W  H  A  T  S  U  I  T  S  H  I  M
a multimedia project • launched 1 january 2016


Posts in Reviews
WSH's Fourth Annual (Not Very) Highly Scientific Ranking of the Year's Best Songs • #3

“Love You Better” was officially released in February, so it appears I spent 10 full months preaching his gospel, wondering how anyone could still be unconvinced of his future starpower. Admittedly, having Chris Brown sing your hooks is never a bad idea, but again, Christian perfectly channels his dad’s charisma, seemingly blooming into an actual rapper rapper in no time. He more than holds his own next to Chris, never allowing the veteran to snatch his spotlight. Between that sample and Christian’s flow and that very dope, Biggie-inspired video, I still haven’t figured out why this song wasn’t more of a rocket. He’s Puff’s kid! And he’s good! I’d be so mad if I made a smash like this and my music mogul father didn’t payola my way to the top. (I’m joking. Kinda.)

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WSH's Fourth Annual (Not Very) Highly Scientific Ranking of the Year's Best Songs • #4

While “APESHIT” is the obvious choice for a year-end list, the stadium anthem with the pop appeal, and “HEARD ABOUT US” is my subjective favorite (I need to roller-skate to that song within the next 90 days, for real), “BLACK EFFECT” expertly manifests the blackness of their love in a way that makes my heart smile, the album’s very believable reminder that their accumulated wealth does not mean they’ve forsaken the revolution. In fact, they seem to argue that their access to particular resources makes them a greater asset to their people — and therefore a pretty significant threat to the status quo, should they choose to be. And they’re not wrong: from Hov highlighting his recent, exaggerated run-ins with law enforcement to Beyoncé articulating the importance of a black woman’s mere existence in places of high society, neither of them have been reticent in discussing their blackness in relation to their success. Now raising 3 children of their own and fully committed to each other while still at the peak of their respective musical powers, what better time than now to show their babies and the world that they’re in this together? Maybe the revolution will be televised, all things considered. The Carters might own a television station next.

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WSH's Fourth Annual (Not Very) Highly Scientific Ranking of the Year's Best Songs • #5

Does biting have the same effect if you do it better than the person you bit? Is that even a relevant question? Drake bites whole genres, if that’s the game we’re playing! Maybe Travis Scott is just such a believable superstar that certain lyrics carry more weight coming from him than, say, NAV or Gunna or Starrah; any time I hear one of these brand-new rappers mention chartering private jets, I sort-of reflexively roll my eyes, but Trav absolutely has a jet with a bed and big-ass windows that can cover 10 hours of airspace in only 4. And I really really wouldn’t mind traveling alongside him and Gunna on that jet, I will not tell a lie.

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WSH's Fourth Annual (Not Very) Highly Scientific Ranking of the Year's Best Songs • #6

Not everyone can make a song like “Lady Lady,” and I’m becoming increasingly convinced that, actually, there’s only one person who can. Peel back all the layers of this song — of this album, really — and tell me someone else who can piece that puzzle back together. Seriously, if you know another musician who can, let me know. Because I’m not seeing it. Masego’s definitely a one-of-one. And even wilder, he’s just getting started.

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WSH's Fourth Annual (Not Very) Highly Scientific Ranking of the Year's Best Songs • #7

Trav and Jeffery are unquestionably my (and I’d argue the) platonic hip-hop Yin & Yang: Thugger providing the airier, more fanciful rhythms and Travis keeping the two grounded in reality via his precisely blunt approach. Trav’s not even around much here, but he’s around just enough — and most importantly, he never lets you forget he’s here. This time, his Cudi-like hums and ad-libs are more than sufficient. On “Up to Something,” Travis is the runway for Young Thug’s takeoff, and boy does Thugger soar on this one.

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WSH's Fourth Annual (Not Very) Highly Scientific Ranking of the Year's Best Songs • #8

Days after the Warriors’ relatively anticlimactic sweep of the LeBronnettes in last June’s NBA Finals, HBO and The Ringer produced a visually stunning recap of their four-game series, the show culminating with the Dubs’ championship parade being soundtracked this song right here, which I hadn’t yet heard before. I declared on-the-spot that “Win" would absolutely positively have to be my favorite song of 2018.

Didn’t quite make it to #1 — although #8 on a prestigious list such as this ain’t nothing to sneeze at. (I’m joking. Kinda.) But if you listen to Jay Rock — and specifically Jay Rock — you certainly understand why I leapt to that conclusion.

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WSH's Fourth Annual (Not Very) Highly Scientific Ranking of the Year's Best Songs • #9

This song is so Cali, buoyed by Dom and L.A. Dreamville signee Cozz (“I must be diseased or halfway ugly / ‘cause these haters talk s*** but look / they don’t never touch me” made me scrunch up my face the first few times I heard it), and Smoke DZA sounds so at home here I didn’t realize he wasn’t from California until I started doing research for this piece. (Sidenote: he’s from New York, which makes his adjustment to this vibe even that much more impressive.) But all in all, “The Come Up” is a Dom Kennedy showcase — a reminder that even if he’s not “better” than your favorite rapper, he’s damn sure cooler.

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WSH's Fourth Annual (Not Very) Highly Scientific Ranking of the Year's Best Songs • #10

My favorite R&B historically has been the stories of groveling, emotionally vulnerable men, and most if not all of East Atlanta Love Letter is 6LACK confessing that he’s not one of these cliché rappers who carry the gimmick into their everyday living; think Future if Nayvadius were actually in on the joke. I mean, 6LACK starts off “Loaded Gun,” the album’s second song, advising his current lady to make love to him like he’s going to leave her, and specifically for their neighbor, before quickly acknowledging that’s not what he really wants to do. But the point remains: he’s famous, successful, and really really rich, and those three factors have this weird tendency to muddy one’s perspective on self-control. Is their love strong enough to withstand the bullshit that inevitably comes their way? Er, sounds like an R&B album to me.

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Rhy Speaks: On The Playa Haters' Ball

The Playa Haters’ Ball is easily one of the best in show history. I cannot understand how fans of Chappelle fail to discuss this sketch when talking about its most memorable moments. The skit’s humor is rooted in how natural it all feels, the chemistry between these friends and just naturally funny people fueling the bulk of it. Based on nothing but my personal speculation, the totality of that episode isn’t quite as memorable as others and that precludes it from consideration. Or even more simply, maybe people just don’t appreciate true comedians and pure Black comedy.

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