Isaiah Rashad - “Shot You Down”

JAMES: Is he using Meek Mill lines througout this track? That echo has to be Meek. Their flow is identical. Rashad may or may not be signed to TDE. Either way I expect we’ll hear more from here in the near future.

I didn’t have the pleasure of hearing the sample before, so I kinda feel like he did it justice. Let me check though.

Well, they’re virtually the opposite. Rashad is going in. I’m enjoying artists going in these days.

VINCE: Interesting. I see they used a flue sample from Tower of Power’s Sparkling in the Sand.” No hip-hop artist will ever flip that as dope as Diamond D, though. Sally Got A One Track Mind” is probably one of the 25 best hop songs of the early ‘90s. Yeah, you can hit her! Haaaa. Ah, the memories. If you haven’t already, JC, get up on that Stunts, Blunts and Hip Hop. Seminal stuff. Diamond wasn’t the dopest emcee, at all. But he was among the five to ten coldest producers of the first half of the ‘90s. I dropped “Feel the Vibe” off that album in a previous Please Jam documenting that glorious decade.

As for this Rashad kid. As we like to say: He aight. Why does he laugh at the end of the track, though? Threw me off. And what’s his beef with Hype Beast. This wasn’t the greatest introduction, but TDE has a lot of capital with me, so I’ll continue to check for him.

Christian Rich ft. RZA “Supaman”

JAMES: I didn’t really have a choice but to put this on there, but there’s just so much going on in a RZA track for me to process. I bought his book, The Tao of Wu. I’ll revisit when I’ve read it. Definitely.

VINCE: OK. OK. OK. (*Nodding head*) Another new interpretation of a classic song by a classic artist (Gil Scott-Heron and Brian T. Jackson’s We Almost Lost Detroit”) that was made into a classic hip-hop song by a classic hop artist (Black Star’s Brown Skin Lady”). Mos Def and Kweli were my favorite artists of 1998 and ‘99 and this “Brown Skin Lady” was one of my favorite tracks. And I wonder what the late-great Gil would say about the current state of Detroit.

At any rate, Christian Rich is nasty. I dig their steez a ton. And the fact that the production duo are real life twins makes their story even more interesting. On a sonic level, Earl Sweathshirt’s Doris -- as I wrote in our “Listen UP” review -- is probably the most challenging, forward-thinking albums of the Millennial generation. A good portion of that is owed to these twins’ production. It’s like...hmmm...I’ll call it grounded experimentalism.

An old man RZA is too much. He is such a legend (Christian Rich’s production style is a RZA child, whether they know it or not...and I’m sure they’re well aware). He’s vibin’ his butt off. That hook is so mean, the product of the slickest of tongues.

Pusha T ft. Kendrick Lamar - “Nosetalgia”

JAMES: This is another classic Pusha beat, from a producer who -- from very minimal research -- has a ton of cred, Nottz. What do you know about him?

This more great work from Pusha. He’s released three tracks thus far, “Numbers On The Boards,” “Sweet Serenade,” and now, “Nosetaglia.” Top quality. I’m looking forward to he and Eminem releasing albums more than anyone else.

VINCE: Yeah, Nottz was a minor, but respected production voice in late-’90s/early-’00s NYC boom bap. This track right here is a bit of a diversion for him, though. That percussion in the back...that seems like it has Pharrell’s paws on it -- just like I’m sure Rell fiddled with the Kanye/Don Cannon-produced “Numbers on the Board.” I’m really hoping Pusha’s My Name Is My Name is more of a Pharrell affair than a Kanye affair. No one can lace Pusha like the Neptunes. That’s just a fact.

Meanwhile, I can’t tell if Pusha’s first eight bars are a clear indication that Kendrick has been heavily influenced by Pusha and The Clipse or if Pusha is slightly borrowing from Kendrick’s developing prototype style. I think it’s the former, though.

Kendrick, though? Goodness gracious, young man. That’s a MAMMOTH verse. That verse will eat his “Control” verse ALIVE. He’s possessed on this thing, but without all the histrionics of his “Control” bars. This right here is just a supremely gifted and sophisticated young emcee getting freaky, but in a dead serious kinda way. As we like to say: That boy good.

Danny Brown - “Side A (Old)”

JAMES: You actually made me give Danny Brown a second chance back in the glory days. I think it was XXX. There was definitely an adjustment period, but a track like this is pretty moderate for Danny Brown. Still, I’ve enjoyed everything he’s put out recently, even if I only understood half of what he said on A$AP Rocky’s “One Train.” But when he did that live...whoooo. That was something. He’s nuts.

VINCE: The last half or third of XXX is actually “that ‘ol Dan Brown.” I always noticed that when I listened. The last few songs are him rhyming like a normal human being, not a deranged, sexually deviant lunatic. I dig both Dannys. The deranged Danny is more interesting. “That ‘ol Dan” is a less exhausting listen. I’m expecting dope things out of Old when it drops, especially if he copped a few dusty J Dilla gems from Ma Dukes’ treasure chest.

James Blake ft. Chance The Rapper - “Life Round Here”

JAMES: I don’t think I’ve had a European on here for awhile, so it feels about time. Plus, I’ve been listening to Chance The Rapper for the last few weeks. I’m quickly becoming a huge fan. He’ll hook you on any song. He exudes fun.

Complex wrote a feature on him this week. He’s an interesting dude. Did you know he’s met the President several times?

As for James Blake, I’m mostly unfamiliar. Sounds like some mood music though. I’d be down, on occasion.

VINCE: I think Chance is frigid. Kid has chops for days. He reminds me of Pharoahe Monch, Kanye, Lil’ Wayne, Redman and 3000 all in one. I don’t wanna blow my wad on Chance (gigantic pause) because I plan to write about him more in-depth in the future. But between him, Kendrick, Earl, Wiki and Joey, this new generation is in capable, varied hands.

My homeboy made me give James Blake a second chance. I’m glad I did. He’s a worthy artist. I actually though this was Sampha singing the hook, though. Him and Blake have similar sounds.

I will say that I’m not the hugest fan of this track. I feel like it’s dour for dour sake. That’s probably me just being impatient and dismissive, though. I’m just gonna play that Christian Rich/RZA joint, again. Bong!