Please Jam: New York Rappers, Stay Out Of ATL and H-Town

    Pete Rock x Camp Lo ft. Ab-Soul “Don’t Ya Just Love It?” 

    JAMES: All of these artists graced Please Jam in the last few weeks and they are yet to disappoint. Pete Rock and Camp Lo dropped their collab 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s Pt. 2 on Tuesday after letting a few tracks leak early. This one hit the internet on Monday, and Ab fits right in with Sonny Cheeba and Geechi Suede, immediately picking up the flow where it left off.

    With all due respect to Pete Rock and Camp Lo, Ab-Soul is quickly becoming one of my favorite rappers. This doesn’t come close to his max verse-potential (though “the senile will remember me” made me laugh), but Pete Rock spoke about working with Ab to SPIN earlier in the week.

    When he came to New York he came by the studio while I was working on 80 Blocks. We were already discussing working with each other and he ended up liking a song he heard [that] I did for Camp Lo and I asked him if [he] would rock on something and he immediately picked 'Don't Ya Just Love It.' It was dope as he already knew the history of Camp Lo and was a fan and did it with no hesitation. He also played me his new album and I was blown away by his talent."

    So it makes perfect sense that Ab could mirror Camp Lo’s style because he was a fan; but, more importantly, his new material impressed Pete Rock. I don’t know when it’s coming, but I’m excited about it.

    VINCE: The intro for this joint sounds like Main Ingredient-era Pete Rock. He's always been the king of, like, this high-tide surf-wave of sampled audio. It'd be like a break beat with audio from James Brown, Don Cornelius, Jesse Jackson and Chuck Berry or something all layered and staggered over each other. Prior legends like Marley Marl did it before him, but, for many reasons, I associate that specific '90s hop sound to PR.

    Meanwhile, all three of these old dudes (Pete and Camp Lo) are spitting out some agile rhymes over that groove. It's actually kind of incredible on a few levels. For PR it's really impressive because his bars have never been the dopest — afterall, he's a producer. He's a pass-first point guard hanging 28 on this joint. But Cheeba and Suede are especially noteworthy. These dudes debuted almost 20 years ago and then fell off the map. Now they're back spitting bars that don't sound the least bit dated. It's like a first round draft pick (but not lottery pick) — who made the All-Rookie squad — disappearing from the NBA, going overseas and playing in Iran, and then coming back to the L in their mid-30s dropping 20 a game.

    The Black Hippy crew gets non-stop love on our site, so I'm not really too compelled to spend much time throwing more accolades Ab's way. You handled that, James. But he repped well.

    By the way, after the intro, the groove Rock settles into sounds like it was inspired by the basslines on "Fantastic" and "What It's All About" off Fantastic Vol. 2. Word to J Dilla.

    A$AP Ferg – “Hood Pope”

    JAMES: “Hood Pope” is the latest leak from A$AP Ferg’s upcoming mixtape Trap Lord (quick question, what is the difference between a Hood Pope and a Trap Lord?) due on August 20. It’s already been delayed once and now that a couple of songs are out there it looks like a legit date.

    I neglected to put his first single from the tape “Shabba” on Please Jam a couple of weeks back, a regrettable decision. “Hood Pope” isn’t quite as on par, but it’s also totally different. The A$AP crew from Harlem likes to delve into Houston-style production (see below) and this is another one of those crossovers. I think A$AP Rocky pulls it off better, but I also remember it taking me a few listens of Rocky’s Live.Love.A$AP to really enjoy it. So I’m not going to rule anything out, but what are you really supposed to do with a track that opens with “If you feel this sh*t, motherf*cker sing along,” and repeats it a few times? You pretty much have to be drinking or in the car.

    Bottom line, though: I’m looking forward to the full release.

    VINCE: Are you trying to bait me into personal reveals with that drinking in the car reference or something? Don't be slick, mate.

    Long story really short, though? This song bites. I like the A$AP crew, but Harlem should be ashamed of this. I, for one, am ashamed to live in Harlem. This joint sounds like Ferg made it while defecating. Or he made it for people to listen to while defecating. Or he defecated and dug this out of the log in the toilet.

    Boogz Boogetz x Trae Tha Truth – “H-Town”

    JAMES: You listened to the first fifteen seconds of this and wrote it off, right? I did too. I was two seconds away from switching it until the actual song came on. A goofy name like Boogz Boogetz didn’t help either.

    But this track is dope, and it also turns out Boogz isn’t from Houston at all, he’s from Queens. What inspired all these New York dudes to go down to Texas? I have no idea, but in this case I’m glad it’s happening.

    This kinda reminds me of last week’s King Chip track (“Fresh At My Funeral”), though. The production is top notch, and then we get a couple verses about weed, purple drank, sex and guns with a mandatory Pimp C shoutout. It’s a little formulaic.

    VINCE: I need to find out more about Boogz Boogetz before I go in on his music. This is the first I've heard of him. Did he grow up on Queens or was he just born there? Hearing tracks like this and that A$AP Ferg make me remember why the Pro Era crew is so refreshing. I can be hard on young Joey because I think he pumps too much material out to the public. I wish he'd just let folks starve a little and focus on that LP. But, when it's all said he done, the kid makes staunchly NYC hip-hop and deserves all the praise he gets; because the alternative is this Atlanta and Texas carpet-bagging that just really grinds my gears as a listener.

    If I had more time — or started working on this PJ edition when I planned — I probably would have axed this joint and swapped it with a personal selection. You ever heard of an artist named Ka, James? You will next week. (Update: I decided not to be lazy and sift through his other videos. Saw a joint (Turn Me Up”) from last summer featuring Queens legend Prodigy. No Houston influence. The beat used the oft-sampled flute (or clarinet) from the Mary Jane Girls’ “All Night.” Boogz sounded a lot like 50 on it. Video was weird though. Mad stock footage of Times Square. What person that ever lived in New York has anything other than disdain for Times Square?)

    Brianna Perry – “F*ckwithBriyouknowIgotit”

    JAMES: First of all, this is my favorite beat from MCHG, so this track gets a boost for me simply for that. Second, it’s about getting time for Brianna Perry’s debut album.

    Did you know she made her recording debut at age seven? Trina then picked her up and she’s been putting out mixtapes and random songs ever since, waiting for her bubble to get big enough to support an album. Though she’s been under the radar for a long time, she’s got tracks with Pusha-T, Rick Ross, Freddie Gibbs and Missy Elliot.

    At age 21, she’s already put out six mixtapes, and her work is evident. She’s goin’ in, with a slightly deeper voice than Angel Haze (below), which, especially on this beat, carries much more weight.

    It’s hard to go wrong with a good flow over an emphatic beat (aka the Rick Ross rule of thumb), but I’m more than impressed.

    VINCE: I had never heard of Brianna before this moment (props to her for going with her government name). She’s talented. I have no interest in hearing her music, though. This is, if I’m being honest, a product of chauvinism, at best, misogyny, at worst. It’s not intentional or malicious, but I can’t deny it. Western culture considers itself so progressive, but we are still shamefully beholden and conditioned to some pretty primitive ideas about gender roles.

    James you talk about Brianna’s voice. There are some male rappers that have voices completely devoid of husk – Jay Z, for one. But also cats like Chance the Rapper and Danny Brown. We don’t begrudge them for that, though. Deep down – and I apologize for pulling you in my vortex of chauvinism – we just dig men swaggin’ out with preposterous boasts, stroking gargantuan egos and have less of a stomach for it when it’s coming from women. It’s not right. I am a serious offender on this front.

    Hop has always been about masculinity to an almost comical degree…often, to a comical degree. And we never fully accept female versions of the delusionally grand emcee. This young lady is probably a technically doper rapper than A$AP Ferg, but I’d probably rather him on this joint. For shame. Then again, all my hand-wringing is a little disingenuous, because I don’t really have any plans on changing. Sorry, Bri. Stay at it, though.

    Angel Haze – “New Slaves”

    JAMES: See, right off the bat is that difference in the voice. Brianna Perry didn’t have to reduce the bass on her remix in order to hang with it… but that’s not really a fair comparison. What can Angel do about her voice?

    Well, as she does in this song, she can distort it, and more importantly spit out some effing lyrics, man. She’s going straight at it, no bullsht*t, no holding back, just the damn truth. I can feel the anger and frustration and listening to it raises your stress level.

    That’s what art is about. Making you feel something different. This is a damn protest song, which Kanye laid the foundation for in the original. Haze, however, doesn’t blame Alexander Wang, she’s going at the heart of the problem: Ourselves.

    Which makes me think a little bit about Harry Belafonte, who questioned why Jay Z isn’t using his platform to do such a thing. Hov’s response was that his presence was a gift, meant to uplift everyone. I cannot argue with that at all, and it’s his choice to use his image however he wants.

    I just can’t help but wonder if Jay Z delivered this kind of wake up call, though. Would it actually wake people up?

    VINCE: Preach. No room for chauvinism when you merk a track like this. Angel Haze has a new fan, right here.