”M’$” - A$AP Rocky
The year 2015, only four month in, is a golden year for rap, especially for New York. Hometown heroes like Joey Bada$$, Action Bronson made some noise with their debuts. Raekwon and Busta Rhymes are making big comebacks with their upcoming albums. I’d argue that the biggest New York rapper not named Hov is A$AP Rocky.
A$AP’s debut LONG.LIVE.A$AP. was insanely good and everyone is looking to see how he follows it up. We heard the very solid “Multiply” in October, and with this week’s “M’$” release it’s time to start getting excited for his next album. Everything about this song bumps. The syrupy trap beat triggers instant head nodding. His flow is smooth per usual and the rhymes to go with it are just as great. If bars like “Me and Yams made the plan/Then I paid myself and I gave myself advance/Way before I became myself/I’d like to thank myself because I made myself the man” and the reference to “Dark Fantasy” (“You ain’t got no Flacko in your Serrato?”) aren’t enough, then the hook will win you over. We be talkin’ bout M’s!
”The Fool” - Ryn Weaver
I’m very high on Ryn Weaver. Her song “Octahate” had millions of views on SoundCloud and over a million views on YouTube. She’s played Coachella and has a voice and look (which is oddly like a female, more Bohemian Russell Brand) ready for the Hot 100. She continues her run with “The Fool”, the title track of her debut album coming in June.
The track is produced by Passion Pit frontman Michael Angelakos, something that wouldn’t take much time to figure out from listening. It’s starry and filled with voice modulation and cutting. Ryn rides the beat as if she was the love child of Lorde and Ellie Goulding: not rangy, but with conviction and emotion. The beat drop at the end of the song (3:12 to be exact) is so money it hurts.
”Make Some Room” - The Suffers
I’m a sucker for anything funk-related. It never fails to put a smile on my face and dance in my step. “Make Some Room” is straight out of the 70’s, lush with strong lead and backup vocals, walking bass lines, a tight brass section, a conga(!) beat, and plenty of good vibes.
”All Time Low” - Jon Bellion, Travis Mendes
My buddies back home are crazy about Jon Bellion, and for good reason. He’s been a very successful songwriter for artists like Eminem, Rihanna and Jason Derulo and had a pretty impressive debut with Luxury in 2014. I personally thought his recent single “Woodstock” was the weakest thing he’s put out yet, but here on “All Time Low” he makes up for it. This song isn’t deep by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s catchy and influenced by Simon & Garfunkel’s classic “The Boxer”. His modulated tenor voice sticks out, and his production remains top notch.
PORTER’S PICK OF THE WEEK: ”DEATHCAMP” - Tyler, The Creator
I’ll be honest here: Tyler’s new album Cherry Bomb frustrated me. It has some jams like “SMUCKERS” and “2SEATER”, but one just about every other song the mixing is just off. The beat (intentionally?) drowns out the rap, leaving a ball of noise. This isn’t a compliment. I consider myself a fan of his -- listen to Goblin and Wolf and it’s obvious that his production and rap abilities outshine his rebellious image -- and I’m hoping Cherry Bomb is just his Yeezus phase.
That being said, there are some highlights. “DEATHCAMP” is one of them. The hard rock riff beat is in your face but a welcome opener for the album. It also has breaks reminiscent of his hero, Pharrell. Yes, the same Arby’s-hat wearing Pharrell. Go figure.
Anyway, Tyler does what he does best: rapping inappropriate lines like “So special the teacher asked if I was autistic/And now I'm making plates, you just washing the dishes/So if you don't mind, get the fuck out of my kitchen/But keep your ego here so I can butt fuck your opinion” and “So hop in with your friends, gal and I'll unpark it/And I'll do donuts until the fat one is carsick.” Cherry Bomb may be a tough listen, but songs like “DEATHCAMP” prove that he’s not going away anytime soon.
Kataja Pick of the Week: "Mene" - Brand New
Six years is a long time to go between doing a thing once and doing it again. This is true whether the thing is special -- dinner at an all you can eat brazillian steakhouse is something you should do at least every five years -- or something essential to your life -- you should definitely go to work more frequently than once every six years. The band Brand New, however, has essentially taken six years off. It's been that long since the band has released any new music (they've been playing shows...which I guess is work...but roll with me here. This is important to me.).
That six year wait ended this week. We have brand new Brand New music for the first time since 2009, and ya boy is pumped. The song is called "Mene", and here it is in all its anticipatory glory.
I'm kinda hesitant to judge the song at this point, because Brand New was one of the bands most central to my musical upbringing, and now that they put out new music for the first time since last decade, I'm totally fangirling. Suffice it to say that "Mene" showcases guitars in the same lane as their most recent release, 2009's Daisy, which was probably the band's least accessible record. However, the sweet harmony in the chorus suggests they're dipping in to their earlier styles as well. In any case, I'm pumped at the possibility of a new Brand New album, and you should be too.