(Ed Note: We're definitely back in the groove now. As usual, James scours the internet for his favorite jams of the week and attempts to get them passed the refined ears of EIC Vince Thomas with semi-regular success. Now, Please Jam...)
King Chip ft. GLC & Chevy Woods - “Fresh At My Funeral”
VINCE: This beat is a monster. It goes from some bending upright bass to some fuzzed-out electric guit. Snare’s kickin’. That airy synthesizer is layin’ low. Nasty. I mean that’s a filthy groove. This was made for wallflowers like me that, as 50 once said, like to do “the same ol’ two step.” I will hold up a wall snapping my neck to this track like it was no one’s business.
These rappers are buttered corn, though. I respect the Midwest connection – Chevy Woods from Pittsburgh (and part of Wiz’ Taylor Gang), Chip from Cleveland, GLC from the Chi’ – but I just don’t really have the stomach for the overly simplistic, overly vulgar, overly profane, empty-boast rhymes. If I wasn’t a “production first” music listener, I wouldn’t be able to make it through 90 seconds of this song. But, I listened to this joint three times in a row.
I need to know who produced the beat, though. I need that info STAT. Because, man...
JAMES: Yeah, the production is certainly the hook. That was immediately obvious. I listened to it a couple of times and decided the lyrical quality was good enough to add it. That basically sums up my Chevy Woods experience. You may recall listening to a Chevy Woods track in my car as we headed to a Sweetwater 420 festival or something, and I’m pretty sure that’s the first time I heard the phrase “straight corn.”
With that said, the way the music economy is quickly shifting online to free mixtapes and shows, there’s no reason a lot of these rappers can’t keep doing their thing. It’s a little bit like a part of your “Black Quarterback” piece from November, that this proves the true legitimacy of hip-hop music because mediocrity can survive (the Tarvaris Jackson analogy).
Plus, these guys rap about weed, and since you’re not about that life, there’s probably much less tolerance for that kind of thing. I, for one, am about to run it back.
Mike G ft. Left Brain & The Internet - “Lincoln”
VINCE: Ha! I heard this a few years ago. I see the video was just released and the song is credited as Mike G featuring Left Brain and The Internet, but this joint first appeared on Purple Naked Ladies, which was The Internet’s debut...waaaayyyyy back in December of 2011. Since it came out so late in 2011, I basically view it as a 2012 album and, as 2012 albums go, it was probably my favorite.
I rock with these kids so hard. My girl Syd da Kid is like one of music’s most precocious talents going right now. That’s not an exaggeration. She’s only 21 (she was probably fresh out of high school when she wrote and recorded much of Purple). The way she approaches vocal arrangements is as heavy as a ton of bricks. And then her and Matt Martians tag-team the production, which is like an updated, more-spacey version of The Neptunes. Or sometimes, it’s all their own. For instance, check this joint, “Give It Time,” which is, I guess, the lead’ish single-like song from their forthcoming EP Feel Good. When they drop into that bridge? That’s downright sophisticated.
None of this has much to do with “Lincoln,” which is a cool tune, but nowhere near one of my favorites off the Purple album. The uniqueness of the song’s character (the odd hook, the spazzed rhythm) is of definite merit, but I listened to this album so much that single notes or very brief moments of intros elicit trained, knee-jerk reactions out of me. My knee jerk here is to skip this and get to “Web of Me,” the next track on the album. That’s what I always do.
In a vacuum, though, this joint jams. Now go peep that Purple Naked Ladies. My guess? Too much soul for you...
JAMES: I suppose hearing this out of context from the album is an entirely different experience than coming across it because they finally made a video. I listened to “Give It Time” which is an entirely different experience. So, if you wanted to skip it, I’m guessing it doesn’t really match the flow of the album, because this is a fun song.
I was hooked from the intro sample on. The rest just flowed downhill smoothly. I’m definitely going to check out the album, though.
Nipsey Hussle - “Summertime In That Cutlass”
VINCE: Wasn’t Nipsey Hussle featured on a previous joint you included in a Please Jam? I think so. I definitely remember the name and when I went to his Wiki page he looks familiar. I recall that I might have found it peculiar that he was 27 and hadn’t dropped an album yet. Or maybe you had mentioned that he’s been rumored to have an upcoming album for a while and it never dropped. Something like that.
This is another slickly produced track. The West Coast cats have a dope sound going right now on the sonic tip. The Futuristiks produced it. They did a few joints on Casey Veggies’ Life Changes, which I dug a great deal almost exclusively because of the production. But, if there’s anything the Please Jam series has made abundantly clear, it’s that the generation gap rears its head for me personally with the lyrics. There are dudes like ScHoolboy Q who can get extremely profane, but his actual skill, charisma and techs balance that it out. For someone like Nipsey, it’s more like listening to a monologue from a cat with a limited vocab and, after not too long, it can get shrill.
I wonder what his ceiling is, though. He’s definitely not a lame – I wonder what his end game is.
JAMES: Yup, your instincts are correct. I was going to leave it off for that very reason, but it forced its way on.
Nipsey is a little bit like the West Coast version of Curren$y in the sense that I know what I’m going to get and I’m probably going to enjoy it. Curren$y has the potential to induce a double take or a laugh with far more regularity than Nipsey, though. So, that’s probably his ceiling. Whether or not he can get to higher levels regularly is in question.
Sango ft. JMSN - “Affection”
VINCE: Now this came out of nowhere. Hadn’t heard from either artist. I see this is off Sango’s new LP North. I see he’s a producer that drops tons of EPs and one-offs, much of which rocks in that ambient-soul groove. Do you have this album? Can I cop that? You have his previous EPs? I’m definitely ready to do the knowledge. I will say that the vibe is a little too warm for the summer. I like this vibe in the winter. I like my summer music either airy or sticky and funky. It’s just a thing.
And this cat JMSN. He’s basically one of these hipster R&B cats. I can dig. I see he’s from Detroit and I see he looks like Adam Morrison. I also see that he has a 2012 LP named after my little sister, Priscilla. I downloaded it post-haste. Usher said he’s his favorite new artist. I’m pretty sure that should be a red flag for me, but I remain undeterred.
Real-talk though, James, this might have been your best Please Jam introduction for me to-date.
JAMES: I found JMSN because he has a collab album with your boy Ab-Soul, which I don’t think has ever been released due to“management” issues (but here’s a taste). At that point, I discovered he also did some background vocals on GKMC, so I’ve made a point of keeping an eye on him. Oh, and you pronounce his name like Jameson. [Vince note: Anyone named after a whiskey is my fam.]
I have no idea who Sango is and basic searching just turns up his SoundCloud page (go ahead and subscribe). I really like his trance-like production here. JMSN’s matches incredibly well. It’s relaxing and a fantastic zone-out song.
Hopefully we’ll hear more from both, but I’m definitely trying to hear more JMSN x Black Hippy.
Consequence - “Black Skinhead (remix)”
VINCE: Consequence came out of nowhere.
In a span of about three years, A Tribe Called Quest had basically dropped three bona fide classics in a row to start their careers ( People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders). It’s legendary stuff. All three albums are hip-hop touchstones of great impact/influence. Q-Tip, Phife Dog and Ali Shaheed Muhammad. That was the trio. You said their names in tandem like it was one – “Tip&Phife” or “TipPhife&Shaheed.”
But there was a good three-year lull after Marauders dropped in November of 1993. Finally, though, in the summer of 1996 they came back with Beats, Rhymes and Life. Something was different. It wasn’t TipPhife&Shaheed, anymore. For one, Tip (who I grow closer to calling the greatest hip-hop producer of all time as the impact of his early-’90s sounds becomes clearer with every passing year) had brought in a young J Dilla (my favorite producer of all time and maybe the most talented) to help him with production. They produced and crafted a new sound for Tribe (and hip-hop, looking back) under the name The Ummah. In hindsight, BR&L gives more nods to Dilla’s sound than Tip’s. But more than anything, the most conspicuous new ingredient was this new dude spittin’ all over the album.
Consequence was featured on SEVEN SONGS. That was JUST AS MANY SONGS AS PHIFE. It was crazy disorienting. It wasn’t that Cons couldn’t spit, it’s that he was this new third wheel added to a tag team that every hip-hop fan had come to view as lyrical version of Siamese Twins. Although I love BR&L (and will probably bump on my train ride home), I think it’s Tribe’s worst album and you can’t help but acknowledge that the one variable in this is the presence of Cons’ (he was not on The Love Movement). Even if the documentary Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest offers great insight into how the discord between Tip and Phife during the BR&L sessions was probably the real reason for the creative drop-off (relatively speaking) on the album, Cons’ kinda effed things up.
So Cons sort of went offline for a while. I didn’t hear from dude for almost 10 years and then – whoosh – here he is appearing as Kanye’s right-hand man around the release of Late Registration (which remains my favorite Kanye album and one of my favorite albums, period). They dropped this joint “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly” on a pre-Late Reg’ mixtape. Joint was super-cold. By this time, Kanye had perfected his sophisticated/populist/backpack production sound and Cons was straight rippin’ it. It didn’t make Late Reg’ (I was heated), but it showed up on Cons debut album with a video and all. Back in 2006/2007, Cons was like Kanye’s Pusha T – the underground emcee of the G.O.O.D. Music crew (Common was Grammy darling by then).
I don’t recall Cons being heavily featured on last year’s Cruel Summer. It was clear that the album was a showcase for the new Kanye soldiers, Pusha and Big Sean. Which is why this remix of “Black Skinhead” is kind of sad. The whole Cons situation is sad. He shows up as almost a toy for these legends (Tip, Kanye), then, they stop playing with him. Now he’s left to reality TV tomfoolery and forced, wince-inducing remixes of songs his former partners spazzed on.
JAMES: This is another out-of-context experience for me, as I don’t have much Consequence in my iTunes history aside from an occasional verse...sorta like this one.
And it’s a little sad to hear your description of Consequence in your last paragraph, though it does make sense why he looks so depressed in his SoundCloud photo.
It also makes sense that he only got a verse, though. I mean... it isn’t that great and it’s somewhat relieving to hear Kanye come back on the track even though this is supposed to be about hearing new tracks and experiencing something different. This is about the first time I have been seriously underwhelmed by someone you have so much to say about, honestly. So perhaps there is something to your BR&L theory. [Vince note: Go back and listen to BR&L and Cons’ solo debut.]