Initials B.R. – Initials B.R.

’01. INITIALS B.R. we have seen the moment of our greatness flicker
’02. SESAME we never sleep
‘03. STRIKE ON BACK we play with fire
‘04. HEAVYWEIGHT BULLION we buy gold
‘05. THE MUSIC MAN we are open for business
‘06. THE CONFIDENCE MAN we give you our word
‘07. HENRY DARGER we need a moment alone
‘08. WALTER SICKERT we have got to be kidding
‘09. T.R.O.B. we quit

Hardcore Will Never Die

I would love to remember my first listen to Public Enemy’s Apocalypse ’91… The Empire Strikes Black. How ridiculous is it that a 10-year-old white kid would have chosen to spend his weekly allowance on that tape of all things, that my rap-enthusiast father would have been parentally advised and eagerly complicit? There’s just no way you could slip that tape in the deck and not feel like you were encountering something that demanded a far more complex response than “this is good music”. You had to feel assaulted and discombobulated. You had to feel white and subversive, the oppressor and oppressed, guilty and guilt-less, tourist and earnest. You had to feel totally pumped. I was 10 years old and listening to this…

Public Enemy – Lost at Birth

What?! After a five-second warning/threat/promise that “The future holds nothing else but confrontation”, Public Enemy are going to ease you into this album with a band roll-call set to the sounds of demolished relics and renegade emergency vehicles. It’s diabolically ill and there’s no way I could have understood it.

What brought me to the album was this video for the single “Can’t Truss It”, which I must have seen on The Box at some point because I keep picturing it obscured by scrolling jukebox numbers…

Public Enemy – Can’t Truss it

By then, I had seen videos for “Fight the Power” and “9-1-1 Is a Joke”, but this was different. I wanted more. Once I had it, I remember obsessing over “Can’t Truss It” and pouring over the lyrics in the liner notes. I remember wishing they had made a real song out of that first track, “Lost at Birth”. I remember wondering what Arizona had to do with anything. At some point, I moved on. I think my Dad borrowed/stole the tape from me. I didn’t revisit it again until college, when I worked for Buildings & Grounds, for whom I would rake leaves and remove trash among milling peers, seething in a righteous headphone bubble, clearing the way “for the S, the S1Ws”.

A couple of years ago, I happened upon the eBay auctions for the leftover Sandbox Automatic vinyl stock and picked up the “Nighttrain” single, not even remembering that it came from Apocalypse ’91. It didn’t matter–the album track isn’t even on the single. Instead, we get the “Get Up Get Involved Throwdown Mixx”…

Public Enemy – Nighttrain (Get Up Get Involved Throwdown Mixx)

Now that is a disgusting track. Though the album version has its virtues and sits naturally in the sequence, this one slays the album version and is just about one of the gnarliest, hardest, most hectic rap hits ever. It makes me want to wild out every time I hear it. I melt for that “oohwaayoooh” cut with the pitch slider in the chorus. I assume it’s Terminator X but it may well be the man talking all over the track’s background, unmistakably responsible for the alchemy: the one and only Pete Rock, who injects the harsh PE aesthetic with some nasty funk flavor that inspires a bit more dancing than the usual headbanging. As well as it works, CL Smooth guesting on a PE track doesn’t make a whole lot of sense beyond the obvious affiliation, so I find it distracting (same thing on Run-DMC’s take on this formula, “Down with the King”). Though I prefer the “Throwdown Mixx”, the “Pete Rock Strong Island Mt. Vernon Meltdown” on the B-side is pretty hot as well…

Public Enemy – Nighttrain (Pete Rock Strong Island Mt. Vernon Meltdown)

Pete Rock also provided the remix for another Apocalypse ’91 single, “Shut Em Down”…

Public Enemy – Shut ‘Em Down
Public Enemy – Shut ‘Em Down (Pete Rock Remix)

Both beats kill. But the first sounds far more distinctly PE; the PR remix works very well but sounds like a remix. Fortunately, when Pete Rock decides to drop his typically lackluster verse, Chuck’s superiority is abundantly clear and the quality of Chuck’s voice and delivery ultimately sell the product as a whole. But the style is more music than movement, which isn’t the Public Enemy aesthetic.

All Pete Rock contributions aside, Apocalypse ’91 is an amazing album. Public Enemy has to be the craziest pop group ever assembled. A vitriolic leader, an oddball jester, a silent giant on the decks, a dancing security corps, a Department of Information, an elusive but ubiquitous production squad. It’s elaborate theater and dead serious. And then you have the music. They put “Lost at Birth”, “Nighttrain”, and “Can’t Truss It” as three of the first four tracks on the album. It’s ruthless and relentless. The PE militia might as well be punching you in the face with the speakers. You can’t remove their politics here, but I mean to celebrate statement and grandeur. How can you not miss that kind of conviction in modern rap?

Step out of Your Toga

I love me some Destroyer. The academic cross-referencing, the subversive simplicity, the evolving character archive, the implicit misanthropy, the lazily bilious delivery, the obvious Bowie influence, the bad taste–it’s all part of a repertoire that drips with awkward, idiosyncratic swagger. Just take a look at what Bejar submitted to Merge Records as a list of “themes alluded to or avoided” in the forthcoming Destroyer album Kaputt:

Kaputt by Malaparte, which Bejar has never read… Kara Walker, specifically the lyrics she contributed to the song “Suicide Demo for Kara Walker”… Chinatown, the neighborhood bordering on Bejar’s… Baby blue eyes… 80s Miles Davis… 90s Gil Evans… Last Tango in Paris… Nic Bragg, who played lead guitar on every song, again… Fretless bass… The hopelessness of the future of music… The pointlessness of writing songs for today… V-Drums… The superiority of poetry and plays… And what’s to become of film?… The Cocaine Addict… American Communism… Downtown, the neighborhood bordering on Bejar’s… The LinnDrum… Avalon and, more specifically, Boys and Girls… The devastated mind of JC/DC, who recorded, produced and mixed this record from fall of 2008 to spring of 2010… The back-up vocals of certain Roy Ayers and Long John Baldry tours… Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence…

I’ve been listening to the album illegally for the last couple of weeks and can’t seem to give it a rest. In it, Bejar raises his uncompromising manner for a turn towards an ’80s-infused smooth jazz-pop sound, complete with suave horns and sultry female backing vocals. And to promote the approaching release, he’s given us this video for the title track:

Amazing. The song itself has been one of my two favorite tracks on the album. The second chorus is one of the most transcendent moments in the Destroyer catalogue: “Step out of your toga and into the fog, you are a prince of the ocean.” It soars. And this video is outrageous: when the mirage evaporates as the stranded man pours a chalice full of sand into his delirious mouth; when that same man tries to drink from his chalice while he’s actually in the ocean; when a fucking whale is flying in the sky with a flock of birds; when the teenager pulls out a balloon and employs his last breath to inflate it and elevate himself into the sky!

The track that really has me proselytizing here is “Suicide Demo for Kara Walker”, which tackles America’s racial issues with the help of the aforementioned artist and Merge Score! Volume 11 curator.

Destroyer – Suicide Demo for Kara Walker

According to the quote above, Kara Walker contributed lyrics to this song, but I wonder how much? Bejar just sells it so authentically. Off the bat, the title is pretty aggressive. After the pregnant, melancholy instrumental intro, what are we to expect? “Brown paper bag, don’t stop me now. I’m on a roll.” And we’re rolling. The music itself is fantastically catchy and an outright dance hit but the hooks elude us. Instead, we’re charmed along by a wealth of precious Destroyer moments: when he asks “Is it still the Invisible Man you’re consorting with, woman?”; when he tags on the prophecied “and they will” to the accusation that “New York just wants to see you naked”; when Bejar finally gives us that singular hook, crooning “You’ve got it all…” and then sneaks in “wrong” to flip the sentiment. And on and on.

But as the lyrics develop, this is clearly a heavier song than we’re used to from Bejar. And we have Kara Walker to thank for transporting his listeners to such a place of gravity. Despite his off-the-cuff performance, he’s delivering a poignant and unsettling critique of a polarized Obama era in which the hopeful produce of black presidency are borne with the memory of strange fruit, in which the nation’s grossest prejudices populate the daylight to defy progress, where “four more years” worries for “four hundred more years” of slavery, and the ghost of Harriet Tubman instructs us in the escapist/survivalist mantra: “I look up, I see the North Star, I look up, I see the North Star.” We’re given a glimpse into might have been their collaborative process in the cryptic lines “‘Maybe or maybe not… fast forward,’ she said. ‘Maybe once the seed is sown… fast forward,’ she said. ‘This bird has flown south’ she said. ‘Don’t talk about the south,’ she said.” Is this the evidence of a real-life conversation between Walker and Bejar about the future of our country? Perhaps and surely. While I don’t expect specific answers anytime soon, it’s easy to see that’s exactly what this song is. And who cares about the details of credit when we’re stretched across such a spectrum, from despair to ecstasy? We’re expanded.

And then they let the horns loose.

Marconi – Merry Christmas

Marconi - Merry Christmas

Fear of a Ten-Point-Oh

This week, Kanye West released his fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy to rapt reviews. Quantifying the critical acclaim, Pitchfork gave the album an even 10.0. I don’t agree and I don’t approve. While I could have stomached a 9.5, clearly a 9.9 was not statement enough. That kind of statement I find to be nothing less than reckless journalism.

I understand the claim that it’s some kind of representative of a modern zeitgeist. I acknowledge the honoring of its boldness and musical adventurousness. I will credit the formidable creature it is and the remarkable ability of Kanye to allow his most personal work to be the most shared stage of his career. Indeed, there are virtues to be celebrated in this album. But saying it is perfect is not a reading of the album as a work in its own right–it is an appropriation of the work for an unclear cause in a way that ultimately invalidates the real value of the work by not really hearing it.

The aggressive review further discredits the album by setting the stage for a visceral reaction to its pronounced judgment that should be reserved for the experience of the music. Instead of approaching the album generously, I for one felt impelled to quickly compose a list of several reasons the album is not perfect and had to fight for even ground to come to some more objective decision on its worth. I continue to listen to the album; I find it to be more enjoyable with every listen. But I continue this list in my mind, spending every moment looking for things to dislike about it. I shake my head at dozens of clumsy production moments. I cringe at the continuation of his revolting string of blow-job raps. I raise my eyebrows at the way his guests out-perform him over and over. I marvel at the claim that Kanye is a better rapper than he ever has been, on an album full of awkward phrasings and generally lacking in the clever, disciplined constructions of songs like “Jesus Walks” or “Gold Digger.”

Aside from all these reasons of imperfection, the most celebrated and characteristic theme is the most vulnerable: honesty. Riding the success of his 808s and Heartbreak across the wake of the incredible Taylor Swift incident, Kanye is sharing more with his listeners than ever about his mistakes and missteps and misfortunes. But this sharing isn’t the kind of shockingly transformative cathartic experience that a band like Xiu Xiu provokes. It’s exotic, masturbatory self-indulgence, the likes of which could only exist in the bizarre microcosm of a superstar’s life of luxury and excess. It often feels like listening to an indulged child growing into adult desires.

Kanye raps like Caligula might. In “Monster”, he brags that “She said I bruised her esophagus.” In “Runaway”, Kanye says “I sent a bitch a picture of my dick.” In “Blame Game” he talks about fucking and strangling his lover in a bathroom. But details like these don’t surface in a 10.0. For critical cheerleaders, all of it is assembled into an ambiguous psychology and framed with a sense of Kanye’s humanity, thin veils that purport to forgive his transgressions by fabricating remorse. “Runaway” is not regretful; it is a parry to shame and embarrassment. It’s an anthem for kids in high school who tried to play it off like fucking up was cool when they really just couldn’t help it. The pretense of remorse is a disguise for a cowardly self-pity that cannot pledge to take a complaint seriously.

An unqualified celebration of this moment pays into a dangerous enabling cycle. Kanye errs; Kanye feels guilty; Kanye shares error and guilt in turn. Meanwhile, the public criticizes Kanye; the public forgives Kanye; and then the public admonishes Kanye for the transparency of his errors. The more transparent he is, the more people love him. But the more aggressively Kanye shares his faults, the more his fans respond to the content of his art, validating and encouraging it more and more.

Pitchfork is complicit in this, verifying the appropriateness of this kind of art for not only Kanye and his fans, but for other artists. Which is not to say that music critics have any responsibility to some kind of moral rehabilitation of artists. Artists are fucked up and a lot of the time that makes for great music. But it’s dangerous to herald honesty in art without certain essential conditions, foremost among them being the evidence of a transcendent, historical, timeless accomplishment; the “art for art’s sake” argument is bogus here because as good as this album might be, there’s no way it is perfect.

In fact, the only moment resembling such transcendence comes in the last track, whose finally calmed beat, disciplined and compelling at last, platforms a snippet of a beautifully lacerating Gil Scott-Heron poem, the one extended meditation on something larger than being a judged celebrity. Here now we are free from the Kanyesque quagmire of license and paparazzi, as Scott-Heron muses on grave concerns of freedom and politics, of race and revolution, of human needs and global tyranny. As I sober from reveling in the powerful moment, I react ambivalently to Kanye’s use of the claim that “All I want is a good home and a wife and children and some food to feed them every night.” On the one hand, I feel compassion and pity for a man who I can easily imagine knowing such a simple and universal desire; on the other hand, I reel in bewilderment at the appropriation of such a phrase in the seriousness of its context with no regard for the incredible excess of his glamour life. In a reading of the poem’s original lyrics, I cannot help but find in the edited content a call to Kanye for greater action and a condemnation of Pitchfork for the levity of its piggy-backing pom-poms.

Marconi – Minutes to Manifest Destiny

Marconi -Minutes to Manifest Destiny

Don’t Sleep

For the independent music world, it might seem like a strange bad dream to have Mountain Dew start a record label and go around snatching upstart acts for a roster that looks like it’s run by someone at Vice. Sure, it’s a singles only label and Chuck Inglish of the The Cool Kids says it’s okay. Let’s just say I’m suspicious. I’m all for folks getting theirs. But where does soda end and where do I begin? Green Label Sound‘s most recent foray is via Neon Indian’s new single, “Sleep Paralysist”, which also happens to have been recorded and/or produced by Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor. Neon Indian is one Alan Palomo, who made a big splash last year with the characteristically 2009 song “Deadbeat Summer” and the album Psychic Chasms. According to Stereogum, he describes his sound as “Childhood re-contextualized through a psychedelic, lo-fi filter. The idea of memory before you were old enough to have memories.” I take it he means to suggest he was born in the late 80s and can’t remember what the music sounded like though he lived through some of it; he intends to replicate it nonetheless. And that’s all good when it’s good, which it is.

Neon Indian – Sleep Paralysist

Whereas “Deadbeat Summer” was enjoyable albeit largely forgettable, Neon Indian raise the stakes on this one. To begin, the aesthetic has been seriously glossed up on this one. The full stereo field pulses with swelling and arpeggiated synth sounds that make me wish I knew more about synthesizers than I do. And the songwriting is expertly catchy. The variations throughout the verses on the “something you don’t know, something I don’t know, something they don’t know” format is straight out of a professional songbook. While I can’t understand a lot of the words, what I think I hear immediately resonates. There’s a terrible dread in the moment of satisfaction at the knowledge that it will all come to an end naturally. Palomo sings in the chorus “I’m for you when I’m awake so just don’t sleep. In the morning it will all seem fake.” The solution to hanging on is simple; it is also impossible.

The only criticism I have of the track is that it’s full of harsh sibilance, something I find myself being especially sensitive to these days and something you would not expect of someone like Chris Taylor or anyone of such notoriety. There are so many tools for folks of some resource to avoid that problem. But don’t let my engineering gripe spoil it for you. This song’s a keeper.

Come On, Tower Crane Driver

Despite enjoying the twilight of my twenties, I am occasionally surprised to miss out on a whole class of music I would describe as “adult music”. It is not anything like “adult movies” (sexually explicit music ultimately sounds juvenile more often than not). It is vaguely yuppie. I’d characterize it primarily as inoffensive and I would buy it in a Starbucks (which incidentally has become the chief indicator that an indie band has “made it”). I probably heard about it from NPR or a New York Times article and it might get a sleeper Grammy nomination. I would not download it (even though I may have picked up a download card for the single at said Starbucks); I would listen to it on CD in a real stereo at home or in a car or maybe in an iPod dock or something that Bose makes (because whether I am conscious of it or not, I believe music belongs in space and I value its format as a physical/informational/aesthetic entity). More often than not, it is rootsy or a comeback record.

My tastes suggest I actually do listen to quite a bit of adult music. I love Spoon and Neko Case, Grizzly Bear and Fleet Foxes. The problem is, most of what falls into the adult music category is either as commonplace as it is principled or it’s a comeback record. And for every great song that pulls you into the genre (e.g. Dylan’s comeback “Sick Of Love” or the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss collaboration “Killing The Blues”) you’re going to be disappointed by the rest if you aren’t actually a bona fide “adult”. Considering how often these albums are made by highly talented musicians and engineers, this may not apply to recordists, audiophiles, or “players” who can abide passable songs for either their sound or the performances.

On the night of the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, I had drinks with friends in a quiet and moderately fancy bar in Harvard Square. While a solitary dancer swung and ran over projections of Canadian landscapes to the close-captioned lyrics of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now”, I became typically distracted with the house music and couldn’t help inquiring about an unfamiliar song that intrigued me. It turned out to be a mouthful for the waitress: “The Loneliness Of A Tower Crane Driver” by Mercury Prize winners Elbow. The next day, I found the album at the public library and took it home for a listen. It was a thoroughly adult music experience.

Elbow – The Loneliness Of A Tower Crane Driver

The track comes from their most recent album, The Seldom Seen Kid and it has the kind of title that is no surprise after a single whose chorus brilliantly favors “There’s a hole in my neighborhood down which of late I cannot help but fall” over “I get drunk a lot recently”. It reads like an academic treatment of the working class and there is a real-life inspiration for the song. But the image itself is incredibly compelling in its familiarity: the workman trapped in a box of glass and metal hovering in air working alone. It’s the poetic depiction and the musical context that sells it as an applied symbol of personal alienation.

What I find most remarkable is the dreary massiveness that’s conveyed here. After a brief plucking guitar intro, the huge drums rumble in from a great distance with sharp synth strings filling the air. The other guitar appears to play a solitary harmonic panned hard right that chimes in to alternate with the vocals. For all the space that is filled by the production, it feels very private and timid. Singer Guy Garvey begins in a somber low register. “Got to get out of TV / Just pick a point and go.” This is a song about the desperation of escape. The refrain is plaintive. “Come on, tower crane driver. There’s not too far to go.” But after the first verse, we get an open break that transforms the track from a song to a concept piece. Suddenly the space between here and there is as wide open as it is undeterminable.

When the song resumes suddenly, though we haven’t noticed its absence thus far, the bass finally arrives panned hard right with overdriven bursts like a tuba so that the guitar harmonic is revealed to perfectly syncopate with the bassline. Up an octave, Garvey’s voice slides from an easy mid-range to an anguished, tragic croon. “I must have working the ropes when your hand slipped from mine.” By the time the refrain returns, the hope dissipates in the untenable “Oh so far to fall.”

From this pregnant mood comes the climax of the song. In a perfectly paired movement of lyrics and music planted in the middle of the primary progression, Garvey sings “Send up a prayer in my name” and the track soars into a brief but intensely saturated bridge. Suddenly, the track feels like a plane that’s been barreling down the runway as it reaches take-off: there’s no noticeable change in velocity, but the ground has clearly dropped beneath you. The tension sustains like a burning flare. Before you know it, you’re back to a familiar incline, stewardesses are serving beverages, and you’re napping in the clouds. The beat runs out and the ethereal break returns to end the song.

In keeping with the adult music distinction, The Seldom-Seen Kid is one of the most unique-sounding albums I’ve heard in a while and contains a bevy of interesting arrangements (from what I’ve read, they not only recorded the album themselves; they did it with the resources of a mere project studio). The liner notes include lyrics and a refreshingly modest but defiant stance against the loudness wars. The rootsiness of aforementioned single “Grounds For Divorce” turned me off when watching the accompanying video, but ends up being the other highlight of the record (for another, album closer “Friend Of Ours” acts largely as a quiet reprise of “…Tower Crane Driver”). And the rest of the album is pretty good.

Fore & Aft: Echoplex II

A few weeks ago, I wrote what might have been an overly academic piece about a musical dialogue between The-Dream and R. Kelly. Soon after, I went in search of tracks on which the two might have collaborated. The most pertinent of what I found is the first track on “The Demo”, from R. Kelly’s 2009 Gangsta Grillz mixtape, which may or may not be the first such mixtape by an R&B artist. The song? None other than “Kelly’s 12 Play Remix”. Perfect.

R. Kelly & The-Dream – Kelly’s 12 Play Remix

The backing track, in typical mixtape fashion, is quiet and lacking in the mastered sparkle of the album version. And R. Kelly’s verses are clearly louder than was intended in the original. Such heavy-handedness characterizes the entire affair. This is not a particularly endearing Kelly. He presents vulgar details with unimaginative lyrics (“screaming like I’ve got two in it” is revolting). But what piques my interest is the wealth of suggestive moments given the context of the song.

Kelly’s first verse is everything I could hope for: a confluence of the sexual act with professional stature. My previous analogy to R&B royalty is immediately apropos as Kelly soon reaches the line “I’ll be King until I die.” He is not giving up the crown without a fight. Moreover, he appears here unsatisfied with his critical success, claiming 12 Play “should have won a Grammy as big as ‘I Believe I Can Fly'”. Rephrasing the old-timer’s “I was doing such and such when you were just a stain in your Daddy’s pants” kind of bare-chested one-upsmanship, Kelly concludes his first verse with the claim “I believe that your Mama and your Daddy, they laid down and they did it to Kelly’s 12 Play.” It’s simple. It’s direct. But it goes a long way. We can’t help but imagine he’s suggesting The-Dream’s very conception was inspired by R. Kelly’s album, which is in fact what’s at stake here, at least metaphorically. The first line of the third verse again sums up the exercise: “I am the best at what I do.” And while we know he’s referring to sexual prowess, the statement reads as a warning when supported with his aim to “get your man fired up in here”. Better believe job security is on the plate in the world of pop music.

In comparison, The-Dream’s original second verse is his “appearance” on the remix (The-Dream clearly did not contribute anything new to this remix). But here it’s sparsely mixed, quiet, and without context, so that the whole section sounds thoroughly “blah”. And when R. Kelly riffs on the bridge’s “oh-oh-ohs”, he tromps all over The-Dream’s performance. It’s clear here who is intended to be the star. And for all that, R. Kelly’s playing the second fiddle here, which is the folly of the mixtape format. So it’s ultimately fitting that while The-Dream dubs himself “Radio Killa” and chimes in with this nickname throughout the whole Love vs Money album, R. Kelly drops a lonely “Killa” in the background leading up to his reappearance in the third verse. (DJ Skee told MTV “He was originally gonna call it The Remix Killa. He has a lot of what he calls his ‘remix killa sh–.’ That’s kinda his mantra.”)

I admit to not having fully researched this subject to get a better idea of the professional relationship R. Kelly might have with The-Dream. But it’s clear that he’s paying attention to his rival and I don’t see how he wouldn’t feel challenged on some level. While R. Kelly was busy with legal troubles, The-Dream was building a new R&B empire. Apparently, the intention in making this mixtape was to take “it all the way back to when I first started; all I had was my demo. It’s a way to start fresh, be humble. It’s like being a new artist. This is my demo tape for my fans.” Sure Kellz, but it’s hard to imagine you’re not also out for the new blood.

– – –

P.S. In case you can’t help but slow down to look at accidents on the side of the road, you might be inclined to listen to this track:

R. Kelly feat. Tyrese, Robin Thicke, & The-Dream – Pregnant

This is what happens when you let singers write their own lyrics. Fortunately The-Dream sets himself apart with more nuance than nonsense. Whoever thought “Knock you up” could be such a catchy hook?

My New Theme Song

I’m 6’5″. Sometimes that’s neat. Other times it’s obnoxious. At the amusement park, for example, I can’t ride certain rides because I just can’t keep my limbs and head safely out of harm’s way and my spine isn’t short enough to sit comfortably in those harnesses that clamp down over your shoulders. And all those times when it’s convenient, like when I’m at a show or in a crowd looking for someone, there are always the folks behind me hating me and the short people looking up with strange scared faces.

Now I have a theme song. It’s called “Tall” and it has nothing to do with being tall. It’s about big wheels. And it’s by two gentlemen named Alley Boy and Young Dro, whom I know little to nothing about. But they kill it with some great double-time raps, which is a relief to hear amidst this whole slow flow style that seems to be the standard these days. And the vocals are well-mixed, thank goodness! Underneath their performance is a killer beat whose success relies on an expert combination of East, West, and South. There’s the soul sample that creeps in as a brief bridge, the high-pitched Dr. Dre synths, the bouncy drums. It may not seem like the kind of song that would garner such a recommendation, but I’d say it’s easily the best rap track I’ve heard this year. And it’s one of the biggest blips on my rap-dar since “Int’l Player’s Anthem”. This joint is hot. Feel it.

Alley Boy feat Young Dro – Tall

Apparently, this is from Alley Boy’s new mixtape, The Definition Of Fuck Shit, which sure is a striking title. Here is a link to it thanks to the folks at The Fader.