In the Cut: XXL’s Song Picks of the Week 4/5
It's been a pretty slow week at the XXL headquarters. Sure, we've kept busy with the announcement of our annual Freshman issue, but now that we've told you about Fictional Freshmen, Past Freshmen, and even showed you videos of the Freshmen shoot, we figured you're probably all Freshman'd out.
So, in other news - Tyler, The Creator released his sophomore album, Wolf; Kid Cudi shocked the music world with an announcement of his departure from GOOD Music; and the world has collectively freaked out about Rick Ross's date-rapey lyrics. Also, Jay and Bey celebrated their five year anniversary, so congrats to the royal couple.
In our weekly column called In the Cut, the diversely-opinionated XXL staff celebrates another lively week in hip-hop and picks some of their favorite releases from the past week. Some are songs, some are videos, all are incredible in their own way. Until next week - keep it trill, rap world.
Rich Boy ft. Doe B, Playboi Lo & Smash - "Pimp On"
It's been over half a decade since his acclaimed self-titled debut, but Rich Boy's latest single "Pimp On" proves that the Alabama emcee isn't worse for the wear. Channeling his inner UGK, Rich Boy delivers that slab-certified Southern smoke over some molasses-thick production reminiscent of the late Pimp C in his prime.—Sean Ryon, News Editor
Sean Price - "Bar-Barian" Video
Even though it took him five years to release it, Sean Price's 2012 album Mic Tyson delivered on that hardcore on every level, from the knocking beats to Price's no-nonsense rhymes. Now, it's great to see Ruck's acclaimed collab with The Alchemist get the visual treatment. P!—SR
James Blake ft. RZA - "Take a Fall For Me"
Earlier this week, producer Mark Ronson tweeted about James Blake's new single, "Retrograde," admitting—"don't think i'm going to be more in love with/terrified by a song in 2013." Honestly, all of James Blake's new (and old) music fits that description, and his collab with RZA is really no exception. Dude has a knack for meshing spooky pianos with vocoder'd vocals and ambient noises in a way that you feel like you're walking through an empty horror movie set. RZA sounds like he's in pain here, reminiscing on a great love and wondering, "What will become of me?" It's a romantic tune, if you're a heartbroken romantic.—Dan Buyanovsky, Associate Editor
Tyler, The Creator - "Answer"
At his core, Tyler, The Creator is a lonely dude like the rest of us, and we can all relate to the low moments he talks about on this song, when you so badly want to talk to somebody who just won't talk to you. My dad's always been present in my life so I can't completely relate to the way he feels in the first verse, but what he's saying here is beyond specifics—it's about longing, it's about not having the things you need, it's about not feeling love from the people you deserve love from. I love this song because even though he gets a little vindictive and spiteful, he doesn't over-compensate for his sadness with over-aggressiveness; and it just reminds me of sitting on the bus and texting a girl I loved, knowing she wouldn't text me back.—DB
DJ Finesse - "It Was All a Dream" (B.I.G. Over Premier)
This is a hip-hop nerd’s wet dream. Although Biggie and Premo—two of the best in their respective fields—did craft a number of hits together before B.I.G.’s untimely passing, DJ Finesse’s tape completely gives new life to the concept. “Who Shot Ya” verses over “Come Clean”? “Going Back to Cali” over “The Invincible”? This is incredible stuff. Also props to Finesse (not to be confused with the D.I.T.C. legend) for actually presenting a mixed-tape, a rarity in an era populated by hype men-turned-mixtape DJs.—Jaeki Cho, Senior Online Editor
Psymun - “L.O.V.I.N.”
Just zone out to this and perceive things as if you’re cruising through a suburban block on a three-wheel bike. The camera angle of this entire escapade is shot in slow motion. You’re conducting a tricycle drive by, knocking out a little boy’s ice cream cone, throwing water balloons at girls in booty shorts, and sipping on a Capri Sun after a successful Dennis the Menace-like tirade. Straight imagery birthed from this “L.O.V.I.N.” instrumental, son.—JC
Kid Cudi ft. Too $hort - “Girls”
I seriously cannot wait for Indicud to be released later this month. Kid Cudi has been releasing nothing but quality music, from "Immortal" to "Just What I Am," and now “Girls,” featuring Too $hort—the two work really well together, blending old school hip hop with the unique style Cudi has. They describe their infatuation for women in detail and discuss the abundance of pretty women in their lives. It’s sad to see Cudi leave G.O.O.D. Music, but I cannot wait to see what he has in store for the future.—Emmanuel C. M., Assistant Editor
Cap 1 ft. Young Jeezy and Game - “Gang Bang”
2 Chainz’ artist, Cap 1, scored himself a nice collabo with Game and Young Jeezy. This is sure to be a stable in clubs and blasted in cars at obscenely high volumes. The video isn’t anything too special but this bass-heavy track is just something to play when you want to get an energy boost. It kind of sounds like the Wiz Khalifa record of the same name, but with the snowman on this, I let it slide.—EM
Childish Major ft. Rome Fortune “Rights for Wrongs”
Producer Childish Major was responsible for the bulk of Rome Fortune’s outstanding mixtape, Beautiful Pimp. The two reunite on Major’s first single, “Rights for Wrongs,” on which Rome floats over some fuzzy, soul-infused production. Rome’s vocals grab your ears, considering “Rights for Wrongs” is about catching feelings for a promiscuous girl. It’s a potential highlight of the year and is just another reason to keep Rome on your radar.—Eric Diep, Editorial Assistant
Dizzy Wright - “Killem Wit Kindess” Video
XXL Freshman Dizzy Wright stated in an earlier interview that he “kicked down the door -- the big door” for Las Vegas rap. The 22-year-old hasn’t stopped since his high profile look on the cover, recently dropping a new video for “Killem Wit Kindess.” Watching him playing with a child and rapping about being a school counselor showcases his relatablity. Keep ‘em coming, Dizzy.—ED
Joey Bada$$ - "Day in the Life"
That fact that this was the first time Joey and producer Harry Fraud collaborated makes this track even doper. "Day In the Life" definitely captures that nostalgic feel. You know - the 'Golden Days.'—Ralph Bristout, Associate Lifestyle Editor
Two9 - "Where the Money At" Video
If you're unfamiliar with Atlanta's new rap collective Two9, well, get familiar! The rising rap group has been making noise on the underground level but it's only a matter of time until they break out of that realm and onto the bigger stage. This intro to this video is a perfect starting point for you to do your homework on the crew. "My teacher always told me to get a 9 to 5/Fuck that, where the money at?"—RB
Slice 9 - "Y.N.P (Young Nigga Problems)"
Slice 9's a spry youngster out of Future's Freebandz camp who released the regional smash "Another One" alongside his mentor last year. Earlier this week, the 19-year-old out of Atlanta dropped "Y.N.P," a glitchy, instantly-addictive record that's bursting with youthful playfulness. There's some impressive switches of flow here and even if "Y.N.P." isn't Slicey's breakout release, it serves as proof that the Epic signee can still score without a Future hook.—Neil Martinez-Belkin, Assistant Music Editor