Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)
There are a handful of writers in the rap journalism world that I do a weekly timeline check-in on to make sure I don’t miss anything they have published, and Jeff Weiss is one of the elite within that category (that’s him in the pic above holding a slice of pizza with a blunt in his mouth). Not only is his site Passion of the Weiss a top location on the web for heads who prefer their bloggers to scribe with substance, but he’s consistently cranking out insightful articles as an LA Weekly columnist, and he co-hosts arguably the tightest hip-hop podcast coming out of Cali right now, Shots Fired (past guests include everyone from Ratking to Roc Marciano). In addition, you can catch him penning righteous reviews and features on Pitchfork, and he just so happens to be the author of this month’s exclusive XXL cover story on Lil Wayne. Oh, and did I mention dude released a book last year, too? It’s called 2Pac vs. Biggie: An Illustrated History of Rap’s Greatest Battles, and it’s available on Amazon now. Cop that if you don’t already got that.
Because we all hold Jeff’s work in such high regard here and appreciate both his taste in tracks and his colorful commentary, we asked him to share some thoughts on five songs he’s been listening to recently for our latest Heavy Rotation. I know I can speak confidently for eskay and the rest of the team when I say that it’s an honor to have Jeff’s words grace the pages of NahRight. Enjoy the breakdown of his selections below.
1. Young Thug Mini-Medley “Old English,” “Hookah,” “Lifestyle”
Jeff Weiss: Young Thug is ostensibly from Atlanta but I’m as likely to believe he’s from Zone 6 on Alpha Centauri, where molly water flows from the tap and they serve syrup at the birthday parties of 6-year olds. He is a rap wedge issue, 21, with the face of an ancient famished South Pacific warlord, a penchant for donning the occasional dress, and a voice that reminds me of the weasels from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?—if the weasels were future dancehall superstars.
We pretend that the favorite rappers of our youth dropped perpetual jewels, but some of the most memorable lines are the simplest. “Lemonade was a popular drink and it still is,” is just some random-ass shit that Guru once said, but every time you take a sip of Minute Maid, you’re already rhyming it with props and stunts and Bruce Willis. Thugga might not be a poet like Langston Hughes, but he has already produced I got “gold like the tokens at Chuck E. Cheese” and “molly is whiter than my socks,” this summer. He might be the most flamboyant stylist in the game right now, and I am using flamboyant the way Big L meant it, which is more meaningful I think. I’m pretty sure that if you listen to these three songs in a row while repeating “Slime” in a mirror, Young Thug appears to offer you a blunt and a piece of pepperoni pizza.
2. Madvillain “Rhinestone Cowboy”
Tantrums at the Grand Ole Opry, departing in a jalopy, the grimey, slimey, try-me blimey with more soul than a sock full of holes. The super villain. This is a decade-old this spring, and we’re still waiting for a sequel. As Zilla Rocca said, there are six 21-year old rappers who steal wholesale from DOOM and all are on right now. That’s because the first time you hear Madvillain, you feel like you found it a pre-historic cave where fire first burn and they’ve been playing nothing but Melvin Van Peebles and Sun-Ra for thousands of years. This song and album are perfect because DOOM and Madlib never set out for perfection; it’s meticulous and messy, a series of broken notes all neatly in line.
3. Cortex “I Need a Sight”
Now that disco has proven to be as perdurable as polyester, its time to dig up the late 70s records that your favorite producers nay have neglected to sample. This is disco, this is soul, this is jazz, this is funk, this is French. They’re singing about religion in your soul and sights in the sky. I’m pretty sure it inspired several Gallic-dubbed episodes of The X-Files.
4. Idris Muhammed “Could Heaven Ever Be Like This”
Rest in percussion to the funky drummer so heavenly that he had to change his surname to match his preferred deity. Drummers from New Orleans have the most swing and Muhammed was conscripted for the best: Ahmad Jamal, Lou Donaldson, and Pharoah Sanders. The man was 16 and drumming for Fats Domino on “Blueberry Hill.” This is the song that you pick when you’re mourning a legend that just performed his last shuffle. I don’t believe in heaven, but if I did, he’d already be in the house band. #listentomorejazz
5. Dee-Lite “Picnic in the Summertime (Guru’s Jeeper Self Mix)”
If I’m going to compare Young Thug to old Guru, it was inevitable that I complete the cipher with this ’94 (rough rugged and raw) remix that the Brooklyn-bomber did for Deee-Lite. The latter were ahead of their time, a dance group spanning acid house, techno, pop, and hip-hop, with a lead singer named Lady Miss Kier, who wore a spandex body suit that no one has matched before or since (to be fair, Bootsy Collins came close in the video for “Groove is In the Heart.”)
This is the perfect summer song. Have a picnic. Smoke an L. Swing an episode in the backseat of your jeep.
Follow Jeff Weiss on Twitter.