Image via Money Man/Instagram
Donald Morrison doesn’t skip the Entourage theme song in his house.
In the Teddy Perkins episode from Atlanta’s second season, Darius attempted to defend rap music as a true art form to an lugubrious jazz musician played by Donald Glover in white face. “Every now and again, people just want to have a good time,” he says in defense of the genre. I’ve thought about this quote recently while scrolling through dozens of tweets on X, formerly known as Twitter, criticizing the perceived limitations of women who rap exclusively about sex and making money. I can’t tell if people just forgot how to have fun or if the algorithm on X is so poisoned that hateful, misogynistic takes are the only tweets that get rewarded with traction. Or maybe the new Cardi B and Meg Thee Stallion song is just that bad. A theory I could easily be convinced of.
Zoe Osama is definitely having fun on the star-studded “Underrated (Remix),” with Snoop Dogg, E-40 and the late MoneySign Suede. The beat has a distinct West Coast bounce to it that reminds me of early 2000’s Dr. Dre, and even comes complete with a Snoop Dogg verse where he refers to himself as Snoop Osama and brags about smoking weed in the White House “like Obama.” (What does he know?)
E-40 begins his verse by railing against peons, bozo’s, gilligans and weirdos, proving he’s still The Bay’s undisputed king of kid-friendly shit talking. Suede more than holds his own next to two certified West Coast legends, rapping that he was only six years old the first time he saw a murder scene. Suede was stabbed to death in a California prison earlier this year. It’s bittersweet to see his name next to artists like Snoop Dogg knowing he’s not around to enjoy his success.
Zoe is fast, crude and extremely horny for his part of the hook and song. It’s certainly not for everyone, but anyone who grew up on the West Coast listening to rap music knows it can get X-Rated at any moment. It’s ok to enjoy songs in the context they’re meant for. Not everything has to be serious, but it does have to be good. Luckily for Zoe I think “Underrated (Remix)” will likely be heard at parties around Los Angeles for the rest of the year.
“Original Pirate Material” has a certain soulful immediacy that I haven’t seen since Joey Bada$$ released 1999 more than 10 years ago. Milc is one of the rappers currently leading the way of a true-to-form Portland, Oregon Rap Renaissance, together with artists like Wynne and Mic Capes. The unofficial capital of the Pacific Northwest (sorry Seattle) has long lived in the shadows of California in terms of rap exports. Milc was born and raised in Portland and was once featured as a basketball prodigy in the AND1 Mixtape Vol. 7 in 2004.
Milc has released a few solid projects since returning to music in 2020, but none as polished as the upcoming The Fish That Saved Portland, a collab album with former Blue Sky Black Death producer Televangel. “Original Pirate Material” sees Milc painting a picture of a pill smuggling fine diner with a taste for Taco Bell and red wine. “Mild sauces on my dresser with 100 Grey Tesla’s,” he says.
The chorus, handled by Seattle’s AJ Suede, is perhaps my favorite part of the song, with Suede’s’s measured flow perfectly syncing with Televangel’s inspired production, which reminds me of when blog-era producers started channeling boom-bap for inspiration. The Fish That Saved Portland comes out on October 6. Yes, this song contains a shout out to Mike Skinner.
Nobody reading this is ready for the surprising emotional heft of Chudnyy’s Russian language spoken word verse at the end of Marjorie W.C Sinclair’s “Croatian Islands.” Like much of Sinclair’s work, this song snuck up on me and might be my favorite track I heard on YouTube this week. “There’s more to life than the finer things, Croatia Islands got me thinking about all kinds of things,” he says. It’s unclear if Sinclair has ever been to Hvar or Brač or any other Croatian Island, but it’s safe to say that collaborator Chudnyy most likely has.
Chudnyy is based in Berlin and has likely taken the short trek to Croatia many times as a traveling musician in Europe. I’d never heard of her before this collab, but a quick dive into her catalog is an excellent way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The beat, handled by T-Kewl, is as breezy and hypnotic as Split, Croatia is in the evening time.
Fans weren’t pleased when Earl Sweatshirt and The Alchemist shared their long-awaited collab album, Voir Dire, exclusively to digital marketplace Gala as an NFT at the end of last month. It seemed like a confounding move at first until I remembered Earl’s history of experimental releases and the various nontraditional ways he’s uploaded his music in the past. Either way, I haven’t listened to the tape and probably won’t until it’s released the good old fashioned way: on a Thursday at midnight, on Spotify, I mean Tidal, or whatever.
Luckily for fans such as myself, it appears the official release will feature two new songs with Vince Staples. The first of which, “Caliphate,” has Vince and Earl trading bars in verses that feel as if they’re happening in slow motion. The video, shot in grainy black and white, shows the two old friends dancing around in a greenhouse. Earl’s dense musings always sound best next to Vince’s wry dispatches from life in Los Angeles county jails and or the streets of Long Beach.
It’s been four years since Teejayx6 and Kasher Quon introduced scam rap into the wider lexicon. I don’t believe I’m alone when I say we’ve all heard enough. It’s genuinely surprising that someone like Punchmade Dev has any fans at all. The Detroit rapper seems to have made a name for himself by aping the aforementioned scam rap luminaries, as if everyone forgot 2020 happened at all.
Having said that, there’s something inherently catchy about Money Man’s latest ode to scamming, “Lil Nigeria,” which opens on a local news clip covering the recent hacking of MGM Resorts International. According to Bloomberg, the hack likely came from the “Scattered Spider’ network of hackers based in the United States and the United Kingdom, and not a Nigerian group. This is an undoubtedly offensive mistake to the many law abiding Nigerians hoping to distance themselves from the xenophobic stereotype that all Nigerians are scam artists, although it’s not surprising that this isn’t something Money Man is particularly concerned about. His double-time flow and quick delivery make the song a standout in the scam rap category, complete with a colorful video showing Money Man teaching a man completely covered in tattoos how to use a computer.