If you don’t know who Young L is, chances are good you know another member of his crew: Lil B. That should get you situated, but this isn’t about Lil B, who recently dropped his Hoop Life mixtape, which was inspired by his unending beef with Kevin Durant. As usual, it’s about a dozen tracks too long. Dude is productive as fuck—he’s just not good at editing.
But this isn’t about Lil B. It’s about Young L. He produced all of MVP himself, which makes sense given his handsy track record. Last year’s Convulsions mixtape was a self-produced all-instrumental tape that concerned itself with moments of chaos and bored, flatlining reality. MVP has Young L actually rapping, but, like his production, his wordplay is wacky, constantly experimenting with sound over actual words.
Alexis Pope is a Brooklyn-based poet, which in itself is not that exciting of a thing, but her No Good chapbook is. It’s style is weird under the guise of normalcy, focusing on the tangibility of certain things, and merging together internal monologues and small crises with tangible experiences as simple and as intimate as eating. You can read No Good in its entirety here and follow along below. Here we go.
“A No Good Seasonal Depression”
“The chess pieces/are black and the cream tastes/thick. Here in my room I am healthy/& covered in skin.” One of Pope’s strengths is her ability to find a pattern in her wording that plays with the reader’s perspective and sense of space. “A No Good Seasonal Depression” moves in space and time from line to line—a uniquely disorienting tactic.
Pair with: “Depre$$ed Oceans”
Who knows if Young L is talking about oceans that have a sinking water level or about oceans being sad. In any case, the track starts with a noise that sounds like a drunk, moaning whale and that’s before Young L comes in, stretching out his words like a yawn as he repeats “Oh my god,” like an apathetic horror movie victim. The lack of movement here won’t take away from whatever you’re reading.
“A No Good Morning”
“A minute passes & splintered/song yawning from your cavernous/tongue. A bed sheet on the secret/floor of our naked possibility. Yesterday”. The lines breaks in this poem are abrupt and clipped, unexpected and sometimes startling given the way you might expect the words to flow in colloquial language.
Pair with: “Allergic”
On this song, Young L sounds like a bug stuck in one of those fly zapper lantern things, and he’s bouncing off the electrified death trap walls, back and forth forever. The hook,—Young L repeating the word “allergic” in a synthetic, stunted voice—mimics Pope’s line breaks.
“The Eve Of A No Good Something”
“Hear the things/I say better, like firefly. Gelatin./Yuletide. December picnic without/the snow.” Like in many of Pope’s other poems in this chapbook, things happen quickly, and they’re usually not the things you think are going to happen. Even small vowel play, like the linguistic and aesthetic pairing of “Gelatin” and “Yuletide” results in a brain-scrambling effect.
Pair with: “Dun Dit It”
Alliteration at its finest here. Again, Young L is kind of just mouthing vowels, his cadence is filtered through a kind of weighted haze, and is just as dizzying as Pope’s vowel switch-ups.
“The No Good Eight Hundred Nights”
“How like molasses. How felt up/my organs. Strength not from bones.” This poem’s conjunction-and-article-free prose puts extra pressure on the words that are there, making each phrase sound like it only had room for the essentials.
Pair with: “Rachet Song”
Young L’s voice in this song is Auto-tuned, but it’s not T-Pain Auto-tuned; it’s more like a strange, stuffy head-fog Big Bird Auto-Tuned. His sleepy, snotty vocals are volleyed back and forth in a tinny trap beat while the “You know you ratchet” hook sounds like it’s missing some pieces.
“A No Good Life Jacket”
“I think I eat bananas wrong. I think my shirt/is meant to be tucked in. Front or back,/ I’m not sure of anything anymore.” Intertwined in this self-doubt is an overhaul of the emotions that go along with things that are usually considered common knowledge. If everything you do naturally is wrong, where does that leave the things you do know?
Pair with: “Diamond Flock$”
“Diamond Flock$” is the spaciest song on MVP, with knife-sliced synth jabs and percussion jumps that sound like they came from a marching band existing in a place where gravity isn’t a thing. And it’s all instrumental. I’m not sure of anything anymore.