rap review

Future - Welcome 2 Mollyworld

rapper future
Written by Jimmy Ness and originally published at Passionweiss

Welcome 2 Mollyworld is the astronaut kid’s foray into recording under the influence of serotonin hog Molly, also known to white people as MDMA. It's mostly a collection of popular material and remixes, but DJ X-Rated seizes five new tracks, all of which are more listenable than Diddy’s aimless boasting on “Same Damn Time remix.” The best of the bunch is “Double Cup and Molly” with its solid hook and R&B sensibilities that made Pluto so good. Future inexplicably begins with the phrase “Codeine Miley Cyrus,” which I’m sure the party girl would appreciate. 

“Hard” is also the shit and while the thumping bass sounds similar to his previous work, he’s in a zone where the majority of his verses sound fresh. The three other tracks aren’t particularly special, but it’s enough to subdue auto-tune addicts until Nayvadius Cash (yes, that’s his real name) releases Future Hendrix.

Despite boldly claiming he’s the MDMA rap pioneer, Future walks in the jaw-clenching company of known love-drug enthusiasts Danny Brown and Jackie Chain. The latter dubbed himself “a pill-poppin animal” and claimed he hadn’t slept in weeks on January’s After Hour’s mixtape. As long as we don’t see a trend of thugs hugging it out and succumbing to suicide Tuesday, I don’t mind if my music is on that Ringwald.


Waka Flocka Flame - Rooster in my 'Rari


Waka Flocka Flame - Rooster in my 'Rari

By Jimmy Ness

Originally published at Passionweiss

This bangs so hard even the snarky elitists want to rip their cardigans off and smash stuff. Flocka shout raps to the roosters/chickenheads who sit in his Ferrari and try to sample the Flockaveli fortune. His opening acapella line sets things off nicely- “Pay for what girl? You better pay for this dick!” Fozzie Bear is too busy for gold diggers when there’s stacks to throw, other groupies to sample and Xannies to chew. 

You already know what this sounds like: booming trap beats and basic yell-along lyrics. But that’s not a bad thing. No one wants to hear political Flocka raps unless they’re about getting crunk with Obama and breaking windows in the White House.


“Rooster in my ‘Rari” doesn’t push any musical boundaries, but it’s a nice fiesta from technical wordplay and aggressive social commentary. Especially if you’ve been bumping Killer Mike and EL-P’s albums this month like the rest of us. Flocka’s music is stupidly fun and if you ignore any Trey Songz collaborations, Triple F Life might be the soundtrack for summer rioting and two day hangovers. Waka still does gutter shit better than any of those Chicago high-schoolers.

Ab Soul - Empathy ft JaVonte and Alori Joh


Ab Soul takes a break from rapping about pills and dirty Sprite to channel the spirit of OG Nate Dogg. The Black Hippy grooves while ringing a booty call, tries his best to look like Wish Bone and wears sunglasses in the dark. With help from TDE affiliate JaVonte, Soulo sings a mellow tune and proves he’s more than a drug rap visionary.
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He briefly adds a few double-time bars to “Empathy” but mostly sticks to surprising you with smooth vocals. This isn’t an R&B croon-fest though. Brief psychedelic visuals and hypnotic repetition of the track title makes the song a little more unsettling than Chris Brown without handcuffs. This slow jam also comes with an important message: let Ab Soul hit it and he might spend that $700 a show money on you.
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Empathy also features Ab-Soul’s close friend Alori Joh, who passed away a few months ago. She was 25, attractive and appeared on several TDE releases. RIP Alori. If you’re chilling with Nate Dogg, can you tell him to swap places with French Montana?

Tree - Sunday School review


By Jimmy Ness

Despite blessing himself with one of the most un-googleable names imaginable, the sample-warping Chicago producer/rapper Tree is intriguing. He sounds like an injured donkey but also boasts a deep singing voice. His bizarre drawl is singular but bears a resemblance to Danny Brown, Z-Ro, and Pastor Troy. He flips soul records like a traditionalist, but he sounds little like a traditionalist. He’s not the most eloquent rapper, but he’s relatable, charismatic and a great producer. His new mixtape is a lot better than the alternate Sunday school where you inevitably fell asleep or were invited to nerdy prayer parties.

The album initially takes a while to process because it’s hard to take Tree’s break-neck voice in large doses. But “Die” is an immediate stand out. The chorus “Lord, don‘t let me die, man’ hits anyone who has clung to religious notions when life is going downhill. This struggle with religion defines much of the album’, particularly on “All” and “Chuch” where Tree questions whether he is a good person despite being a piff-puffin’, lady lovin’ sinner. Later in the mixtape, his lyrics invoke personal moments including loneliness, fighting with his brother, and being poor. It’s compelling, but unfortunately, there’s not a lot of it. Luckily, his charm carries the rote gangsterisms that it often falls back on.


Tree isn’t a perfect rapper. His vocab is simple and some of his rhymes are little more than struggle rap without the narrative. He also follows in the hefty footsteps of Rick Ross circa “Hustlin,” by rhyming the same word with itself about five times. But like ODB before him, there’s something unique about Tree that makes the clumsiness enjoyable. ‘Talkin’ Naples, Naples, Italy and Caicos, my homies riding horses,’ is my favorite line from the album and a ridiculous attempt at bravado. Every time I hear it, I can’t help but imagine a 90′s Snoop Dogg riding a galloping white stallion while eating a croissant.

Tree doesn’t have to rap fast or super-technical to be interesting. He’s simply a fun listen and judging by his thoughtful demeanor during interviews his unique sound was definitely a planned decision. “Couple of niggaz don’t like my shit, but a couple of these niggaz don’t write my shit,” his raspy voice proclaims on “Doo Doo” before launching into more simple memorable rhymes. The line works as a mission statement: you might not like Tree’s style, but it’s original and difficult to emulate.

Sunday School is self-produced and Tree’s beat-making game is sharp. He chops vocals in a different way than most soul samplers: often just looping one or two hypnotic words which relate to the song’s theme. Instead of drowning us with overplayed Amy Winehouse or Aretha Franklin samples, he uses just a smidgen of their voice to much greater effect than every boring snap-backer jumping on an Adele chorus. Tree also knows how to compliment his voice with odd tempos and sudden beat changes which make you listen more closely. GLC’s feature on “Texas Tea” is a memorable example simply because of how the music changes with his performance.

Tree might be struggling to explain away his sins, but I’m pleased he found stolen equipment to practice his divinity skills on. If you need further convincing on MC perennial woody plant, listen for the nice production and appreciate the rest later. Don’t be fooled by first impressions, King Louie and Chief Keef aren’t the only Chicago rappers worth checking for.