Bells & Whistles, Vol. 14: It’s a blog in my holster

Over the weekend I beat Millan at basketball in a tightly contested game to 21. He then destroyed me in the next one. I’m really hot from the corner right now if any NYC men’s league teams are looking for a lanky sharpshooter. My influences are Kelly Olynyk, Jesus Shuttlesworth and Nate Robinson. Subscribe to the Patreon to support our journey. – Mano

Art by Srikar Poruri.

Lilqua 50 & Tae Rackzz – “Replay

Mano: All the elements of this chaotic Milwaukee cut clash with each other; the flimsy claps and the whirring bass, Lilqua 50 and Tae Rackzz’s flat, slightly processed voices. It shouldn’t work and it might suck to you. But I can’t get enough of it. Listening to the city’s raw, patchmade dance rap feels like surfacing for a breath from the sea of vibes.

Millan: I’m a Milwaukee novice — only Joe Pablo and MarijuanaXO have resonated with me. But if I heard this at a party…I’d lose my shit, for better or worse. When it comes to music, I’ve learned that this reaction is usually a good thing. 

Arlo Parks – “Weightless

Millan: My girlfriend put me on. I’d never heard Arlo Parks before but now I’m a believer. She’s a great writer–some lines from her song “Caroline”: Strawberry cheeks flushed with defeated rage…Ripped the hem of her skirt as she ran, panicking and weaving through the crowds on Oxford Street…Agony and hints of sage. Can’t knock it one bit. Consider me a devoted listener. I coulda picked a lot of songs to link here but “Weightless” is off her upcoming album and I love the drums. And the writing. She just seems like a real genuine artist whose accent and imagery, along with my new addiction to Ted Lasso, have me daydreaming about a future in London that will prob never be as serene as it is in my head right now. 

Mano: Here’s the thing, readers. Millan might do gonzo shit for this blog and interview street rappers for money but he is secretly the most wholesome man I know. I totally get what you mean by Arlo Parks feeling genuine. But don’t get it twisted, this isn’t all sappy. Her voice is cool, too, all blues and lightning with tough-to-place influences. The razor-sharp tonal shift about halfway through where she’s, like, half-rapping is when you can really hear the breadth of her range.

Hollyweerd – “Weerdo” (2008)

Mano: The Popstar Benny x Trinidad James conversation has sent me down Atlanta music rabbit holes left and right. For example: the collective Hollyweerd, a bastion of late 2000s / early 2010s “Alt-lanta” consisting of Tuki Carter, Go Dreamer, The Love Crusader and Stago Lee. From its chintzy vocal performances (“cause I’m a Scorpi-OH!”) and random sax solo to the N.E.R.D.-esque bridge, this track “Weerdo” has Blog Era fingerprints all over it. I was half-expecting B.o.B.’s voice to pop in. But I also can hear some of the zany street shit that Rich Kidz, Yung L.A. and other Futuristic-era artists were popularizing locally at the time. Not my favorite but filing it under “interesting.”

Millan: Agreed, Mano. This is before my time, but it goes to show just how many layers there are to this shit. One of the YouTube comments says “Hollyweerd walked so EARTHGANG can run,” and, like Trinidad was saying, I’m sure Hollyweerd can be traced back to Dungeon Family, or whoever influenced them, and so on and so forth. That’s art for ya. 

Future & Young Thug – “Three” (2017)

Millan: Love this album but a lot of people slept on it because Atlanta rappers were spoiling us in 2017. This track is the rap equivalent of The Allman Brothers dueling guitars Live at the Fillmore. I don’t know what the engineer did but I need more of it. 

Mano: Oh we’re having this conversation right now? Super Slimey is awesome. Arguably the best of the big-ticket rapper collabs that happened in that era. I miss this specific era of Thug, when he was starting to formalize his songwriting for streaming but still had a good bit of that Slime Season looseness in him. His most recent work is too buttoned-up by comparison. Also I don’t know what the mixing engineer was doing to Future’s voice or if Future was just sick with a cold during these sessions but he sounded monstrous on Super Slimey.

Lil Yachty – “Strike

Mano: On “Strike,” Lil Yachty finds a pocket somewhere between loose freestyle and poised songcraft. The word “strike” is flung out over and over, mimicking the play call while cutting deeper and deeper into Teddy Walton and Aaron Bow’s cloudy groove. Yachty’s vibrato on “hooooooooolster” inadvertently became the single’s teaser in a viral snippet shared by his sister, but there are more fun moments too: the “emo bitch” who takes shrooms and looks like Betty Boop, the accent he puts on “sodah” and “coastah;” the way he puffs out “It’s us!” on the chorus. Like “Poland,” it almost sounds like a demo, all feeling and instinct, like the Michigan cuts he gave us a couple years ago. It’s effortless but there’s so much there.

Millan: I’m just glad that Yachty keeps doin his thing. Please refer to Mano for the intelligent response—I’m always biased towards weirdos from Cobb. 

Tony Velour feat. Boothlord – “d3g3n3rat3

Millan: I collect Boothlord verses like my uncle collects coins. Here’s the stash: Dylan Elliot + Boothlord on “Soufstation 8330,” Liamette x Boothlord on “Journey,” that Danger Inc leaked track “Twisted,” his booming intro on “How Are You?” The list goes on and the link up top is the newest addition. He and Tony Velour, a grunge-hyperpoper(?) who works closely with the Gecs and made my favorite “hyperpop” album in 3M back when the term wasn’t entirely commodified, sound great together. Anyways: Boothlord “woke up in a sea of degenerates.” The song could be just that one line and I’d keep running it back. Actually he might be saying “city of degenerates.” Either way. 

Mano: Way more familiar with Tony Velour than Boothlord, thanks for the recs. Not gonna lie I was dreading clicking on this because I am spiritually checked out of hyperpop. But I’m pleasantly surprised, the soul-trap fusion reminds me of “Our Destiny” in a good way.

Flagboy Giz – “Walking With a Gun”

Millan: If you ever meet me please don’t bring up Flagboy Giz. I want to have a normal, fun time. You don’t need to hear about the Wild Tchoupitoulas Tribe’s history, or the history of Black Indians in New Orleans at all. Let’s talk about baseball. Or where you’re from and “how it’s going.” I would much rather you read about it: so if the editor at [redacted publication] sees this let’s please get the ball rolling again. 

Mano: There’s no best genre but bounce might be the best genre.

Whatever this is

Millan: Loud grunting noise. More soon. 

Mano: Somebody check on Sam Goldner.

NoCap feat. Rob49 – “How It’s Going”

Rob49 feat. Real Boston Richey – “Yes You Did”

Millan: Nails and adderall. 

Mano: Rob49 sounds like he gets up at 6AM, puffs out his chest, stomps down the stairs, devours a massive breakfast and gets to the bag. He would be an elite high school gym coach in another life.

Millan’s Bookshelf: Truman Capote – The Duke in His Domain

Millan: Real excellence here. I don’t subscribe to a North Star influence in my writing, but Capote’s 10,000+ word New Yorker stories are being added to whatever constellation makes up my work. This is a biting, heartwarming, disgusting and compassionate profile of one of the coolest Americans to ever live, Marlon Brando. Highly recommend this to all the real readers and writers out there. Use if you’re paywalled.