Welcome to Weekly Mixtape, where we handpick the week’s best tracks for your auditory enjoyment. No need to thank us, it’s cool.
Kanye West ft. Bon Iver, “Lost In the World”
I might as well just start calling this thing “The Kanye West Report”.
This single, perhaps the last from West’s brilliant My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, features Justin Vernon of Bon Iver lending a vocal hook to a K-West track that is surprisingly light on the K-West.
The accompanying video clip features a stylish, black-and-white dance number and an appropriately airy set of aesthetic conventions. Nothing Kanye West has been involved with in the past two years (in the worlds of music, fashion or film) has come close to MBDTF’s jaw-dropping originality, so reminders that that album exists are always welcome.
Mayhem Lauren ft. Action Bronson and Heems (Das Racist), “Special Effects”
Mayhem Lauren and Action Bronson belong to the same vocal phylum as Rick Ross and Biggy, a sonic affiliation predicated foremost on the MCs’ impressive girth. So help me, but I’m a sucker for those molasses-thick tones, and in this case they carry with them some respectable verses, even if Lauren and Bronson aren’t necessarily bringing the big guns.
Of this hook-less tripartite track, my “Best Verse” award goes to Action Bronson, easily the most capable of these three MCs. Meyhem Lauren puts in some quality rhymes as well, leaving Heems the awkward, if capable, odd man out.
2 Chainz ft. Drake, “No Lie” (produced by Mike WiLL)
Drake is nearing Nicki Minaj levels of over-exposure and, as a result, simultaneously nearing Nicki Minaj levels of self-parody. The Softest N***a in Rap’s gently auto-tuned contribution to this 2 Chainz tracks offers a prime example.
Drake seems unaware of the gangster résumé-building that comprises 2 Chainz’s verse (“The skeleton in my closet? It’s probably a dead rapper”) and shifts gears to his typically heart-hurt laments.
Two talented MCs, neither of whom are operating at their peak efficiency, both of whom are worthy of attention nonetheless.
Steve Aoki & Angger Dimas ft. Iggy Azalea, “Beat Down”
So this is how they’re going to market Iggy Azalea. With production from hipster demiurge Steve Aoki, this track skews solidly left of center, basing its beat around a grinding siren sample and ceding its lyrical sensibility to Azalea’s jackhammer flow.
Azalea’s talent carries the track, but the cross-cultural posturing of Aoki’s production feels too much like cross-cultural posturing. Azalea still has a her sights set on Top 40, though as the evidence trickles in, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that more interesting talent lies with Azalea’s perennial rival: Azealia Banks (evidence to follow).