Despite the advent of music streaming and digital availability, the music industry has largely stayed true to a unified release schedule, having accepted a worldwide shift to Midnight Friday releases following years of 12:00am Tuesday releases. Conversely, the option for labels and artists to avoid stocking physical shelves leading up to a release allows for even the most unsuspecting releases to sneak up on music fans.
That said, Weekend Spins on TripleOT is for all those releases that may not warrant a full review. The difficulty in writing about music in the digital age, as with any topic really, is the potential for innumerable releases on any given Friday (or any day thanks to services like Bandcamp and SoundCloud). So, in these columns let’s take a look at some albums, mixtapes or tracks that might not have generated too much buzz, but still merit a few looks.
Your Old Droog – Packs
Brooklyn rapper Your Old Droog comes through with Packs, his 41 minute sophomore album featuring a number of compositions with long time collaborators RTNC, producer of cuts like “Nutty Bars” and “Loosey in the Store with Pennies,” and E. Dan, a member of Rostrum Records’ ID Labs production crew. Across 14 tracks Droog almost effortlessly manifests his gangly vocal presence on both haunting and nocturnal cuts such as “G.K.A.C.” and “Just an Interlude”as well as jazzier tracks like “White Rappers” and “Rapman.” He even throws in a track best described as Arabian (or Bangladeshi?) on the track “Bangladesh.” Overall the production avoids many of the synths of modern hip-hop and features a trademark underground sound identified by looped soul and funk samples and at times cacophonous percussion, as on “Help.”
What’s most impressive about Packs though, is Droog’s ability to take nods from many of his inspirations including, MF Doom and GangStarr without coming across as fraudulent. On “Rapman,” Droog calls out fake hip-hop personas and mumble rappers under the guise of Rapman, the hip-hop superhero “combating all the wackness… With a work ethic like Mexicans.” Other standout cuts include “White Rappers (A Good Guest),” something of a public service announcement in which Droog stands up for his fairer skinned contemporaries, insisting that they be judged not by the color of their skin, but on “the beats and if the MC goes in,” and “Winston Red,” which features production from The Alchemist.
Overall, Packs is worth a listen for fans of an older and grittier NY sound recently revitalized through the likes of Action Bronson, Joey Bada$$ and the Pro Era collective. Comforting samples of Manchild’s “Especially for You” on “My Girl is A Boy” and Opa’s “Brooklynville” on “G.K.A.C.” add to Droog’s overall authenticity. Standout Tracks: “Rapman,” “G.K.A.C.,” & “Grandman Hips (featuring Danny Brown).”
Murs – Captain California
Coming off of his 26-hour rapping world record in October 2016 (which was later usurped by Spanish Rapper Arkano), Murs presents his 1oth studio album, Captain California. The South Central native continues his penchant for compelling story telling on top of upbeat production. Subject matter aside, Murs garnishes this albums with a level of personality that differs from his usual anecdotal musings, by including a couple of outtakes and extras on the end of tracks that illustrate the collaborative nature of the project. At the end of the introduction, “Lemon Juice,” Murs and Curtiss King discuss which artist is the Brandy to the other’s Monica; On “Wanna Be High” Murs and Big Too Big chat about all things from KFC to what it means to be free as they wrap up the album and the music cuts out. Ultimately, Murs is largely consistent in his delivery as with previous releases, though his beat selection is leaves something to be desired, especially considering his previous release Brighter Daze with 9th Wonder (I’d argue Murs’ best work is alongside 9th Wonder, but that’s another story). Standout Tracks: “Lemon Juice,” “G is for Gentrify,” “Ay Caramba,” & “Xmas and Thanksgiving.”
Freddie Gibbs – “Crushed Glass”
Freddie Caine, Freddie Corleone or Freddie Forgiato if you’d prefer, returns from his European rape allegations with “Crushed Glass” a track/video from his upcoming album You Only Live 2wice. Featuring Gibbs meandering through the desert in his patented Adidas sweats and Timberlands, the baby-faced MC from Gary, Indiana comes through with an ominous tone, lamenting the days to come and reflecting on the stovetop and wrist motion that led him to his current profession. All things considered, “Crushed Glass” is a standard Gibbs track, which is reassuring considering he was derailed by his European legal troubles. On the hook, underneath disembodied Brittney B. vocals Gibbs echoes these sentiments, while the guitar, strings and rattling hi-hats contrast the video’s sparse desert landscape.
Thoughts on Weekend Spins? Does something deserve a full review? Comments and suggestions are are always welcome down below, or share stuff I missed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Devin the Dude – Acoustic Levitation
Rick Ross – “Trap Trap Trap”
Nicki Minaj – “Regret in Your Tears” “Changed It,” & “No Frauds”