Pitchfork’s weekly rap column covers songs, mixtapes, albums, Instagram freestyles, memes, dances, weird tweets, fashion trends—and anything else that catches our attention in the world of hip-hop.
Imagining how Travis Scott’s new song “The Plan” will be used in Christopher Nolan’s latest film, Tenet
- Christopher Nolan knows Black people. Just watch that scene in The Dark Knight! Oh wait, no. Inception! No, wait, not that one either. The Prestige? Interstellar? OK, maybe he doesn’t know Black people. So we can just expect the Travis Scott song to play in John David Washington’s intro scene, to let you know that he’s cool and Black.
- Or “The Plan” could play lightly in the background, as a very smart character explains the film’s incomprehensible timewarp situation to John David Washington, who can’t believe it. But once it clicks—“whoa”—the song suddenly gets loud, and John David Washington puts on a pair of sunglasses perfectly synced to a Travis ad-lib.
- Or maybe it’ll be shunted to the very end, as a brooding John David Washington looks off into the distance, like Ben Affleck in the final scene of The Town. But then, a minor character appears and delivers a murky message to John David Washington. His eyes widen, and the screen goes black. The only sound we hear is Travis Scott’s “The Plan.” For the next two years, the internet argues about the deeper meaning.
Mixes vs. playlists
I spent the last week surfing through the archives of Red Bull Radio, NTS, and the Lot, and scanning the SoundCloud pages of my favorite DJs, in search of mixes. There’s nothing like a good mix—I’ve played some so much that I can recall my favorite timestamp (see: 16:00 on New Jersey dance producer Sjayy’s HangTime magazine guest mix). All mixes feel like you’re trapped in someone else’s mind, whether you like it or not. It’s a feeling you can never get from a playlist.
Playlists are impersonal. They’re just endless lists of songs that I never want to sit through. There’s no surprise of what’s coming next, no running back the song trying to figure out exactly what it is, no sitting through a track you hate at first before realizing it’s actually not so bad. Those moments are felt across my favorite mixes, and they’re why I’ve listened to half a dozen episodes of New York rapper YL’s NTS series 100 Elements in the last few days.
Kaash Paige: Teenage Fever
Kaash Paige’s idea of being a teenager isn’t that deep. Most of the time the 19-year-old Dallas singer sounds like she could just be wailing about an episode of Euphoria. On the final track of her debut album, Teenage Fever, she melodramatically describes the title condition as a mix of “depression, relationships, love, hate, drugs.” The explanation could have been co-written by the team that comes up with T-shirt slogans at Forever 21, but it’s forgivable once you hear her lively melodies delivered over soothing production. Some songs, like “London,” have been on loop in my head endlessly, though I keep returning to her collabs with rappers, especially “Fake Love,” with the on-fire 42 Dugg, and “Problems,” assisted by the enigmatic Isaiah Rashad. Kaash Paige may not yet be able to take us on an all-too-real emotional journey à la SZA, but that sort of thing takes time. The sweet-sounding songs of Teenager Fever are good enough for now.
ShittyBoyz and TRL: “Turnt Shit”
There’s no structure to ShittyBoyz and TRL’s “Turnt Shit.” It sounds like they didn’t want to pay for extra studio time so they squeezed six rappers into a single booth and made them fight over one mic. The two youthful Detroit rap crews could care less about hooks or the anatomy of making a song; they’d rather focus on talking the most shit in the shortest amount of time possible. Shittyboyz (Babytron, StanWill, and TrDee) work a mixtape’s worth of punchlines into the three minutes, while TRL (Drich, MoneyMaidMar, and JT) elevate their one-liners with breezy flows. Structure is overrated.
Three screenshots from Drake’s “Laugh Now Cry Later” video that need to be addressed
The Chrome Hearts jersey
It was only a matter of time until the basketball jersey by rap’s favorite high-end brand Chrome Hearts was unveiled, and I’ve been spending the last few months trying to figure out who would be the first to rock one. Here were my guesses:
- Bol Bol, the 20-year-old A$AP associate who was drafted to the NBA in a suit made by Young Thug.
- Bloody Osiris, the Instagram fashion overlord who recently debuted Chrome Hearts dice.
- The Sierra Canyon high school basketball team, filled with teenage celebs like Bronny James.
But no, it was Drake. I can’t believe it.
Even when Drake was dancing in a turtleneck or organizing a Degrassi reunion, he never wanted to be a meme this bad.
The Nike Store
At this point, there’s not much of a difference between the Drake brand and Drake music. Shots of Drake browsing the selection at the Nike Company Store (I’m sure it’s been at least a decade since he’s pushed a shopping cart) let you know that this is an advertisement first, and a single to his upcoming album second. But the power of Drake is that you can see right through him and not even care. If this were any other summer, I would’ve probably screamed, “Sometimes we laugh and sometimes we cry, but I guess you know now, baby,” and Lil Durk’s “Bring Drake to the hood, surround Drake around Dracs,” over a too talkative DJ about five times by now.
DCG Bsavv, DCG Msavv, and DCG Shun: “Mmhmm”
Big things are happening on the West Side of Chicago this year. Pronto Spazzout reimagined Soulja Boy’s “Donk.” The Heavy Steppers became one of rap’s essential duos. And DCG started an astonishing singles run. The trio balances the brutality of Chicago drill with a goofy sense of humor that’s alternately dark and goofy. On their most recent single “Mmhmm,” DCG breezily compete to see who can squeeze the most threats and boasts into their short verses. In the lighthearted video directed by Josh Jones, the group goofs around on a golf course in outfits I could imagine Will wearing to the country club in The Fresh Prince. You can’t find three rappers having more fun right now.
Jadakiss is already my favorite superhero
Welcome back, Ralfy the Plug
Of all the baffling and unjust things about the Drakeo the Ruler murder trial, the involment of his brother, Ralfy the Plug, has always been especially confusing. Despite not being charged with murder, Ralfy was corralled with the rest of the Stinc Team, and put behind bars. According to journalist Jeff Weiss’ layout of the trial, the prosecution justified Ralfy’s inclusion by building up a bunch of small and inconsequential offenses against him, like a story about a shopping spree with stolen credit cards. More than two years since Drakeo, Ralfy, and the Stinc Team were arrested, Ralfy has finally been granted his freedom. Within days of his release he dropped “Closing Arguments,” which balances hyperbolic stories with reflections on his horrific situation. “Free Drakeo, judge know we innocent, too,” he raps on an anxious beat from JoogSzn and AceTheFace. Similar to his raps from two years ago, Ralfy sounds laid back and unbothered. You would never be able to tell that he’s been fighting for his life for way too long.
Originally Appeared on Pitchfork