Listening Post #2

by Alex Brammer

1. Gucci Mane – First Day Out Tha Feds

Even if you don’t like trap music, you’ve gotta respect Gucci Mane. This guy has birthed the careers of half the hip-hop heavyweights, including giving early boosts to Future, Waka Flocka Flame and Nicki Minaj. But the real beauty of Gucci is his total inability to care about anything other than old-school trap. He’s got the kind of deep-running connections and influence that most rappers can only dream of, yet he’s not cranking out the same-old pop tunes which could make him millions. Instead we get this, a pumped-up, leaner Gucci who’s spent his two years in prison hungering for the studio, and an empty minute of instrumental that’s just begging for Soundcloud’s struggle rappers to stutter over. The Trap God is back to reclaim the crown from mumblers like Future, and it’s going to be exciting to watch.

2. Death Grips – More Than The Fairy (feat. Les Claypool)

I thought that Bottomless Pit was a bit of a disappointment for Death Grips. It was the tipping point where their mysterious, Satanic aesthetic finally gave up the ghost (perhaps an appropriate metaphor for a band so obsessed with the occult?). In short, Bottomless Pit is to Death Grips what Goblin was to Tyler The Creator. But after Goblin came arguably the best Odd Future album, Wolf, and in just the same way it looks like the next Death Grips release will be fighting back against the encroaching laziness. Les Claypool of Primus’s lit a fire under the band, and the resulting track is a glorious mess that I’m going to enjoy picking apart over the next few weeks. It’s covered in N***** On The Moon-style vocal samples, Government Plates-style pitch-shifts and the freshness of Exmilitary. This is the first time I’ve been excited by Death Grips in a while now, and I didn’t even like the last record. I can only imagine what fans must be thinking.

3. BADBADNOTGOOD – Confessions Part II (feat. Colin Stetson)

BADBADNOTGOOD are one of those bands that are intensely difficult to classify – neo-jazz? Neo-soul? Instrumental hip hop? Moreover, who actually cares? It’s far more fun to argue about the music itself than it is to argue about which little box it should be put in. In any case, this track is absolutely a need-to-hear if you’ve got even the slightest interest in any of the genres I mentioned. Alex Sowinski is a human drum machine, and Colin Stetson’s feature on here bears just the right amount of resemblance to the rap covers of BBNG and BBNG2 to not feel out of place.

4. ScHoolboy Q – THat Part (feat. Kanye West)

THat Part is ostensibly a single from ScHoolboy Q’s upcoming album, but I’m not entirely unsure that it wasn’t just a lost loosie from a different life’s version of The Life Of Pablo. Certainly, West impresses both in lyrics and delivery for the first time in a good while – he hasn’t been this good since 2015’s Tyler The Creator feature Smuckers, and he remains the only rapper to get away with starting a verse by shouting “Okay” six times in a row. That isn’t to say that Q doesn’t deliver – after all, he’s been delivering on this kind of finely-stretched dark trap beat since radio smash Man Of The Year. But after disappointing on The Life Of Pablo (“bleach on my T-shirt” lines, anyone?), it’s West who steals the show.

5. Delmer Darion – Haze (feat. Emily Burns)

My love for this track is well-documented, having written on this specific song for PearShaped in the past, and in the wake of their Poltimore set, it feels like it’d be an insult to skip out Delmer Darion on here. Longtime collaborator Emily Burns makes this track her own (this really seems like the week of features stealing the show, doesn’t it?) and swaps out the melancholy of Wolves to give us an upbeat bit of fun instead. Don’t write it off as a pop track, though – the subtlety and melancholy that is DD’s trademark is still there. If you have to keep an eye on one South West-based band, this is the one.

Check out the PearShaped Listening Post #2 Playlist below.