Last week, while everyone else was scratching their head debating the symbolism of Childish Gambino’s latest track, I was shakin my ass to the speaker rattlers of springtime, Rae Scremmurd’s, SCR3MM and BlocBoy JB’s, Simi.
Depending on your age, locale and the ability (or inability) to bend your knees at the appropriate ligament, you may disagree on the listenability of these projects but for me, the litmus test for rap is simple nowadays – will it make me swerve in and out of lanes, will it compel me to rhythmically hunch my seat while driving, is the beat steady enough for squats during a workout and will I mentally morph into a bad bitch and/or drug dealer while rapping and dancing along? With about 45 combined songs to choose from, I dipped my litmus strip (and ass) to test these tracks out.
Ask me what my favorite type of music is and I’ll, without hesitation, reply Memphis Rap. Not even sure if that’s a category I can find on Spotify, not even sure I should’ve italicized it but from Playafly to Project Pat to Yo Gotti, Tennessee has a distinct flavor that no matter the current wave, has always resonated with me. On this album, BlocBoy JB continues the tradition of uncomplicated production, illegal activity and the introduction of neighborhoods like Grape St. Which prompted the inquiry, “Hey. Didn’t three Six put us on to Orange Mound?”. So yeah, remind me to google the connection between this city and fruit. I am, of 2 seconds ago, intrigued. In the meantime, shout out to Drake for joining Bloc on “Look Alive”; bringing the 21 yr old from the fissures of SoundCloud to the forefront of America where we love two things, guns and songs that come with dances.
The Simi cover borrows a J. Cole Forest Drive feel. Except where J. Cole looks content on his Momma’s roof, Bloc looks like he’s considering jumping off – right into a crowd of enthusiastic fans. And that’s what this album is – fun. But the kind of fun you get from a 12 yr old whose father broke out of prison to come chill with him before being returned to the feds. (Yes. True story. Wikipedia. Hard journalism. All day. Gang gang).
Some of the songs start off better than they end. And vice versa. This made possible by, yes, rudimentary raps but also entertaining lines and a flow that switches up sporadically during verses. I can’t buss a “grape” but I dig this homicidal debut. It’s my kinda album – straight from Memphis, beats I can bounce on, bitches I could fuck and dracos I can buss all before safely returning to wash the dishes.
Rae Scremmurd hit the scene years ago and I still cannot for the life of me, say their name without being phonetically confused. Usually, I start off strong and then get unsure at the end – just squishing it together as if referring to Bobby Shmurda’s older fictional cousin, Rae, for that is how I consistently pronounce this groups name – Shremmer. Is that right? Is that how you say it? Either way. All these mushy letters have all compounded to form a duo that just can’t make a bad song. I mean. Sure there are some you skip over, but horrible song? Hard to come by.
I played the Chanel track featuring Pharrell for my Grandmother and even she couldn’t help but tap her diabetic foot. So basically, even a mean old blind lady can’t sit still during this album. This project is a 3-in-1. You heard me right! For one low cost of whatever the hell you pay for your streaming service, you can get an LP from Swae Lee, Slim Jimmy, and Rae Scremmurd! And even though I only end up saving about 6 or 7 of the 27 songs I liked the idea that this project was built similar to Outkast’s “Speakerboxx and The Love Below”.
This crew seems determined to “sway” any belief that one is more talented than the other; dispelling all rumors that they will soon split to seek individual success. Given this effort, I hope it never happens. These two are each contenders alone but together are, as they say, Black Beetles. I used to not be able to tell them apart. But with this album it is clear – Swae Lee’s voice is an instrument, Slim Jimmy’s just the right amount of rough and together they chronicle the life of rock stars to the beat of their own drums, compliments of Mike Will. Just like I can’t pronounce their name, “I cannot for the life of me” name another duo that’s doin it like they are right now. And I know it’s customary to say, “‘I’ll wait”, but I won’t. I’ve got an article to upload.
In the end, both these albums make me wish I had a nicer car, at the very least a clean one – better to move through traffic in my imaginary Powerglide down an even more imaginary Grape St.