Pitchfork writer Alphonse Pierre’s rap column covers songs, mixtapes, albums, Instagram freestyles, memes, weird tweets, fashion trends—and anything else that catches his attention.
The music always lets you know
Ever since the NBA returned last month, the league has been sending mixed messages to its viewers. All you had to do was listen: During pre-games, post-games, timeouts, and commercial breaks, the unofficial theme song of the NBA bubble was Drake’s feel-good anthem “Laugh Now Cry Later”—but the mood was off. The NBA was trying to have the best of both worlds, sending out kumbuya vibes through Drake joyfully singing, “Sometimes we laugh and sometimes we cry, but I guess you know, baby,” while also co-opting statements the players were making against police brutality and racism. I suppose you could also put some of the onus on the players, who were naively optimistic that the corporate-approved “Black Lives Matter” plastered on the court and vapid messages like “peace” and “equality” on the back of jerseys would be enough to keep the issue at the forefront.
But after the police shot Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man, seven times in Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 23—and after 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse allegedly shot and killed two protestors in the same city two days later—the emptiness of such sloganeering became clear. In reaction, the Milwaukee Bucks players didn’t show up to their game on Wednesday afternoon, a historic moment which led to more cancellations that night. The very next day, though, it was reported that the season would resume, allowing NBA execs and owners to keep the money machine churning to the sound of a bubbly Drake song.
New drip alert
If there’s any news that will get me through another grueling August, it’s that Bbymutha is about to release a 25-track album called Muthaland. My anticipation has only grown after listening to “11:11,” where the Chattanooga, Tennessee rapper glides over a Paris Aden beat that sounds like it was made for summoning demons from the underworld. And just in case you didn’t know, Bbymutha is not with the cutesy shit—she thrives when rapping on beats with a mystical edge. “He go deep and see my demons/Now he want to have a threesome,” she raps in her gooey Southern delivery. Muthaland is a place I want to be.
An ode to the live rap show
I miss everything about live rap shows—even the shit I never liked. Even the 15-year-old from Long Island wearing a Vlone tee who gets kicked out for smoking a blunt before the show starts. Even the lazy DJ who plays three Lex Luger beats in a row while the crowd files into the venue. And yes, even the opening act that stays onstage for 20 minutes too long, leaving the headliner time to perform just four songs before security aggressively forces everyone to leave.
In February, less than a month before all venues went dark, I saw Sheff G live at Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre. He’s a rapper I’ve always liked, a lot, but when I left the show that night, he had become one of my favorites. It wasn’t because he rapped that well or was mindblowing on stage. It was just because I was surrounded by fans who truly loved his music, and that made me appreciate it more than I already did.
Who knows, if the pandemic never happened, maybe I would’ve seen Jack Harlow live, and instead of writing this I would be writing about why “WHATS POPPIN” is the song of the summer. (Probably not, but it’s a hypothetical, OK?) Or maybe I’d be making some meaningless hyperbolic statement like “42 Dugg is the greatest rapper under 5-foot-5” after watching him perform his “We Paid” verse to a sold-out crowd. Whatever it may be, live shows are not coming back anytime soon (or at least they shouldn’t be coming back anytime soon). I never realized I would miss them this much.
We need the Carl Wheezer SoundCloud page to post again
What music is on your most-anticipated wishlist right now? Certified Lover Boy? Isaiah Rashad? Kendrick? All of that sounds great, but you’re forgetting about something important: The Carl Wheezer SoundCloud page hasn’t been updated in four months. Oh, you want to know what the hell that is? Only if you promise not to judge me, OK?
So… it’s a SoundCloud page where a rapper emulating the high, nerdy voice of Jimmy Neutron’s Carl Wheezer croons about typical rap things. “Jimmy and Sheen be moving them keys,” wails Carl Wheezer on “It’s Carl Wheezer.” See, it’s not so bad. Or maybe it is?
ANKHLEJOHN: “Sammy the Sosa”
When I have a wrinkle-free tee, a crisp hairline, and enough cash for something nice to eat, I like to listen to ANKHLEJOHN. Despite his gloomy bars on “Sammy the Sosa,” the song has become one of my sunny day go-tos. “Half of my life I devoted to hiding my emotions/Till it exploded, couldn’t keep my exposure,” ANKHLEJOHN raps, wielding his grimy delivery over a K.EYE.D-produced loop warm enough to play during your Sunday morning house cleaning. He balances heavy reflections with an appreciative optimism, and on days when things are looking up, that’s how I feel, too.
The five funniest moments in Kasher Quon’s new song and video “The 80s”
- When Kasher turns on the stove, sets a $20 bill on fire, and lights his blunt with the bill
- When he raps, “My cousin turned weird, that nigga went and joined the Navy (weird as hell)”
- When, instead of shooting a free throw with a basketball—like a normal person—he uses a stack of money. (Michael Kidd-Glichrist would be proud of his form.)
- When the smooth jazz sample that sounds like it was taken from a ’90s sitcom theme song hits
- When he raps, “Just caught this bitch walkin’ out the mall with some shell toes,” more disgusted than Cam’ron was when he found out JAY-Z was born in 1969
YN Jay, aka the Coochie Man, can’t cross boundaries because he doesn’t have any. On “Reflection,” the Flint rapper thinks back on his coming-of-age moments, using a flow that sounds like someone taking too long trying to tell a story. He recounts the time he hurt his leg attempting to “beat her doonies down,” the time he disappointingly spilled his drink trying to keep it steady during sex, and the time he tried to “hit her from the side” with his leg in the air—like a dog peeing on a tree. In the music video, he adds emphasis to these tales by narrating them as he humps an exercise ball, the ground, and a stack of money (in that order). Jay is then joined by Louie Ray, whose anecdotes are even more demented because they’re delivered so calmly: “Her coochie damn near was screaming back like, ‘You stretching me out.’” Did I mention Jay’s recent Coochie Land mixtape cover features the most disturbing-looking roller coaster I’ve ever seen?
Mo Money: “Deposits”
Mo Money has no downtime on “Deposits”—she’s either busy making business drives down to Idaho or securing a new credit card for the week. As a member of Detroit’s Big Godz collective, she’s always telling neverending, hyperbolic stories about her get-rich-quick schemes. “When I’m outta town, only time I get me some peace,” she raps, and since she’s generally living like a secondary antagonist in an ’80s action movie, this seems believable.
Originally Appeared on Pitchfork