INT. - A CORNER OF THE INTERNET
Michael: You know critics don’t have to like shit, right? And you’ont gotta like us?
Account: I mean, duh. So why are we still talmbout this? Nigga, ain’t you a critic?
M: (stares at avi, mutters with uncertainty) Ni-... (types back) I’m a rapper and a critic.
A: Tuh… they make those?
M: I actually come standard-issue, hence the proclivity to talk my shit, and the sensitivity to match it once someone keeps that same energy about me.
A: I ain’t met na’an rapper ever wanted to be a critic more than a damn rapper. You new niggas different.
M: It’s a job. A job I like. You know how many great writers also wrote crit while they did other shit that wasn’t their writing, specifically?
A: You’re a rapper! That’s all you should be good for!
M: What, I don’t struggle enough for you? You want me to wear my hunger like a Patek as you ignore me until I wither and die just to tweet my shit after it?
A: The struggle? The uppity New Black Nigro with the liberal arts degree know struggle now! From them four eyes and them fingertips clackin’ against them fuckin’ screens! Struggle!
M: U- Uppity… Nigro? Which BET rerun did you catch to learn that shit, white boy? (Big Drako voice)Uppityyyyyyy?!?
A: At ease, snowflake, I’m 6 percent sub-Saharan African. Shove that up the fourth wall of your post-modern meta asshole!
M: ...You’re 6 percent a whole fraction of a whole continent?
A: Nigga, I sai-
M: ** New Black**? You gave a website your DNA, your Black Newer than mine, fuck! Your Niggerdom came deadstock, 400 Years OBO!
A: You seem rather trig-
M: I bet you like 6IX9INE! I bet you still like 6IX9INE! STOOPID!
“It’s not the heat, it’s the dust.” This man had a whole monologue about why poor folks don’t get their mail forwarded. And I haven’t even scraped the surface on how billy woods traverses Iraqi spider holes, leaked sex tapes of MLK, and a common straw purchase over Kenny Segal (another white man) guitar beats that unwind and trudge through the sludge of the world. The album’s baseline morbid and wickedly funny, fake laughing at itself once woods remembers he’s the punchline again. It’s post-traumatic stress and calling cards and playing no one in an arcade with no coins. It took the Armand Hammer works for me to dive fully into what woods had to offer; without argument, this is his best shit, and I’d recommend it to any willing party.
I’m currently up for tenure as Designated Rico Stan, and you know we stan a white man named Kenneth in this household. These 20 minutes feel more complete than hella albums doubling, tripling its stature. You hear Rico elevate her pen and her execution, and Kenny keeps the minimalism on hyperdrive with all the necessary energy to contain Rico’s craziness. The feat never feels insurmountable, and this shit will motivate the FUCK out a nigga no matter the CONTEXT. (It may have soundtracked a walk to the hookup, but I’m not snitchin’ on myself tho.) The Baauer inclusion was unexpected, but fie. However… the streets needed the Zack Fox feature. Also, the fact that Rico continues her streak of remixing older joints without making them corny? If you’re not rooting for her by now, you fuckin’ tweaked.
AOTW here. Haven’t I done enough to convert y’all to the ways of the DUMP GAWD?
We must continue to give our flowers to the OGs who persist through the noise, cuz this Quelle Chris album? This shit right here, nigga? It’s not only an extended meditation on the consequences of blicky usage… noooooo no, this is an act of reclamation as much as it’s an indictment. Quelle swing the gavel with the best of ’em, but this grimy journey doesn’t wallow in its own wounds. It crawls along on its own timing until seizing hope from the darkest clouds in a thankful heave inward for air. Also, this nigga gets busy as fuck. It’ll take a minute to tune into his frequency, but ain’t na’an nigga transforming words like that right now. This shit is so L.A. and so U.S.A.
This that kinda shit that make a nigga pine for the days when compilation albums weren’t minefields for certified mid. The Pivot Gang doesn’t traffic in floodin’ the streets with mid-grade whatsoever, and it shows! It’s a beat-rhyme crime spree a-la-Dumile, paired with a suave sonic palette resembling recent Pivot joints from Saba and Joseph Chilliams, respectively. It’s like if the Austin Green Line stop had a Gangsta Grillz, hosted by Uncle Remus. (No throwaway bars or weird-ass songs, the quality control go too crazy.) Speaking of Joey: he’s Finals MVP of this shit. The one-liners are otherworldly and bountiful. Watching these all-stars work for the fuck of it is a privilege that continues to prove so rewarding.
AOTW here. I haven’t seen the timeline split like this in a brick. Is it his best shit? Naw. Does most of it slap? Damn skippy.
There’s an amazing album somewhere within Kevin Abstract’s cum-chasing bones that’ll canonize him in the way he deserves to be. This album inches even closer to that one. The obvious growth jumped out. The production choices feel crisper and more natural to the gentler tones of Kevin’s voice. I love how much gayer this shit is! (The cum-chasing thing is from him, I ain’t jump out the window on that one.) I love how “Peach” became the breakout record cuz I love the idea of Dominic Fike flexin’ up on all of Industry Twitter by showin’ the chops off. (If his debut album slaps? HA!) And sometimes I wish Kevin would go for niggas throats on some rapper shit more consistently — hop on some jetsonmade? Working on Dying, perhaps? — but now isn’t the time and I hope he finds the peace he’s seeking.
It’s easy to fear the fallout of such a versatile artist pivoting toward a Too Big to Fail direction. Especially when that artist is Lizzo, who can pull off whatever the fuck she WANTS to do! Granted, the P4k clapback’s understandable — and not the wave — but there’s something to the worries within The Piece that Shocked the World last week. (The Natasha Bedingfield comparison? HELL NAW!) It’s not Lizzo that’s the problem at really any point of this album for me, but the sonic choices which make her feel like she’s placing her gifts in places that don’t do her justice. She can sang, she’s empowering as hell, and some of the beats feel too clumsy! Even the writing can be clumsy as the points come across! I don’t know how hard I’ma slap most of these joints, but she’s still great tho!
Michael Penn II (aka CRASHprez) is a rapper and a former VMP staff writer. He's known for his Twitter fingers.