Oooh we are back with another edition of Music Moots™, the series where I ask people I know from online or IRL — or maybe both — to recommend me a song that they have been enjoying lately, and then I blog about it. Past editions include pop culture queen Nicole Tremaglio rec'ing an Italian party bop, music curator / DJ Ashraf El Gamal rec'ing a Jersey club / R&B mashup, and tattoo artist / DJ / record store staffer sadstab rec'ing a Cribs x Johnny Marr tune.
Now we have Brendan P. Higgins aka Hang10higgins, EIC of the music and culture blog Grandma Sophia's Cookies, a web publication I have written for several times. Brendan also co-hosts a therapy-themed comedy show called Do You Wanna Talk About It? with Josh "HYD" Ramos and they even let me appear on one of those shows. I blacked out during my 'set' but I remember spending some time talking about how mean Drake is to tired-looking women on the song "Diamonds Dancing." Anyway Brendan is holding it down in the blogiverse and in the 'real world' and I know he has good taste in music so I had to ask him for a rec, and he suggested "Misinformed" by Papo2oo4, DJ Lucas and subjxct 5:
"I’ll keep it v real and go w the track at the top of my on repeat playlist. I liked the Papo2004 DJ Lucas & Subjxct5 record from 2022 but i fell back in love w it when I saw them live in Newark w fatboi sharif in the fall. Papo is a jersey guy and Lucas is from mass so it feels perf w me being a jersey guy and you a new englander."
From the jump, I love the title "Misinformed." Just one word and a whole vibe is created: the sense of an eloquent but pointed brush-off. Oh, you thought that? It seems you may have been misinformed. The beat (subjxct 5's doing) is tasty. The melodic element? A repetitious and wonky piano, sounding like one you might find in an abandoned saloon. There are a wide variety of drum sounds at play — kicks, claps, little bursts that sound like laser guns? — but it's not so cluttered that it overpowers the rapping.
Both DJ Lucas and Papo2oo4 are in soft boast mode, using a variety of metaphors and similes to show how misinformed you are about their skills and greatness, but the self-aggrandizement gets tempered with a touch of humility. You can't fuck with Papo2oo4, but he acknowledges he will "go hard 'til [his] hairline start receding." DJ Lucas gets recognized in Harlem, but his psilocybin usage makes him antisocial ("all these shrooms got me reclusive") and rather than eating at Ruth's Chris Steak House, he prefers a nameless "hole in the wall." These guys are feeling themselves, but danger lurks around every corner in the form of hair loss and haters. Their mutual goal is constructive: "continuous improvement" (also the name of their collaborative album).
At one point DJ Lucas describes himself as "Western Mass personified" (a recent photo on his Instagram shows him brandishing a Dunkin' Donuts phone case that matches his beanie and sneakers). Brendan acknowledged my New Englander status when he rec'd the song, and I want to explore what exactly that might mean from an aesthetic perspective.
In some ways I think of the whole Northeast as a collection of underdog states [exempting NYC but including the rest of NY in this, forgive my calculus]. There's a collective sense of slight chagrin — the colonists got here first, but flashier and zanier and more aggressive cities sprouted further west, leaving the first dozen-ish states feeling dignified but ultimately humble. The scale of both the nature and the architecture is relatively small, and the weather is of course outsizedly cold. We lack the municipal vigor of a Houston or Phoenix; I am forever haunted by the Onion's classic headline "Pretty Cute Watching Boston Residents Play Daily Game Of 'Big City'". We have no big arch or Sears Tower or Sphere, but we do have a lot of low stone walls covered in a slight frost.
The trick is finding the appropriate amount of defiance in that humility. "Western Mass personified" to me is the acknowledgement of certain deficiencies, and the acceptance of them as superpowers. Yes the weather sucks, but I can survive it — enjoy freezing to death because you are too proud to wear long underwear. Or: yes Dunkin' Donuts is not 'good' coffee, but that's besides the point. The point is that it is THERE FOR YOU WHEN NO ONE ELSE IS. When the skies are grey as often as they are up in that corner of the country, you have to start seeing them as clouds with their silver lining turned inside out, you know what I mean? I'm going to Vermont this week and the high will be 12° on the day I arrive and that's FINE!!! If you think that sucks, you have been misinformed!
Thank ya Brendan. If you have made it this far, go read Grandma Sophia's Cookies. And if you like I Enjoy Music, tell a friend about it.