Friday, November 27, 2015

Song of the Day #232 - KOOL A.D. - Hot Tub Rhyme Machine

Gone off half a quail egg and the venison chaser

Yesterday KOOL A.D. dropped a ONE HUNDRED TRACK mixtape. It clocks in at 6 hours and 38 minutes. Is this finally the mixtape to surpass 05 Fuck Em?? It includes a lot of b-sides and obscure loosies that I appreciate finally having in one place, but the vast majority is never before seen KOOL A.D. insta-classics. This is the real thing. I love the idea of releasing a whole ton of content at once (it was part of why the idea of 2014 project appealed to me), something about the scrambling realization of woah wait this is the real one, this is actually good all the way through, what can we do about this? There's a level of dual breadth and depth that you only achieve with this sort of project. Like this song is almost 10 minutes long, but part of the appeal is that it is sort of "unassuming" in that length, like, it isn't a "big deal" that it is long, and that functions through the fact that it's just one of nine tracks of a similar length on this project. And that fact is insane. Basically I love everything about this. I even love the anxiety I feel around it... "Will I ever fully understand this mixtape?", "How does it factor in to my AOTY standings?", "How do I even approach this?"... that challenge, it's exciting.

To be perfectly honest, I haven't even finished it yet. I've been taking it slow, I want to mete it out such that I never for a second feel exhausted. Apparently the 100 tracks is to correspond with the 100 chapters in his novel, which I guess is actually finally coming? So I think I'm gonna go about this the way I do books... slow, unsteady, with frequent retreading of passages that I find notable or challenging. "Hot Tub Rhyme Machine" is an early spot of addictive impasse.

It's another entry into what is becoming his signature genre, the art of rapping for an extremely long time in one continual rambling verse, first revealed to us in the legendary "Dum Diary". These verses are incredibly dense with good lines, formed into little anecdotes, homages, running jokes, etc, mirroring one's actual thought processes in a Kozelek-esque way, but the delivery is relaxed and natural. You get the compelling sense that this is just how he is, this is the level he's at, that writing songs like this comes more naturally now than doing nothing.

And the best effect of that is that when you see a song of this length you just KNOW it's gonna be great, that every line will be great and there will be hundreds and hundreds of them. Hundreds of great lines, guaranteed. It starts with a sample I assume is from an interview about Hot Tub Time Machine, but I haven't seen that movie so I dunno. And the way the synths come in at 0:20 is completely huge and hyphy because you know for 9 minutes it's gonna be straight bars. The ways he snarls on "snitch" and "bitch". The way he claims to have made 222000 tracks and thus 222000 thousand dollars. There's this:

I think things in my brain then say shit
Then I get wasted and spend all my paycheck
Gazing at the effortless wastelands created on baselines and breaks of irrelevant nature
Gone off half a quail egg and a venison chaser

He calls himself the "Slang Ceaser" and then makes a bunch of salad jokes. He says he's higher than Nas when Nas said he was a gun, which is fantastic. He makes an extended poker metaphor. "Dog to a pup, you a Lassie". Pulling guns out at your mom's crib until she disapproves. Marxist freakonomics. Feeling like a young Danny Brown, sipping Faygo. The way he moves from focused to unfocused is unlike anyone else. "You mad, you look hurt-" and then he cuts to a long sample about pimping that I have been unable to track down the source of, but it includes the line "that's what you niggas need, an automatic shit separator". It is over a minute long, again, requiring this sort of length to make such a thing not unreasonable.

And then he cuts back in suddenly with "Maybe you can call your dad". "KOOL A.D. is a very good man and he's very good at rapping". Of course. The track is hardly even half over at this point. He goes on a long tangent about how Jay and son sounds like Jason, and how he ought to rap about when he met Ye once. "Wrote some fire bars on my phone then it died and I lost em, but trust me they were totally awesome". Nostalgic story about soundtracks about drug use. "And then I take a nap, I go bananas in the trap", "Plug look like Cuban Bruce Springsteen", and then a long tangent about this guy's setup. There's this nice image:

"Yo I'm blowing vermilion haze as I gaze at the ceiling, man
Oh what a beautiful feeling man
Lean got my head spinning just like the feeling fam
I mean like the ceiling fan, wooo"

"I'm too turnt, I smoke till you burnt
Get it, I mean, I smoke weed until you're high"

And then an exhaustive listing of his gangsta activites. "Bitch I got 10 hoes". "Pasta with 12 shellfish". Talking bad about the system. "Riding dirty like Pig Pen, I'm Charlie Brown", "Feeling so groovy it's a movie it's gnarly wow", and many others. "Then I might go on Facebook and friend ya/Yo, why did Bush knock down those towers like Jenga?". "Scorpion Rising, shout outs to Kenny Anger" - but he's cut off by a classic KOOL A.D. sample. You get the sense that there was maybe another 10 minutes to this track. But it would take hours for him to exhaust himself. Days maybe. Only in songs of this length can we begin to see the range of his interests and skills. There were many lines that I didn't even get a chance to include.

What a time to be alive.