"Diamonds & Wood" is an ongoing series in which music critic Shea Serrano breaks down the 5 hip-hop tracks you need to hear this week.

For the last five weeks, I have been engaged in a vicious war, a lawless undertaking that has tested not only my will, but my ability to temper the thirst for murder that's apparently remained dormant in the pit of my hypothalamus for the last 31 years. It has been gargantuan and incredible, a battle between Zeus and Apollo or Sylvester Stallone and that big fat guy from Over The Top. Sadly though, today, September 28, year of 2012, I have to admit defeat.

The victor, the new overlord whose ring I must kiss, is the most goddamn evil person that has ever walked the Earth: Maricia the Janitor.

Maricia the Janitor is a hell-jackal birthed from the bacteria of Satan's anus and sent here to just fuck up all of my work days. I would not be at all surprised to find out that she babysat Hannibal Lector during his most formative years. Her treachery knows no bounds, her hellashishness restricted only by the devastation her own demon brain is able to conjure. She tore down Carthage in 149 BC, compressed the Earth's crust until Mount Vesuvius erupted lava all over the children of Pompeii in AD 79 and was the whisper in Joe Dumars' ear in 2003 that convinced him to take Darko Milicic over Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in the NBA draft that year. She is, in short, a total shit.

I'm still not certain how this all began, I only know that things have been cantankerous between the two of us for the past five weeks. She delivered the first substantial blow (avoiding cleaning my workspace for a few days on her route), but I responded malevolently and with ill-intent (by trying to make myself fart anytime I walked past her). Things were quiet for a week or so (the farts had served their purpose, I thought), but then she pulled perhaps the greatest, most enviable, most undeniably brilliant wartime crime of all.

Every morning, the janitors walk the halls and employee work areas at 8:20. They all come around at that time because by then everyone has eaten their breakfast and thrown the discards in the trash. They come, pick up the food-stuffed trash bags, replace them with new ones, then wander on about their days, creeping around the building going through peoples' personal property when they think no one is looking or crushing up bottles of glass to add to Halloween candy (I'm guessing).

The unspoken rule in the situation is that each person is supposed to remove his or her bag, tie it, then place it outside the door for the janitor to grab. In a hurry one morning, I simply placed the entire can outside. This, it turned out, was to be my undoing.

Maricia the Janitor did not take lightly to the transgression. At first, she just ignored the trashcan, leaving it to exist as its own ice planet. I left it outside for six hours. She walked past it 1,000 times (an approximation). When I arrived the next day, it was still there, beginning to reek of sour milk and kolache remnants. I pulled it inside, inhaled half of my breakfast, then placed the can back outside, exalting at my own temerity. She could not ignore it forever, I plotted. She'd pick it up eventually and I'd be right there watching, I plotted.

Then a twist: In the brief time I took for a restroom break, she materialized from the shadows, grabbed the can, then flung it back into my room, still full of my breakfast trash (and, more profoundly, my self-inflated pride). When I arrived back and saw the can, the response was immediate and visceral: Well, this son of a bitch here.

I grabbed the can, placed it back outside, then waited. I waited the way farmers wait for raccoons. My bones were ice. My eyes were steel.

Nothing. She never showed. I left home feeling buoyed by the victory. Gladiators have been less proud of their own exploits.

The next day, I could tell from afar that the trash was gone. I smiled. Maricia had been toppled, her tyranny ended. I sat down. I opened two breakfast tacos. Then I ate two breakfast tacos. Then I got up to throw the trash away. And then my guts hit the floor.

It was gone. It wasn't inside, it wasn't outside, it wasn't in the room next to me. It was just gone. And that's when I realized:


Do you even realize how impossible it is to function without a trashcan? It'd have been less inconvenient if she'd scooped my eyeballs out of my skull.

When I came out of my room (cartoonishly aggressively, BTW), she was standing at the end of the hall. I saw her. And I looked at her. And she looked at me. I knew she'd taken it. And she knew I knew. And she just stood there staring, 10' tall and 400 lbs of indestructible muscled muscle mass. I couldn't say a word. Her aura was impenetrable.

There was Pol Pot and there was Osama Bin Laden and there was Joseph Kony and now there is Maricia the Janitor.

She rules all. God save us.

1. Alt-J, "Fitzpleasure"

This isn't necessarily rap, but it is necessarily great all the way around. (Alt-J is an indie-pop foursome from Britain. I don't imagine you'll ever need to know that, which is exactly why you should regurgitate it at the next gathering you go to. Everyone LOVES the guy that tosses answers to unasked questions out into the sky.)

2. Danny!, "Misunderstood," featuring Lil B and Blu

Yes, this is two weeks in a row that The Based God has wiggled his way into this five best songs of the week list, but that's an incidental because he's an incidental here. The smoky razzmatazz production is where the spotlight really belongs here. Aces for that.

3. Big SANT, "Mutharfuckin' OG"

I accidented my way into seeing Big SANT when he made a guest appearance at a show here in Houston. He was appropriately aggressive, which was nice to see. This is just good, tough, Mississippi rap. DeeJay would be proud, for certain.

4. Sherro, "Blake Griffin," featuring MoeGang

"I mean, if this doesn't become a hit, then what are we even here for?" - God

5. Kids These Days, "Don't Harsh My Mellow"

Well, I'm old.

Note: For those that emailed: Thanks for asking, Function Undertaking won their most recent game, 20-0. The Helicopter dominated –he scored three touchdowns (punt return, recovered his own running back's fumble and took it to the house, ran a 50-yard bootleg run), The Bully obliterated the other team's O-Line and The Receiver, our best receiver, reinvented himself as a fearless, soul crushing, swinging sledgehammer of a safety (we threw the ball 11 times and only caught one). Next week we play Ke., perennial zone champs and football Gods. We got a chance to see them play for a moment after our game. They look like a high school JV team. They're going to put up 48 on us, easy.

Shea Serrano is a writer living in Houston, TX. His work has appeared in the Houston Press, LA Weekly, Village Voice, XXL, The Source, Grantland and more. You can follow him on Twitter here.