The new Solange videos got me in the mood to watch Sayat Nova again – anybody else?

Solange – Don’t Touch My Hair

Solange – Cranes in the Sky

Sergei Parajanov – Sayat Nova



It’s the month of resurrecting long dead post series on DRIVE SLOW!  This track doesn’t build to the climax some other entries in this series do, but there is still a steady addition of new elements throughout the entire song that subtly build momentum in a way that’s rarely found in rap.  Plus the rapping too amazing to not be included here.

Juvenile – Money on the Couch



Once again Tree resurrects this series after another long break!

This is not my favorite song on the new I.B.TREE tape, but it might have my favorite chorus all year.  Other rappers would sound like they were auditioning for the audiobook of The Hood Phrase Book if they tried to rap this chorus – “My bitches is perfect / My niggas is awesome / My mama’s amazing” but Tree can make you feel the depth and profundity of these sentiments in ways no one else could. Glad this refrain had no rhymes in it so I’d have an excuse to write about it here.

Tree – All Dat

This whole tape is such a breath of fresh air after having only the somewhat hit-and-miss #Treestyles to get us through 2015 (at DRIVE SLOW we just pretend Trap Genius didn’t happen).  I’ve heard haters griping that they’re disappointed by the project because Tree did not rap and produce the whole tape.  It’s unclear if this complaint is driven by some kind of rigid purism they imagine must be in place for good music, or if there are people out there that think Tree sounds bad over other people’s beats, but either way I totally disagree and think the pairing is quite complimentary and brings out some of the greatest Tree moments we’ve seen in years.  The mumbling, crossing-the-bar complexity of “Heard Nothing“, the mounting emotional intensity in the verses of “Kinfolk“, and the compelling storytelling of “Couple Nights” are right up there with the strongest points of Sunday School I & II or The MCTREEG EP.  I mean people do realize that half of Sunday School II was produced by other people, right?

Check out the whole project here, and take a moment to relish the unrhymed beauty of the opening track before falling in love with the rest.




Back in April I was puzzled by Rich Boy’s decision to release a video to an eight year old mixtape track, and hypothesized that perhaps he had come to the same realization I had about his career – that his ’08 – ’11 material with producer Supa Villain was his true golden era and everything that has followed has been middling at best in comparison.  He then did something even more surprising: he put out another video from this same era, and then another, and then another, and then another.  It wasn’t until this final video in the series came out that the motivation became clear.  In the intro to “All I Know“, arguably the best song out of the five getting this throwback video treatment, “RIP SupaVillain” flashes across the screen in simple white text as the beat kicks in for the intro.

This came as a total shock to me, I’d heard nothing about this at all – no tribute tracks, no Twitter shout-outs, no blog posts, no magazine coverage.  Looking a bit deeper I was even more surprised – he actually died two full years ago from an epilepsy condition he developed as an adult.  Maybe Rich Boy just needed some time to process the loss before releasing this low-key tribute, but whatever the reason this put my motivation on full speed to put together a compilation of all their best material during what I consider to be the intersection of their most unique, interesting work.

I mentioned in my last post that this duo could have made an Alabama Yen Lo album in 2010, which was my first plan when wanting to put together this compilation.  During this period, Supa Villain had an incredible knack for creating dramatic, gripping backgrounds with shockingly sparse instrumentation and texture (like Preservation’s beats on 2015’s Days with Yen Lo with KA), especially considering the popularity of Lex Luger maximalism and post-Mannie Fresh hyperactive 808 programming in much of the South at the time.  So my original goal was to find only those prime examples of this specific phenomenon, to make my best effort to Frankenstein together the album I wish they’d made themselves during this period.

When I learned of Supa Villain’s death, my focus changed.  It now seemed more necessary to give a comprehensive view of his work with Rich Boy, not just the select few extreme cases that would have gone on the first draft.  Supa Villain did, of course, work with other artists and had plenty of solo material, but I honestly never liked any of it as much as his work with Rich Boy, so I still kept it to their collaborations for the final mix.  Rich Boy is a thoroughly underrated rapper, and I believe if he’d grown up in Houston, Atlanta, New Orleans, or even Baton Rouge he could have been as much of a star as any hot rapper from those big scenes today, but coming up in places like Mobile, Alabama don’t give you much of a head start on success in the music industry.

The thing that worked best about these collaborations was Supa Villain’s understated but thoughtful backdrops with Rich Boy’s charismatic conviction generating most of the energy and forward motion.  Many rappers need a hyper-energetic beat to ride like a wave to make compelling music, but Rich Boy’s conviction demands your attention in ways few rappers can measure up to.  His words hit harder than the loudest bass drum or clatter of hi-hats on other artist’s tracks.  I would put him in my top 5 rappers who are best at conveying that level of conviction along with Pimp C, Tupac, Boosie, and Z-Ro, and Supa Villain during this period had an uncanny ability to draw this emotional power out of Rich Boy.

Here is the track list for the compilation.  I’ve put stars next to tracks that would have been on that first concept mix so you can make your own little mini version of that yourself if you like.  Download link is below that.  All tracks produced by Supa Villain.  RIP.

  1. Off the Court
  2. Stop Traffic
  3. Cover Girl *
  4. Got Purp (feat. Al Myte & Supa Villain)
  5. Ghetto Boy *
  6. Haters Wish
  7. She Wanna
  8. So Slow *
  9. All I Know *
  10. Convertible Status *
  11. Capuccino
  12. High Designer
  13. Game Proper
  14. The Ruler
  15. Hater Curse (feat. Supa Villain & Playboi Lo) *
  16. Play Day *
  17. Gold Kilo$ *
  18. Da Pacc *
  19. Gutta (feat. Shug) *
  20. Everyday Christmas *

Rich Boy & Supa Villain – RIP Supa Villain


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Flocka transformed into something I couldn’t possibly enjoy so quickly and completely that I never expected to hear anything from him I could remotely relate to ever again.  Even if you told me it was possible, I certainly wouldn’t expect it to be on some weird lo-fi Kanye remix doing some #realhiphop type shit but here you go:

Waka Flocka – Real Friends (Flockmix)



For reasons I could never articulate, the two songs from 2015 that earwormed me the hardest were Snootie Wild & K Camp’s “Made Me” (I know it’s from 2014 but it didn’t really sink its teeth into my auditory cortex until the following year), and MC Beezy & DJ Chose’s “Everywhere I Go“.

DJ Chose – Everywhere I Go (feat. MC Beezy)

Both of these songs still run through my head at least once a day even though I haven’t intentionally listened to either one in months.  While helping a friend compile a best rap songs with flute compilation I had a reason to revisit TI’s “Motivation”.  I was surprised to find that the ear-wormiest part of the Chose/Beezy track can be found buried deep in verse 1 of this TI B-side.

TI – Motivation

(It’s at 0:44 in case you’re having trouble, but listen to the whole song it’s got killer flutes!)

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Trying to make good on my promise to appreciate artists while they’re still alive after Jacka’s untimely passing – here’s a track that could have easily been a jumbled mixture of hot names, but actually coalesces into a complex but cohesive whole as a song.

Mistah F.A.B. – Up Until Then (feat. Boosie Badazz & Iamsu!)

At first listen, this track feels a little pasted together.  Iamsu!’s hook is a bit too postured to blend easily with the street-level somberness of Boosie’s verse, and the divergent styles of these three rappers are not at all an obvious collection for a single track.  But subsequent visitations cause these disparate elements to cohere more and more.

The dark yet bouncy instrumental helps to blend Iamsu!’s boasts with the song’s more melancholy moments.  Both of F.A.B.’s verses pay a thorough homage to the Bay’s preferred term of endearment for males – it goes on to an almost-but-not-quite-annoying degree, and is saved by the compelling blend of nostalgia and clever freshness he leisurely dances around throughout.  I’ve yet to hear Iamsu! put out anything as compelling as his Stoopid / Kilt days, but this beat and hook (I assume he is also the producer of the track?) have plenty of energy to keep the track vigorous and interesting.  Boosie graces the beat with a less emphatic delivery than most of his recent material, but still infuses every word with a level of conviction and heart many rappers never achieve.

This one’s definitely a grower, but well worth the time spent on a few listens, and should serve as motivation to continue the deeper catalog exploration of F.A.B. and his associates.

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This one’s for that very small intersection of rap nerds and music composition/theory nerds out there – I know I’m not the only one!  Remember that weird ternary-form RiFF RAFF song from 2014?  Here’s an even stranger Nipsey Hussle & Buddy song that’s straight simple binary form.  “A” section, “B” section, end.  Sounds like they just took an unfinished Nipsey track and stuck a totally hopeless Buddy song on at the end.

Nipsey Hussle – Status Symbol 2 (feat. Buddy)

This one actually sounds better than its predecessor through the verse, but the abrupt ending kinda kills the vibe.  And what’s the deal with Buddy?  I thought “Awesome Awesome” was a fun song, was that just Pharrell’s doing or is there something cool about Buddy himself?  I’ve yet to see any evidence of this but I keep looking…

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In case anybody was worried that Young Thug might be taking Lyor Cohen’s condescending advice to heart…

Lyor Cohen & Young Thug convo

(The original version of that convo above continues with Lyor getting pretty heated and calling Thug “son” which was pretty cringe-inducing but I guess CNBC wasn’t trying to include that part.  Anyway I’m glad to see that despite this conversation, and I’m sure many others, Thug is still comfortable being his wild self even on official singles.  I love his more traditional songs too but please don’t tell  Young Thug to not freestyle.)

Young Thug – Turn Up



It’s great when completely disparate artists make the same discovery completely independent of each other.  While the Dadaists felt the need to pontificate and publish manifestos about their groundbreaking movement, street kids making the same aesthetic realizations are just posting them on Worldstar.  Check out this new track whose chorus is just as pure sound poetry as Zang Tumb Tumb.

Yakki – Gang Gang (feat. Lotto Savage & Yung Booke)

Gucci got close to this with some of his more hypnotically simple choruses, but was still relying on the sounds he was making to have some semantic meaning.  “Versace” is also in this realm.

Gucci Mane – I’m Up (feat. 2 Chainz)

Young Thug of course comes to mind as well, but even he keeps his guttural chirps and growls in the background punctuating the more traditional vocal sounds that you find in the dictionary.  This is maybe the closest effort from Thug, with a chorus 50% comprised of the word “yeah”.

Young Thug – Dome (feat. Duke)

Who’ll be the one to take it to the next level, with entire verses of utter beautiful nonsense with maybe a few familiar definition-having sounds for decoration in the background?  Maybe rap isn’t that concerned with taking concepts to their logical extreme, but I’d welcome it if someone tried as long as it was a sincere effort like the ones above, and not some silly shit.

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