It’s important to remember that, though trap music is most closely identified with triple-time hi-hats, the genre takes its name not from percussive onomatopoeia, but from street slang, and further, that the trap is not just an institution, but a system of institutionalization. What better name for a trap song then than “Willie Bosket?”
If you Google the name, you’ll see two New York Times articles: 1989’s “A Boy Who Killed Coldly Is Now a Prison ‘Monster’” and 2008’s “Two Decades in Solitary.” The titles say it all, except that it was Willie Bosket whose youthful recidivism led New York State to change its laws so that violent offenders as young as 13 could be tried as adults under the Juvenile Offenders Act a.k.a. The Willie Bosket Law. Institutions foster institutionalization. Traps begat traps.
Institutionalization is personified in “Willie Bosket” by two characters (although they could theoretically be one and the same; after all, loss of identity is a symptom of institutionalization) portrayed in verses by Elucid and billy woods: the first, an “underprivileged over-medicated” youth at the mercy of broken courts and schools; the second, a crack and PCP user for whom “every day is drama — Mr. Zone 6.” Their tales are told over longtime woods collaborator Marmaduke’s best trapproximation, and here, captured on video by director Boombaye, who constructs a trap of his own by cutting black-and-white film samples with footage of Elucid and woods rapping in front of a projector playing said film.
“Willie Bosket” was a standout track on Armand Hammer’s Race Music (TMT Review), which, in case I haven’t already said, was my favorite album of 2013. The next Armand Hammer project is an EP called furtive movements, which is both “the most common reason listed by the police for a ‘stop and frisk’” and a lyric from the billy woods/Elucid collaboration “Freedman’s Bureau.” The furtive movements EP will be released digitally and on custom limited-edition vinyl in May.
Staggering toward the end of night. City streets echoing and amber lit. Music lingers out from a ground-level apartment. It’s lush in vocals. It’s lush in beat and sound. It’s lush. Taking a minute on that stoop gives ample amount of time for a smoke. Nodding to the fluidity of production, the window begins to close, and you turn and ask, “What’s that?” Using their hand to wave away the smoke, the silhouette doesn’t answer, stares (maybe), and then closes the window. The beat can still be hear, so wasting no expense on staggering, you turn the sway of your walk into a dance, around the block, and in your head.
MC queen Maria Minerva issssssssssssssssssssssssss unstoppable. “The Beginning” was such a long time about for her, and the only thing she’s really done since that is made her sound slightly crisper through TONS of releases. And her voice, is unchanging. -Err, wait, what am I saying, “The Beginning” is NOW. To be precise , “The Beginning” will be released with her new CD/LP Histrionic via Not Not Fun on April 29. And get ready to LET GO. ‘Cause it’s not-think-let’s-dance time, y’all.
She plucked the daffodils guiltily. Late at night, from a municipal flower bed in the middle of a busy roundabout. A Land Rover honked at her as she crossed back onto the pavement. “They were dying anyway,” she said to nobody. She attempted to prolong that small splinter of life by putting the flowers in a discarded beer bottle filled with mucky puddle water. By the time she had got home, the flowers looked pale and defeated, positively off-putting to any marauding insect intent on pollination. That night she dreamed of being attacked by giant daffodils, who pinned her down in a huge book and ‘pressed’ her into flat mortification for a pretty piece of paper. In the morning, the flowers looked more alive than ever.
Tirzah is all grainy hiccups and incredulous stares on new jam “Malfunction.” A rolling home movie set the morning after her last Ultimate Fighter party anthem. It ploughs a more casual musical and lyrical minimalism, words torn out of an MSN chatbox, one side of a dialogue, partly unanchored from it’s intimate context but implying (as with memory itself) such presence in its absences.
Da Mafia 6ix
“Break Da Law”
Now in (at least) its seventh incarnation, “Break Da Law” is perhaps one of the earliest hip-hop standards. For that fact alone, it’s worthy of more discussion than afforded here. Suffice it to say that this anarchic anthem has achieved folk status as a kind of pre-WorldStar riot song. How fitting then that this latest version actually premiered as a “WSHH EXCLUSIVE.” Returning briefly to the song’s musicological significance, unlike some, I find it difficult to use a word like “ignorant” to describe this call to arms.
Insane? Yes. Injurious? Indeed.
But ignorant? I don’t see it.
If anything, “Break Da Law” is coldly calculated. Just look at how well the above video is edited. It serves as an important reminder that all violence is not by definition ignorant, and the fact that the two words are so often equated in music “criticism” speaks volumes about the pussification of American culture. Perhaps it’s just that I got into Three-Six Mafia around the same time that I got into the Death Wish films, but I’m forced to recall a Charles Bronson interview, in which the character actor describes his first time having sex: “I was five and a half years old, and she was six … I gave her some strawberry pop. I gave her the pop because I didn’t want it; I had taken up chewing tobacco and I liked that better. I didn’t start smoking until I was nine. But I gave her the pop, and then we … hell, I never lost my virginity. I never had any virginity.”
“Break Da Law” is that quote turned to song. It’s America. Stream or download Da Mafia 6ix’s 6ix Commandments mixtape via LiveMixtapes and watch out for the group’s as-yet-untitled forthcoming album, due out June 6.
BK Beats & Black Noi$e
Previously released the middle of last month on Potholes Music, Nonbelievers by BK Beats & Black Noi$e continues to grind on that low-low cassette swag via Crash Symbols. As they lighting their blunts with burning bills playing in the jungle, BK Beats & Black Noi$e flay out a smattering of lyrics and uzi-fire vocals with friends and family features on each track. And that’s some solid love they giving out. Also, the beats/instrumentals run deep on the reel, considering they comprise the entity of side-B. And surprisingly for an EP, BK Beats & Black Noi$e give Nonbelievers ups and downs, fulfilling actual release fluidity, which isn’t typical for EPs, so this makes me super happy. Most times musicians have trouble with fluidity in LPs let alone EPs. I’d also wear that j-card art as a t-shirt FOR SURE. Stream the Nonbelievers EP by BK Beats & Black Noi$e below via Crash Symbols and grip the tape off ‘em too, why don’t ya:
• Crash Symbols: http://crashsymbols.bandcamp.com
I don’t know about you guys, but I sure have a love/hate relationship with a lot of rock music. While I love rock and roll with almost every fiber of my being, I also despise a lot of it because of the frequent recycling/diluting of whatever happens to be en vogue at the moment and/or the ignorance of what a minimum of instrumentation can do. I tend to be drawn towards pop music that typically exists outside of the hype machine and that understands when a song needs 100 instruments and when it needs just one.
Slomo Drags is a band that clearly understands the art of song arrangement while simultaneously giving the middle finger to all the haters and trendy pop poseurs out there (full disclosure: I used to play with Slomo Drags songwriter Jackson Albracht’s previous band Cartographers). As a result, their self-titled EP is a masterpiece of minimal pop complexity. These four tracks use standard four-piece rock instrumentation in an idiomatic manner similar to the stripped down intricacy of Women’s pointillistic arrangements on Public Strain (TMT Review). Each song is ripe with harmonic complexity, instantly memorable melodies, and some of the most cutting lyrics around. It’s a dizzyingly infectious debut that quickly places the band’s music in the same circle as likeminded contemporaries such as Chris Weisman and Great Valley.
Slomo Drags is available now as a free download via Bandcamp. You can stream the album in its entirety below:
• Slomo Drags http://www.slomodrags.bandcamp.com