(Editors' note: Here's a serious question...Will Pharrell ever work with a black singer again? Keep reading. And please jam...)
Daley - “Look Up”
JAMES: I wanna see if you can figure out who produced this from a first listen. I knew the answer before listening to it, and it makes perfect sense. All I’ll say is that it’s a dude who’s been all over the place in 2013. Like, everywhere.
As for Daley, I like him. He was born in ‘89 and hails from the UK. We’re like twins. Except, you know, the wide talent disparity. He’s pretty good. I think there’s a level of soul he can uncover, but I’m not sure that’s the direction he’s going to go. Never know, maybe [producers name here] can sort that out.
VINCE: Well, just off first listen, I wouldn’t have automatically guessed Pharrell. Although the chorus does have ‘Rell leanings. But it’s your clues that gave it away. I don’t know what is up with Pharrell. Between Robin Thicke, Daft Punk and Mayer Hawthorne, he seems intent on (what seems like) only working with white men singin’. (Let’s not forget his hits for Justin Timberlake last decade.) Now, we know that’s not true (Pharrell has helmed some of the dopest black music of the past 15 years), but it feels like it.
This joint right here is breezy, more than palatable. Daley seems worthy enough. If that doesn’t sound like it’s a ringing endorsement it’s because it’s not a ringing endorsement. I’m unmoved. You know what is a ringing endorsement? Working with Pharrell. Daley also showed up on The Gorillaz’ Plastic Beach and a track with Marsha Ambrosius, one England’s great exports. But you want that Pharrell co-sign. Pharrell knows talent. I just wonder if he’s not being opportunistic here. You mean to tell me you can’t see him thinking, “Let me get Biebs in the studio.”
Lil’ Wayne ft. Chance The Rapper - "You Song"
JAMES: A couple weeks ago when D5 came out, I, like many, passed on it. I downloaded it, but didn’t listen for a week or so. Then I put it on one afternoon for no apparent reason, and paid no particular attention until that MJ sample hit my ears. “The Way You Make Me Feel” is one of my favorite all-time songs, let alone Michael Jackson songs. That’s one hell of a hook.
Then Chance The Rapper came on, and we’ve both lavished him with praise recently. What makes this track stand-out even more, though, is Wayne’s best verse since ‘Nam. It was slightly reminiscent of “Receipt,” another all-time favorite.
That’s exactly what Chance and his crew wanted, too. This is the lone original beat on D5, and it came together in one night after Chance got a text saying Wayne needed a track in two days. One of the producers, Nate Fox, said, “I thought it was flames...we were all like, ‘Let's make something that will challenge Wayne again and force him to pull that Tha Carter II sh*t out of him,’ and I think we got that.”
Agreed. By the way, we may never get an official “album” from Chance The Rapper. Check out his philosophy on the music industry . Yeah, I’m a big fan.
VINCE: This kid Chance is just so ill. I felt this way about Bastard-Tyler, the Creator in 2010, Section.80-Kendrick Lamar in 2011 and Joey Bada$$ in 2012. They all gave me that automatic kind of “woah, this kid is special” feeling. Chance reminds me of Lil’ Wayne a lot (and Kanye and Monch and Redman and few other legends), so it’s only right that he provided that jolt that got Wayne back into that super artistic, stream-of-conscious, very emotive form of story-telling. Drake can’t do what these two dudes did on this track...not authentically.
Tyler, The Creator, Hodgy Beats, Domo Genesis and Earl Sweatshirt - “Look”
JAMES: THIS IS FIRE. It’s like they’re playing a game of “Kill The Beat” and everyone won. Ok, Earl won, but we all won because they all went in.
This makes me think of Kendrick’s “Control” verse again. He wanted to raise the bar up through competition, that may or may not be getting unfriendly. But this is the way to do it. Damn.
VINCE: Yeesh. Nottz, my man…I mean, look, fam...slow down son, you’re killin’ em. Didn’t he just produce that Pusha T joint “Nosetalgia” that featured the Kendrick verse where your boy lost his mind? This beat is an absolute crime. That quick break with the hi-hat and, what sounds like, distorted keys gave me a lump in my throat.
As for the emcee’ing -- OFWGKTA can run with the best of ‘em. Although Tyler no longer has that “oh ish” impact, he still gets busy. Hodgy is underrated and Domo is a problem.
But, I mean to tell ya’...Sweet Baby Jerome that child Earl is gifted. He probably wrote this like Adrian Peterson rushes for 100 yards, too. That verse was classic hip-hop slang doctoring at it’s finest. And it probably wouldn’t make his Top 25 verses of his young life. We got a legend in the making here. Word to MF DOOM.
ADD-2 - “Don’t Go”
JAMES: There is so much talk about New York, the South and West Coast that Chicago really doesn’t get mentioned outside of the midwest. Though Chief Keef seems to be the posterboy for the town, the Windy City has talented rappers poppin’ up everywhere. ADD-2 has worked with 9th Wonder and Kendrick Lamar in his young career, and he’s already released eight mixtapes since 2005. He’s quick, witty, and has a strong ear, if this beat is any indication. I’m a fan. More please.
VINCE: Don’t forget about Chance when it comes to Windy City reppers. This dude ADD-2 is OK. OK in a Rapper Big Pooh kind of way.
I also see that Khrysis is still on his 2006 ish, huh. Do you, brutha. I guess.
Trinidad James Freestyle with Tim Westwood
JAMES: This freestyle would be a lot more explainable if it turns out Trinidad Jame$ drank a litre (since they’re in the UK) of lean just before taking the mic. Tim Westwood couldn’t even manage a smile on camera, compared to this reaction when Kanye West went nuts on his show back in 2005 . That’s how it’s done, Trinidad.
I saw the young ATLien at SXSW. Aside from “All Gold Everything,” he didn’t get the crowd going much. The best part of his performance was Bun B coming out and performing a song that didn’t feature Trinidad Jame$.
I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more artists like Trinidad, who come out with a really hot song that gets a lot of attention, but isn’t backed up by a whole lot else on the album. [ Vince note: Surely you know this isn’t a new thing, right, JC? Popular music has been marked by thousands more one-hit wonders than legit stars.] [JC Note: Of course, I just think there will be more of them now...though really there will be more of both the legit and of the moment, because that’s what the Internet does. It’s very polarizing. I think it’s partly what caused such a wide gap in our political system right now.] He was smart to get that money from Def Jam while he could.
VINCE: This, I believe, is the first time we’ve mentioned Westwood on this site; so I’d be remiss if I didn’t mentioned that he is believed to be Sacha Baron Cohen’s inspiration for the Ali G character. [James Note: Haaaaaaaa! I had no idea. Tim is a gem, though.] This makes Westwood a pop culture treasure.
As for this freestyle, I don’t think this has anything to do with how leaned Trindad was. It has to do with the fact that he can’t freestyle. Freestyling used to be a badge-of-honor requirement for real emcees. Even amateur, cypher-cats, like me, could freestyle for days. That’s all my peers and I did. We banged out beats on lunch tables and freestyled. We put on instrumental tapes in the whip and rode around the city (or sometimes all the way down the east coast) freestyling. We posted on waterfronts, porches, corners, parks, wherever freestyling. You had to know how spit some fire “off the top of the dome.” I’m saying EVERYONE. Very few could do it like KRS-One or Common or Black Thought or Snoop, but even street corner amateurs could drop a few lugs when it was their turn in the cypher.
At some point, though, “freestyle” became synonymous with merely spitting a written verse on call and over someone else’s beat. Cats would go on Flex’s show or inside “The Booth” in Big Tigger’s Bassment and drop joints they memorized. It messed up the meaning of “freestyle” and actual freestyling almost ceased to exist.
It is a lost art. That sad fact is typified by this tomfoolery here. Trinidad could be dead sober or right at that perfect buzz and he’d sound just as felonious trying to actually “freestyle.”
Please jam...the very tip of your left pinkie finger in a car door.