’m going to enjoy listening to it.
Gunplay - Take This (2012)
Gunplay reminds me of Redman - just all that loud rowdy attitude, the voice alone (with the authority of Rawse plus the energy of Meek) dominant and flava-filled enough to cause a ruckus even without a hype beat to back it up.
Just substitute coke for weed, though Reggie’s lyrics were similarly threatening, swaggering with near self-parodic delinquent glee, Gunplay just amps it all up a little, as befitting his self-conscious embrasure of the ‘coke-head maniac’ image that became attached to him via some online videos - “Lost five pounds in the last four hours, And got a photoshoot still sniffin’ chowder, Look at me wrong and I’m gonna shoot the whole crowd up!”
106 and Coke is a disappointingly (or brilliantly) witless name for a mixtape, and hopefully Gunplay hasn’t forgotten or abandoned his more serious, even ‘conscious’ side in favour of pure lunatic tomfoolery, though he does that better than anyone, since the ‘conscious’ (or RIGHTEOUS) is something else he does brilliantly.
N.B. Editing this post cos the “in-studio performance” (i.e. Gunplay getting fucked up on MDMA/something similar and miming along to this tune like a living cartoon - and in the process proving infinitely more visually entertaining than any other rapper you’d care to mention, even though he’s basically doing what I do when I get home after a rave just before I load up the first lesbian porn clip and after that its a wrap) has dropped. As with most Gunplay tunes/mixtapes, this is maddeningly short and I think I underestimated its brief-candle brilliance on first listen - at the very least, there’s some great lines in there: “wash a niggas dreads, clean out a nigga dandruff! My nuts sweaty but she licked ‘em already, new buggatti still pupping 87 unleaded, I’m a hog on my money take it all with me to heaven”. Shallow stuff, true, but shallow stuff done peerlessly. The lyrics are outrageous but its really the way he raps them that elevates him - pacing, snarling like a big cat in a cage, king in his domain.
The beat sounds like a 90’s throwback (no doubt someone will inform me it IS a 90’s beat - I love the little funk-bass riff that comes in from time to time over the suspended strings) and Gunplay is really one of the few contemporary rappers around that I’ve heard who doesn’t sound out of place or superfluous on hard boom-bap beats from the 90’s. It’s the sheer force of his personality/voice mixed with the tight, strict rattle of his flow.
Comparisons keep leaping to mind when listening to Gunplay - classic comparisons, yer Redmans and Bustas and even Scarface (‘Straight Up Menace’ - that OHLORD passion), and I think that’s because he seems as titanic, larger-than-life but with the ‘real’ feeling that accompanies your humble ears coming into contact with raw and undeniable talent.
Gunplay - Tats All On My Arm Freestyle (2012)
“Swastika on my Tat / Smokin’ Tropical Crack…”
I’m sure the Rozay album has some heaters but all I really care about is Gunplay, honestly.