Tag Archives: Birdman

THE “RICH GANG: UNRELEASED” AWARDS

My free moments this weekend were spent winning a very small amount of money on a $1 scratcher, eating some really overpriced chicken and waffles, and aurally digesting the insane fire hose blast of unreleased Rich Gang music that erupted from the depths of the rap Internet earlier this week.  First listens are unreliable, especially in my case, but I’m going to do my best to justly pass out a few important superlatives from the 100+ tracks in this collection to help y’all navigate the chaos.  I’m omitting from consideration the 30 or so tracks that were leaked or released before this last deluge so it’s only the newest new shit in here.

Best Duo Song: Love Her

Thug and Quan trade 4s like Ervin and Dolphy and triumphantly profess their love for each other in this joyful duo track.

Best Rich Homie Quan Solo: The Story Behind It

Quan rappin’ even better than he did on “Rappin’” with some serious bounce in the production.

Best Young Thug Solo: Guarantee (I Want It)

I’ve already changed my mind four times in this selection and I still might change my mind some more because there are so many great Thug solo tracks in this collection, but for now I’m putting my stamp on this one, it’s got some of the intensity of “Givenchy” but with unfortunately only about half as much rapping, but wins with the declaration “If you got AIDS, I want it!”

Best Feature: Runnin’ Out of Money

Thug really brought the best verse I’ve heard out of T.I. in a long time in this ode to determination .

Most Unique: Here

Late Gil Scott-Heron samples and expansive synthy dark emptiness coupled with Young Thug’s slippery style-switching make this sonically the most unusual track in the collection.

Best “Ruff” Track: Boy

The intensity on this track is really great, but this selection truly shines in its ability to unquestionably prove that it’s much more pleasant to listen to an unaccompanied beat than a Wiz Khalifa verse.

Funnest: Bitches

It’s hard not to at least chuckle when Thug starts his “bom bom bom bom bom nom nom nom” chant with the synth in the intro to this blatantly yet so playfully offensive track.

Most Excellent Birdman Rap: No No No

I can’t remember which one right now, but in a recent Stay Hatin’ episode there was a brief debate on whether or not Birdman is a good rapper.  It’s much less debatable that Birdman at least used to be a good rapper, but for the question at hand I offer this and the next selection as evidence.

Most Embarrassing Birdman Rap: Count Up

Yikes.

Most Heartfelt: Yesterday

Although Quan is a little under-represented in my selections (because his solo songs in this collection just aren’t as strong as Thug’s on the whole), he’s always had a little more warmth than Thug so it’s no surprise he comes out on top in this all-too-often neglected category of rap songs.

Sexiest: Lil’ Nigga (They Know It)

This was a strong contender for best duo but I really wanted to include “Love Her“, so it got relegated to this arguably more prestigious category.

Stay tuned for inevitable corrections and additions.

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I’M A GANGSTER, I DON’T DANCE BABY I POKE

This sly Westside Connection reference is one of the least important things in this song but it does makes me smile.  Also I recommend you watch the unedited version of the video on Worldstar or somewhere, for some reason this is the only YouTube version available.

Young Thug – Constantly Hating (feat. Birdman)

Westside Connection – Gangstas Don’t Dance

Carter Barter 6 is out now.

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TERROR TAKES THE SOUND BEFORE YOU MAKE IT

I remember the first time I listened closely to “Thriller” and noticed all the incredible nonverbal utterances Michael Jackson makes between the regular lyrical passages, and how much those utterances affect the mood and potency of the whole experience.  The variety and quality of these strange vocalizations is really interesting if you really tune in on them, although I don’t think you’re really supposed to.  They operate on a more subconscious level and have just as much affect if you’re paying close attention to them or not consciously noticing them at all.  But they really are quite amazing when you focus your attention on them.

Michael Jackson – Thriller

Pop music is full of examples of little nonverbal interjections punctuating traditional lyrics: the “whoas” and “ohs” of countless blues songs, the powerful screeches of James Brown, the early Beatles “Wooooo”.  If we observe our own perception of these songs, we find that often these nonverbal noises devoid of all textual meaning are often the most emotionally powerful moments of those songs.  Just watch one of those early Beatles concerts and look for when all the girls go the most crazy.  Hearing Michael Jackson say “You try to scream/but terror takes the sound before you make it” doesn’t have near as much power as a single high-pitched guttural “GUH” that follows a few lines later.

There is certainly evidence that experiencing language activates more than just the language centers in our brains, that certain sense-oriented brain regions activate when reading or hearing the words of sensually charged ideas in the same way they would activate when in the presence of those actual objects the words refer to.  This explains much of the power of poetry, literature, and song lyrics, but not these other vocal sounds that are not as strictly tied in with language.  It turns out there is also evidence that this kind of mental activity takes place in response to all sorts of nonverbal stimuli as well, that performing a certain action and watching someone else perform that same action are nearly identical brain processes.  It seems that in the case of music, this second phenomenon might actually be just as effective (if not more) than the first.  Hearing the sharp, restrained stabs of sound from Michael Jackson’s throat makes us feel almost as restrained, trapped, and powerless as if we were in a situation ourselves where those kinds of sounds were being forced from our own throats.  The power transcends language and any kind of textual meaning, yet the impact incredibly effective.  Not to say that the textual component should be done away with, I think if Thriller was stripped of its traditional lyrics, it would not be nearly as successful as it is now.  But I think it is also true that muting all the “DAs” and “UHs” would possibly just as negatively impact the immersiveness and power of the song.  I think the same is also true of the other examples I listed above, imagine “Please, Please, Please” without the heart wrenching screams and shouts that almost outnumber the lyrics of the song, or “She Loves You” without the “Woooo”.

In rap these kind of effects fall under the slightly broader category of “ad-libs” that also include verbal statements but are often newer, more developed versions of these same kinds of effects we’ve heard for decades.  Waka Flocka can be credited with the prominence of the ad-lib in rap now, but I think the most effective examples come from another Atlanta rapper.

Rich Gang – Tell ‘Em

I had the same reaction to this song that I did that first time I tuned into the secret power of “Thriller“.  Young Thug’s “GAHH” makes me feel more things than most entire rap verses, even his own.  I don’t think people talk about these kinds of effects as much as they do lyrics because they’re harder to pin down and rely so heavily on how and when they are delivered that it’s difficult to discuss them without totally losing the power.  A lyric can be easily transcribed into text and retain much of its power, but you can see from my attempts at transliteration here that the same process is extremely ineffective for these kinds of expressions.  They should be as valued and respected as lyrics are though, because in many cases they have the ability to surpass verbal expressions in weight and emotion, and the skill it takes to dream up and perform these sounds is extremely rare.

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WHERE WERE YOU WHEN I NEEDED HELP?

I remember the first time I heard “Type of Way” I was like “man Future sounds kinda weird on this song… oh.”  I don’t mean that disparagingly, I like “Type of Way” a lot, and I think Quan has developed in his own direction more and more ever since, but every now and then you can still hear that influence.  This also ties into the post I did inspired by Future’s “Honest where I realized one of his most effective formulas.  Quan is definitely taking a page from that book on this new track.  Once again, not meant in a disparaging way at all, I like this song even more than “Type of Way” (and a lot of other songs for that matter).

Rich Gang – I Know It

Do yourself a favor and get Tha Tour, Pt. 1.

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RAP JOURNEY #13 – FROM GUCCI MANE TO BIRDMAN & LIL’ WAYNE

Yeeeahhhhhh… I’ve been lookin forward to Gucci Mane’s new mixtape since I first heard about it a couple months back.  The couple videos I saw leading up to it were real promising, and when I finally got to sit and listen to the whole thing yesterday I was real pleased.  It’s tight.  Possibly the most surprising track on there for me is “Get It Back“; if you’ve ever played Tetris before you’ll probably be pretty surprised too.  Hearing that song for the first time and also hearing this song for the first time real soon after made me wanna put together a video game-centered rap mix, that would be so cool.  Mike, I’m lookin’ in your direction…  But that’s not the song I meant to talk about.

The first track of the tape, after the intro, is this song.  Check it.

Gucci Mane – Back In ’95

Like I said, I was excited about this tape comin’ out already, but I had no idea the first song on there would make reference to one of my favorite groups of all time.

UGK – Pocket Full Of Stones

And it’s cool Gucci chose this song of UGK’s to reference, because it gives me the chance to bring up this other song that re-imagines “Pocket Full Of Stones” in a slightly different way.

Birdman & Lil’ Wayne – 1st Key

I’m a total sucker for when rappers are rapping and then a little sample pops in to finish a line, it fuckin’ gets me every time.  And this is one of my favorite examples of this phenomenon I think, they do a really good job with it.  Word is they’ve got a new album comin’ out soon too… very exciting.

Hey this one stayed totally within the confines of the rap world, we didn’t get any soul/funk/whatever samples at the core of all this, that’s interesting.  Is that the first time that’s happened?  I think it is.  Cool.  See y’all!

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DAAAAMN…. CLASSICAL MUSIC

I finally finished watching this monstrous Mannie Fresh interview, and there were so many times I wanted to stop and make a post about whatever he was talking about at that moment cuz he covered SO much crazy territory, but I knew I’d never finish it if I did so I just pushed on through ’til the end and I’m so glad I did.  He talks about so many amazing subjects that he has a very unique perspective on;  he talks about the history of rap in New Orleans, he breaks down Bounce music and tells its history, he explains the progression of his own sound and how Back That Azz Up was his attempt at fusing classical music with New Orleans Bounce, he talks about meeting and working with artists like Lil’ Wayne and Juvenile when they were first coming out, it just goes on and on.  He even talks about how when he heard the Jay-Z remix of this song I wrote about a little while back, that he knew that he’d made it in the industry.

The thing that seemed most appropriate for me to write about here though was this little thing, just because it shows how music that seems so far removed can often times be super connected (see my previous post for evidence of this).  He was talking about the song Bling Bling, which was of course a huge song for Cash Money and for hip hop in general

B.G. – Bling Bling (feat. The Hot Boys & The Big Tymers)

But you would never guess where he got the inspiration for the beat from.

Jonzun Crew – Space is the Place

And the best part is, that song also takes its inspiration from an extremely unlikely place.

Sun Ra – Space is the Place

Wait wait, weren’t we talking about Bling Bling?  Yeah, we were.

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