The Breaks: Last Week in DMV Hip-Hop
In this week's installation of The Breaks, Wale clears the air on his position with MMG through song, GoldLink continues his onslaught of content, Nike Nando touches on relationships gone sour, Dunson gives his struggle anthem the visual treatment, and Malcolm Xavier takes the Prince and Kanye West approach to debuting music.
Wale’s MMG Pledge of Allegiance
In light of the #UNOTMMG taunts hurled at Wale by his labelmate Meek Mill a couple of weeks back, I hinted at strife within Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group faction, suggesting that Wale no longer needed to be there. The D.C. native (temporarily) answered lingering questions about his status with MMG with the release of "MMG Under God." Wale glides over inspiring, highly percussive production from frequent collaborator Tone P, affirming his solidarity with the label that saved his career while echoing the maturity seen in his response to Meek Mill’s contentious Twitter rant: "I get over shit quick, understanding my flaws/Loyalty is a law, MMG under God."
The last portion of that bar has hints of Rick Ross, from his cadence to trademark growl. Was this intentional? Most likely.
Speaking of Ross, he addressed the conflict between Meek Mill and Wale during a recent interview with Bullet, saying he phoned both of them as soon as he saw the tweets to quell further drama. "Those two guys, they’re brothers," Ross explained, calling the exchange "brotherly jabs." "It’s all love between those two and everybody knows that," he insisted. Being a CEO—or a "bawse," as he might say—and his own mistakes have familiarized Ross with the art of damage control.
During a spoken-word segment at the song’s end, Wale also indirectly refers to Meek Mill as a brother. "A brother you argue with is a brother you love enough to correct," he says prior to closing the song with "Free Meek"—words of solidarity for Meek Mill, who was abruptly jailed for three to six months last week for violating his parole.
I still contend that Wale could leave MMG and be fine at this point, but at the moment, his sole focus is music.
"The Body" (like a Benz) drops in two weeks
— Wale Folarin (@Wale) July 16, 2014
Even More GoldLink
GoldLink’s music seems to be everywhere of late. This latest collaboration, "On You," features him and Chet Faker, with the Virginia rapper filling Faker’s audio sketch in with the color of his trademark staccato flow. It’s another prelude to the release of The God Complex’s deluxe edition, which will be available on iTunes July 22.
Non-808s & Heartbreak
If you’ve followed Nike Nando’s career, you know that the recent release of a project doesn’t mean a break from the grind. His ICON: Lord of the Flyy mixtape was released about a month ago, and the Prince George’s County rapper is already back to work. "The Low Down," produced by Nightryder, deals with the heartbreak of infidelity. Over a looped vocal sample and drums that stumble over themselves, Nando details the pain of catching his significant other cheating on him. The song’s final 90 seconds featuring nothing but Nightryder’s instrumental, which allow you to drown in your feelings as the track rides out.
From the scene where he sprints out of a cab without paying to the metaphorical clips of money escaping his reach, the video for Dunson’s "Broke Ass Dope Ass Rapper" is a visual representation of the struggle. If hearing the Maryland rapper’s ode to a career stuck in limbo didn’t make you feel his pain, then seeing it certainly will. His next project, Outlier, is still coming soon.
I’ve been meaning to write about this for some time now, but better late than never, right? The way an album is presented has a profound effect on how it’s received, and Malcolm Xavier’s decision to not only film a visual companion to his Sequester LP, but screen it at Landmark’s E Street Cinema, is emblematic of that understanding. At 42 minutes, the film—along with the experimental production—draws attention from Xavier’s monotone and enhances the experience by catering to more than one sense. The film’s strongest moment is a studio scene which takes viewers behind the making of the project, bringing a fly-on-the-wall human element to it.
Note to all rappers: Rather than risk having people disengaged at your album listening session (which defeats the purpose, no?), do something that forces everyone to pay attention to it. This doesn’t necessarily mean make a film, but do something uncommon. You’re creatives; I have faith in you.
Purchase sequester on iTunes here.