March 25, 2014

Spinning Singles: March 26

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“She Used To Love Me A Lot” — Johnny Cash

No one does nostalgia like Johnny Cash. In his lost single, “She Used To Love Me A Lot,” to be released March 25 on an album of tracks originally recorded in the early 1980s called Out Among The Stars, it is unclear whether Cash is mourning the loss of a lover, or an era. “She used to love me with a love that wouldn’t die / Looking at her now I can’t believe I said goodbye / It would only take a minute to turn back the clock / She used to love me a lot.” In his somber baritone, Cash croons about a disenchantment with himself, that could mirror the one America was going through during the ’80s, as his career hit an all-time low. Thirty plus years after Cash recorded the track, and 11 years after his death, it’s hard to hear the track in context, but it’s a nostalgic treasure plucked from an era long past.

Of course, today, Cash’s cult of adoring baby-boomer groupies salivate over his every thundering syllable, but this song is more than a piece of Cash paraphernalia, or an ode to The Man In Black — it’s sweet, melancholy rockabilly blues at its finest, and as only Cash can deliver.

— Jael Goldfine

“Really Be (Smokin’ and Drinkin’)” — YG 

YG’s latest single, “Really Be (Smokin’ and Drinkin’)” is a Compton affair presented by some of the newest stars of the left coast. Featuring Kendrick Lamar and produced by the L.A.-based duo of Ty Dolla $ign and Terrance Martin, “Really Be” leaked last week in support of YG’s debut studio album, My Krazy Life. Ty Dolla $ign serves up a classic, West Coast g-funk styled beat for the two Compton-raised rappers to jump on. YG’s first verse finds him briefly channeling his inner Ice Cube, discussing how his substance abuse is a necessity in the face of the poverty, death and violence that propagate the streets. This is not a bummer of a song though — YG may superficially acknowledge the struggle, but this man is absolutely faded, first and foremost. His second verse finds him in more familiar territory, dealing with “a bitch that’s irritatin’ from all these questions she askin’.” Unsurprisingly though, it is Kendrick that takes the cake, detailing how the deaths of two of his friends has him getting high, despite his disinterest in that lifestyle. “Why the fuck I’ve really been smokin’? / What the fuck, I’m the sober one,” he exclaims. Leave it to the good kid to find legitimate consciousness in a YG song.

— Calvin Patten

“We Made It” — Jay Z and Jay Electronica 

Six years since “Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge)” and four years since “Exhibit C”, Jay Electronica has taken a few minutes to remind the world that he is still the greatest rapper you have probably never heard of. While he has appeared on occasional tracks (notably Big Sean’s “Control,” where I preferred his verse to Kendrick’s), he has largely been unheard from. On Sunday, however, rapping with ferocity over Drake & Soulja Boy’s “We Made It” alongside label boss Jay Z, Jay Elec again gave us reason to believe that his anointment as a rap legend has been merely delayed.

Following the opening Eastbound and Down sample, Jay steps into Drake’s first verse, largely miming, as Drake had, the “Versace” flow. Elec focuses on Five Percenter teachings, claiming to be “the Farrakhan of rap,” while also apologizing to fans that have waited so “patiently.” Hov tries to keep up, dissing Drake (“Sorry Mrs. Drizzy for so much art talk/Silly me rappin’ ’bout shit that I really bought) about Drake’s Rolling Stone quotes, but after Elec’s hell and brimstone sermon it just sounds petty. Ironically paralleling “Control,” this “We Made It” freestyle will generate clicks due to Hov’s statements, but it is Jay Elec that sends other artists looking for cover.

— Calvin Patten

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