Image via G.T./Instagram
Harley Geffner says that the lasagna marketing team went crazy with Garfield.
Going through the darkest parts of life allows one to see the brighter days for what they are. Trauma and tragedy breed resilience and an appreciation for life, and as we see so much tragedy surround rap as a genre and those deep in it, there’s an emotional weight that grounds much of the best rap.
With “Hold On,” from G.T.’s new album, I Owe It To Myself, that weight is apparent from the jump. The beat opens up with pitched vocals clipped to some weepy strings and light piano sent down from the stars, as G.T. opens his letter to his homie who’s no longer here. It has the feel of a call to catch up with an old friend on life, you know people getting older, others moving and fading away, and reminiscing on the good times past. Then he starts addressing his son, telling him how he wants the world for him and that he can do better than walking in his daddy’s shoes. I don’t know how else to say this, but it just feels so human. So when Herbo, whose superpower is humanization, hops in to tell us his stories, it just clicks. He raps about lying to his mom when his friend died in 8th grade that they weren’t aiming at him, the calculus of being willing to accept a serious bid in exchange for feeling safe with his weapon, the dreams of moving his family out of the hood realized, and the money spent on drugs to cope with loss. It’s an immediately classic Herbo verse, and makes too much sense next to G.T.’s soul-bearing bars.
Sada and Skilla live by one central tenet: get fresh, even if for no reason. Taking your girl to the grocery store? Grab them crispy SBs out the box. Chilling at the crib? Sounds like an occasion for a Gucci tracksuit. The hook works as a catchy call and response as Skilla flips through all his occasions for getting fly and exactly what he’s wearing. Their flexes feel so regular, it’s like, ‘yeah of course I’m still looking cooler than my opps in my old clothes.’ ‘Obviously, I’ve already got next season’s Amiri.’ Why do they need to stay so fresh, you might ask. Well to Skilla, it’s “all Dior for the days I used to be poor.” What a fun and refreshing song for the two friends to link back up on.
For being a paid beat placement, this beat is really fun. It’s a slower synthy club beat that sounds like it could soundtrack a Disney ride for rappers – in a good way. When Neph hones in on a central premise for his songs, he’s a killer. But even on these throwaway beat placements where he’s just freestyling and holds his stories for 3 bars at a time, it’s always an entertaining ride. He makes magic with this beat with his trademark blend of flexes (“wrist walk on water like jesus christ”), random barbs at people like Michael Blackson, and song cover art that’s just a random photo from the studio where everyone looks blazed out of their minds.
The real gem in this one though comes when he raps like a Shakespearean sonnet, “In my glock I trust, In my glock I bust, they like why you lookin at glocks? Cuz in my glocks I lust.”
Philly is truly one of the hottest regions in rap right now, and every crew cypher feels hotter than the last. This one, using the same sample as 50’s “Hustler Ambition,” is a tour de force of Nike Techs and sneak disses. FSdabender goes super saiyan, screaming into the mic about changing lives with his firearm, and each of the guys backs him up with chest puffing bars. It’s a real high energy blitz.
“SkeeYee” is already the hottest song of the summer (year), and this cyber-speed remix by Dj Ess takes it to another level. It smashes out the sound to make it sound like you’re listening to it on some crazy speakers hanging out the back of a pickup truck that’s somehow submerged underwater and emanating from the center of the Earth at the same time. Sexyy Red was just announced as joining Drake on all his remaining tour dates, and we can only hope she imparts this blown out remix taste on him so we can hear smashed up versions of Honestly, Nevermind (sorry Jeff, it was good).