Rap music today is changing faster than you can say ’16 bars’, but thankfully some traditions remain sacrosanct. Whether it’s the radio freestyle session, the diss track or skits, certain hangovers from the ’90s remain entrenched in the culture, and thank God for that, because it’s an era that also gave us the posse cut. Harlem’s A$AP Mob, which includes Ferg, Rocky, Twelvy and umpteen others, have always respected this art form, and continue to do it well. It helps that there’s enough of them to run one of these themselves, but they’ve never been shy of enlisting a small army of rappers to help them out (see: A$AP Rocky’s ‘Fuckin Problems’). ‘East Coast’, a track that was already blowing up parties across the world in its original incarnation, really shines as a remixed posse cut.
The deck is so stacked with talent that it immediately brings to mind another explosive New York-centred posse cut, Pharoahe Monch’s ‘Simon Says’ remix. The common theme in both of these flips is that they give ample air space to the OGs of the game. Ferg barely gets a chorus in before throwing to Busta Rhymes, who reminds the entire world yet again that he’s the guest you want at every party. And it only gets better from there.
The gang remix is an interesting phenomenon in 2017 in a time where every DJ Khaled or Calvin Harris song boasts a long list of featured artists. Piling on for a track isn’t as unusual as it used to be, which means rappers in particular need to work harder to justify their spot in the line. It helps that ‘East Coast’, which rattles and shakes like nothing on God’s earth, is a dream bed to lay rhymes on. There’s very little window dressing outside of that submarine bass, some hood vocals and what appears to be a glockenspiel, leaving ample space for experimentation. This works in the favour of some of the weaker rappers on the track, who can use space to explore style over substance. But it also highlights the dexterity of the better ones, especially Snoop, who uses his position as the sole West Coast voice on the track to explore his new renaissance as an unlikely new voice of the Black Lives Matter movement. Consider that the same track features Busta in hyperspeed and Snoop is slo-mo and still manages to bang harder than anything out at the moment. That’s solid gold and Ferg, whose semiquaver triplet chorus remains throughout, has picked his posse well. In the process, he’s extended the life of a club anthem at least 3 months past its use by date, and potentially, right into the Canon.
That’s certainly worth flashing your gold grills for.