What sets Drake apart from other mainstream rappers is that the man attempts poetry on topics other than the tired. This does not mean he doesn’t slip into the occasional safe rap topics, like money, cars, and butts, but on every album there is a serious amount of lyrical skill between the fluffier parts. The first time hearing Nothing Was The Same’s “Started from the Bottom” is misleading to what’s going on in Drake’s newest studio album but it’s simultaneously a summery of the entire album. Fame and money were part of the equation as far back as 2007’s album-strength mixtape Comeback Season, catching him on topics of coming up as a backpack rapper, giving everything he’s got to get rich and famous. But now that he’s got what he asked for the strongest songs are those that catch him alone, stepping back away from his buddies, and talking Real Talk about what all three of those things–money, cars, ass–mean to his life now, if anything.
“Too Much (feat. Sampha)” has Drake contemplating if his life is any better now with all his old dreams realized. The real terror seems to come when he can’t find what direction to move in anymore, and the possibility that getting rich will make him lazy (“Stuck in the house, need to get out more/ I’ve been stacking up like I’m fundraising/ Most people in my position get complacent”).
Sampha’s vocals are a nice change from Rhianna–who makes a small nation’s wage only singing rap choruses–and sets tone, alongside solo clapping and his looping trills, echoing a loneliness that’s not seen with rappers known by their cliques. Drake sounds rushed in in delivery, angst ridden almost, like he’s held in his mother’s isolation too long (“Hate the fact my mom cooped up in her apartment,telling herself/ That she’s too sick to get dressed up and go do shit, like that’s true shit”), sharing it finally in the only way he knows how: by rapping. It’s a rap game mobius strip he’s walking, one that might not have a solution; being rich doesn’t mean being happy.
Action Bronson is a rapper with so much character he might as well be an animated bear. The entire length of “Water Sports” (maybe his career) is not so much a huge joke than a collection of recordings that show a bunch of guys–Bronson, RiFF RaFF, Statik Selektah, et al–joking around. They look like they’re having fun because they are.
“Water Sports” is no exception. Right away, Bronson tail whips into the thick of it with “Shit yo, it’s like I’m always dunking on Dikembe Mutombo,” something so irreverent it could only come from his big body. Harry Fraud’s production flutters with vintage flutes and cymbals, which act as the Hummingbird engine that makes what Bronson does look effortless on this track.
What follows is a series of lines that vaguely run the track of summer activities, sometimes involving water. “420 SC, yes he/Doing fuckin’ endos on the Jetski” a line that makes the jump into connecting title and lyrical content, and explodes a load of asinine alliteration.
Okay, Okay. I know. This isn’t Sage Francis; there’s no poetic undertone of political despiar or a verse about the battered life of a beautiful hooker. One would be hard pressed to get anything of a meaning from a line like “Eleven thousand on the overcoat straight from Nova Scot/Hover on boats, wines with summer notes” but then again, this dude’s just having fun.
It’s been a little bit since I posted and I’m going to blame it on the weather. If anyone has been to Milwaukee in the Winter then you know that things tend to slow down. Everybody hunkers down and goes into a winter induced coma. So it’s geography’s fault not mine. But it’s a balmy 30 degrees out today and it seems like spring is beginning to break.
One artist that I found while sleeping away my Saturdays was LA producer Djemba Djemba. His new EP is coming off of Diplo’s MAD Decent label so it’s already got that going for it. The “Trap” genre seems to be blowing up right now. While Djemba Djemba is definitely a trap artist, but he’s got a very different take on it. It probably helps that he samples one of my favorite SNES video games in one of his mixes. Regardless, it would definitely be worthwhile to check out his EP, and a mix or two if you like what you hear.
Whether you agree with these statements or not, when someone brings it up you should roll your eyes. Beyond Da’ Packers or cheese or that big body of water on our east coast, the number of exciting things that have come from this state would surprise most. Frank Lloyd Wright spent much time in his early years in Madison; Chris Farley was born in Madtown, too; the Violent Femmes grew up in Milwaukee; and the newest reason Wisconsin has got something to be interested in is MKE’s own Klassik.
In the Making, Klassik’s first full length album, is a sonic boom of turtle waxed production value (done by Klassik himself), and hip-hop with lyrical complexity. The album starts off with “Grand Scheme of Things”, an intro bursting with plucked strings, pianos, and theremin syth-pitch bending, setting a spacy mood while sending across the message that Klassik is going to blend his own melange of old organic sounds and the new some cosmonaut-altitude hip hop. It’s so hard not to perk up at lyrics like “Getting rid of all negative dispositions/ that’s the attitude that got me here in this position” as it seemingly floats in front of all those past and present instrumentals. And the music runs from jazz lounge keys (“All day”), to cymbals that crash like lit TNT in front of a pixelated harp (“Enemy/Inner Me”), to the Morse code bumping trunk-thumper “MoonRock.”
Lyrics too, beside his skill of word play like “No time for all that jazz/ have you ever seen a girl with all that aspirin?” on “Ur Next Move”, is quick and infectious while having a deeper level of consciousness and skill. Listeners will find themselves humming the chorus from “Escape”, or finding themselves walking to class singing “Whatcha doing Klassik?/ Coolin’ out now” from “Oh Yeah…Ntro” ad nauseum.
So, looking for Wisconsin pride? No worries, it’s all here, and with talent and flow that will only grow better with time, In the Making is bound to be a Klassik.
Here’s some tune goodness from the Chicago production duo Team Bayside High. Even though their Chicago natives they’re making their presence known in the MKE. They opened up last weekend for Two Fresh at the Miramar, and while I wasn’t there, I heard it was a good show. They also dropped their latest ‘Loudpack EP’ a bit ago off of the Teenage Riot Records. Calling it an ‘EP’ is being a bit generous seeing as it’s only two songs (more of a single if you ask me, but nobody did… so I blog), but it’s damn good and you can grab it for free off of Soundcloud.
It’s been a bit busy over here so I haven’t quite been getting the consistency I’d like to with posting but I’ve been recruiting some friends who will hopefully drop a song or two once in awhile. They’ve got good music taste so I’m sure you’ll enjoy anything they put up. Hopefully at some point their will be enough inconsistent posting that it will be consistent. That’s the dream at least.
Right now it’s starting to look a lot like Fall so maybe this #SummerSessions mixtape might be a bit late. If anything it’ll make the last couple days of summer a little warmer. This one’s coming to you from the Milwaukee rapper BKnitts. This mixtape is definitely worth a listen, especially if you’re about Milwaukee music. I think this dudes stuff is like an unpolished gem right now. Sometimes it can be a little rough but as long as he keeps on that grind and experiments with his own style I think he’ll clean up real nice.
You can download BKnitts #SummerSessions mixtape off of his Bandcamp page. While you’re there you can scope out some of his other stuff. You can also show him some MKE love on his Facebook page.
Now that Earl Sweatshirt is back from his rehab/exile in Samoa, and with a new head on his shoulder–he recently tweeted that “Everyone with 666 or KTA or some sort of stupid hashtag like ‘hey look im crazy’ in their bio might be pretty bummed [about the next record]”–it’s clear, on this genius collaboration with Flying Lotus and the Tyler the Creator-sounding Captain Murphy duo, that he’s not about rapping stories of rape or murder so much anymore. This is further shown on the Frank Ocean Channel Orange guest appearance, proving he’s still got that indefinable flow, executed with ease, and lyrical content anew isn’t stopping him. As always, though, the lyrics are fresh and full of wit, double entendres, and enough internal rhymes to make a man (or woman) melt, “Hardly not, gnarly tots, nollie pops/Use a bit, it got me; then she buzzin’ like a walkie talk” But what really makes this song work is the hazy atmosphere, record pops, and crystal ting of the vibraphone, so much so that Flying Lotus could have let this beat stand alone and we’d still be talking about it.