The Doppelgangaz - "If It Wasn't For The Cloak"

I've always had a hard time getting into The Doppelgangaz and not a damn thing has changed in 2017. As much as we all want to be unique, rapping raps and making beats is nothing special. The cloaks are cool and the aesthetic is fun, but The Doppelgangaz are typical hip hop story: a rapping duo with great beats...and one good rapper.

That would be Matter Ov Fact, who goes first here. He'll never re-invent the wheel, but he'll never deliver a half-ass take, either. He is smooth, clever, confident and a world apart from the tag-along filler that EP brings to the table.

"Gangaz really out here, movin' on excursions/ never not without beer, shorties ain't no virgins" -- those are EP's opening bars here. That horseshit is unforgivable. You're an adult male human being, write like one. I want to tell myself that this dude could be funnier or better if he tried harder, but in my heart, I know that is a lie.

Every turn of his soft little sixteen here is atrocious, the work of someone who is forcing his flow patterns to fit...and doesn't read very much. Hell, it doesn't even sound like he listens to other people talk very much. Stilted and stumbling. His whole verse is Google Translated from Russian: awkward as fuck, bud.

It makes sense that these guys are huge in Europe, where dope beats are at a premium and good English is not.

Now, the video. This is a very fucking nice video, pal, a serious piece of work. Clean drone work and smooth composition. It looks great and it made me laugh at several points: I expect little else, here in the Kali Yuga.

I also dig the fact they've got Big Josh posted up smoking. Just because. (If you don't know Big Josh, well, check out "Shawty Told Me.")

All in all, this is a Two Dicky affair. As much as I want to give respect to their accomplishments and just enjoy the vibe -- and the crushing wall of glorious sound that is this beat -- I can't. The mediocrity just kills my fucking high. No love.


Deniro Farrar - "Nervous"

Deniro Farrar takes flow patterns very seriously. His verses don't deviate a single syllable for this whole song. That's not unusual for Mr. Farrar. He's almost always sharp & crisp like that.

But, you know, North Carolina. That's a sweet spot for hip hop, always has been, where Dirty South crashes up against East Coast True School heads. This is the state that gave us Supastition and Petey Pablo. I mention them because Farrar, at times, sounded like a CRISPR splice hybrid of those two exact emcees. "Nervous" is not one of those times, though. This is a good rapper getting great before our eyes -- his last two EP's are cold killer material.

The point is getting distinctive, right? Carving your own lane? Evolving your own style? I'm preaching to a dwindling congregation, but my conviction has never wavered on this. I'm not rooting for Deniro Farrar because he's "talented" -- that shit is cheap and abundant -- but because he's becoming a unique talent. I would wish the same for any of you reading this: become the monster you alone were destined to be.

The actual video is a clever low-budget triumph. Just a couple simple sets and some carefully coordinated camera work. It doesn't look like a million bucks, but it sure as shit keeps you watching. The same charisma that sells this cat onstage translates to The Youtubes: "telegenic," they used to call it.

As for the extended outro, well, I reckon he earned it.

Third time in a row I'm awarding a Three Dicky verdict. This streak is strictly accidental, but I'm none too worried about featuring some good shit for the rest of September, either.


Fred The Godson - "Intro / Let It Cook"

Fred The Godson might be operating with a handicap or three, but rapping is not one of them. Dude can spit. His grating, disinterested delivery may be an acquired taste, but his pen game is impeccable at this point. Like Conway or Pusha T, his nonchalance is camouflage, the confidence of a careful writer.

This is a breezy, stripped-down video that makes it clear he's got verses for years on deck. I know nothing about the Heatmakerz, but that's because I have no tolerance for this kind of paint-by-numbers, soul-chop fast food. The best that can be said for these beats is that they don't get in the way.

Fred is a busy man, though, following a classic NYC career path. There are better beats in his future.

It was 2011 when he was first injected into the American Dream courtesy of XXL's annual Freshman list. For perspective, the list that year included Lil' B and Kendrick Lamar. As we approach the event horizon of the Shitty Future Singularity, that amounts to a cool 20 years of cultural churn. The music industry is cruel, but surviving it must be satisfaction enough, right?

There's a hard limit on next level rhyme writing. The better you are, the more dipshits you're going to lose along the way. Guys like Big Sean and Fabolous tried to straddle both sides of that fence, and the results are too ugly to look at for long. You have to choose a fucking side.

I mention that because Fred made the right decision. There are a lot of career trajectories available after landing an XXL spot like that. Danny Brown ascended to a living god. Yelawolf devolved into a Kid Rock understudy. Takes all kinds.

Three Dickys. Fred carried this and everyone else involved had the good sense to get out of the way.

UPDATE: Yes, I have since been informed that Heatmakerz produced over 85% of the Dipset classics I grew up on. I'm leaving that line as is.


A$AP Ferg - "East Coast Remix"

"Every single time I come you niggas know I gotta do it," Busta Rhymes admits immediately. There are worse fates than making self-caricature money, of course, and Busta has always done it admirably. His chopping itself is losing precision, but his flow is still some nimble, inventive shit.

More British than Jamaican, more brand than rapper, Mr. Rhymes transcends critique, at this point. He is Snoop Dogg echelon unfuckwithable. Onward.

The biggest takeaway from "East Coast Remix" is the fact Dave East spit one of the best verses of his career on this. In the past, we have been firm and fair about his professional-grade mediocrity. Based on what he did here, though, I'm going to check his new project out now. That's unusual.

A$AP Rocky, as ever, delivers the goods on sheer flow patterns and energy. To come after that and show him up is an achievement. That said, to do all that on a track you have to share with French Montana ... must be pretty depressing. Puffy 2.0 is a consistent letdown, but also a reliable clown who can be endearing through sheer excess. This is one of those moments.

Rick Ross. This fucking guy. Despite being a photocopy of a fabricated persona, he's still one of the realest rappers out -- a fat sweaty creep who jokes about date rape and celebrates consumer nihilism better than anyone except Cardi B & Kanye West. The Trump administration will definitely gift this tubby toucher with a lucrative second act. This is America, after all.

Naturally enough, they wrap this joint up with Snoop Dogg. Everything about it is baffling - the cheap phone camera take juxtaposed against the fact Snoop actually brought some bars to the table for this one. I can't explain it either.

Overall, this was a pure slice of our current dystopia: the highs and lows, baby. Three Dickys. Well done.