There is such a thing as free lunch
This week was all over the place- from my personal affairs to the music world. It’s almost as if my state of being was mimicking the current shape of hip hop. I spent the earlier part of the week in DC, running from one meeting to the next, while simultaneously seeking out new music. Isaiah Rashad was my lifeblood, the Jersey Shore ironically my saving grace.
It may seem counterintuitive to some, but hip hop has always been an escape for me. Rap tends to fall towards the high energy side of the music spectrum. What’s more, its lyrical content often gravitates toward the dark and real. Why would something like this be the meditative serum to my every-day tribulations? I‘m not exactly sure, but it must have something to do with my emotional attachment to the genre.
For some reason, hip hop has always surrounded me. Hip hop was there when I can first remember having my own thoughts. I was maybe 7 or 8, alone in my room listening to a Will Smith album that somehow made its way into my possession. Fast forward 8 or so years and I have The Game’s LAX album on blast at 7 in the morning on my ride to high school. In another 4 or so I’m walking back from class in New Orleans, headphones in ear, geeking over the opening track from Schoolboy Q’s Oxymoron. I have no explanation for my attraction to this music, but I know it makes me feel good.
This thought came to mind as I was whipping north on the Garden State Parkway Saturday on my way to Belmar, NJ. The windows were down, it was hot as hell, and my buddy was riding shotgun. I was running through all the new tracks that I added to my SoundCloud library earlier in the week. All I was thinking about was the road and the music playing, nothing else. I couldn’t seek out a worry if I tried. With a generally anxious mind, this is a rare occurrence for me. Hip hop initiates my zen.
Anyways, a lot of premium content was released in the second half of the week- new PARTYNEXTDOOR, new Rae Sremmurd, new Atmosphere. Travis Scott played a new track (The Hooch) from his upcoming project on Beats1 radio and released a music video for Pick up the Phone. Aside from the popular releases, a ton of non-premium gems surfaced throughout the week. I actually had to leave a few songs out of this post. Below you’ll find a smooth Isaiah Rashad feature, a Curren$y track with Wiz, and a freestyle from Wale, among others. Enjoy…
Isaiah Rashad has been one of my favorite rappers over the past two years. Something about his voice- how he delivers his sound and how he tells his story, keeps bringing me back to the limited number of projects he’s released. The week before last, the Chattanooga-raised artist blessed us with the single Free Lunch. It’s one of those songs that you’ll play for 3 weeks straight any time you’re listening to music. It’s so good it makes me want to cry.
Last week Rashad was featured on a release from TUT called G35, and TDE dropped the music video for free lunch. The end of the video transitions to a black screen with the date 09.02.16 on it, undoubtedly alluding to the release date of Isaiah’s next album. It’s going to be one hell of a labor day weekend. In the meantime check out G35.
Vic Mensa and Joey Purp gave us a nice freestyle on Monday. I like the way these two sound together and how they trade lines towards the end of the track, but it begs the question, “is this really a freestyle?” It sounds way too fluid to me. What constitutes a freestyle these days? Any time I see “freestyle” attached to a song’s name on SoundCloud my suspicion is raised. Are they making these lines up as they go? Do they freestyle a bit, run it back and remaster? Maybe we should start calling it something else. Food for thought. Regardless, I still dig it.
I started exploring grime a few months ago after I saw a video of London artist Stormzy spitting one of the hardest freestyles I’ve ever heard. For those who don’t know Grime, it’s a genre in and of itself that rose up from the underground in East London. While grime shares similar characteristics to American hip hop, it‘s also very different in its musical influences and style. My understanding is that grime is rooted in London’s underground music scene where genres such as reggae, drum&bass, and dancehall flourish. Grime artists tend to share similar flows, moving from one bar to the next in a fast-paced, aggressive manner. You should get a feel for the genre from the two songs below. The Capo Lee track features the beat From Kanye’s Real Friends.
Curren$y: a hip hop vet
Curren$y is a hustler. Last week my buddy reminded me of this guy who served food at the late-night joint on our college campus. You could imagine how busy such a place could get at 2 in the morning on a weekend. Any time the line was out the door, the server would approach kids deep in the line and offer to sell them chicken tenders at a few dollars more than the typical cost. This way some drunk kids didn’t have to wait 30 minutes for their food, and the server made a few extra bucks on the side. When I realized how much Curren$y has been putting out recently, and how hard the man has been hustling over the past 10 years or so, I thought of the chicken tender guy. I’m really into the song below with Wiz Khalifa, and Curren$y makes Keys his own.
Jay IDK is talented.
I was trying to decide if this or G35 was my favorite track of the week, but I don’t think it’s fair to compare the two. They have very different vibes. This is type of music I listen to in the morning. No explanation- it’s just what I gravitate towards during my commute.
Old yet new.
I love this beat. It reminds me of 90s hip hop. It works really well with Chance’s voice. Apparently the producer, Space Gang, has been holding on to this song since 2013, around the same time Chance released his mixtape Acid Rap. Maybe it didn’t make the cut for the project. Maybe it’s completely unrelated. Either way it’s a good song to bump when you’re really feeling yourself.
Listening to Wale really takes me back. I distinctly remember blasting W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E. in my car for about a month straight in high school. I’m really glad Wale released this compilation of 3 freestyles last week because it’s bringing me back to songs like W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E. and Nike Boots. Wale was an innovator. He brought unique sounds and clever punch lines to a relatively stale era of hip hop in the late 2000s. He’s now one of the biggest names to ever come out of DC. I chose Solbiato Freestyle because it reminds me of that old school Wale, but the other two tracks are also worth a listen.
What’s older but currently in the rotation?
RIP Harambe. Till next week.