It doesn’t bode well that two weeks into this new weekly post I was already sort of struggling to pick tracks for this week. Nothing “old” from my listening was standing out. I loved a couple tracks that came out this week, but they were non-singles on larger projects that I think I want to write about in their entirety (stay tuned). Tracks from a couple of my favorite artists Tyler, the Creator & Yves Tumor didn’t quite blow me away- but I’m excited for new albums.
Luckily for me, yesterday I realized there was one song I’d listened to almost every day this week to take our “old” slot, and I finally got around to a new track I definitely should have listened to the day it dropped.
Favorite New Track: “Thot Shit” by Megan Thee Stallion
I live in Melbourne, Australia where we’re approaching the coldest months of winter and just came out of a circuit-breaker lockdown. So no, I’m not really in the market for summer bangers at the moment.
But I am absolutely here for this one.
OG Parker (probably best known for Migos’ “Walk It, Talk It”) and LilJuMadeDaBeat (a frequent Megan collaborator) produced the track. It’s definitely not taking many risks, but it fits Megan perfectly and she’s such a charismatic performer that you really don’t want her beats to reinvent the wheel and distract from her.
Meg delivers three hard-hitting verses, and honestly I could list about half the song if we want to go through all the quotables (the Missonary-Doggystyle double entendre referencing the Snoop album was my personal favorite). We live in a Post-WAP world, so Megan’s been getting plenty of attention in the last couple years but she doesn’t get the credit for her bars that her male counterparts get. I’m not saying she’s Rakim, but if Freddie Gibbs dropped this rap twitter would be losing their minds for days.
Favorite “Old” Track: “Empire Ants” by Gorillaz feat. Little Dragon
Gorillaz have ironically been in the news recently for being on the wrong side of the climate crisis, selling 20th anniversary merchandise in the form of NFTs. The newest crypto craze takes a ridiculous amount of energy to be produced, and fans were quick to point to the band’s magnum opus “Plastic Beach” and call out the hypocrisy. As a fellow Goldsmiths alumni (if you know, you know) I’m pretty surprised Damon Albarn made this choice and expected people to be ok with it. Or maybe he didn’t and just doesn’t care. It’s not impossible the band wasn’t aware of the environmental impact- I’m not a crypto believer so this story is how I personally found out about NFTs’ environmental impact- but it is hard to believe they haven’t been made aware of it since the backlash has come.
The morality of how people react to the climate crisis is a murky conversation to say the least, and who knows how much say the band actually has in this situation. So while I was disappointed, I’m not in the camp of fans boycotting Gorillaz post NFT-gate. I loved their new record “Song Machine Vol. 1”- I actually think it’s their best album- and out of nowhere this week “Empire Ants” has been stuck in my head each morning, ironically as I get ready for work.
I say ironically of course, because the song is a commentary on the empire that is capitalism and how it treats workers. 2-D starts the song singing over a dreamy, low-key instrumental about the “joys” of the weekend as the “doldrums” of the work week are now behind you. His scope gets larger and larger as we go from having a little piece and quiet, to fantasizing about the collapse of the titular empire.
Of course it is just a fantasy. The weekend fades back into the work week, the empire ramps back up and it’s boppy as fuck. Little Dragon sings about “little feet working the machine” over a bombastic, synth heavy, classic Gorlliaz beat, and once again we have a candidate for the “hIdDeN mEaNiNg behind Pump Up Kicks” videos. The juxtaposition is a lot more purposeful and self-aware here though, and makes the song feel a lot less shallow than it does at 1st listen. The empire wants its ants to shake their little abdomens to the beat, keep their heads down and not think too hard about whether or not they should be unionizing against Queen Bezos. And who can blame them if they do?