Tagged: MMG

An Open Letter To Wale

This letter was also featured on Passion of the Weiss

Hello Wale, are you there? It’s me, Slava.

You might not remember me, but I remember you. We were first introduced in 2007 when I downloaded your mixtape ’100 Miles & Running’ off the strength of your Justice collaboration. I appreciated your punchy delivery and cheeky lyrics, where a punchline could take multiple bars to fully unfurl and obscure sports references ran rampant. I appreciated the fact that you were able to poke fun at yourself while still seemingly enjoying the process of making music, figuratively looking up to Jay-Z on some songs and laughing off your inability to sing on others. I appreciated that you lent a voice to Washington DC, an area that up until then had gone relatively ignored by young rap fans as myself. You were Wale, and your mission statement was clear: you came to get it.

Our affair continued throughout 2008 to 2010 as you released three more mixtapes, this time relating your life to Seinfeld; a surprisingly original and hilarious concept. In the opening track for The Mixtape About Nothing, you shined using the “what’s the deal with…” lead while sampling the iconic TV baseline and pondering about pertinent social issues, the state of hip-hop, and the struggle of getting popular on blogs. This was a few years before #KushAndOrangeJuice and almost five years before the tumblr-wave, making your NikeTalk-influenced bravado a cutting edge display of bringing insignificant issues to the fore-front. These tapes also featured guest verses from artists that were far removed from my current listening habits. I was introduced to acts like J.Cole, Big Sean, Jean Grae, Skyzoo, and the newly-solo Pusha T & I was reminded of the existence of Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz and Memphis Bleek. You were a humorist, you were a curator, you were self-aware, you were Wale – and you were still here to get it.

In 2009 you made my top 5 new rapper cut, the benefits of which included having your shit played incessantly in my car and having your back-story regaled to my friends. I mentioned your name in the same breathe as Jay Electronica and J.Cole for “who had next” and your appearance on the cover of XXL as a freshman bolstered my confidence in you. A cover you shared nine other hip-hoppers, three of which would go on to break industry norms and pave their own lane successfully for varying periods of time: BoB, Kid Cudi and Currency. I spent my hard-earned money on buying a physical copy of Attention Deficit to play in my car and wasn’t even mad at what I heard. Sure, you seemed to have veered away from your original humor and self-awareness, but the resulting project was still open and raw, albeit slightly saccharine in it’s delivery and beat choices. It also featured enough Canadian talent in a pre-Drake environment that I had to applaud it on principle. Looking back, the album featured two cuts that would go on to foreshadow how the rest of your career would shape up: 90210 and Pretty Girls. Both songs were directed at the women who deemed themselves too good for simple men such as yourself, and you poked fun at them for being so judgemental and for having so little life … ambition. You were still Wale, but now you had a better idea of how you would go about getting it.

On February 5, 2011, my world came crashing down around me. You announced that you would be signing on to MMG, a newly formed crew led by the corpulent captain Rick Ross. You promised that this wouldn’t affect anything about your music and I was naive enough to believe you at the time. As the months went on it seemed that either this new position on MMG had emboldened you to become more brash and abrasive than ever, or that you had duped me from the start and that your earlier image was just a quickly deteriorating facade. You promised a new project and compared it to Reasonable Doubt with your earlier tongue in cheek quips about wanting to be the new Jay-Z seemingly animating themselves into a beast of a burden that weighed heavily on your shoulders and my perception. This new album would be titled ‘Ambition’ and would have you inspiring the “pretty girls” that you had previously made fun of. I listened as you promised to take them under your dreaded wing and encouraged them to pass the bar instead of waiting beside it for free drinks or offered them the path of being more than the video girls you lusted for on your last album. It was an album for sorority girls, about sorority girls. You became a new Wale, and I didn’t know which “it” you were trying to get anymore.

And now here we are. Your new album, which features a stone-carved bust of yourself on the cover, which I’m sure you have installed on a pedestal in your house that pops up to reveal your secret stash of diced pineapples, is promised to be “different” but I don’t believe it. The leading single is obviously targeted to those same “ambitious” girls that were the focus of your sophomore project and the only thing that feels different about your recent appearances is that you seem to have adopted a headwrap similar Maya Angelou‘s famous 1970s look. Your ego seems to have been weakened even further, to the point where you’ll lash out at innocent Twitter personalities or Toronto Raptors announcers for the smallest things. You seem to have become more preoccupied with staying famous at all costs, only to hate the side-effects that come with it. I wonder if your inclusion to MMG has become more of a curse than a gift. You joined an extravagant group where you were unable to speak on decadence because your boss has filled that lane, nor were you able to describe the rise to riches because your shrieking label-mate had already filled that role. You were pigeon-holed into rapping about shoes, depleting sports references, and ambitious women. Will I listen to your new album? Yes. But I know that I won’t be listening to the same artist I heard on 100 Miles And Running. Your name is still Wale, but in my eyes, you’ve lost it.

Haiku Reviews – Wrath Of Caine

This article also appeared on Passion of the Weiss

What happened to Terrence Thornton? The braided half of the former “underappreciated” (his words) pairing The Clipse has abandoned his daily rituals of working the Virginia corners and slinging cocaine in favor of flights to Hawaii with Kanye and building on his #menswear collection, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to his raps. Wrath of Caine is Pusha T’s attempt at getting our attention before he releases his long-time-coming debut, My Name Is My Name, but if his first solo album will be anything like what’s presented on Caine, I already miss No Malice.

Once you look past the glossy veneer of sing-along guest features, “once upon a time” coke tales and grating Jamaican accents, what you’re left with is a hollow attempt at reworking a tired drug dealer cliche. At best, Pusha T has become a Young Jeezy clone who is allowed to make songs with members of MMG, down to his trademark “talent” of ending three separate bars with the same word and trying to play it off as clever.

The best parts of Wrath Of Caine don’t actually involve Pusha at all. After 36 minutes, the biggest takeaways for me were Kevin Gates and his Future impression; French Montana and his straight ignorance; Rozay talking about soft loafers and organic herbs, and Ab-Liva coming out of nowhere to steal the show. Even “Revolution” was only listenable because it made you nostalgic about better days when Pusha worked hand-in-hand with The Neptunes instead of being an auditory hypebeast. Thank God (or, in his eyes, thank Pusha) that Wale was put on a track so it wasn’t a complete bukkake (get it? Because everyone came hard).

Jamaica accents,
and online porn confessions
oh, and coke stories

Millions feat. Rick Ross
Haunting pianos
and pure, raw introspectives.
Plus, Ross fabricates

Doesn’t Matter feat. French Montana
If your IRA
isn’t maxed the fuck out, French
doesn’t care for you.

One up on T James:
put diamonds on everything.
Including your gun.

Throwback to talent
while describing your fall from
grace to cool patterns

Road Runner feat. Troy Ave
Trafficking music
to incriminate you for
your next traffic stop.

Only You Can Tell It feat. Wale
The solitary
example of how to own
a song on your tape

Trust You feat. Kevin Gates
Flaunt your buzz knowledge
of new artists. Also flaunt
designers you know

Take My Life feat. Andrea Martin
Great guitar riffs with
enjoyable lyrics that
name drop Paris shops

Re-Up Gang Motivation feat. Ab-Liva
Back from the dead to
impress the old Clipse fans and
introduce new ones

I Am Forgiven
Asking repentance
for actions you have taken
to be Ye’s cronie

Counting M’s With Gunplay

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl … HS4hpwR6c

Continuing to cement his role as the lovable underdog of MMG, Gunplay dropped a video for M1 in which he struts around in front of a tagged up wall with people whom I presume to be his friends, wearing what I can only hope is a shirt that he had some hand in designing. What is an M1? According to the internets, it’s a measure of the money supply which includes currency in circulation plus demand deposits or checking account balances. It’s also a gun. Apparently, Gunplay has these measures of monetary supply (or guns) ah-here, ah-there, and ah-ever-y-where!

For someone who raps almost exclusively about his vices on every song, Gunplay has a captivating way of keeping the listener’s attention by throwing in some lyrical dexterity amongst the circular hooks. He’s like Meek Mill with years of experience, an indoor voice and a drug problem. Listening to Gunplay is a lukewarm substitute for anyone who’s too chicken-shit to try hard drugs. I’m able to live vicariously through Logan when he says he “still snort pills and my avalanche chills, black magic wheels just snappin’ at your heels”, even if I’m not three-hunna percent sure what that means.

Why We Hate Wale And Love Gunplay

This article also appeared on Passion of the Weiss

For a team that has only recently started gaining traction, Maybach Music Group has already housed itself with a fairly popular, if polarizing, roster. There’s the tilapia-loving bawse, Rick Ross; the misguided Midwest transplant, Stalley; the one-man-twerk-machine, Omarion; Meek ‘No Indoor Voice’ Mill; and their newest signee, Rockie Fresh, who doesn’t deserve his own adverb-based joke yet. If you were to plot each of these artists on a fictional “Likability Chart” scored out of 100, they would all get an average rating. Rozay (75) & Meek (70) may rank higher and Omarion (54) may rank slightly lower, but at the end of the day, nobody is going to go to war for, or against, MMG. The exceptions to this mediocre winsomeness rating are the two members left off the initial roster rundow: Gunplay (90) and Wale (17). In the past few months, Gunplay has catapulted from his former Triple C’s “fame” and into a bonafide solo deal with Def Jam thanks to some strong mixtapes and commanding features on songs like Kendrick Lamar’s “Cartoons & Cereal” and the MMG’s posse cut, “Power Circle”. His success is due in part to many things, but it all boils down to this: Gunplay is the polar opposite of his labelmate Wale, and is thus greeted with acceptance by the masses…unlike Wale.

Sonically, these two MC’s are chasms apart. Gunplay’s coke-fueled, LA The Darkman-inspired, jumping-jack raps are unpolished and abrasive, while Wale’s concepts and themes are well-formed, even if he deivers them as if he’s throwing a hissyfit during a slam poetry reading. Gunplay rhymes about drugs, the streets and, well, gunplay. Wale raps about being unhappy whilst surrounded by bottles and amibitous girls.

Wale cares far too much about how he’s percieved by the public while Gunplay seems to genuinely not give a fuck. Take Twitter as an example: Wale will launch a war of words against anyone who offers constructive critism, while Gunplay will unapologetically tweet about women eating, and going to, “yogart” classes. One never leaves his house without having the newest pair of kicks and a toothbrush in his back pocket; the other seems like he isn’t above running errands while wearing Kleenex boxes on his feet. Wale compares his albums to Reasonable Doubt and gets upset with lackluster sales; Gunplay would be ecstatic if five people bought his album.

Will Gunplay go on to be a successful solo star? I hope so. I think he deserves it, if not solely for the fact that he’s been a part of Rick Ross’ team before the idea of MMG even materialized, rapping along side Torch and Young Breed as part of the (now possibly defunct) Triple C’s. And while the Carol City Cartel was being formed in 2005, Olubowale was building buzz on hometown radio stations with his go-go sampled songs. In those six years before signing to MMG, Wale has managed to do a lot; he recorded a song with Lady Gaga at the height of her popularity, he dropped a handul of strong mixtapes, and he released a competitive album that only managed to sell 28k its first week. In those same six years, Gunplay managed to do a lot as well. A lot of cocaine.

What’s In A Name?

This article also appeared on Passion of the Weiss

Branding is everything. As an artist, it allows you to sell your fans not only music, but also the clothing, vodka and action figures required to properly enjoy that music. In recent years, the rap game seems to have burst into an assortment of acronyms and the boutique labels associated with them, all headed by someone that’s been labeled as a “trend-setter” at some point in their career. These trend-setters were given the daunting task of creating an imprint to house their future acts and giving it a catchy name. This task proved to be too daunting for some, who chose to just abbreviate a phrase instead. By shouting these abbreviation-creations throughout their songs, rappers hoped to gain “brand-stickiness” in the public mind. But when it came time to buy, was the product always ‘as advertised’, or were there defects?

SODMG – Souljah’s Open Door Management Guide

TGOD – trap-grog over-dosers

OVO – Overturning vials ostensibly

TDE – talented degenerates entertaining

GOOD – grandiose overlords overthrowing Drake

BSM – battle scarred moguls

OFWGKTA – Only Fart-Whisperers & Granny-Killing Teens Allows

CTE – cantankerous trap enterprisers

MMG- mediocre munificent grunters

YMCMB – yesteryears musicians crowding Master Baby