Image via SieteGang Yabbie/Instagram
Harley Geffner thinks about André 3000’s verse on “Life of the Party” a lot.
If it wasn’t already apparent from the reaction to Sexyy Red’s raunchy “Pound Town” the past month or so, it’s going to be a Red summer. If you were adding up rapper points, the St. Louis native checks every box for a superstar run like Ice Spice and GloRilla before her. The technical mastery of flows and ability to put together catchy, chantable hooks is apparent on “SkeeYee.” If you listen closely, you can already hear the faint sound of DJs scaling back the volume for crowds to yell “SKEEYEE.” It’s not just the technical stuff though, it’s the type of intangibles that make someone a star that stand out with her. It’s her instincts on a track, the unapologetic swagger shooting gas station and daily hood life type videos, the way her voice sounds high class, but down and dirty at the same time. It’s the type of music to go buckwild to, and “SkeeYee” might be her most exciting yet.
The spark of joy is so real with the Philly Goats that it’s contagious. It reminds me of when Flint rap first started popping off and you could feel through the screen how much fun the rappers were having – to the point that listening to it brought that joy into your own life.
The Soul Train inspired music video for “Get Off The Wall” is perfectly executed, from the outfits to the colored television bars to the glow emanating from all the players. The song has barely a single good bar in it, but who cares? The dancing is mesmerizing as everyone hits little variations to the classic club rap moves while singing along to a supercharged Club-ified “Get Down On It.” It’s not even cynical nostalgia-bait, it’s just a bunch of dudes having a good time together and spinning a classic.
San Diego’s SieteGang Yabbie, aka Mr. Foot because he’s always stepping, has so many different musical moods he can tap into. His R&B stuff is sometimes underwhelming, but when he goes full tilt on the aggressive rapping, there’s nobody better.
On “Play If You Wont,” he walks a tightrope, practically yelling like an energized Sada Baby but keeping it cool with a distinctly Cali bounce to his flows – at times even breaking out some Too $hort pimp type raps. His flows and the way he swaps them in and out so cleanly are intoxicating. There’s some messy narrative stuff that’s not fully comprehensible, but he looks cool as hell dangling his foot chain around some scaffolded sidewalk and sounds cool as hell with how unpredictable he is in this song.
ZayBang’s voice is scratchy and war-weary. He’s done it all, seen it all, and is proud to be still standing to tell the stories. All through his new tape, Free Keith: Deeper Than Music, Zay paints a picture of a life informed by neglect, betrayal, heartbreak, and the carceral state. It runs deep with him, and you can hear it in his voice how much these peak of human emotion events have shaped him.
Never is it more real than on one of the tape standouts, “Have You Ever,” in which he uses a simple prompt to ask if we can relate to all the things he’s been through. He’s looked up to killers and seen them gunned down; he’s done time for things he didn’t choose to do, and he’s fed entire neighborhoods. Zay’s beat selection grounds the highs and lows of his stories here with a sentimental-feeling piano riff and some weighty bass holding it down.
“Better Days” is straight meditative. The beat feels like you’ve been sucked into a cybernetic vortex where all your problems drift into oblivion. It’s nirvana, achieved extraterrestrially, and Shawny amplifies the effect with some hazy rapping about elevating his homies by signing a record deal. It clocks in at a minute 42 seconds, but the second half is just slowing the hook to a crawl, and playing it out like a dream sequence.