Return of the Mick, Part Two
The Fat Stack Continues
OH AS IF YOU DONT REMEMBER?
PART TWO IS OUT GODDAMN I FEEL ALIVE
You know what feels good? Getting clowned by some silly Spanish teenagers for pronouncing something only slightly wrong in Spanish. I mean, it’s fair. I teach them English; they kind of teach me Spanish, I guess. I am not supposed to speak Spanish in the classroom—it’s not my job—but sometimes I have to in order to explain a topic. And goddamn, I can’t change certain things! My accent will always be heavy on the long vowel sounds! What am I supposed to do, never talk about nabos again? I’d rather off myself.
To make matters worse, I’m out here grinding, teaching the children about important things like Halloween and how many hours by car Detroit is from Chicago. This is the shit they need to know (according to their “real” teachers)! Where do they get off trying to clown me? These are the same goofies that say shit like “ethnake,” “ethchool,” “ethpecifical,” and other ethhit, yet I don’t correct them—I don’t need to—I use my presence to teach, so they will soon learn. I shouldn’t have to take shit from them. From here on out, I won’t.
In my classroom, bullshit will not be tolerated! Physical punishment is paramount. No, I will not be assaulting my students—that would be wrong. If they make any sort of mistake, I will not correct them, as I said. Rather, they will be forced to do various calisthenics until they realize their mistake and redress the situation. It will be difficult, but they will thank me when they are both jacked and fluent in English.
Enough about my educational philosophy. Allow me to reintroduce myself.
A Brief Glance to the Rearview
Memory is a funny thing. Some things stand out so vividly in the moment, but as soon as the instance passes, so does the memory. Picture this: I was listening to Tampa Bay shitkickers Three Knee Deep’s self-titled album in March 2020, right as the pandemic was beginning to rear its ugly head. Given the band’s reputation, I knew I’d be in for a wild ride. Three Knee Deep makes gun-in-a-brown-bag hardcore. These dudes simply sound like they’d jump you in broad daylight. I mean, just read the lyrics to “Pile ‘o’ Shellz” from their 2017 EP Wrong World:
Another 1 down tryna take the crown
6 shots to the body left em lyin on the ground
pile ah shells is the last thing he sees
man was not equipped with the strength to succeed
life ends quick so you better think quicker
next time your faced with another mans trigger
You think these are nice people? I don’t!
With this in mind, imagine my reaction when I turned on Three Knee Deep’s opener “OG Intro” and heard an instrumental reminiscent of the Playstation 2’s startup noises and a sweet, soft spoken voice that harangues, half-rapped:
Checking in one time for yo’ mind, it’s 454. I wanna give a major shout out to my brothers in Three Knee Deep, really representing and showing you who the real masters of this hard shit. From Hillsborough County to Orange County, Miami-Dade to King’s County, New York, them boys representin’ the state of Florida, standing ten toes down with the biggest crown. Them my brothers for life, that’s life, no life, Three Knee Deep decree. Let’s do it.
What. I’m about to be aurally beat senseless, and this is how I’m supposed to prepare myself? Who is 454? And why the fuck is he qualified to introduce Three Knee Deep on their own album? (It’s important to point out that hardcore and rap have a long history and have been commingling for ages, so it makes sense that the band is friends with a rapper. That’s not the point, though.)
It didn’t really matter in the end, though. Three Knee Deep suplexed me straight into a coma, and I totally forgot about my question regarding 454 and “OG Intro.” He simply retreated to the back of my mind like a hermetic monk in a Caucasian cave, waiting to show face until he knew that he was needed most.
Fast forward to June 2021; ZelooperZ’s incredible album Van Gogh's Left Ear had just dropped, and naturally, I had to take a look at the producer list. Unsurprisingly, it was fat, overstuffed with great instrumentals from producers like Dilip, skywlkr, and WhoTheHellisCarlo. However, two standout tracks, “Dont Leave” and “Always Wanted You,” both chipmunk’d out and astonishingly fast, were produced by a familiar name.
When I looked at the album credits, I shit myself. It was that same mf from Three Knee Deep’s “Intro OG”—454! I totally forgot about this fool for a little over one year, and then he fell directly into my lap! Wow! I then looked up 454 to see if he had any solo work. He did; it’s an album called 4 REAL, and it dropped in March. So I listened, and I shit myself a second time. The music was bonkers.
Based on the album art’s mixture of 2000’s hip-hop (read: oversized and pink) and surreal, claymation-ass stage props, I assumed it would have some sort of cloud rap sound, and I wasn’t totally wrong per se. However, I wasn’t totally right, either. It was so much more than that. 454 was blending cloud rap with South Florida’s fast rap, the internet monstrosity that is hyperpop, Ye-esque soul samples, and a whole lot of emotion.
Let’s take a look at the album’s first track, “LATE NIGHT.” I know what you’re thinking, “When will the all-caps song title trend just die?”, but give it a chance! It starts with a hazy soul loop that purrs, “Keep you out my head—I’m for real,” eventually giving way to a booming and improbably fast beat that features even faster uptuned vocals. The speed makes sense because 454 covers a lot of ground with his lyrics, touching on falling in love with his girl, how sick he looks in his red Kangol, staying up late and pounding some knishes, and losing his pops in 2009. It’s an uncommon blend of boasts, assurances, and introspection. Once the bridge starts, though, something weird happens. The instrumental slows down just a bit, but then, after the bridge, the song fully restarts at a new, even slower pace. This gives listeners a chance to really listen to the verses and hook. The lyrics are nothing crazy, but they’re still a lot better than most of the shit out there. After the second verse plays for a second time, the beat slows one more time, revealing 454’s real voice at the final bridge.
This is how the entirety of 4 REAL unfolds. It’s chock-full of unconventional song structure and left-turns. This might make it sound like a challenging listen, but I found it to be strange and nothing short of sensational. At twelve tracks with a 43 minute run time, the album is a little long, but standouts like the rose-tinted and introspective “ANDRETTI” and the saccharine and sanguine “4 REAL” (and about six other standouts!) make it all worth it.
So shouts out to both Three Knee Deep, for putting me on in my subconscious, and ZelooperZ, for bailing me out of my forgetfulness. 454’s shit fucking rules, and you need to listen to it very soon at a very high volume.
Ta-haaaaa. That’s right—just like the McRib, Blampers are back by popular demand, but you know we had to level up a little bit.
Don’t be a pawn. Follow me and up your game.
shut the fuck up talking to me by Zack Fox
Comedian, artist, weirdo Zack Fox is like the pope, infallible in all that he says and all that he does. He’s rapping with some serious conviction, like he really has something to say. Even when he says the stupidest shit, like on “get off my dick” when he says, “If a n**** want beef, beat him purple like he Grimace,” you have to pay attention. What’s more, Zack Fox has fucking bars. Like yeah, he says funny, weird shit, but he can also rap. Take this line from lead single “fafo,” for example, “Two shots finna stop you when you talking like a colon.” This line works at three levels:
He’ll shoot you twice if he catches you talking shit (talking like a colon)
He’ll shoot you twice if he catches you talking shit (two shots = :, a colon)
When he shoots you twice, he’ll make you stop what you’re saying (like a colon!)
The FUCK???? A joke rapper should not be this good. It’s enough to make one think, “Man, is he even really a joke rapper anymore?” With bars like his and with beats from the likes of the legendary Alchemist, Kenny Beats, and newcomers like Dilip and Working on Dying’s BNYX, it’s hard not to take him seriously. Good.
Celeb shot! “Spooky Cookie” by Seelocanth
The mission of No Oldtimers is to give a voice to the voiceless, so for this stack’s Celeb Shot, editor/shit-talker Lia will be trying her hand at this stack writing business. Tap in.
Hi I’m Lia and I just spent a perfectly beautiful afternoon balls-deep in the trenches of Jim’s internal monologue, landscaping the shit out of it to cut you a clear path through. At one point today, I looked in the mirror and saw a Salomon trucker cap hovering over my head. Needless to say, I gotta get out of here, so I’m gonna make this quick and dirty. Lube up and spread ‘em (your earszssss) for the Halloween track to end all Halloween tracks. If you’re not in the mood to put on a tiny little skirt/hat combo and get into some harmless mischief, Seelocanth’s “Spooky Cookie” WILL get you there. A xylophone has never sounded more perfect. AND THAT THEREMIN SYNTH AT 00:26 👌😩💦💦 Mama mia! (Written on 24 October)
“Silent Rage” by Wise
This one is for the rippers and the menders. The shredders and the gluers. The shriekers and the assuagers. The choke-slammers and the cuddlers. The cold-blooded killers and the momma-huggers. The wife beaters and the wife congratulators (Though these are one and the same, really). Certified hardcore for the masses. Tune in.
“Peachdog” by Bear1boss
This is the type of song that makes me want to jump into a day-glo leotard and teach a workout class in the 1980s. Catch me shaking my ass like Richard Simmons anytime I play it. It’ll be hot.
“I must apologize” by PinkPantheress
Shout out to TikTok for giving PinkPantheress a platform because she fucking rules. Who else could possibly make drum & bass sound so fun? Nobody, that’s who (probably). It’s not as good as “Passion,” but it’s good! [Album is gas, too! (And yes, I know it’s not the most original sound ever. I don’t care. It fucking rules.)]
It’s me again
I was wondering if you’d like to meet
To go over another new No Oldtimers section?
The Explanation Station is a space in which I will share something I’ve read recently and would like each of you to read. It might be stupid. It might be smart. Either way, I guarantee it’ll be life-altering.
“Disneyland with the Death Penalty”
Disneyland? With the death penalty?
Disneyland is a sterile sort of hell on earth for many people, but imagine how much worse it would be with the death penalty! You cannot have any true fun, and if you somehow manage to do so, you will be found and expeditiously kicked out of the park (e.g. killed). Anyhoo, this essay is about the robot perfection that is Singapore that arose due to the throes of capitalism, and it was written in 1993 (1993!) by William Gibson, author of Neuromancer and paterfamilias of cyberpunk, in order to “see whether that clean dystopia (that is, Singapore) represents our techno future.” It is a banger. Give it a read when you have a chance.
Quotable: “I didn't see a single ‘bad’ girl in Singapore. And I missed her.”