Euphoria teens’ taste for rap is ridiculous

Pitchfork writer Alphonse Pierre rap chronicle covers songs, mixtapes, albums, Instagram freestyles, memes, weird tweets, fashion trendsand anything that catches his eye.


All Euphoria kids love 1990s and 2000s rap hits

The most incredible aspect of Euphoria Isn’t everyone going to school dressed like in the “I’m a Slave 4 U” video or a college boy got away by brutally attacking two drug dealers with a hammer, at The John Wick season two premiere last weekend. It’s that literally everyone on the show is obsessed with the rap that came out before they were born. Turn off those Roddy Ricch croons, silence the Playboi Carti noise, shut the tab on that Megan Thee Stallion video — these kids are busy rewatching the Snoop Dogg vs. DMX Verzuz battle on YouTube.

There may not be a scene where Zendaya’s Rue posts about the Makaveli bootlegs on an online forum, but it’s extremely noticeable that 90s or 00s rap is constantly playing in the background, especially in the group settings. This first caught my attention during the school dance in the Season 1 finale, where Rue and Jules mean mug and rap with Too $hort’s 2006 song “Blow the Whistle.” OK, this song is not this old, but I imagine in real life the DJ would have been drowned in boos until he played Lil Baby.

I guess the real reason this is happening is because the show’s creator, Sam Levinson, is a 37-year-old looking to make his teenage years a little cooler for 37-year-olds. So that’s the rap of the 90s and 2000s. That’s not to say that today’s teenagers can’t love certain rap memorabilia – they can and they should. But the Euphoria The season two premiere takes the idea to its limit.

First there’s a scene where Rue is in the back of a car, crazy out of her mind, rapping Tupac’s “Hit ‘Em Up” verbatim, like she also feels like Biggie and Junior MAFIA are “big ass sluts”. Later, she arrives at a house party where the dance floor is filled with children dancing to Biggie’s “Hypnotize”. On the same night, Rue does more drugs, this time with a new character played by human algorithm Dominic Fike, while Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up” sounds in the background. Then Lil Meech, the son of real mob kingpin Big Meech and star of 50 Cent’s Starz show on that kingpin, BMF, works with Maddie on DMX’s “Party Up (Up in Here)”. I know these are all major rap songs that have stood the test of time, but how do you explain the flashback scene of drug dealer Fezco counting money down to Sonny Skillz’ deep cut? What Time Is It” in the mid-90s? You can not. Stay tuned for next week, when Rue sniffs coke on his vintage collection Source magazines.


Tony Bontana: “Nah Son, that’s really crazy”

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At the end of the year, Tony Bontana released Point of view, a collection that combines the musician’s thoughtful raps from Birmingham, UK, with his woozy soul and spaced out funk productions. Opening with bleeps seemingly taken from a 70s sci-fi movie, “Nah Son Shits Actually Crazy” stopped me dead when I first heard it. As the abstract beat turns into a dirty, flipping groove, Tony raps loudly, as if the words had been buried in him for a minute and needed to come out: “I was trying to eat lunch/Days in the cold, I was smoking’ on some runtz. It lives up to its title.


Zoeiana: “I don’t know my name”

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Sample exercise rhythms are mostly played (unless your name is Shawny Binladen), but Zoeiana’s “Don’t Know My Name” is fun enough to beat the corny trend. The Harlem native calmly mounts a clean flip of the Alicia Keys classic and confidently issues threats with an eye roll. In a boring scene currently dominated by gruff vocals and growling streams, his laid-back energy feels like a breath of fresh air.


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World Tour Mafia is trying to have a good time and pile some bread in the process. After releasing some solid group tracks, the young rappers that make up this Midwestern crew began releasing solo mixtapes like this one from DaeMoney Season Slae and Scoob’s Scoob and Sydney go around the world. Next up is WTM Milt, whose band Dog shot and ammunition combines its lethargic flow with a mix of woozy and punchy beats. An early highlight is “Do Better,” where Milt raps over a beat that’s pretty chill for a Larry June tape, drenching his words in swag. Yes, the lyrics are pretty basic, but all that matters here is that it sounds cool.


BabyTron jumps in time

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Even if you’re skeptical of BabyTron, you have to admit that the dude really loves Michigan rap. On “Prince of the Mitten,” he pays homage to the stage’s last decade by skipping over 19 standout Michigan instrumentals in the span of four and a half minutes. Although most of the beats are from the last couple of years, he also spins classics like Doughboyz Cashout’s “I Dog Hoes”, 80’s Baby and Peezy’s “A Week Ago” and BandGang’s “Slippin”. He’s not just more than a meme, he’s a scholar.


Mach-Hommy steps out of his comfort zone

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When I click on a new Mach track, I usually expect a drumless loop or a seamlessly flipped soul sample; hats aren’t usually part of his recipe, but he sounds right at home as a guest on Atlanta rapper Big Cheeko’s single “Spin Off.” In a short verse, Mach oscillates between skillfully delivered raps and that soothing singing voice he showed off on Pray for Haiti and Balens Cho. (The Cheeko verse is pretty good too. I’ll check out his next album, which is being produced by Mach.) That opens up the possibilities for Mach moving forward – I bet he’d sound great on one of those punchy black sounds. Noi$e beats that you can find on Earl Sweatshirt’s new record, Sick!


Jaydes: “Probable scam”

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jaydes shows his love for the first wave of plugg on “Scam Likely”. During a quintessential mid-2010s Mexican beat with all the fixings—Trap-A-Holics tag, money counter sample, ATL trap drums, shimmery keys—he tests an emotionless delivery that makes it sound like a lost member of the Goth Money Records collective. It’s a far cry from the lush, melodic version of the plugg featured on Jaydes’ SoundCloud page, but it’s an interesting insight into a subgenre that’s constantly being reinterpreted and revived.

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