Categorized | Arts & Entertainment

Failing Class

Much like Wooster’s freshman class, hip-hop magazine XXL’s 2017 Freshman Class is populated by a diverse cast of utter disappointments. The yearly article functions as an oracle of (poorly) educated guesses about who will dominate the game in the coming year. Almost every year only about three of the chosen actually fulfill this promise. The rest are never heard of beyond those fifteen minutes. What I propose is a check-up of the recent albums released by a select few of these freshmen, with apologies to Kyle, Tyo, Kamaiyah and the rest (I now realize I’m only covering the four figures in the literal center of the magazine cover). Be sure to take what I have to say with a grain of salt– none of these people will surpass in importance 2011 Freshman outlier Kendrick Lamar Lil B.

1. Ugly God – The Booty Tape

This is the face of DIY rap. Sorry oldheads. Though we may associate the aesthetics of DIY with lo-fi flips of jazz samples and poeticism, it’s really about pirated copies of FL Studio and YouTube tutorials on [insert popular rapper here] type beats. It’s an accessible sound driven by accessible technology, but Ugly God manages to propel his project beyond this with the sheer force of his personality. He undercuts the format of diss tracks and self-aggrandizement via severe self-deprecation, without disavowing those clichés entirely (“All my music slappin’, make you dance just like a Kappa bitch / Boy I’m broke as fuck, 30 bands straight from FAFSA bitch”).

2. Aminé – Good For You

Immediately the difference is tangible between this project and The Booty Tape. Just compare the titles — Good For You is indicative of Aminé‘s snarky sense of humour across the record, especially on tracks like STFU. Just as distinct is the production, loaded with strings and soulful chords. Aminé makes a conscious effort to insert his melodic sensibilities — the album is the most primed for radio play of everything in this list — to mixed results. Lots of the hooks land for me and many don’t. Also why wasn’t “REDMERCEDES” on this? That song bangs.

3. Playboi Carti – Playboi Carti

I’ve listened to this tape the most out of the four, and not merely because it’s been out the longest. Carti’s bars are about 80% ad-libs, and his airy lines are usually truncated before he can get all the syllables out, as if he was constantly running out of breath during recording. It’s wonderful. Almost none of the songs really go hard, and they’re not meant to. The production feels like Blank Banshee was lazy and leaned out, and the songs could really go in any order. If you’ve only heard Magnolia, I recommend milly rocking to “Location” or “New Choppa.”

4. XXXTentacion – 17

Friendly reminder that separating the art from the artist is for people with narrow taste who can’t find other musicians to listen to. Luckily, even if you disagreed with me on that point, you would probably agree that this domestic abuser and gay basher’s album is sewage water sonically, so I’ll save you the time and recommend some rap/R&B albums from newish artists that are much better: Bali Baby’s Bali’s Play 2, Felly’s Wild Strawberries and Daniel Caesar’s Freudian.

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