Title: "Cup Inside A Cup"
Producer: Black Diamond
Album: Honest Cowboy (mixtape version) (2013)
Imagine you're alone in your car. You're cruising south on the Las Vegas Strip, leaving behind the lights, the chintzy tourist traps, and the godawful traffic, aiming straight for the desert, for nothingness, for infinity. The sun has set, but its afterglow is still visible, the sky glowing with orange transitioning into purple. The kind of drive where you reflect on the important decisions you've made or are about to make in your life. For the soundtrack of this indie movie cliche, you need something that both enables the ride and enhances the vibe, as you may be drunk, stoned, or possibly both. (Not that I condone that behavior, mind you, but I don't judge.) Something that, for three or four minutes, changes your perception of what's going on around you, before safely dropping you back into place, ready to inch your life toward the direction it deserves. For me, anyway, Stalley's "Cup Inside A Cup" fits the bill.
Any song that's going to meet all of the above-mentioned criteria has to have a good beat: otherwise, this would just be an embarrassing shit-show. Black Diamond's work behind the boards creates a hypnotic groove that only gets better once the drum machine kicks in. This beat is what you want to have playing in the background to lock your mood into place: I would use the phrase "it's easy to zone out to", but I feel I overuse that particular parlance. But it really is.
Ohio's bee-bearded Stalley, who went from being a highlight of all of those relatively-uninspired Ski Beatz 24 Hour Karate School compilations to securing a spot in Rick Ross's Maybach Music Group somehow, flows over the musical backing like melted marshmallows over a bowl of Rice Krispies: his rhymes will get stuck in your brain. He doesn't drift much beyond boasts 'n bullshit on "Cup Inside A Cup", letting the beat and the Drake vocal sample (taken from his "November 18" and which gives the song its title) set the overall mood, but he doesn't really have to: as he tools around his town sipping on purple drank from his "Cup Inside A Cup" (ostensibly done to keep his drink cold: a Thermos would have the same effect, but would sound corny in a rhyme, I suppose), he drops bars about who he keeps in his circle and some advice his grandmother gave him, moving stream-of-consciously from topic to topic without a care in the world, except for maybe crashing the whip, I mean.
Sometimes, it's about the journey, not the destination. Are Stalley's bars on here as impressive as his beard? No, not really. But they're delivered confidently and with purpose, that purpose being to make you feel like you're riding shotgun, holding on to that bar thing above the passenger-side door that people hang stuff from for dear life while Stalley drunkenly drives through the hood. Again, you shouldn't drink and drive, but if you're already drunk and find yourself in the passenger seat, blast this shit and watch while it shifts your overall mood for the better.
Considering the fact that Stalley shot a video for "Cup Inside A Cup", I have no idea why it didn't migrate over to the Honest Cowboy EP he released shortly after the mixtape of the same name, as he pulled a Drake So Far Gone and culled selections for the official release, tossing many tracks to the side for various reasons. But here's the actual clip if you two are interested.
Do you agree or disagree with this selection? Discuss below.