The irony that I’m currently experiencing while writing these words is quite astounding… Well, to me at least. As I’ve stated from the jump, I’m a devout, sometimes borderline rabid Kanye West fan. Sure, the first hip-hop album I ever purchased was Nelly’s Country Grammar, but the first album that truly made me fall head over heels for hip-hop was Ye’s College Dropout. We’d previously gone over this, if I do recall correctly. All this being considered, Yeezus has always been the tastemaker for me when it comes to not only hip-hop music, but music of other genres as well. Listening to Kanye’s musical catalog is a cornucopia in the sense that will open you up to a myriad of other influential, revolutionary, and sometimes out-of-the-box artists. When he spots talent, he runs with in such a way that both he, and the artist he collaborates with, mutually benefit. One of the prime examples of this is with one of Ye’s young recruit’s, Houston born rapper Travi$ Scott. Scott’s been on a slew of Yeezy songs whether you realize it or not. His fingerprints are all over Yeezus, and he’s a G.O.O.D. Music/Grand Hustle signee that’s quite frankly about to blow. The H-Town rapper, who also frequently goes by the moniker La Flame, has released two mixtapes to this point, with his freshman effort being titled Owl Pharaoh, and his 2014 release going by Days Before Rodeo. The aforementioned irony that I spoke of earlier arises when I contemplate arguably one of my favorite Kanye bars of all time. On his 2010 classic release My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Yeezus himself spit such a scorcher that it has continued to strike me as profound ever since. Said bar arrived relatively early in the album on the KiD CuDi and Raekwon the Chef assisted “Gorgeous.” It’s Kanye’s make-or-break, fork in the road success story, and although Yeezy’s third verse on the song is probably his best overall effort on the track, the first line of the second verse is what makes “Gorgeous” a classic song for me. Ye starts off his second go around with: The word religion has always been synonymous with the word education, and that’s what Yeezy is acknowledging in this line. Every person needs something to believe in, and everyone needs someone to heed advice from. In no way am I saying that Yeezus himself is my go-to when I’m looking for a higher power, but I do believe that there are hip-hop artists who continue to manifest the core values that innovators like DJ Kool Herc preached during hip-hop’s inception in the 70s. Just like most stereotypes, the negative stigma that hip-hop shoulders is a product of misinformation and misconception. However, while exceptions to the rule do exist, so to do the perpetrators. In today’s Internet era, the reality is that for as much positive, conscious, and unifying hip-hop as there is out there, there is an over-saturation of ratchet jams on the radio waves as well. That’s why I’m experiencing so much irony. That “religion” that Ye and a handful of other artists are preaching right now is what will help sustain the genre for long after we’re gone, but an artist signed to Ye’s label, Travi$ Scott, has me questioning my religion. La Flame’s music, while revolutionary in its own right, isn’t what you’d exactly categorize as “positive, conscious, and unifying” hip-hop. It’s what I refer to as “guilty pleasure rap,” because while it doesn’t necessarily abide by the commandments of hip-hop’s past, it’s undeniably mesmerizing at times, and downright uncomfortable for all the right reasons. Scott’s sonics have a tendency to shove themselves through your headphones, and though he can slow it down, I feel comfortable in branding his sound as “violently eclectic.” Some of his tracks are absolutely jarring when you hear them for the first time because La Flame comes with an energy that is unparalleled. In listening to his first two projects, you’ll surely experience a new taste on your hip-hop palette, but it’s a taste that you won’t mind savoring again.
The two artists that La Flame has been working with most frequently these days are Atlanta rapper Young Thug, as well as fellow ATLien Metro Boomin’, a producer that’s rapidly on the rise. Thugger and Metro certainly don’t provide La Flame with any reason to stray from what’s been working for him, and that’s a consistent offering of unconventional, explicit flows paired with a steady supply of trap beats. Both Thug and Metro were utilized on two of Days Before Rodeo‘s most notable tracks, “Mamacita,” and “Skyfall,” and it’s no coincidence that on January 26 La Flame announced that his “Rodeo Tour” would be featuring non other than Young Thug and Metro Boomin’. Opportunistically, fellow Like Poetry in M o t i o n . . . writer Ben Rappaport snagged a few tickets so we’d be able to attend the March 14th show in Philly. La Flame and Thug are sure to bring a high intensity level, so needless to say I’m ready for a good time. We’ll be following up the concert with a review and a feature piece on La Flame, but until then enjoy his two newest offerings, “Nothin’ But Net ft. Young Thug & PARTYNEXTDOOR” and “High Fashion ft. Future.” The Thug and PND assisted track has a menacing beat, and High Fashion turns in that trademark Future sound. Enjoy . . .