Now that “A Milli” has ceded the city’s car stereos and HOT 97s to “Pop Champagne” and “Arab Money,” it’s possible to notice once again how extensively bonkers and unlikely this track was when it hit–unbelievably tinny keyboard handclaps, a big brute force loop, repeat, like, 1000 times. Whether the track’s existence had to do with the newly democratic pricing of home production equipment or the half-done, tossed-off legacy of an internet that coughs up 150 freestyles an hour, it was evident that the aesthetic was here to stay. 808s is in retrospect a post-“A Milli” record; so is a 2008 Ron Browz.
This was fun the first time around. But then you also realized that arguably the best posse cut of the year was a BET Cypher most notable for the fact that it got all four rappers on the cut in the same room at the same time, and that “Swagger Like Us” sucked because it patently didn’t, and then maybe you stopped being so high on the redemptive potential of whatever rappers and producers could make from a prone position in their respective bedrooms and just started wishing that “the studio” was a concept that still meaningfully existed.
Swizz Beatz looping some noisy, low-fidelity racket as a trademark technique predates “A Milli,” of course, but you know that guy’s been grinning since he heard it, and it is with terror that one clicks on “Up In This Club,” SB’s newest with Lil Wayne. And not just because Swizz raps on rap records these days instead of merely producing them. If there’s any rapper who needs less of an excuse to be terrible than Swizz, it’s Lil Wayne, and lo and behold, here we have 2009’s first guaranteed migraine headache. Not just for Swizz’s non-hook or the 8-bits-underwater wobbly nightmare these two are rapping over, but for the undeniable fact that this song is not a song at all but instead a collection of random, irritating noises. I think this is the year Wayne falls off harder than Nas.