Chicago rappers split their past score average…
Crystal Leww: The Chicago rap scene has quietly faded from the national spotlight even as its acts continue to put out some incredible output, experimenting with the sounds that expanding outward have allowed. “Problem” features a beat that sounds more HudMo/Lunice than Chicago drill, but its emcees are more than competent enough to not just handle it but flourish in it. (Katie Got Bandz did a similar job with the wily beat on “In The Field”.) The most compelling part is when Sasha and Tink both rap that hook “I think I’m a problem” with Sasha handling the higher register and Tink simmering just below. Those soaring synths are victory horns, and Sasha and Tink are the queens.
Jonathan Bradley: Two of Chicago’s leading lights spread their reach beyond the City of Big Shoulders, and neither sounds diminished for her distance from drill clatter. Sasha extracts a memorable hook out of a single stretched syllable (“probleeeeeeem“) and piles couplet on bullish couplet. I like her feminized take on a common rap putdown: “He eat me then he kiss you/My pussy in his visual.” Tink’s junior-high flow might be even better, with sideways similes (“they snaky like two piranhas”) and slick slant rhyme (“medical” with “Adderall”) making her sound like the smartest kid in homeroom. She’s a lot more adept than her youthful tone and rangy couplets suggest.
Brad Shoup: Tony Roche’s screaming synth blats sem to’ve escaped from some closed-down horror studio: it’s hard not to get under the skin with that as your tool. And despite another dookie joke, Sasha and Tink succeed. They’re bounding all over the beat, having a blast and detonating them, too. They step on each other’s toes with the cunnilingus boasts, but maybe it’s better to say they provide a united front.
Will Adams: Sasha’s got the upper hand, owning the hook with a steady crescendo, while Tink reaches for a handful of similes and calls it a day. Tony Roche’s monster beat sets the stage for a grand statement, but both rappers seem to run out of things to say other than that they’re a problem.
Anthony Easton: I think you’re a problem because of how badly you crib everyone else in the last few years. That and the piranha line was just dumb.
Andy Hutchins: The endlessly repeated hook over the tinny, cascading synths and the bobbing drums is the draw, but Sasha does nothing except ride the beat, which is boring by the time the hook rolls around the second time. Tink, on the other hand, skates all over this and nearly pulls off “acknowledge it/fossil print/medical/Adderall” over the first four bars; “them” for “it” scraps the momentum before it starts, but the verse is wildly entertaining and proof that rising above a beat is usually a better idea for rappers than sinking into it.
Katherine St Asaph: “I think I’m a problem” is a great humblebrag hook, but it’s better paired with Tink’s verse — inventive, loopy, a contrast — than Tony Roche’s cool-then repetitive beat with Sasha going competent.
Josh Langhoff: The steady one-finger synth and 8th-note syllables fool you at first, setting the song up to be an undifferentiated stream of hardness, but then! — majesty! — a roiling fanfare and and snare offbeats set the whole thing tumbling and flowing, bottom over top, a LavaTM wave motion generator simulating unfuckwithable natural phenomena. (I didn’t wanna pull out the lava metaphor but Sasha got there first.) The ensuing head nods engulf body and
rocking chair whip in a pattern both unpredictable and deeply in thrall to some higher order of joy. “Like his first name Carlton,” you’re thinking. Yes, it’s something like that, only slowed down.