Busta Rhymes ft. Q-Tip - “Thank You”

JAMES: I’m always interested to see how you perceive a rapper who was mainstream-big while I was a young mate first appreciating the finer arts of hip-hop. Whenever I think Busta, I think “Pass The Courvoisier Pt. 2,” though naturally the first sounds to come to mind on that track are Pharrell’s vocals, checkin with Busta on those swollen asses.

Busta has always had an incredible flow, and ability to switch it up flawlessly. One minute he’s yelling, the next he’s purring rhymes that make sense in your mind at least five seconds after he’s finished talking. Feels like playing catch-up. He’s a talented lyricist. And the way he can basically have a conversation with whoever he’s rapping with is awesome.

Q-Tip was really on-point, too, and Wayne and Birdman had the courtesy to stay away from this one. Checkmarks all around.

Now, tell me what I’m missing about these legends.

VINCE: Now may not be the time, as this song was pretty unmoving. Aside from the fact that we will be commemorating Midnight Marauders’ 20-year anniversary soon, it just wouldn’t feel right digging into the genius of both legends in reaction to a joint that basically takes the oft-sampled “I Want to Thank You (Heavenly Father)” by Alicia Myers as the groundwork for Bust and Tip to get into some rapid-spit acrobatics. I mean, both dudes can obviously rhyme -- they’re legends. But, although the song might not be worthy of a Zzzz, it’s more like a Yyyy.

As in, “why?”

Oh, because of this…Per Busta Bust, via MTV

"We did everything in our power to show the camaraderie, because it's been a lot of talk that over the last year or two about conflict between G.O.O.D. Music and Young Money and Cash Money," he said. "I just wanted to put it to bed and create an eventful moment where me and Wayne being Young Money/Cash Money on one team, Q-Tip and Kanye be on another movement on G.O.O.D. Music; just showing that camaraderie and that alliance and just making it official on a real hip-hop level."

I’m assuming this mostly the dealing with the Common-Drake beef over Serena (Drake stays messing with cats’ exes) (JAMES NOTE: Pusha T also has beef with Wayne and Drake, but I don't see this track changing anything in the eyes of King Push). But, I don’t know how much camaraderie it shows. Bust started out with Leaders of the New School, which were always like honorary members of the Native Tongues (The Tribe/Leaders possee cut “Scenario (remix)” is one of the 50 greatest rap songs of the ‘90s...actually, I’ll go out on a strong limb and say “of all time”). So, Tip and Bust linking for a track isn’t exactly real-deal reconciliation. I doubt Weezy or ‘Ye would be petty enough to forbid that as the “bosses.”

Of more importance is the lack of vibrancy in the song. My crew and I had an email chain discussion this week about rappers over 40 that we’d actively check for. It was a convo motivated by Eminem’s listless fratboy music of right now. Tip definitely was one of those artists we all agreed on (some others: Mos Def, Nas, Jay Z, Big Boi, MF DOOM, Ghostface Killah, Dre -- I may be missing a few, but it was a very short list). More than any rapper I know, his approach to music has aged the best. Renaissance is the crowning achievement of “grown up hip-hop” Bust, on the other hand, just hasn’t hit me with anything vital since the seminal “New York Sh*t,” which dropped in 2006, when he was 34. He’s just not moving me these days.

Isaiah Rashad ft. SZA - “Ronnie Drake”

JAMES: Does he not do an incredible Chance The Rapper impression at the top of this track? One his last track, “Shot U Down,” I felt a bit of Kendrick Lamar vibe from Rashad, and by that I mean it seemed to make sense that he was signed to TDE. He fit in well with Jay Rock and ScHoolBoy Q on the remix, too. But this track makes me think that TDE is expanding to new levels. The core is always going to be Black Hippy, Kendrick, Jay Rock, SBQ and Ab-Soul, but SZA and Rashad, TDE’s latest signings, definitely have something working here.

Rashad just announced his debut mixtape, Cilvia, and said on Sway that it was music for after the party. Sounds about right.

VINCE: Reminds me of Section.80 Kendrick. I’m a fan of this particular song moreso than Rashad. This joint dropped just in time for winter, when you need those warm, porridge-like tracks to insulate you from the wind chills and what not.

Majid Jordan - "Hold Tight" (Afterhours EP)

JAMES: Ohhh, this bassline is not what I expected. I don’t know what I was expecting from a Drake labelmate exactly, but it wasn’t funky R&B. It should have been though. This sounds exactly like what Drake would like to accomplish musically, but he’s more about Cash Money Records for now. This is dope. Got a vibe like The Internet. I gave the album a pass, a mistake I’m correcting now.

VINCE: I feel like these kids sampled the Alicia Myers that Bust and Tip sampled. Their album isn’t bad. When I first heard Drake’s “Hold On,” it was the bridge that always made that tune worthwhile to me. Between these cats and Disclosure’s Settle (which might be the best album of the year...it’s definitely Top 10), these young white dudes are killin’ it with their odes to ‘70s/’80s house/disco/funk/R&B melanges.

Audio Push ft. Preston Harris - “So Far To Go”

JAMES: Audio Push is dope. I’ve been sleeping on their album for a few weeks now, but it’s definitely next up after delving into this song. A quick search tells me this beat is a Dilla-original, meaning no matter how dope I think this track might be, you probably know a doper version. But for a freebie track, I’m a big fan. A bit like last week’s Spitta and DZA track, where you don’t necessarily expect to play the song for the entire weekend, this one comes through. I think Audio Push is in for a big 2014.

VINCE: I won’t begrudge any young person that digs this. It’s not that it’s a generation-gap thing in terms Gen-X vs. Millennials. It’s more just a symptom of the overall vibe being almost too trivial for me to even muster a modicum of caring about it. He seems like he’s a good enough emcee, with enough personality to make an inroads out here. Vocally he reminds me of Big Sean.

As for the track, yes, it’s from Dilla’s song of the same name. It appeared on The Shining, the classic album that Dilla recorded as he was dying. The song was notable not only because the beat was so affecting (it features Common, back when Common was still rapping about life and love on a higher plane than just about everyone other than Mos and 3000), but because D’Angelo sung the hook, and it was the first time any of us had heard D’s voice in about five years. Here’s the original.

Fashawn - “The Beginning”

JAMES: Found Fashawn in the depths of 2dopeboyz.com. Those cats know what they're doing...much like Fashawn. He's got a couple tapes out for now, but if this track in any indication, we're only scratching the surface of his talent. Clearly gifted lyrically, and the video is extremely minimalist while still entertaining. That's the future. DIY, and let the talent shine. 

VINCE: Word, word, word. I’m diggin’. Sonically and visually this is cold. Fashawn has some Roc Marciano in him. Speaking of which, I just downloaded Marc’s new mixtape. Please jam...