"Recoil" - Notes to Self

Notes to Self is a name you can trust. Crazy talented rappers over unfuckwithable beats -- this is not a formula known for going wrong. We slept on this video, as we do with pretty much the entire fabric of "hip hop" as we hurtle towards certain death, it's getting posted because it came up today. Journalism, motherfucker, do you speak it?

The "Recoil" video is surprisingly tight, professional-looking cinema. This isn't a backhanded compliment about their nationality, occupations or taste in film: more an appreciation of the time and work involved. There's a lot of rap videos about heist-related criminal enterprise out there, but the attention to detail here was excessive. No such thing as Too Much Art.

Apparently it is not hard to shoot robbery scenes without a permit in Canada, although the cops did eventually show up to ask polite questions.


"Destroyer of All Things" - FDR

FDR | Godforbid & Thirtyseven | Hip Hop

Catabolism. There are not a lot of rap songs about catabolism out there...it just doesn't come up very much. You're soaking in it, though.

As the Kali Yuga inexorably grinds our cultures and accomplishments into dust and blood, FDR has the soundtrack ready for you. Enjoy.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

-- Yeats Daug


DISPATCHES: "Curse of the Kennedys" - Apathy

Uncle Hump Sez: We're bringing in some new blood for Real Yeti Rap, starting with rap curmudgeon Louis Mackey. What follows is an unadulterated transcript of this Thinkingses. Bon appetit.

Being a rapper for over a decade now, I’m usually turned off by 98% of the stuff I hear and see garnering praise. I don’t think I’m bitter (though I may be), I just don’t have the stomach for it anymore. I’ve heard it all, and when someone new comes along, I most often see the old and a bunch of kids who’d never known about the source of the schtick or people my age who’ve forgotten. But for some reason, I’ve always been really drawn to Apathy’s impossible, somehow unique cocky approach to writing and lyric delivery. The fact that his fanbase has skyrocketed in the past 4 years affirms that I’m not alone in this appreciation. I don’t think he’s as unique as say, Kool Keith, but he’s really damn good.

Apathy is the golden child of 90s east coast rap (though he claims to have been influenced by the West Coast as well). His hubris has always been so perfectly ironically detached while he remains seriously, completely there. One of the most apparent things about it is the sonically pleasing syllable symmetry; he doesn’t always employ polysyllabic rhyming, which is a mortal sin in my personal holy book of rap transgressions, but he’s unusually interesting and most often possesses that above average poetic ability to say something in a way you’ve always imagined but never been able to make effable: To stand up in front of a crowd, speak and have them look back at you in wonder, actually interested in your next line. Or maybe if you could translate some of Kubrick’s or Welles’ most sublime scenes into print (or not), See from “The Curse of the Kennedy’s”:

Heavenly Father... please wash all of my sins
While I wash away my pain
With this tonic & gin
While I vomit in the sink
And think of ominous things
Like Atomic bombs
Never let the communists win
Live from the Bay of Pigs
It's obvious lies
When anybody denies
All the mafia ties
You surprised?
It's Jack, it's Bobby, it's even Teddy
Reversed on my enemies
The Curse Of The Kennedys…

As far as concept songs go, that’s a damn solid closer. I’m reminded of the photos that accompanied some of my junior year history class lectures on John Kennedy of him staring out of the White House windows during the Bay of Pigs, thinking about how absolutely fucked we all might be. Thus I can appreciate this conceptual angle and the arc of the entire narrative, though the above quote is my personal favorite.

I’m sure someone somewhere has tried to be the rap John Kennedy, in fact I’m certain of it; but what Apathy does seems original, whatever original might be, where he creates a somewhat random melange of various ideas and themes (ahem, see the Dioscuri, ahem) centering around the entire Kennedy family, going in and out of 1st and 3rd person while always reverting back to his comfortable and natural unapologetic braggadocio. And while his multi’s aren’t always perfect, they’re close enough because we’re compensated by the imagery of his verses and the noir feel of the video.

If I had to complain about something, it would be the stupid fucking chorus with the Jay-Z chopped vocals. I love Hova but goddamn Ap, you can do better on your choruses.

Nevertheless, in my opinion, as a whole, Connecticut Casual might prove to be one of Apathy’s best works yet, if he can just stop talking about wearing fucking Sperrys.


"Ghost at the Finish Line" - Quelle Chris

Fuck yeah. A low budget fever dream, creative, brave and fun stuff. Quelle Chris is one of my favorite rap mammals, an unpredictable and bluntly genuine free spirit type from Detroit. The good people at Mello Music Group released his last album, which has a name in common with this song.


"No One Can Do It Better" - The D.O.C.

Title track off a classic album, and definitely some of the jazziest shit we'll ever hear out of Dr. Dre.

The D.O.C. has always been a horror story to me: right as this album was blowing up and he was becoming a national name, his life took a Twilight Zone twist when he got into a car accident that injured his vocal chords. When I first found out about that in high school, it inspired me to write and record more so I wouldn't leave behind undocumented material. (The results were worthless, but what matters is I was inspired, you cynical assholes.)

Still, if you've never heard of The D.O.C. don't waltz off thinking his life was nothing but suffering...he did have a kid with Erykah Badu, after all. Raise a glass to the man either way. Contemplate a West Coast where this cat was going platinum every year from 1989-1996.

"The actual name “Death Row” came from me. I actually wanted to call the label “Def Row,” ‘cause in my mind Dre was what Russell Simmons was to the east …. That’s how important he was. And then one of the other artists, a female named Jewell, she was like, “Wow, that’s cool, Death Row.” I was like, “Nah, Def Row.” And Dre was like, “Nah, nigga, Death Row ….” And then with all these thug-minded-ass muthafuckas around…it didn’t take long before that’s just what that was." - via HipHopDX


#CLASSIC: "The Look" - s. maharba

"In the hold of such events there is little to be said..."

A transmission from another world.

Everything s. maharba has done to date is exceptional, but this is a personal favorite. Beyond dusty, way past melancholy, this is a distilled fist to the heart.


"EYE RHINO" - Bishop

At first you might think you're in for some Marko shit, but no: this is pretty rad and hella weird. Engaging, fast-moving Qi Gong Surrealism rap is a genre in short supply, and this is a strong chi shot right here.

Keep submitting great low-budget video, folks. This has been an inspirational summer so far. Kids these days are fucking smart and they're doing awesome stuff.


"The Ghost of Robert Frost" ft. Teddy Faley and Selfsays - Loop Minded Individuals

A tasty jam from Stockholm-based production crew Loop Minded Individuals, who had to good sense to get Teddy Faley to wander through and destroy a verse alongside Detroit emcee Selfsays. This is a single from an actual album -- props to anyone still making those! -- called "A Hitchhikers Guide to a Verse."

Looking over the tracklist, you'll conclude that these "Loop Minded" motherfuckers have good taste to spare, because the album also features Elucid and Has-Lo in a sprawling marquee of heavy hitters from the North American underground. Props to ESH the Monolith and Intrikit for assembling such a distinctly Voltron-esque project.


"DieNasty" - KNife

Well, fuck yeah. Great and rare is the weekend morning where my inbox leaves me impressed rather than depressed. This cat can definitely f'ing Rap Good, and the beat is a woozy stomp straight out a Low End Theory night. This video is definitely weird, simple and powerful. We will definitely be checking for this KNife character in the future.

This is an encouraging artifact; further proof of concept that quality material does indeed sell itself when properly packaged. This was an easy video to make, largely the fruit of hard work and human capital vs. big budgets and obligatory Professional™ sheen.

Just focus on The Work, daug.


THE INBOXXX: "Half Full" - MarKO

Hump Jones: Welcome back to THE INBOXXX. This week we've got something beyond human comprehension for you. This was an actual email submission for a rap blog. I could tell right off the video still we were in serious trouble.

DJ Squid: This right here is Bananamal as fuck.

Hump Jones: Isn't this a Casio preset? That intro was fucking intense. I don't think I'm ready for this.

DJ Squid: Nah, this is more of a medley. I bet this is his album sampler. I would like to state for the record, this is the best email submission copy ever. It is just titled "Awesome Video" and the body of the message was "Awesome Video" with the YouTube link. Okay, now we're definitely just hanging out in this dude's bedroom and it is getting kinda awkward. Speed painting is very deep.

Hump Jones: Now all of a sudden we're on a bridge and he's camouflaged like a normal bro? Can you imagine actually running into this guy and talking to him and gradually realizing how deep and weird those waters really are?

DJ Squid: He likes Skrillex and Dave Matthews and rapping over Casio loops. Ask him about his paintings. He has rooms full of paintings. This is starting to get pretty real, he's dropping some love raps right now.

Hump Jones: "EH OH EL I'm kidding but seriously I'm not" is the lyrical high point so far, I gotta admit, that had me dying pretty hard. This dude really seems to like trains, now we're on the railroad in the snow and he's doing the Thom Yorke.

DJ Squid: Yeah, the full Thom Yorke. Damn. The best part of this whole video so far is the random jailbait ass creeper porn shot that scrolls up to the gigantic blue demon owl towering over a bunch of dancing teenagers. That was pretty memorable. I wonder if all those kids realize they're going to be sacrificed to dubstep Moloch.

Hump Jones: This is really testing my fucking stamina.

DJ Squid: Yeah, pucker up, pal. We started this, it's too late to turn back now. This is so sublimely weird.

Hump Jones: This is very post-structuralist, I like how he keeps undermining the parameters of convention by rhyming about Happy Meal McFlurries over psychedelic painting montages. This is the apex of conscious rap, the peak in the collective Bro Mushroom Trip that has been rippling across America since the late 90's. Mostly it's just agonizing, though.

DJ Squid: I gotta comment on the fact this kid is raphands-ing pretty hard in front of a Mercedes SUV. I don't know what that does for his street credit either way. I'm betting this delicate flower doesn't roll very deep.

Hump Jones: I feel like a lot of these songs are the result of a feedback vacuum in his life This material is brain to bedroom to pro tools.

DJ Squid: These booth shots are intense. His rap hands are basically an EDM seizure, that whole shit is new to me. Wow. DON'T LET HIM BE IN HIS ZONE.

Hump Jones: Yeah, I would earnestly advise this guy's friends to keep him out of his zone, at all times and at all costs. I bet this is the emotional closing track we're being blessed with right now.

DJ Squid: Then it all washed out into deep poetry and the best text graphics in internet history. After taking so damn long, now it feels like it was over too soon.

Hump Jones: You don't mean that.

DJ Squid: I do not.


"Night Owls" - FDR prod. Dr. Quandary

This gorgeous Dr. Quandary production has been a big hit, especially with the European rap heads. This is the closing cut from FDR's debut EP, "Fear of Death and the Need for Reproduction," which I have already bloviated about at some length. Gird yourself for more, beginning immediately.

This week the EP got an excellent and insightful review from Alex at The Underground Vault, who cited a certain lack of cohesiveness & thematic consistency to the project. He's hardly the first person to make that point, and yet we find ourselves in a very...Crowleyesque position, as the authors. Bottom line, FDR is not an accessible project, and we are surely guilty of being Willfully Obscure.

Still, making beautifully doomed cult projects -- "cult" is being invoked here in a literal & legal sense -- is the entire reason we started World Around Records in the first place. I am happy to report the next FDR project will do nothing to illuminate our methods and motives. Stay woke.


The Four Horsemen are Back

In the video above -- actual footage -- Canibus, Ras Kass, Kurupt and Killah Priest let the fans know they're back. They are. That happened. This week was weird for a lot of reasons, but "multiple Canibus singles" was hovering towards the top of that particular list.

First up: PAY ME IN GOLD.

Yeah, hearing Canibus rhyme "tweet" is fucking depressing, but the same huge horizon is there, the same distinctive & insistent flow. The Ripper's opening verse stays interesting until you realize what you just heard is the entire song. Still, it was at least a straight verse, with none of the relentless punch-ins that have marked his past few releases.

Also, that whole "Sampling White Guys Ranting on The Internets" aesthetic? Get used to it. Up next is the new Horsemen track...

Anyone reading this -- indeed, anyone capable of reading at all -- can agree on this much: that hook at the beginning was fucking terrible. It comes back, too. This is seven minutes long, no joke, and you're not safe at any point. It keeps coming back.

Few things I've heard this year have given me more to think about than this hook, though. Writing it off with cheap snark is too easy. Think about this: if you put pretty much any mammal into a room with that hook playing, and they will injure themselves in a desperate attempt to get out. Yet this track was still released as a lead single. What kind of drugs were involved with that? I try to keep a pretty diverse diet, myself, and I can't think of anything that would make that hook tolerable.

There's also verses? I guess. I'm like three minutes into this and I haven't really noticed. "Underwhelming" would imply "whelming" occured.

Canibus walks into the room a little while later and his cadence is lower, quieter, more menace than monster. He does a riff on MC Paul Barman's classic "Sigourney Weaver" rhymes, adding "Labrador Retriever and four horse breeders" to the mix. This is completely incoherent and very, very awesome, but the slow burn never builds into anything: he just kinda finishes.

Then that hook comes back on.

I can't do this anymore.


"Go To Work" - Has-Lo and Castle

Good to see Mello Music Group taking advantage of the best emcee on their roster again. Granted, they just signed Open Mike Eagle and everyone in Diamond District is on point, but still: Has-Lo is a gem. Castle is damn strong, too, and the chemistry here is outstanding. This track is the lead single off their upcoming album "Live Like You're Dead" which promises to be an ambitious banger.

Also, that badass cover art is courtesy of Philly phenom Dewey Decibel, who also raps pretty.


"Young Leaders" - Sene ft. Blu, ANTHM

Sure, I'm two years late on this, but still: damn.

Blu has been having one hell of a year and Sene is working on another great album. ANTHM never stops moving.


#CLASSIC: "Make it Plain" - Divine Styler

Fundamentally, I have never understood most of what Divine Styler is styling divinely about, but that's not a problem for me. I've always thought of this particular cut as his Crossover Hit -- too catchy for college crackers to deny, despite the fact it's a Five Percent PSA, front to back.

I love rappers who wander wherever they want to go, and when I first got into Divine Styler, my writing was straight from the Gift of Gab / Eminem template of metronome multisyllables. It took me years to appreciate the elegant simplicity of a GZA and I admire the Aikido pockets of modern writers like Has-Lo and Elucid and Ka, all minimalists with flawless taste.

Now, this next cut was my jam during early High School Rap Awakening stages. This is a world apart from that bubblegum funk we started with...

For a 17 year old with a face full of LSD, you can see how the disjointed hypno-flow could connect with that DJ Shadow dark shit and do some real damage to a young brain. Divine Styler was like a West Coast Sir Menelik to my idiot ears, captivating and totally impenetrable.