Image via OMB Peezy/Instagram
There are a lot of very good rappers, but Harley Geffner says Rx Papi is the only consistently great rapper to him right now.
It’s only a matter of time before this column is re-titled “The Rx Papi report.” He’s just that consistent with incredible stories, anecdotes, and wordplay. Plus, his ear for beat selection is unmatched. This week’s Papi pick is all about one of his recurring auntie characters, Lisa. His auntie characters are typically these nebulous beings that are users or sellers of Papi’s drugs, but Lisa gets a little more color here. Her backstory is sad, and Papi watched her life play out from the time he was a little kid. She was best friends with his mom and had a normal job. Pap looked up to her, then she started using drugs and as he put it “went on a date with Lucifer.” She lost her job, got deeper and deeper into the drugs, and eventually couldn’t afford them anymore, so now she works for Papi. None of this story is delivered with any judgment – to Papi, things just are the way they are. It’s not even sad to him, it’s just a thing that happened.
Much of the song takes place in the kitchen, and it’s mostly about their interactions there. Pap tells her to stand back while he’s cooking. She gets high and they talk about his childhood, then he has her running around grabbing bags and doing deliveries. Papi has a soft spot for her, so she gets the piece from the middle of the brick to satiate her itch. Papi is a level 10 at basically every individual skill that makes someone a great rapper, but it’s his world-building that sets him apart from all the other 10/10 rappers making music right now.
Peezy could have been a cautionary tale. He’s had some close calls, having lost it all and gained it back multiple times. The lesson he wants to pass on to everyone else is simple: keep your head down and focus on the paper. Don’t get too caught up smoking weed or drinking lean that you stop paying attention to what’s going on around you – that’s how you end up stuck or in jail. Don’t get caught up in beef, or too into blowing your money to impress others. He admits to making mistakes along the way (the type that made his grandma’s heart race), but doesn’t want you to make the same ones. Build ways to generate income, save your money for a rainy day, and keep yourself focused on your goals. Then you too, one day, could live the life he’s living, full of models, foreign cars with paper tags, and properties in different states.
Ruben Slikk lives in an alternate dimension where retweeting porn everyday, doing crack in deserts nobody’s ever heard of, and going by CUMLORD or JIZZBOSS are all standardfare. His career has been basically impossible to follow the way he sometimes sporadically and sometimes prolifically releases music through multiple accounts on too many platforms to keep track of. It’s also partially due to his BPD, leading to sporadic jail time and housing instability. He’s an underground rap legend with a dedicated fanbase on Discord, Reddit, and 4chan, but last I heard from him, he was living in his car and delivering pizzas.
“VOLVATE” is the first video he’s posted to his official YouTube channel in over 5 years, and like much of his best music, it’s all atmosphere. Even if you did understand the indo-caribbean language (commenters identified it most likely as an offshoot of Haitian Creole) most of this song is delivered in, the words, melodies, and beat all blend into one wave of sound, overwhelming the senses with a dissociative calm. It feels like when you’re driving a curvy road on a sunny day and lose all track of time, place, and awareness. The visuals blend reality with his animated dimension and accentuate the spacey feel of the song. It’s a comeback for Slikk, and is just a peek into the eccentric way he sees the world.
There’s something that feels so authentic about these one shot, one mic type videos. Little interstitials when you see an artist feeling a beat or say “yeah keep it goin’” to the engineer make it feel like you’re right in the room with these artists as they tell you about their struggles. OMB Peezy feels familiar, like a friend telling you the intimate details and the lasting emotions from a bad breakup. He starts out venting with a soaring hook about the fear of losing himself, and continues, with his face contorted in pain, about his loneliness, crying for someone to take him back to a place where he feels support. The antagonist is a woman who was only using him for his status, and he fell for it. Falling in and out of love with this woman, he lost respect for himself.
Then Peezy takes a turn and realizes all the shit he had been through to this point had prepared him for this moment. The second half of the song shifts from pain rap to “I’m the man” type rap as his mind battles itself to push past the hurt. It’s a recognizable struggle, trying to reason your way out of the pain, and OMB Peezy flashes both sides of the coin masterfully with his silky melodies.
“Down” is what happens when a Cali rapper goes slow dancing. Lil Maru, hailing from San Diego, operates at his own speed, slowing his bars to a crawl, but staying in full control of the song like Kyle Anderson operating in the paint. It’s not that his presence is sparse on the track, but he clicks into the open space of the beat so smoothly that his voice is almost like a flourish to the wallpaper of the beat than anything that fills the room itself. It’s late night background music, and you’re meant to fill the room with your own memories to it.