If you want to compare holiday-release periods for rap, Memorial Day may rank up there with July 4 and Christmas releases. People aren't as outright drunk, it's a day where music is as essential as knowing who cooked exactly what and how much alcohol is still available. If you’re a smoker, Memorial Day featured a soundtrack from Le$, who, outside of releasing a full-blown tribute tape to Sega’s last popular gaming system, has been quiet for 2016. But if you’re someone who prays, worships and believes in anything from the Sauce Bible, Sauce Walka released his controversial Holy Sauce tape to keep you properly engaged until the next Sauce Convention.
Hell, if you don’t adhere to either of those parties, then Kidd The Great had something for you in a brand-new EP. You could feel a bit dissatisfied in knowing that his “5% Tint” record, the first T.H.E.M record to find some serious gravity upon either of the local stations, isn’t on it. But still, five tracks from Kidd The Great is a solid addition to your life. Either of the three could have boosted your party, and in the case of Holy Sauce, you’d probably have already downed a ton of alcohol to unlock its true potential.
Sauce Walka’s Holy Sauce came out last Friday, just as he said it would. Most of the initial discourse surrounding the tape’s cover has died down and the end result is Sauce Walka doing Sauce Walka things. The enunciated squawks to highlight choruses are everywhere, brief moments of self-reflection and honesty peek through the boasts and pimp talk (“buying dinners out the corner store,” “same city and the niggas that I love is the main niggas hating on me”) and then some. In regards to outrageous rap personalities existing in a world that pretty much has rendered them useless, Sauce Walka and the Factory are in a class of their own. If they’re not constantly punching out raps about striving to get rich, they’re attempting to croon about their pain and problems. The latter is what most mainstream media haven’t attached themselves to in regards to Walka, Sosamann, Rizzoo Rizzoo and Sanchy. It’s the drama and antics that people want.
Considering that rap has either lost most of its menacing figures or seen them essentially converted into accessible acts, TSF are outliers. What benefit Holy Sauce gets in comparison to older Walka mixtapes or even older group projects is in how the sonics not only sound richer, they sound diverse. “Move Buddy Out the Way” sticks to a basic organ-and-piano melody as Walka discusses gun talk the same way a kid would talk about discussing that first great pair of breasts. “Money Trees” reunites the Sauce Theft Auto trio alongside some of Hit Boy’s most isolated piano notes. Ricky P kicks up the 808s for the tape closer, “Yeah Yeah,” and tucks away a few snares just for Sosamann and Walka to sing about getting white women straight off Dawson’s Creek breaking them off with money. Walka is moving into the third year of being a noted figure on the rap scene, and Holy Sauce moves him out of an autonomous realm in some spaces; in others, it feels the faithful exactly what they need.
On the other hand, Le$ found his groove (or at least one of his grooves) when he dipped into a batch of Freddie Joachim beats for the original E36 some three years ago. He’s always been dismissive of the term “cloud rap,” a derivative of weed rap where all the songs usually are a blob of lighthearted raps married with atmospheric beats. The cognitive appeal to Le$ has always been his yeoman-like taste for rapping about the finer things and not the stressful ones. He’s like rap’s supremely tattooed Joel Osteen, only that he’d rather ride in a clean Eldorado — or, in the case of his BMW appreciation, an E36. Between tacos, Whataburger, zebra cakes, a little weed, the right woman and some sage advice, you’ve a pretty decent sample size of Le$. Last year’s Steak X Shrimp Vol. 2 stood out for his sticking to a format, a bombastic mix of old-school West Coast meets Houston synth monsters (“Caddy”) and plush Sunday afternoon in MacGregor Park raps (“Bond No. 9," “Clean Den a Bitch”).
E36 Techno Violet creeps around the corner and is tricked out like an old-school rap tape, with individual tracks that sample Toro Y Moi, Kavinsky and Donny Hathaway packed into little mini-suites. As a listener, you’ll be stuck in a daze before you realize Le$ has already sped off through 15 minutes of raps and syrupy production. It’s lazy to marginalize anything he does as “cloud rap”; thankfully, most rap writers have buried the term altogether. Laid-back raps that eschew all posturing in search of a greater good are what Le$ is all about. There aren’t any ghosts that chase him, and much of his worries are letting his mind hark back to the days when girls used to diss him. Le$ operates much like his Jet Life head honcho Curren$y now: far more focused on the right now and manipulating the future.
All of the adjectives that follow Sauce Walka’s tendencies to love home while facets of home don't love him and Le$ constantly moving in a leveled-off high could be used about Kidd The Great. He sports far more gray in his facial features than either Walka or Le$. He is in some aspects the literal embodiment of “catching boppers if I drove a cab." Unlike a ton of rappers in Houston, or the world, for that matter, he is quite comfortable working within a crew. He doesn’t yelp for stardom or drive his ego to a point of acknowledgment. There’s far more outright enjoyment when it comes to Kidd the Great. When he sings, it's not a strained yearning with a point to prove. It’s closer to you and your friends remixing records in the cafeteria or in a closed circle. And it’s enjoyable as hell.
Whatever I Want is a brand-new Kidd The Great EP with Chris Rockaway, and it mixes the lackadaisical nature of Devin the Dude with the kind of '70s and '80s pop remixes that are scattered throughout Houston rap. Sample Soul For Real’s “Candy Rain” for a record about a particular kind of Chevy? All Houston. Flip Jeremih’s “Oui” to detail a record about getting head in special places and taking dudes' women? That’s “Chose Up." KTG’s unorthodox soul makes a lot of his notes and output feel like Cee-Lo Green when he completely ducked away from delivering bars. There’s a little gospel in there, definitely. There’s also plenty of Houston hardship, Screwed Up Click/Swishahouse ‘90s-style flow patterns and scrabble tucked in as well. In a nutshell, it’s 100 percent country rap tunes. “Food For My Soul” could have been produced right inside of someone’s choir room but instead, it’s a song all about love. Ironically enough, “Presidential Pardon,” featuring Hollywood FLOSS and Dustin-Prestige, comes next and it’s layered with ominous chords and FLOSS discussing loving on women with porno-star technique and Presto’s words stomping around the beat for effect. By the time Whatever I Want closes out and the guitar strings from “Simply Swagged Out” peek beyond a slab of drums, Kidd The Great swirls into a ’70s lover-man pose right out of the book of Al Green.
“Food For My Soul” could have been produced right inside of someone’s choir room but instead, it’s a song all about love. Ironically enough, “Presidential Pardon,” featuring Hollywood FLOSS and Dustin-Prestige, comes next and it’s layered with ominous chords and FLOSS discussing loving on women with porno-star technique and Presto’s words stomping around the beat for effect. By the time Whatever I Want closes out and the guitar strings from “Simply Swagged Out” peek beyond a slab of drums, Kidd The Great swirls into a ’70s lover-man pose right out of the book of Al Green.
Three projects, three completely separate personalities all wired differently. And they all arrived sometime on Memorial Day and carried throughout last week. Here’s to wonder if one of them will stick out at the end of the year.
SONGS OF THE WEEK
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A biweekly series from DeLo where he’s gonna just deliver all types of raps for his own good will? Sign us up. I thought “Love Me Foreva” was gonna be the initial throat-chop, but “Pennies” punctures your brain about sweating big stuff and not little stuff. Remember when DeLorean used to stress about everything? Now he’s stressing less and winning more.
Doeman, "Plottin x $chemin”
For a second, you could have thought Doeman had retired to an underground bunker for the rest of the year. Then he goes to Los Angeles to perform for the first time and releases a straight-up, hard-rhyming, barrio-living video. Score one for being dedicated to the actual craft of being a damn good rapper.