that part (black hippy remix)

track review by Roger

The art of the hip hop remix is a bit of a dying form, or at least a medium that doesn’t get the attention that it once did. Enter the Black Hippy supergroup, down to drop bars seemingly at random over singles they deem worthy …. but only at their leisure. And I hope you’re paying attention when they do because these tracks can get snatched off the internet at any time — well at least the legal links anyway (thank god for 2dopeboyz).

THAT PART (BLACK HIPPY REMIX)
by ScHoolboy Q

(the official link leads to this page; get top dawg on the phone)

So the remix seems to pop up less and less as the days go by, reasons for which probably being the vague and somewhat correct conclusion, “it’s just how the industry is.” The last good remix I heard on the radio was when Nicki Minaj bodied French Montana’s “Down in the DM.” And before that, not even one song comes to mind since 2010. But that’s just me. At any rate, the remix seems to be something you don’t see as often. Now there are essentially three forms of the remix:

  1. let’s say during the golden era of the rap mixtape, this was when somebody hopped on a beat originally used by another artist with the intention of absolutely destroying op with the lyrical finesse of a superior wordsmith — like “Mic Check” performed by Clipse v. the version originally by Juelz Santana;
  2. all artists involved, but mostly the label, making a cash grab by essentially releasing the same song a second time with an additional verse by a famous(ish) rapper or, even worse, off the back of new production by some unknown DJ attempting to get her/his name known — see: Good Girl Gone Bad: The Remixes for more information; and
  3. the posse cut where all the homies hop on a track that’s gotten some attention and each of the gang drops bars in a filial competition and a show of one upmanship — looking at you Puff Daddy remixes at the height of Bad Boy Records when everybody who mattered at the time would be forced to rap like their contracts depended on it while Puffy said “yeah”, “uh huh, uh huh”, and “bad boy” intermittently while he just kinda jigged in the background.

“THat Part (Black Hippy Remix)” feels like it belongs more in the third category — though I don’t imagine Top Dawg going to June Ambrose for styling advice — where the members of Black Hippy come into the studio to rap their collective asses off. Comprised of the major signees of TDE — Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, and Ab-Soul — Black Hippy has little time for hooks as they need that space to allow Jay to paint a picture of the cracked streets and gang life of Watts and Bompton while St. Kendrick attempts to finesse his way through it with clean hands and a heavy conscious whilst ScHoolboy admires the lifestyle that can feed him and his family, all the time Ab-Soul is busy in the cosmos high as fuck attempting to unravel and reweave the secrets of the third eye, the illuminati, and the state of reality. I used to do drugs fairly often and I never attained the level of enlightenment Soul exists in on a daily basis.

Anyway, with introductions out of the way let’s get to the meat and bones of the song: THat Part. Originally a track filled with the general brags and not-so-humble expensive car references that’s come to be expected of any rapper ever, except this time with a feature from the King of Braggadocio himself Yeezus Christ (who doesn’t fuck up his guest verse for the first time in forever).

The Black Hippy remix doesn’t lose any of the confidence or boastful attitude that the original contains, but it does readjust the focus to something more substantial. Whereas the Yeezy featuring original was content to talk about McLarens, BMWs, Porsches and Rolls Royces (all in the first verse), the Black Hippies are more concerned with the state of Black LA — and America at large — with a seemingly oxymoronic pride in the community. Jay Rock opens with the line:

“It’s impossible to love it, if you don’t come from it / it’s things that goes on, you just can’t stomach”

Really, this line is the thesis to the following verses; bar after bar of the rappers expressing varying levels of pride and dismay within the culture that birthed them. Jay Rock goes on to explain in detail the life that is led in Watts, L.A. Ill-gotten wealth, sexuality, gangbanging with a Blank Face, getting caught and being bailed out only to do it all over again. I haven’t heard Rock this hungry since “Money Trees”, feature of the millennium and a bar that I personally believe he has yet to surpass — all in all though, Jay Rock dropped some lines that, while expected, are still visceral and dripping with life. K. Dot is next and, you know, kills it in typical Kendrick fashion. Just check the dead center of his verse:

“Society kept my IQ vexed / deny me from an Ivy school / applying me to the street I slept / I quietly had to hold this tool / reminding me of the block I repped / the turf I stepped, the church and the earth I blessed”

There’s a lot to unpack there, how the majority of American’s (read: wypipo — scroll down for definition) view of Black America dooms certain realities to be repeated, how White America’s perception forces those who are victim to it to look down to the block and everything it represents — the spirituality, the violence, the streets. But there is still hope, and each member of the Black Hippy crew attests to that — well except for Ab-Soul who is, as expected, trying to balance the proportions of codeine to cream soda in the same way that he attempts to balance his profit-seeking nature with his 3rd-eye spirituality. Idk, I don’t claim to quite get what Soulo is after (like ever) but his wordplay is deft, his flow adroit, and his overall sound pleasing — so whatever, he gets a solid check plus.

(Soul in an official music video rapping beside an image of the fall of the World Trade Center … so yeah)

And then there’s a huge break and ScHoolboy says “hold on, nigga, let me get some.” And this is just where my mind was blown. Like, Q has put some fun party songs, witty one-liners, and gritty bangers under his belt and that’s cool. But this verse was something different, something I was not expecting from the dude who so simply put his dealing tendencies into perspective on a song called fucking “Yay Yay” in 2014 by saying:

“I’m a drug dealing nigga ‘cuz them grades ain’t get me paid / my agenda for today is to get bread or get laid”

As a broke-ass post-college graduate, I can say that line still gets to me. But back to this remix, we have ScHoolboy blast through a medley of references to how he made it — you know, air travel talk, cars (which he calls “go go gadgets”, a fucking fire reference in my opinion), and fucking women on the sabbath, etc. — in like thirty seconds before he gets to police violence. Holy shit. ScHoolboy Q, your favorite rapper’s big brother and paper chasing phenom, is about to get political. He starts by saying that in the life that Kendrick and Jay Rock describes only verses earlier, the cops sworn to serve and protect don’t give a fuck until you’re Mr. Nigga (if you don’t get that reference you need to listen to the entirety of Black On Both Sides by Mos Def right this second). And the Blank Face — the name of ScHoolboy’s latest LP, and a reference to the unfeeling nature of ruthless killers — is now seen by police officers who don’t give a fuck about you, your struggle, or your community. And then the doozy of a line:

“Gangbanging like we stand for something / when Alton Sterling getting killed for nothing / 2 cowards in the car, they’re just there to film / saying #BlackLivesMatter should’ve died with him”

Like fuck. To completely contextualize this, I’ve decided to post the video as uploaded by CBS News onto YouTube depicting the last moments of Alton Sterling.

(warning: graphic content)

Q doesn’t just call out the officers who have been killing unarmed Black men indiscriminately for a while now. He calls out everybody. Essentially, he asks if your homie is being strangled, if someone you care about is dying at the hands of police, do you record it passively? or do you do something about it actively? Please don’t get me wrong here, I have close family in law enforcement and I am in no way advocating violence against the good women and men protecting our communities. So don’t misread me here. But the question ScHoolboy Q asks is potent — does this marching, this sitting in, this crying for rights, for equal treatment help? And if not, what will? Which part do we live by? Or do we avoid the question all together?

“Put a Blank Face on, nigga, let that drop / that part”

4/5

But like a really, really strong four.


Originally published at bloggingaintdead.tumblr.com.