Hip-hop is at its best when artists collaborate, challenging one another to create their best work, and this week’s best hip-hop tracks are highlighted by a collection of odd couples. DJ Khaled, of incessant yelling and inexplicably giving Ace Hood work, managed to put Nas, Scarface and DJ Premier on the same song; meanwhile, Odd Future upstart Domo Genesis linked up with New York producer legend Alchemist.
1. A$AP Rocky, “Pussy Money Weed”
A$AP Rocky is, in some ways, a victim of circumstance. After all, it’s not his fault he received a lucrative deal at the same time that other relative unknowns like Kreayshawn and Igga Azalea were signing multimillion-dollar contracts before they gave any indication of skill residing in their newly wealthy frames. Once A$AP Rocky’s deal with Sony got announced, he got lumped into the “Overpaid, Talentless Hack” categor. But let’s not get it twisted: He has gallons of talent. His first big single of the summer, “Goldie,” is an anthem and his follow-up, “Pussy Money Weed,” packs just as much punch and may even be more universally accepted.
While many will knock A$AP using chopped and screwed music, since it’s more Houston than New York, the Harlem MC has been able to blend his style with the syrupy southern twang that’s dominated the charts over the last decade. And you know what? He pulls it off, serving up an amalgamation of New York wit and lyricism and the south’s bass-heavy bangers. By the time his album drops, A$AP will be nipping at the heels of the game’s top dogs.
2. Slaughterhouse, “See Dead People”
Slaughterhouse can just rap forever and nobody will complain. Royce Da 5’9″, Crooked I, Joe Budden and Joell Ortiz are four of the best rappers in the world and they can’t get enough showing us just how good they are. Here they rap for eight freaking minutes, daring the listener to consider listening to any other rap crew and finding anything better.
The influence of Eminem is evident on this track, where the crew turns homicidal. Royce cuts off his enemy’s fingers and mails them to his kids. Ortiz buries some guy’s testicle. And Joe Budden manages to avoid referencing the latest American tragedy and opts instead to drop Hitler references. Much better.
3. DJ Khaled Feat. Nas, Scarface and DJ Premier, “Hip Hop”
It’s so easy to hate DJ Khaled—like, really hate him. He yells out N-words, screams through songs and possesses seemingly no talent whatsoever. Actually, it’s almost impossible to figure out exactly what his talent is. Most of Khaled’s albums are littered with posse cuts from a bevy of horrible rappers (Plies and Ace Hood most notably) and trite, boring verses from rappers mailing it in.
That’s why this track is so unexpected and great. There doesn’t seem to be any place for Nas, Scarface and DJ Premier to pull together a track on a DJ Khaled album, but somehow it works. And while songs personifying hip-hop as a scorned lover have been done ad nauseum, Scarface and Nas bring welcome fresh air to the concept. It’s quite nice to see Khaled using his forces for good.
3.66 Domo Genesis Feat Freddie Gibbs and Prodigy, “Til The Angels Come”
Here’s the traditional hierarchy of Odd Future importance: Tyler, The Creator; Frank Ocean; Earl Sweatshirt; everyone else. But Domo Genesis may have changed that with his newest project, No Idols, produced by Big Apple mainstay Alchemist. For this particular track, Domo enlists the ever-prolific Freddie Gibbs and Prodigy.
Nine times out of 10, any person who hops on a track with Gibbs is D.O.A., murdered as soon as the Indiana-born buzzsaw utters his first bars. Somehow, against all odds, Genesis does the unthinkable and stands toe-to-toe with Gangsta Gibbs, layering visual upon visual while juggling rhymes like Tom from Tom & Jerry used to do with falling kitchenware.
If the song ended with Gibbs’ verse, all would have been well. That wasn’t the case, though, as Prodigy shows up to remind us just how far the legendary Mobb Deep crew has fallen. We can blame the descent on age, stupid Twitter feuds, or jail bids, but the fact remains: The Mobb Deep crew is in crisis, and Prodigy’s lackluster verse is the latest piece of audible evidence.