Today, for the first and possibly the last time, I’ve compiled (almost) all of the songs featured in this edition of Ringometrics into a folder which I’ve zipped and you can download here. Not the Kanye song, cos I’m slagging that one off so what would be the point of keeping the MP3? what’s left is a pretty damn fine half hour of music, if I say so myself, and I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed compiling it. No cover, cos I have all the artistic ability of a blind goldfish. Got it? Good. Here’s your sleevenotes…
Manga? From Roll Deep? Honestly, I’m not even sure I can remember which of their tracks he was on. That’s how much impression he made on me before the last couple of months and a trickle of solo videos that made me think he’s got something. Energetic, deadpan. Experienced and assured from years of hiding in the crowd with Roll Deep yet fresh like someone who’s pleased to finally be standing out front on his own. Friendly, approachable, without descending as far as his crew have in some of their cheesier moments.
His new single ‘London City‘ is on point, relevant without labouring it too much. There’s plenty of folks talking about the hustle and I’m sure their grind is impressive and oppressive both, but then they spit cliches to make you figure, ‘yeah, you’ve hustled, you’ve been on your grind, but do you have the brainpower to reflect on what you’ve done or do you let others do your thinking for you?’ Expect no such bullshit from Manga.
It’s the final verse that really caught me here, starting with ‘the city that I’m living in, everything’s an image ting‘. It’s not a showy, he doesn’t use any big words. But most every line demands a co-sign, quote marks and bold type cos he’s not just talking about his hood, he’s revealing some pretty basic stuff about human nature. ‘Look like you are even if you ain’t living it, become a victim if you ain’t fitting in‘, indeed. He talks about what he’s seen ‘on JSA, now they’re here popping bottles‘, the cruelest depths of self-delusion, ‘girls take two pics and now they think they’re models‘ and the bottom line, ‘but they don’t get a wage, it’s a beautiful struggle‘. When he does get to the cliche it’s all the more powerful cos he’s addressing not just the word hustle but the hot air of every two-bit player mouthing allegiance to a rigged game. When Manga says ‘hustle‘ at the end of his verse it’s bittersweet to death.
- Nitty Scott’s ‘Bullshit Rap‘ is stylish like the next dopest 80s fixated NYC femcee. She’ll never let this game turn her to a clown. She wouldn’t give a flying fuck on an airplane with a porn star. Unfortunately her promotional game isn’t as strong. That free mixtape ‘Doobies & Popsicle Sticks’ she was giving away last year? It’s now being blocked by Hulkshare and Mediafire for ‘copyright violations’. Nitty, if you’re reading this, the man doesn’t want me to hear your music cos he’d rather I went out and bought the new Nicki Minaj album or something. Any chance of a re-up?
- Must. Learn. Not. To listen with my dick. #2: Lil Debbie & Riff Raff’s ‘Squirt‘. Debbie? That’s the womyn who Kreayshawn kicked out of her White Girl Mob. She can make it squirt, y’know. This one’s more difficult to judge than last week’s edition with Azealia Banks cos Debbie’s nowhere near as lyrically dextrous. Let’s face it, I don’t think Nitty Scott MC would approve. Debbie does have… a certain charm, though. Selected YouTube comments, retrieved 06/04/12. HazmatSecurity says “Oh my god, Lil Debbie is so gorgeous“. KZA1337 says “I’ll make lil debbie squirt any day“. OMGwoahOMG offers up a fair expression of the ‘apples & oranges’ defence in Debbie’s favour, “punchline rap isn’t supposed to be this skillful performance art … it’s just nice to hear and laugh about“. jackmarkmcgill has other things on his mind, “u no tht chick gets fuckd rawly“. Does she, now? I wonder what gave you that idea, Jack?
- Even in my bleakest moments I find it hard to hate on pop grime. Even when I’m sleepless at 2AM watching some naff appearance from Wretch 32 on children’s TV wishing I had sedatives. Cos without pop grime you wouldn’t have the glorious headcases reacting against it. You wouldn’t have the hardcore elite. You wouldn’t have Liverpudlian emcee Kasst’s ‘Grime To The Bone‘.
- The more solo stuff I hear from Footsie the more I like him. It would have been easy for Newham Generals less distinctive emcee to get bogged down in complaints about other folks being more succesful than him, but no, he just gets on with making you dance, ignoring that queasy feeling he’s gotten from too many drinks or spliffs or whatever and chanting ‘life’s short, I’m going to have some fun‘. Amen to that. (‘Have Some Fun‘)
- I pity anyone signed to Kanye’s label. I mean, I pity anyone signed to a boutique label full stop. Chances are they got their position cos the boss reckon they weren’t competition, plus if they do somehow manage a great record it’ll get taken by the boss, surely? It all makes you wonder how Cyhi Da Prynce’s ‘A-Town‘ got through. Okay, so Kanye’s not from Atlanta, so he’d have to adapt it a bit but ‘C-Town’ would still work. I’m glad he didn’t. Cyhi is decent if a little ordinary, but B.o.B. is exceptional here, ‘high like eagle pussy‘ the best I’ve heard him in an age.
- Even though I’m not much in the mood for earnest rap today ‘Speak It Vivid‘ by Odd Couple featuring Skyzoo hits the spot on purely musical terms. The verses are just icing here, the truly irresistable pomp is buried deep in the track. Something about that massive organ. Pause. Ambiance music, ironically.
- Did obscure Chicago emcee Choppa Da Goon just refer to his penis as a ‘wee wee‘ on ‘Out Hea‘? I think he did.
- My brain isn’t working right. Too many hours staring at this damn LCD. Nightmare visions of Kanye invading my consciousness, a hostile takeover of my imagination. Did I read that NY rapper T.Shirt had done a version of Mr West’s epic whinge ‘Coldest Winter’? For a second it’s frighteningly real, but no. He’s way too cool for that. Thank fuck. They don’t do cold, his winter is ‘The Coolest Winter‘. Get the fuck up off the computer, he’s saying. Maybe I should listen?
- It’s a never ending mission, trying to figure out why one record sparks an obsession where another just makes me feel sick. Take Kanye West’s ‘Theraflu‘. I don’t need to listen to it twice to know it’s garbage. Thing is, all the things that irritate me about it, Kanye’s arrogance and his tediously vacuous materialism, these things are the same elements that made me love his verse on ‘No Church In The Wild’ to the point where I’ve memorised it. Trying to figure out why the difference in response means grappling with a whole bunch of intangibles. I don’t think it’s the music, some guy I’ve never heard of called Hit Boy’s done a perfectly decent job on ‘Theraflu’. Maybe it’s something in Kanye’s tone of voice, the way he doesn’t really sound awake. Maybe without Jay to spur him on he can’t be bothered to give his all these days. Posse cut ‘Mercy‘ where Kanye’s joined by his G.O.O.D. music weed carriers Big Sean, Pusha T and Tity Boi 2 Chainz is a lot better but not on first listen exceptional.