There’s been a lot of print dedicated to telling people that Chance the Rapper will be a featured player on Surf rather than the star. That hasn’t stopped some critics of the surprise, free release (!) from griping about how the whole product isn’t a definitive showcase for Chance’s singular Bugs Bunny-as-Edward G. Robinson style. To be sure, Chance is on the record, but his rapping is as it was advertised in the press: a featured player.

His rapping serves more as an additional instrument to the lush jazz production that defines Surf. If anything, he’s just a necessary link to the relative unknowns in the Social Experiment as well as the “We are the World” ensemble of guest stars. The true star is the horn of Donnie Trumpet which pierces, zips and buoys its way through 52 minutes of a long, strange, wonderful trip.

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Schoolboy Q sans bucket hat

The line stretched for almost a full city block. Among the throngs of fans waiting to get in to see Schoolboy Q were bucket hats – a lot of bucket hats. It was almost like a show of solidarity. You couldn’t mistake the fact of who these people came to see. Yet after the headliner took the stage, you wouldn’t be faulted if you felt like he wasn’t the main attraction.

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The first time I heard Young Thug, I was in my car. I had just downloaded his 1017 Thug mixtape and put it on my iPhone. The first song I skipped to was the one that garnered a considerable amount of buzz among message boards and tastemakers alike – a song entitled “Picacho.” “My diamonds just say Picacho,” Young Thug shouted, his voice almost cracking before heading into the second line. Though the wordplay itself was not necessarily the best I had ever heard, it was certainly noteworthy because of the yelping vocal delivery. It’s a pulse of energy that you can feel in your chest with each listen, and you just want to sing along during every chorus. You want to imitate that weird style and see if you can pull it off yourself. You are not Young Thug though, and you cannot perform this to desired results. It is, however, extremely fun to try and do so.

Fast forward to January, and Young Thug drops Black Portland with his booming cohort, Bloody Jay. On this effort, you hear gargles, warbles, whispers and that esophageal sound that you’d only hear when watching The Grudge. The signature sonic hiccuping from 1017 Thug is still present, but it is flanked by Young Thug using the low end of his voice. There’s a lot more mumbling, which starts from a high squeal, but it slowly degrades into something you are hardly able to discern. This is most evident on “Movin,” where Young Thug devolves into someone who hasn’t quite remembered the words to his favorite rapper’s song and starts uttering them with the confidence of a backing track. It’s one of the many things on Black Portland that makes it such a great listen. It can go from ALL-CAPS to 8-pt wingdings at the drop of a fast-paced snare roll.

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outkastWith news breaking this week that OutKast will embark on a tour starting at Coachella in 2014 for the first time in a decade, the music community, hip-hop in particular, is already trembling with excitement. These bastions of southern rap have done enough separately to keep things interesting since the 2003 release of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (or the 2006 release of Idlewild, depending on who you ask), but even if they hadn’t it would still be a monumental reunion by any standards. We at Tuesdays With Horry are just as excited as everyone else, so a few of us discussed what this means from a personal or macro standpoint.

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kanye on kimmel

It’s easy to see Kanye West as a caricature of himself. He’s arrogant, abrasive, married to not only a Kardashian but the Kardashian… basically, he makes it pretty simple. But people who only see Kanye on this level are missing out. It’s hard to take someone who’s always calling himself a genius seriously, but if you listen… Kanye actually is a genius. He’s musically brilliant and maybe a bit of a ridiculous person, but he’s also fucking smart too. Case in point: his interview on Jimmy Kimmel. If you missed out on the epic twitter battle, here’s the rundown: Kimmel spoofed an interview Kanye did in the UK, using a couple of kids and a couple of milkshakes to recreate it. For whatever reason, Kanye really did not take kindly to this, and went on a hilarious and insane twitter rant insulting Kimmel. A few weeks later, Kimmel had Kanye on the show so they could prove they’d kissed and made up. What resulted was basically a giant therapy session and it was fucking brilliant:

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Photo courtesy of Rolling Stone

Photo courtesy of Rolling Stone

After having gone through the PBR&B rabbit hole, and after many rotations of the mixtapes House of Balloons and Echoes of Silence, we have come to a point at which we know what to expect from the Canadian producer and singer Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd. His feelings seep through every word and coo, often reverberated heavily with tinges of extreme sadness. “Wicked Games,” in particular, became a YouTube sensation, hitting over 25,000,000 views and becoming the quintessential Weeknd song, complete with an eerie, hypnotic beat, heavily altered drum patterns and vibrato vocals full of fear, detachment and a longing for companionship. Since 2010, when Tesfaye began releasing songs to the Internet under his current pseudonym, he has become buddy-buddy with Drake and gotten signed to Universal Republic Records and, finally, released his first studio album. Read More

Have you heard? Kendrick Lamar is the King of New York. Yeah, he crowned himself on a track with Big Sean and Jay Electronica. Did I mention that he dissed them but not really dissed them on the same track? Yes, it’s true! You should aspire to be Kendrick because he’s one of the best. So go back to the studio, lames. Perfect your writing because K. Dot will not be stopped.

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“Did 2 Chainz already perform?” my friend asked as we pulled up to the amphitheater gates. He had just checked the time as we got off the bus – it was 9:30. We were worried that we had missed his set; hoping (but not necessarily happy) that we had just missed T.I.

“He just got off stage,” the amphitheater staff member told us. “Wayne’s ’bout to go on next.”

Our spirits sunk. We turned to the rest of our friends who were filing in behind us to tell them the bad news. The look on their faces was that of devastation. Forget the fact that we hadn’t missed the headliner – we missed 2 Chainz. And I think that’s about the point that I realized how weird the landscape of Hip-Hop has become.

Lil’ Tunechi

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Genres of music are being broken down into very specific, micro classifications due to the tags that taste makers, music bloggers, and critics fabricate to identify a certain styling that has yet to be labeled. At times, it can be difficult to keep up with but, at the same time, they are very fun to explore. Each week, I will explore a different sub-genre and try to explain the stains left on my shirt after climbing out of each tedious rabbit hole of musical stylings.

Shabba Ranks, one of Ragga’s biggest toasters

“Mercy”“Crown”, “Blocka”, “Send It Up”, “I’m In It”,“Feds Watching” – besides all being songs that revolve around the nucleus known as Kanye West, they all contain an element of dancehall reggae, specifically Ragga music. While it may seem like a new phenomenon to a younger generation, this infusion of Ragga into Hip-Hop is nothing new. KRS-One, Black Moon, Smif-N-Wessun, Heltah Skeltah, and other East Coast acts of the early ’90s were using the vocal flows of Ragga deejays to formulate boom-bap. Now, Ragga samples are being pumped into trap music and Kanye’s acid house/industrial grind nightmares in a way that seems to clash with the syrupy, pounding production that utilizes it. The closest Ragga comes to a full reincarnation in the current landscape is through artists like Waka Flocka Flame, A$AP Ferg, and Trinidad Jame$ whose high energy, rapid fire delivery, and call and response choruses punctuate their most famous songs. But, what is Ragga and does its stylings have any long time staying power?  Read More