Welcome back to the “Two-Week Review,” Dead End Hip Hop’s biweekly source for what’s been going on lately in the hip hop universe. We discuss who or what has been producing the biggest wins of the past two weeks and who/what is being tagged with the biggest Ls. We’ve got a good mix of underground and mainstream talk this time around. Here we go…
Jake: My big winner, or should I say winners, for this week would have to be Westside Gunn and Conway. I didn’t see this Shady Records deal coming at all, and for guys like them who have such a unique sound to get a big deal like that is awesome. Shout out to Eminem for recognizing their talent. Westside Gunn then went on to drop Hitler On Steroids, which was mainly old material, but still, everyone was buzzing about it. I’m sure Conway has something cooking up too. But all in all, these two definitely had big W’s this past week and I’m really happy for em.
Paul: I’m going to keep it underground and declare Jonwayne as my winner. Although Rap Album Two dropped over two weeks ago, it’s only been about a week since I discovered Jonwayne in the first place. But man, this guy hits a nerve. Rap Album Two is strange and sobering and poetic and really kind of beautiful at times. I think it’s already my favorite hip hop album since 2015. I haven’t heard an album that captures mental exhaustion like this in a while. Jonwayne sounds like a man slowly trying to find his way up from rock bottom. And I’m rooting for him. The guy shows some serious production talent too. I like that you mentioned Em too in regards to giving Gunn and Conway a platform. I’m not sure how I feel about Em as a talent scout. What do you think?
J: First off I’ve been hearing a lot about that new Jonwayne project so I’ll definitely have to peep it now. As far as Em goes, I think he has a pretty good eye for talent, at least in the hip-hop community. Occasionally I question his “co-signs” (ex. Big Sean) but for the most part he’s on point: 50 Cent, Slaughterhouse, Yelawolf, and now Gunn and Conway. However, you could argue signees like Cashis and Stat Quo, two rappers that didn’t end up being very successful, were blunders on Em’s part. But for the most part, I think he does a good job of recognizing talent.
P: I did like Cashis, Stat Quo, Obie Trice, and the D12 guys back in the day. Ultimately they all kind of blended together though. Definitely check out Jonwayne and I’ll check out Gunn and Conway. Deal?
J: Sounds like a plan. Who took an L for you these past two weeks?
P: Man, I’m going to give a big L to hip hop beef and “diss” tracks in general. Just stop it. First of all, I’ll preface my thoughts by saying that I respect the classic diss tracks and recognize that the drama of past beefs had real tension and much higher stakes than most of the hip hop feuds of the past fifteen years. But ultimately, I was too young to really care during the classic hip hop rivalries (Cube vs. NWA, Biggie vs. Pac, and even Nas vs. Jay). I don’t really like listening to diss songs if I’m not emotionally invested in the fight (and I never am). And I’m just not really interested in listening to a pissing contest. But most of the beefs these days seem like they’re between a washed up “lyrical” rapper and a rapper who is more of a pop star. I probably like Remy Ma’s verse on “Lean Back” more than Nicki Minaj’s entire discography, but I really don’t need to hear another boring diss track. And “No Frauds” is a pop song. It’s a little fun, but I didn’t come away from it thinking Nicki lit Remy up. I didn’t even want to talk about this, but now I’m too annoyed not to.
J: I agree 100%. I don’t like what rap beef has turned into. Rather than something to prove your ability & craft, it has become nothing more than a way to grab attention & drama. I won’t go in to the extent of it just because you hit most it. I also express my qualifications for “diss tracks” in the article I wrote about Drake and his attempts. This Remy-Nicki thing certainly qualifies as an L, however my L has to go to the Chicago Sun-Times, specifically Mary Mitchell, the fraudulent piece of work that wrote a terrible op-piece responding to Chance the Rapper donating money towards Chicago education. For her to call out Chance and his family for their own PRIVATE issues, and then use them to somehow devalue his donations was flat out wrong and really disgusting. It was really disrespectful and of all people, Chance doesn’t deserve any flak.
P: The Mitchell piece is odd to me. Regardless of Chance’s personal situation, why would someone who hasn’t even heard any of Chance’s music (according to Mitchell’s words) decide to write a condescending opinion piece trying to expose a rapper who is not only beloved in his city, but also has been very charitable and active in his city? Gossip just isn’t news to me and this article reads more like gossip than a thoroughly researched literary news report. But I don’t even know, man. You’re right though, Jake, it does seem like a half-baked attempt at spoiling the shine that Chance has brought to Chicago.
J: It just sucks after the whole Chief Keef thing with Chicago that they have the nerve to slander a guy who’s actually trying to do good for the community.
P: It’s a bummer, man.