Billboard Hot 100 Fest
Hear New Releases From Awful Records' Father & Lord Narf
Rap and R&B are two of the fastest-moving musical genres -- releases come quickly and without advance notice. Still, this has been a surprising week. The stars weighed in, as Kendrick Lamar's album leaked and Tinashe dropped a short free tape. Then on a smaller-scale, Atlanta's Awful Records released two projects -- Father's Who's Gonna Get F***** First and Lord Narf's Sick. It's as if the rest of the pop world moves in slow motion.
Father emerged in 2014 with a seemingly off-the-cuff style -- he raps in conversational, droning tone that doesn't hide his gift for humor and coining catchphrases. ("Wrist wrist wrist wrist" may be the best known; "why can't I cry money instead of tears?" may be the best.) Last year, as the ever-rising tide of Atlanta rap lifted a lot of boats, Father capitalized: first with the L1L D1DDY EP, then with the Young Hot Ebony mixtape.
Who's Gonna Get F***** First has an amusingly self-censoring title for a rapper who has never held much back. Father's into sharing: the details are the fun stuff, and he packs a lot of them into a few lines, both confident and self-deprecating. "Back in the A, don't get too excited," he raps on the tape's second track. "Not staying long, just here to see the wifey/ Archie please tell me why these n----s don't like me/ probably cause their bitch in the crowd like, 'wife me'/ and I might just do it, cause a n---- so petty."
While tracks like "On Me" and "Vamp" could be from last year -- unadorned but vigorous -- Father's beats are picking up new elements, the spare skeletons of Young Hot Ebony beginning to add some muscle. "Who's Gonna Get F***** First" has a touch of Lou Reed's "Walk On The Wild Side" (or Tribe Called Quest's "Can I Kick It") in its bassline; the "Slow Dance (Interlude)" works with easy, sexual soul. "Morena," which Father played at a recent show in New York City, pairs a "Boricua, Morena" refrain with a series of sexual boasts in the same manner as Big Pun's "Still Not A Player." A delicate injection of '90s R&B backing vocals drift in the background.
Narf and Father have appeared on the same track several times ("Dossier," "B&B"); although Narf doesn't have Father's signature style -- his tone is highly recognizable -- she's more experimental as a vocalist. She plays with slurring her voice on Sick (which follows her For The Funky tape from last year), multi-tracking it and dragging out her syllables. "Can't Breathe" is a menacing, paranoid track filled with samples of Narf gasping.
Just as she's more playful with her voice, Narf's interested in wide range of beats. Sick opens with "Face Fall Off," which seems like a track created from a melodic rubber band. "ShowEmUrButt" has a squirting west coast sound; "Sleep" is squiggly and energetic; "Tick Tock" comes off as neo-soul chopped up and rearranged -- there's piano, faint strings, singing, and Narf's nonchalant drawl.
Awful Records releases are always short and sharp: Sick comes to a close after just 9 songs, which is almost decadent for Narf -- two more tracks than she included on For The Funky. On the final track, "Outro," she raps, "I ain't really got shit, shit to say/ I'm just glad that you're listening to me/ can you think of other possibilities?" This week, there were more possibilities than most, but Narf's being modest -- she's got plenty to talk about.