The long awaited Back To The Feature mixtape from DC RAPS GREAT HOPE dropped on Friday. Primarily produced by ex-Little Brother beatsmith 9th Wonder, the tape is Wale’s bid for true hip hop legitimacy while simultaneously pushing a shameless and gross radio single. After the jump are my song-by-song first listen knee jerks on the tape. Download it here if you need a soundtrack to this blog post.
“Cyphr” f/ Young Chris, Freeway & Beanie Sigel
So it seems Wale has been adopted into the State Property extended family. It makes sense, he’s comfortable rapping with them. Still it’s unfortunate that he’s pulling them closer to the rap-about-nothing territory he occupies when they’re so much better at rapping about shooting people and eating at Boston Market.
“5 Minutes” f/ Skyzoo
Didn’t Wale already use this sample? Seemingly both artists only took five minutes to write their verses. That’s not a diss, that’s the concept of the record. Skyzoo comes off nicely.
“Night Life” f/ Young Chris & Tre
“I ain’t worried ’bout you little n****s blogging.” Blog rappers are constantly saying stuff like this on their mixtapes but if they were truly unconcerned with blogs then they wouldn’t have to mention blogging in their raps at all. Something tells me that Wale and Chris have been frantically googling “Back To The Feature” all weekend. This song has been out for months. It is still very hot. These are the type of records Wale sounds best on – upbeat tracks that nod vaguely to the go-go influence but aren’t totally go-go records.
“Hot Shyt” f/ Peedi Crakk, Black Thought, Tu Phace & Young Chris
Another Philly posse cut. Halfway through the tape this track marks eight Philly guest verses before a single DC area one. (Not counting UCB’s Tre who is basically Wale’s live in hype/hook man. I heard he sings the chorus to Wale’s pancakes every morning.) Plus there were three from Brooklyn, one from New Orleans and one from Newark. The fact that I’m doing math in my mixtape review doesn’t bode well for the quality of the tape or my own sanity.
“Wonder Why” f/ Big Sean, Ken Starr & Mike Posner
Okay here’s a local rap guest. Low Budget’s Ken Starr. It’s strange Wale had to outsource his backpack rap production, when there are at least three more talented producers in the same lane within the Low Budget crew alone. And Kanye weed carrier Big Sean brings HIS weed carrier Mike Posner. Outsourcing not only destroys the economy, it destroys mixtapes.
“Sharp” f/ Kingpin Slim & Torae
Quoth the Wale: “I was one of the first people to rap on stuff that wasn’t traditional hip hop music.” Fab Five Freddy might have something to say about that claim.
“The Sun” f/ Memphis Bleek
From shampoo raps to blog buzz mixtapes in two easy steps! Wale is once again airing out his blog insecurities. He should start a blog about blogs and stick to rapping about rapping.
“Rather Be With You (Vagina Is For Lovers)” f/ J Cole & Currency
This is the vagina rap song. Like blogging, menstruation is a reoccurring theme on this album.
“Goodbye” f/ Jean Grae
This is the break up rap song. Wale’s little closing anecdote about awkwardly begging Jean for a feature on Twitter is more of that metablogging rap, but it’s also indicative of the humility that originally made him so likable. Though Jean has recorded extensively with 9th Wonder, it probably would have been more logical to go through him.
“Talkin’ Shyt” f/ Bun B & Dre
Bun hasn’t rapped this well in years. Excellence in the presence of competence. Also I don’t think that’s actually Dre from Cool & Dre rapping the last verse. Maybe it is an unrelated rapper named Dre rapping on a Cool & Dre beat?
“Nothing To Worry About” f/ Peter, Bjorn & John
Wait I thought this tape was supposed to be free of this sort of Pitchfork bait?
“Um Ricka” f/ K’Naan
Sure, put the African rapper on the Fela beat. Talk about being typecast.