Heavy Rotation with Taxstone

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Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

“There’s really no title for what I do, because I do so much.” That’s how Brooklyn’s own Taxstone describes his place in the game right now. And it’s true. What started as a streetwise (and hilarious) presence on social media has turned Taxstone into one of the most important new personalities in hip-hop. Not only is he the host of his own Loud Speakers Network podcast Tax Season (recent guests include Styles P, Desus & Mero, and Memphis Bleek) and a regular on MTV2’s Uncommon Sense, but he’s also a sought-after industry “consultant,” working with both artists and record labels. In fact, when we caught up with Tax earlier this week, he was in the back of an Uber on the way to Atlantic Records for a meeting, anticipating a barrage of questions about his “opinions on shit.”

As Taxstone’s tastemaker status continues to rise, we felt it was only right to tap him for our latest Heavy Rotation. Read below to find out what five songs Tax has been listening to recently, and make sure you follow him on Twitter, check for him on Uncommon Sense (new episodes air Friday nights on MTV2 at 11pm), and of course, subscribe to his Tax Season podcast on iTunes to get his uncensored perspective on what’s happening in hip-hop every week. This is that real rap talk, beloved.

1. Drake “Back To Back Freestyle”

Taxstone: “I fuck with it because it’s a diss record and you can party to it. You can really turn up to that record. I feel like if you make a diss record you can party to, that makes it even more of a hit. There weren’t many diss records back in the day that you could play in the club besides ‘Hit ‘Em Up.’

“I’ve been to at least six to seven clubs where they’ve played it and the whole energy of the club changes. If Meek was in the spot and that record came on, I know he wouldn’t want to hear it, because people are definitely going to rap that song along with Drake.

“I’m an advocate for lyrics, so I understand what Meek was saying. But his strategy for war was sloppy. He did it wrong. If he would’ve came out and rapped first, then we might not have held on to ‘Charged Up’ that well—or ‘Back To Back’—if we had first heard a record from Meek coming at him. But he decided to tweet, and then he took so long to attack back ‘cause the attack was so efficient on his armor that he didn’t know what to do.

“It was only a four day span, but I knew when I heard ‘Charged Up’ that it was just a light tap, and he was waiting for him to make a move. And even ‘Back To Back,’ I feel like that was a light tap, too, and he was just waiting for Meek to say something crazy. And he couldn’t even perform, so Drake didn’t even put the third one out.”

2. The Roots ft. Erykah Badu “You Got Me”

“I’ve been playing that lately. Black Thought is one of my favorite rappers. And it’s just a record that I popped back in—well, not popped back in because we don’t pop in anything these days kna’ mean [Laughs]—but it’s a record I put on my Apple playlist. It’s got Erykah Badu, and it’s just a soulful record. The lyrics, and the whole feel of the record. And the video was so vivid that every time I hear the record, I can see the video.

“That music never left to me. It’s always been in my rotation. I might sprinkle new artists here and there, and I promote a lot of new artists, but I’m still stuck in ‘97, ‘96, ‘95, ‘94. The golden era of hip-hop and R&B. But I listen to a whole lot of shit, kna’ mean? I listen to Chumbawamba songs that people didn’t even know existed [Laughs].”

3. Loyal Duce ft. Fameschool Telli “Finesse”

“He’s from Brooklyn. I got put on to him at SXSW. I seen this dude perform, and I got caught by his performance, like, ‘This kid got a lot of energy.’ So I got on to him from that. And then, I seen him perform three more times. Then, I seen A$AP Rocky and them walking up the strip in Austin, and they seen Loyal and like, ran towards him like he was the star. So it made me pay attention to him, like, ‘Damn, who is this kid?’

“So the kid ended up hanging around with us for the next couple of days and shit. And I understood the lyrics to ‘Finesse,’ because he didn’t have much money on him, he was just out there to perform and get known. And he was just pullin’ girls left and right. And that’s basically what the record is about. He just finesse, he know how to be fly. And that’s really true to him, and that’s what made the record so real to me. Every time a girl came into the house, we like, ‘Yo, what’s up?’ And they like, ‘Loyal Duce invited us.’ [Laughs.] He’s like 19 years old. I’m like, ‘This kid got something with him. He’s a star.’

“He dropped his single, and Noisey debuted it and shit. He’s doing his little thing right now. He only got one record out. But I’ve heard several more records from him, because now I’ve been dealing with him and stuff like that. The kid is official. I think he might create a whole new wave in New York City, because he from that hipster crowd. The A$APs and them, they know him. I asked him, I was like, ‘How you know them?’ He was like, ‘Yo man, we used to all be performing at the same shows. They just got signed.’ He’s only 19, and A$AP been signed four, five years now. That’s how long he been doing it.”

4. Dave East “No Coachella For Me”

“During that time when everyone was going to Coachella, he dropped that record. It’s basically his frustration, like, ‘No Coachella for me. I’m fucked up, I gotta pay rent. I still gotta hustle. I’m not getting the looks I deserve out there, and I gotta still trap.’ It was just a real record to me, because this artist that I was helping out promote and shit, they couldn’t make it to Coachella for the same reasons. So when I heard the record, I was like, ‘Man, this dope as shit.’ It just sounded like a real classic New York record. Real gritty, lotta lyrics. You know, he can’t go to Coachella and the trendy events because he still gotta pay rent.

“I think Dave East is dope. His manager Wayno is a friend of mine. When I first heard Dave East, I didn’t really like the music. And I just watched him grow. I always feel like that’s the best, is to watch artists as they grow in front of your eyes. Like Kanye West, when the Roc wasn’t letting him rap, I remember he was doing something with Karl Kani the clothing designer—he had a label. And he did a record with my man, I still have the record to this day. And my man cooked Kanye West on the record. But today, he couldn’t cook him, kna’ mean? So just to see that in Dave East, in the two years since I’ve known him, I’ve seen the growth in his music and him professionally as an artist. That’s why I definitely co-sign him, because I know there’s more to come.

“Some rappers been rapping so long that they come into the game at their peak, so you never see the growth. They might have already had ten, eleven albums out that we never knew about that might’ve been their best albums. But we ain’t hear it. So to see Dave East’s growth makes me really love that record.”

5. Manolo Rose “Super Flexin”

“He’s admirable. You know, I write too. I write shit for artists. But just to see his process when he goes into the studio to make records, any artist that I’ve brought in the studio with him, they’re wow’d by whatever he does. Like, ‘Yo, how did he do that that fast?’ Or, ‘How did he put that together?’ He just got a gift with hooks and bridges, kna’ mean? I think he just knows how to catch the cadence of the beat well, because it always works out as a hook. And that brings a whole different aura to the studio, because it makes everyone around him want to write better and go harder.

“And he reads a lot. And I always tell people this, because I had an argument with somebody from Dreamchasers because I said, ‘If Meek Mill read more, his music would be better.’ He thought I was trying to play him, but I was trying to let him understand. Like, this dude only got about eleven words in his entire vocabulary. That’s why we’re getting sick of hearing his shit.

“I like ‘Super Flexin.’ It’s not really so much of an East Coast record. It would be classified more as a Down South record. He’s talking about having money and spending in the club, but he’s also talking about stuff that be happening in The Bible on the record. People don’t really be listening to what he’s saying. It’s a super trap record, but it’s complex.

“He just had a performance with Funk Flex at Webster Hall, and Flex brought the record back ten times. Everybody was wil’in’, and it was just a great performance. I had the record for almost a year since I met him, but that just made me regain my love for the record, seeing how people reacted to it at the show that night.”

Previously:

Heavy Rotation with Fashawn
Heavy Rotation with Shea Serrano
Heavy Rotation with David Drake
Heavy Rotation with Jeff Weiss
Heavy Rotation with Joell Ortiz
Heavy Rotation with The Black Sheep Dres
Heavy Rotation with Alex Wiley
Heavy Rotation with Smoke DZA (Kush Edition)
Heavy Rotation with Chase N. Cashe
Heavy Rotation with Tree (Chi-Town Edition)
Heavy Rotation with Eddie Huang
Heavy Rotation with Doley Bernays
Heavy Rotation with Black Dave
Heavy Rotation with Mistah F.A.B. (Bay Area Edition)
Heavy Rotation with Hannibal Buress
Heavy Rotation with Chuck Strangers
Heavy Rotation with Sean Price
Heavy Rotation with MTV’s Rob Markman

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