Recalling one of the thousands of conversations I’ve had about the various subgenres of hip-hop, I was reminded last night as to why I spend so much time defending my unfaltering love for trap music. Borrowing heavyweight bass, rhythm and drums from metal and hardcore rock, the rap genre then appropriates these sounds to formulate its own signature aggressive beat patterns to serve as backdrops for the razor sharp, brazen flows that we all undeniably enjoy – whether openly or deemed as guilty pleasure – from artists like Max B to A$AP Ferg. I truly believe that trap could have an actual prospective future if it begins to calibrate its aesthetic with more diverse tones and sounds, embracing other elements of music to clean up its beats made from overdrawn and denigrated bass and snare loops, leaving tracks more dry than the “Flat” equalizer on iTunes. However, I experienced an internal paradigm shift yesterday while browsing my one and only source for real news on XXL. I saw a banner with a reminder about voting for their annual “Freshman 10th Spot” for this year’s XXL Freshman magazine cover and realized that they were close to the date of revealing who made this year’s cover. So, I scrolled. And scrolled. And scrolled some more and saw too many “A$AP” whoevers and obvious picks the industry had already deemed their underdog favorites. I was just about to hit Command + W when I spotted Deniro Farrar. Unless you’re from North Carolina, I am going to assume that most of my readers from the North East and those who reside overseas have not a clue of who this man is. Though, after I listened to some of his work he had put out as an indepdenent artist before signing to Vice Records/Warner Brothers Records back in October, particularly The Patriarch, I couldn’t stop kicking myself for sleeping on his talent for this long.
I was introduced to the Charlotte native by XXL’s selection video for his Freshman 10th spot, “Big Tookie”. The moment I hit play, I was sucked into a vortex of intense confusion – why doesn’t the beat weigh a ton? Where is the dissonant, banal looping melody? Where am I? Not only was the video crisp, simple and nicely composed, the beat was literally dope. As in, serene, tempered, and mint cool, lightly seared over a steady deep bass-and-drum track fit for any cypher, house party, afternoon of spring cleaning, trip to the gym, ride on the subway. And it finally hit me, I was listening to an eclectic trap beat; “Cult Rap,” rather, as deemed by Mr. Farrar. Where do they do that at, again? Yes, that’s right. Below the Mason-Dixon line + beyond. Farrar’s sound actually sounds like the South, something completely incomprehensible in a dark age where music has totally lost its regional palpability. The video threw me back to the days when the South reigned supreme, like summer 2003 when Lil’ Jon dropped “Get Low,” or the spring of 2004 when the world finally learned who Mike Jones really was (and his cell phone number. Don’t front like you didn’t try to call the dude. I know I did). But what it reminded me of the most was the epic T.I.P. x David Banner collab that had grown men wearing rubber bands on their wrists, proclaiming themselves to be “wild as the Taliban”, talking on topics regarding the geopolitics of trapping and hustling in the forgotten ghettos of America. Shit was genuine. Taking a page from his regional OG’s, Deniro has kept his word by “learning to sit back and be a student,” as stated in an interview with XXL last week speaking on his recent signing with Vice, as well as his announcement of the title of his upcoming EP, Rebirth, and its second leaked track, “Burning Bills” featuring Montréal DJ/producer, Lunice. What I most appreciate about this video is the ripe honesty exuded from the rapper in the ways he depicted himself and demonstrated his flow and aesthetic as an artist, none other than simply keeping it real. And most importantly, I can’t forget to mention the deep philosophical message used to cradle the track into complete repose:
Here’s the distinction between animalism and humanity
An animal like a goat has no sense of his impending death
Although his brother goat is being slaughtered
The goat is being lured by the green grass offered to him
He stands peacefully waiting to be slaughtered himself
On the other hand
A man see his fellow man being slaughtered or killed by an enemy
He has no choice but to fight to save his brother’s life, or fight to save his own
In addition, I’m probably the biggest fan of the silent bob/hypeman vibing heavy, sitting pretty on top of a basketball rim in the background. No rented Maybach coups. No big booty vixens with Brazilian 24-inch weaves taking up space in the video frame to distract viewers from the rapper’s candy painted swag. Just imagery of the raw, true, gifted craft of Deniro.
Enjoy the stream of “Burning Bills,” Rebirth‘s second leak on Farrar’s SoundCloud. Also, be sure to vote for Farrar to secure his place in the winner’s circle for the Freshmen 10th spot on XXL.com. And if you’re already out at SXSW this week, go and support the homie’s showcases, all details listed here. From a pic I saw on his Instagram last night, I’m sure you can only expect nothing less than a praise-worthy performance. We don’t call him Leader of #CultRap for nothing.
Support your people, keep it local, and always keep the underground global.