Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)
Do you ever wonder what artists are listening to when they’re not busy creating their own joints? Like, what songs they knock in the whip on repeat, or in the crib while they’re chilling? In our new NahRight feature Heavy Rotation, we will be exploring what five songs the illest rappers, producers, and also industry tastemakers are currently feeling the most.
To set it off, we got on the horn with North Carolina rapper Deniro Farrar, who is fresh off the release of his latest project, The Patriarch 2. Farrar’s a favorite here at NahRight, and we were curious to find out what he’s been bumping when he’s not in the studio crafting his lyrically inclined, underground brand of cult rap. And with the sounds of his newborn son in the background (congrats!), Farrar broke down for us the five songs he’s got in Heavy Rotation. Check out his selections below.
1. Kendrick Lamar ft. Gunplay “Cartoon & Cereal”
Deniro Farrar: “That’s one of his older tracks. It came out before good kid, m.A.A.d. city, but I love the diversity on the song, with him putting Gunplay on there. I think that’s one of the best verses I ever heard out of Gunplay. [He] spit bars on that. It’s just a really well put together song. It shows the diversity that Kendrick Lamar is bringing to the hip-hop world, too. It’s different, and I like different. It’s a crazy record. It’s one of the best records made then, and now. It [brought] the substance back to rap.
“I’ve been listening to Kendrick Lamar since he was K. Dot. I ain’t a bandwagon type of dude. I tend to get off of an artist once everyone is on him, and try to find the next dude to listen to, which is me. I’m gonna stop listening to myself once everyone starts bandwagoning the music.”
2. 2Pac “So Many Tears”
“[I got introduced to 2Pac’s music by] my older brother. We always shared a room growing up. So what he was listening to was the same thing I was listening to. [This song] basically told you that [2Pac] didn’t have a sense of belonging until he got ‘Thug Life’ tattooed on him. It’s the message in it. I feel like I get a different message than everybody else. I didn’t feel a sense of belonging until a lot of things happened in my life, and I started to grow into who I was as an individual. Everybody accepted me once I accepted who I was, and stopped trying to be someone I wasn’t.
“I can identify [with this record]. I can’t identify with none of this new stuff. 2Pac’s music is still relevant because the message in it is so deep. He’s been dead for over a decade now and you can still go back and listen to his music.”
3. Chief Keef “I Don’t Like”
“That’s the guilty pleasure that I have, listening to music like that. I know the dichotomy of the record. I lot of kids hear that record, and hear a bunch of nonsense. But I knew what it was going to do to hip-hop before it even became big. The original version, not the one with Kanye on it. I was like, ‘This is next level gangster rap.’ Next thing you know, Jimmy Iovine was grabbing up the kid. I seen it before it happened.
“This record is next level violence. Waka Flocka can’t make this. Waka Flocka makes church girl music compared to the Chief Keef wave of gangster. Waka Flocka would at least reference a fist fight. Chief Keef is all about ‘bang.’ That’s his whole thing. I heard [Chief Keef] make songs about girls, ‘She say she love me, whatever that is,’ but the ad-libs are still ‘bang bang.’’’
“Kanye knew. He knew it was gonna give him the relevance in the streets that he didn’t have. Kanye [doesn’t] make street music that can touch the inner city youth on the South Side of Chicago. That’s what Chief Keef can do. That’s why [Kanye] threw a verse on that. He didn’t really care about what it was gonna do for Chief Keef. He knew he couldn’t make that type of music. That’s why Chief Keef’s on his album. He’s smart.”
4. Meek Mill “Levels”
“It’s the way he rode the beat. It’s perfect. He’s really coming into that perfection element where it’s not even necessarily about bars. I remember when he first got on he was one of those cats that spit like he wrote a million rhymes when he was in prison and he couldn’t wait to get out and put them over a beat. All his songs were like he was so anxious to get those bars out. Now he’s becoming more patient. And the beat selection is really great. He did his thing.”
5. Kings of Leon “Use Somebody”
“You ever hear a song that makes your spirit feel good? Makes you feel happy? It just feels like I cleanse my spirit every time I hear it. I got a full tattoo sleeve, and it took me 12 hours. And that was the song I had on repeat. It does something to me every time I hear it. It’s just that song. I can’t even describe it. It’s powerful. The way they open it, ‘I’ve been roaming around/Always looking down.’ How’d they do that? It’s one of the best, most well-composed records I’ve heard.”