Young Thug - “Danny Glover” (In-studio performance)
Although I didn’t yet know it as “Danny Glover,” I have been anxiously awaiting the release of “Danny Glover” for a few weeks now, since the moment I saw Young Thug shrouded here in his flecked sweater pensively singing to himself from under his dreads, “Stoner my lifestyle. I’m living too wild. I can’t even make you proud. That money keep her around.” You can tell something about the song is special to Thug. Sure, he can be seen dancing to “Stoner” moments before with a highlighter in the air, but something about his countenance changes when the video cuts to “Danny Glover.” You can see how withdrawn and invested Thug is when Waka attempts to communicate with him at the song’s outset, before just giving up and joining in with him, singing along to the hook. Thug appears far too engrossed in his own music to indulge in any niceties (although they do pose for a photo moments later), but I love that Waka knows the words. On Friday, a finished version of “Danny Glover” was leaked online in anticipation of TM88 and Southside’s exceptional Crazy 8 x It’s a Southside Track 3. Apparently the leak was inadvertent, as the next day, I was kindly asked by Thug’s people to remove the song from my YouTube channel. I of course happily obliged. You can’t really blame Thug for keeping this one to himself for a little while longer, or just waiting until the moment is right.
While you wait for a sanctioned release of “Danny Glover,” you might want to check out Thug’s appearances on Bloody Jay’s uniformly great Blatlanta 2 (“Let’s Go Play” and “Nobody Safe”). You could also listen to D-Dash’s "Doorz," the Thugga-featured song that was properly slated to appear on the 808 Mafia mixtape. But what you really have to hear is Thug’s verse on the remix to Young Dunchie Baby’s “Glitter Ain’t Gold,” a song which stands on its own as a thoughtful meditation on street etiquette with a cool neighborhood video. Thug has appeared on several Dunchie Baby songs before this remix (“Thank No More,” “Uptown,” “G-Check,” and “Patience”), but his verse on this one is just out of this world. It starts with a discussion of fellatio that spirals into outright whimsy before Thug regains his composure and underlines the whole affair with a couple of closing boasts: “Got like 50,000 bands inside my garment. Got more weed in the spot than a nigga momma garden.”
And for the truly depraved fanatics, I still have a couple more. Thug recently lent a verse to Snypa Rifle’s “Who da Fuk Is U,” which sees our dreadlocked protagonist bragging coolly, “Bitches know they can’t have me, they want my sons” amidst Snypa’s apocalyptic yowls. Thug can also be heard on Mucho’s “Ain’t Nothing,” which features Yung Mazi as well and bears a dedication to a fallen friend: “Forever young R.I.P. Jihad.”
One last thing—your life is not complete until you check out Thug’s Socialcam account.
MPA Duke ft. Skippa da Flippa - “Go Left”
Finally, longtime Young Thug-collaborator MPA Duke is stepping out of the shadows and releasing some music on his own. You might know Duke from his appearances on songs by Thugga, Kwony, PeeWee, and most recently, Jose Guapo, or you might recognize him from hanging out with literally every rapper in Atlanta, particularly one Rich Homie Quan. Here on “Go Left,” we see Duke helming the ship alongside Skippa da Flippa, another close confidante to the Atlanta stars, whose trusted role in the Migos’ inner circle has only recently translated onto record with a feature on the trio’s Zaytoven-produced “50 Chicks.” While Skippa’s verse chronicling his rise from jumping off the porch at 10 years old to now working with Scott Storch at 21 is a doozy, the force of MPA Duke’s breathless-but-composed delivery precludes any chance of the show being stolen, with Duke alluding to the already classic “Who’s On Top,” reminding us that he’s “still thinking of a master plan” before finally putting the inquiry to rest: “Who’s on top? Me.”
Now I’m not sure why MPA Duke released his debut mixtape, Got Bars, without so much as a tweet but I’m just thankful the ubiquitous Atlantan found time to release a career anthology before unleashing his Brick Squad debut, 1017 Duke (which, being a theoretical Brick Squad debut, is no fait accomplit). Until Got Bars’ unpublicized release back in June, I had long feared that MPA Duke and his fellow MPA compatriate Wicced might one day be mentioned in the same breaths as such NYHC luminaries as Dmize, Altercation, Trip 6, Krakdown, and The Psychos: tragically obscure artists who managed to shine so brightly on their few existing recordings but never saw a proper release. While we still have no sign of a Wicced debut, Duke at least has seen fit to strike his name from the conversation.
Operating as an MPA primer of sorts, Got Bars spans Duke’s career from his earliest BFPL days until present. In addition to its brand new offerings, the tape includes a sampling of his contributions from Kwony Cash’s Da Voice of the Streets ("Guess What" but not "For Dat Money"), Young Thug’s I Came From Nothing 2 ("Who’s On Top" but not "Above Dem Niggas" or "Fuck 12"), and Gucci Mane & MPA PeeWee Longway’s Money Pounds Ammunition ("Started From Scratch"). Got Bars also includes a selection of Duke’s even more obscure tracks, culled from the the musty corners of Soundcloud, Hulkshare, and YouTube. While fidelity may vary from song to song, MPA Duke’s consistency across the collection of odds and ends is unwavering.
Kicking off this long-delayed debut is the Young Thug and Wicced-assisted “It’s Our World,” one of Duke’s finest songs and a first-rate slice of Thug apocrypha. It is as much an assertion of bravado as it is declaration of alienhood, with Thug singing both “It’s our world, we make it spin” and “This a spaceship, did I mention that I’m an alien?” An effective introduction to say the least.
A disciple of the feature verse himself, it makes perfect sense Duke should include a smattering of memorable ones on his debut. We are treated to not only Wicced’s trademark whisper ever harkening back to Atlanta’s Futuristic era, but a Yung Booke-orchestrated experiment in pure bliss ("Sum I Know Bout"), and even several appearances from the elusive Frunny from BFPL, who appears in this ancient photo, one of the greatest music videos of all time ("Everyday I Gotta Shine"), CRE’s largely unsung Large in the Game, the incarcerated Tay Man’s truly unknown Pillsbury Street, and the most recent installment in the Fake I.D. series.
Although the supporting cast most certainly sweetens the pot, MPA Duke stands on his own merits. From vivid recollections of meager beginnings (“We come from eating noodles, bread, and canned goods”) to the fake crowd roar introducing “Why They Hate on Me,” MPA Duke’s debut feels like a personal and an artistic success. While he may threaten to cut your cocaine with baking soda a couple times on the tape, you owe Duke a listen. Honestly, the man’s work is worth your time if only for the impossibly cool Hey Arnold tattoos on his ribcage.
Although nearly a year lapsed between the photo shoot for Got Bars and its online release, I’m just thankful MPA Duke finally has one in the books. Now all we can do is sit back and cross our fingers in hopes that 1017 Duke materializes, a full version of “Kick It With a Boss” one day blares throughout Lenox Mall, and, perhaps most importantly, the MPA film, Imagine, sees release.
MPA Finesse ft. MPA Wicced - “All Channels”
I am thrilled to premiere this Drug Money exclusive and all-MPA affair, because songs like this are exactly the sort that motivated me to start this blog in the first place. It’s rap music that feels like a dream. It’s bliss. It’s dizzy disco ball lights and benzodiazepines. With “All Channels,” MPA Finesse and longtime-Young Thug collaborator MPA Wicced have crafted a song about excesses and vice every bit as calming and dreamy as the pharmaceuticals they enumerate. On the pair’s similarly gossamer "We Up," another D$ exclusive, Finesse and Wicced reflect on past struggles but even in these, their more somber moments, it’s still all swirling city lights and the neon glow of the fast lane. And while we’re discussing the MPA takeover, Finesse has a slew of solo songs also on my YouTube that I think deserve a listen. "Shyster," my personal favorite and the coldest of the bunch, is a good starting point.
I’m on too many drugs, I can’t stand up.
I’m on too many zans, I done had enough.
Thanks, Rich Homie Quan! Video of my July 25th interview with the rising star dropping on here sometime soon. We discussed everything from Young Thug to “Can’t Judge Her” to our shared love of Z-Ro to Quan’s favorite flavor of Capri Sun. We even jinxed each other comparing our favorite tracks from his first mixtape ("Play Around With That Check," "Bankroll," "Numbers"). While I’m assured that I had a good time during Quan’s set at the Loft later on that night, he went on pretty late and everything became a blur after a certain point. My pal Divo’s comment on my Facebook wall says it all, though: “man i lost my grill after Rich homie Quan concert, turnt up……” I’d also like to thank my friend A Plus for hooking the interview up. The man’s a saint.
Young Thug ft. Jose Guapo & PeeWee Longway - “Sittin’ On It” (Prod. by Y.D.G.)
Walking home from the bar last night, I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that I should spend some time mining the dark corners of the internet for a new Thugger joint, instead of going to bed like a normal, well-adapted person might. Lucky for us all, I stumbled upon this borderline-psychedelic stomper featuring some heavily lingo-laden verses from three of Atlanta’s most singular and eccentric rappers. Young Thug maintains his composure during the opening chorus, but pretty quickly launches the listener into space on a Watson 853-shaped rocket with a gleeful order to “Tear this motherfucker up!” before howling “Young Guapo” over and over to heartwrenching, cathartic effect. After that, Y.D.G.’s woozy synths wash all over you, lifting you further and further into space and leaving a stardust trail of that pesky Acetaminophen behind. After two full minutes of Thug’s impassioned clamoring, we are treated to Guapo’s signature sneering (picture Calvin peeing on 2 Chainz and Young Dro instead of a Chevy logo) and PeeWee’s militaristic charge, which he so perfectly punctuates here with the simple and effective declaration—”I’m a D boy, bitch.” It’s just a total joy to watch these three rappers, who have each individually come into their own in such substantial ways, flex all at once over the mesmerizing production of Y.D.G., an MPA representative and, to my ears, one of the most talented young producers of the day. Stay tuned for Guapo’s World 2 and the collaborative Longway Guapo, but in the meantime, I hope “Sittin’ On It” raises your spirits as much as it did mine this morning, even as the sun was creeping through my blinds to shame me into sleep. Oh, and while you’re at it, watch this cool video from 2010 of PeeWee and others freestyling from the couch on a dog day of summer. Lastly, I don’t think I have ever posted about this song on here since uploading it to YouTube, but here is my favorite PeeWee Longway song, "Get Them Bands."
Young Thug - “J.B.S. the Long Way”
While I’m never surprised by the breadth of his abilities, I certainly didn’t click play on this new Young Thug track expecting to hear him sound completely natural—even effortless—rapping over a vintage Kanye instrumental from Jay, Beanie, and Face’s "This Can’t Be Life." It’s as though he had enough of those lazy, ham-fisted reviews characterizing his style as being so weird it’s good or whatever, prompting him to defy expectations by recording a freestyle that could have been right at home on any given DJ Whoo Kid mixtape from the mid-aughts. Shout out to Mega Ruckus of "Bubbles" fame for throwing this on his Soundcloud and praises be to Young Thug, the fifth Hot Boy.
Ola Playa's ABG mural by Kintoz of Bricksquad Ink.
Future ft. Young Scooter & Trouble - “Freebandz”
Courtesy of Future, Scooter, and Trouble five years ago, “Freebandz” is a potential-dripping and long-forgotten bellwether foreshadowing the then-future, now-present of Atlanta rap. I found it undisturbed, preserved in amber deep within the digital cave that is the Duct Tape Ent. Myspace page. I’m guessing this anthem never saw proper release due to Scooter and Trouble both beginning prison sentences not long after the song’s October 26, 2008 upload date. “Freebandz” might not be the hallmark of any of these rappers’ careers, but origins are important. It’s captivating, if only to hear three rappers with such developed brands and sounds trade verses before any of them had even so much as released a mixtape. And with such confidence. The bravado and sureness Future and Scooter exhibit here at such an early point in their careers make the heights they have risen to today appear less of a feat and more of an inevitability. Trouble’s features often seem too sinister for their songs they are on, but here he sounds more insouciant than despotic. Perhaps his trademark menace had not yet reached full bloom. Anyway, I revisit Future’s Kno Mercy constantly for similar slivers of early promise (“Lil Mexico Lingo” in particular), so this song’s discovery is a pretty exciting rap archeology find for me. Mining outmoded social networks for low bitrate mp3’s doesn’t feel all that different from record digging to me, but rarely are the digital rewards as sweet. This, my friends, is a Vengeance.