"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.
Two weeks ago, I received two new students: A brother and sister (ages 15 and 14, respectively) that are kin to a student I taught two years ago.
The sister, K., she’s pleasant enough. She tries hard and is somewhere near the median on the Kindness Scale and, best I can tell, capable of keeping pace with the others in her class. Her existence is perfectly proportionate. I’m certain I’ll forget her name as soon as the last school bell of the year sounds.
Her brother though, HER BROTHER THOUGH, YO, that fool is a character. His name is O., but his nickname is Panza De Caguama, which basically translates into "Beer Belly". He is big (not fat, just wide and man body-ish) and loud (LOUD) and goofy and just about a perfect accessory to any situation that isn’t school-related.
He’s not a bad kid—he is almost always smiling, and is hyper-outgoing—but he’s not a good student. Mostly, he seems compelled to stay alive solely to consume chicken nuggets from McDonald’s and to hit on L., a toothsome girl in his homeroom class. Despite having only been around for ten school days, I think he might be my second favorite of all this year.
Three O. related anecdotes before we get to this week’s songs:
1. He first showed up to my door on a Tuesday. The previous Saturday, he came to Saturday Tutorials, which was surprising considering the second thing he told me was that he reallyReallyREALLY didn’t like school. I figured maybe he was going to use the newness of his surroundings to serve as the foundation for a new school identity. I was wrong. I think he lasted about twenty minutes before I had to kick him out. Two or so minutes after we started independent practice, he stood up, shouted “TWERK TEAM!” and started doing what I assume was supposed to be a twerking (it was more him just dropping into a squatting position and shaking his belly). Mind you, this was only the third time he’d ever even been in my room. When I asked him Monday why he did it, he replied, “I don’t know. Twerking is better than the moon phases.” I can’t really argue with that.
2. During gym, O. was “playing” basketball with several other boys. Every time he got the ball, the other boys would reach their noodle arms towards it and try and yank it out. He’d turtle up, laugh, then attempt to yank each limb out of its socket by twisting round and round and round. He was like the Tazmanian Devil. And it was totally normal. Like, that’s just the way he plays basketball. That’s his go-to signature move apparently.
3. Several members of the soccer team were in the gym after school one day preparing to play indoor soccer. and O. came rumbling in (I definitely heard him before I saw him). I looked up and he was following behind L., who was coming to ask me something about a homework assignment due the following day. As we talked, O. wandered out onto the floor, secured himself a ball, then proceeded to bowl over several boys as he bulldozed around the court, eventually firing a shot that nearly put a hole in the goalkeeper’s chest. While he was out there, L. mentioned that he had expressed his interest in her. I laughed and joked that she felt the same way. She said, “Ewww, no,” then looked out at him playing, looked at me and said, “I’m gonna go before he notices,” then literally sprinted the fuck right out of the gym. When O. realized she was gone, he heftied over to me and asked where she went. I told him I didn’t know. He smiled, said “Este vata,” shrugged his shoulders, then concluded, “I’ll see her tomorrow during homeroom.” I’m certain he’s going to grow up to be the guy in the club that grabs girls by the arm as they walk past him towards the bar.
O. is the tits.
1. Tory Lanez, "Hate Me On The Low"
Were I to guess, this is gonna be one of the guys this summer that pops (you might remember: He achieved a modicum of buzz when Sean Kingston tried to have a go at it). This is the first song from his upcoming mixtape. Seems pretty undeniable.
2. Joey Fatts, "Choppa," featuring A$AP Rocky and Danny Brown
All I ever want to listen to anymore is Danny Brown. He’s a weirdo savant. Plus, he’s over 30-years-old, which is great because I don’t think I want to listen to 17-year-olds rap very much anymore.
3. Yaasin Bey (BUT REALLY MOS DEF), "Quiet Dog Bite Hard (Remix)"
One time Frank Sinatra came in here and sat in this chair. I said, “Frank, you hang out with Mos Def., right? Just between me and you, how old is Mos Def?" You know what Frank told me? He said, “Hey, Mos Def is 137-years-old. A hundred-and-thirty-seven-years-old!"
4. Juicy J, "Show Out (Remix)," featuring Pimp C and T.I.
Not entirely sure how I feel about posthumous Pimp C verses (probably not that great), but I know how feel about Juicy J—LIKE THE INSIDE OF THE SUN IS INSIDE OF MY CHEST. "SLOB ON MY KNOW LIKE CORN ON THE COB/CHECK IN WITH ME AND DO YOUR JOB" is the greatest line of all.
p.s. Seems like there’s a Riff Raff version of this floating around. Go forth.
5. Killer Mike, "In The A (Remix)"
If you wouldn’t mind, please everyone send me all of your spare exclamation points because I need them for whenever I write about this song. Thank you kindly.
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.