Within the niche of hip-hop ad libs — those trademark phrases tossed out by your favorite rappers as delicious garnish to the surf and turf they're serving you — there is an even smaller categorization: the rap laugh. For reasons we can certainly guess at (their wealth, their power, their ability to rhyme words very well), rappers love breaking out in spontaneous, if often ominous, laughter. And while, like the mysteries of the Higgs boson, the question as to which MC laughs best might never be satisfactorily answered over the span of our lifetimes, that doesn't mean we can't talk it out. So now, as merely a humble, small addition to the fiery debate, we here at Grantland pay tribute to four rap-laugh titans: Young Jeezy, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, and Jadakiss. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.
With all due respect to cackle pioneer Jadakiss, I strongly believe he was knocked off his throne when Young Jeezy officially burst onto the scene in 2005 with Thug Motivation 101: Let's Get It. Jeezy's simple but triumphant "ha-ha" giggle is great because it's often an agent of happiness within lyrics that are anything but happy. This might just be me, but every time he does it, I imagine Jeezy throwing a pile of money in the air, à la LeBron and the pregame chalk, with the biggest smile on his round face.
The new video for the Swizz Beatz/A$AP Rocky/AraabMUZIK track "Street Knock" is fun but predictable. No disrespect or anything, but pretty much everything I figured would take place came true (nine out of my 10, to be exact).
A question on the occasion of the 13th or 14th time I've listened to Chief Keef's "I Don't Like (Remix)" today: Is anybody better at co-optation through collaboration than Kanye West?
Chief Keef is a previously superunknown, dreadlocked 16-year-old rapper from Chicago's South Side. Earlier this year, he became a viral fascination after a video of a very, very excited young man in a wood-paneled rec room celebrating Keef's release from jail on weapons charges became a hit on Worldstarhiphop.com. Keef was big among local high school kids, but he seemed to have no connections whatsoever, even on the regional level; in a hip-hop moment where even upstart blog-rap types like A$AP Rocky seem to arrive pre-assimilated, with label/media/fashion cosigns in place, that appearance of total aesthetic purity goes a long way. So did the detail that Keef has managed to blow up despite still being under house arrest at his grandmother's home, which is also the kind of hook that gets the attention of editors at outlets not normally known for commissioning long-form profiles of newish rappers (call it the Earl Sweatshirt Exemption).
1. James Blake and Bon Iver, "Fall Creek Boys Choir"
Indie-rock power couple James Blake and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon announced their union just last week, but we already get a taste. “Fall Creek Boys Choir” — featuring Vernon’s falsetto over a skeletal Blake piano run, and also some dog bark type noises — is as predictable as it is perfect. According to the never-wrong YouTube information box, it’ll be followed, in October, with something called Enough Thunder.