Cyphers are wonderful things where a bunch of rappers rap on a rap song.
A couple of decent albums dropped in the past few weeks: A$AP Rocky’s Long Live A$AP and Pro Era’s Peep the Aprocalypse. The former leaked and the latter was released as a free download. There’s a lot of gold on them, but the cyphers stood out to me. So many raps.
1Train one hell of a posse cut (synonymous with scyther). But as random as the gathering seems, it was never random in Rocky’s eyes. “I really wanted to take it back to the essence of the ’90s; it was the generation of the underground. Even though I have a lot of mainstream appeal, I come from the underground, and I just wanted to give back to that. That’s why I was really strategic on who I picked to be in the line-up… with Joey Bada$$ and Action Bronson and Danny Brown, they’re from the underground. Yelawolf, he’s really underrated if you ask me. I think he’s one of the best lyricists of our day. I feel like everybody on that track has a value in our generation.”
Whether or not you agree with Rocky’s assessment, you have to feel the level of talent crammed into the song. The beat (by Hit-Boy, the dude who produced Goldie) is smooth. I think I could hear people freestyle over it for hours and not get sick of it. And I almost wish that were the case here. 6:13 for seven talented rappers? I wouldn’t have any issue if the song were twice as long. As great as the song is, I feel a bit frustrated at how short the verses are (a 45-second Kendrick feature?), and the overlapping thing. Oldie a posse cut (and my favourite song of 2012), and I loved the heavier beat that broke up the verses. But this is/is gonna be the third single from the album, so maybe Rocky was just trying to keep things as tight as possible.
And for the record, I thought Action Bronson worked the beat best. Although I was really excited to hear Joey on this. And I love the music of everyone on this song, so I was just glad to hear them all together, doing their thing. Big, happy family!
After a few listens, my favourites on the Pro Era tape were The Renaissance and Last Cypher. And the latter’s got 8 people on it- one more than 1Train. Suspect, and even bigger Pro Era posse-cut off of Joey’s 1999 tape, has grown into one of my favourite songs on the album. And this one is just as good, although I don’t like Joey’s verse quite as much ( his Suspect verse has got to be one of the best verses on 1999 but).
Also, if you’re a fan of freestyles, or 20-minute videos, here’s a freestyle session three of the Pro Era dudes did at Hot 97: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xd9n-dTcU-4 Joey is nuts. He sounds like he could freestyle without pause for the rest of time.
On a sad note though, Last Cypher finishes (and so the album finishes, as it starts) with a Captain STEEZ verse, who died a few days after the tape dropped. As a 19 year old. Details haven’t been released yet, but no matter how it happened it’s incredibly sad. He was a talented kid who could’ve gone a long way. Dude will be missed.