Listening Post #1

by Alex Brammer

Photo: Skepta

Credit: HowlandEchoes

1. Meek Mill – Trap Vibes

Alright, I’m gonna start off my time with this column in much the same way as I mean to go on – with a shitload of hip-hop that nobody else likes. This is the latest chapter in the year-long beef between Drake and Meek Mill, and without getting too deep into the details of the beef, this track is proof that Meek is winning, no matter what the memes say. During the course this track Meek disrespects Drake on his own “Summer Sixteen” beat before transitioning seamlessly into a remix of dab king Desiigner’s “Panda”. As with any recent trap smash, it’s really not the – admittedly weak - lyrics where the genius lies; it’s all in the delivery, and Meek’s sounding as pissed off as ever.

2. Meyhem Lauren – Garlic & Oil (feat. Action Bronson)

Meyhem Lauren and Action Bronson have a chemistry that you don’t find between many rappers; perhaps a result of growing up together in Queens, New York, when they collaborate it’s never anything less than a hell of a lot of fun. “Garlic and Oil” is one of the standout collaborations between the two; over the bombastic, pitched-up NY production that Bronson is known for picking, Lauren weaves a traditionally hard-hitting East Coast tale. “Take the hammer off a n**** waist/ I’m off the scene, I’m seen when I’m supposed to be”, so far so standard. But Bronson’s ridiculous feature on this track is what elevates it to something more: following up such raw Mafioso rap with lines like “sheep still sleep by the creek/ Crocodile infested but to me it’s just a bunch of boots” is difficult to make old.

3. Skepta – Crime Riddim

Konnichiwa was never going to be the massive upset for grime that the genre desperately needs to kickstart some innovation, but that doesn’t mean that conventional grime can’t be a hell of a lot of fun, and “Crime Riddim” doesn’t disappoint, with an old-school grime beat made infinitely harder by the sound of guns and sirens in the background. Meanwhile, Skepta brings us on a tour of his hometown that it’d be difficult for anybody else to replicate: “What you know about four man in a cell? Couldn’t sleep/ Spending pennies in the pissing well.” This is as uniquely London as “Shook Ones Part II” is New York, avoiding the US rap stereotypes that Skepta gives into elsewhere on Konnichiwa.

4. joji – unsaved info

Joji is a fun mixture of Nujabes and Frank Ocean with a millstone around his neck – the fact that he’s most famous as the man behind YouTube’s The Filthy Frank Show, a web series featuring videos with titles like “VOMIT CAKE” and “DUMBASS GETS PEWDIEPIE TATTOO”. Bear with me, though – he’s also a fantastic talent wasted on his YouTube Jackass knockoff. In the course of this minute-long track, he drops a beautifully simple piano beat which feels a lot like a lo-fi, laidback version of DJ Shadow’s “Building Steam With A Grain of Salt”. His voice meshes perfectly with this beat, harmonising with a confidence that belies the lack of experience that his relatively scant back catalogue would suggest. With any luck, his next move will be an album instead of a sequel to “NUT BLASTER CHALLENGE (FIREWORKS ON MY BALLS)”.

5. beatboxbandit – on the moon

beatboxbandit is one of those tremendously underrated and underused talents that everyone comes across and champions at some point. He’s a fantastic beatmaker with a compelling sound – repeating bars sampled from various rap songs (in this case Chedda da Connect’s Vine anthem “Flicka da Wrist”) in the tradition of chopped and screwed, over heady beats which sound like a lost, lower-fi version of Harry Fraud’s best. This song’s only a minute and a half long, but’ll be in your head for days afterward.

Listen to the PearShaped Listening Post Playlist #1 below.