Diamonds & Wood: Do You Know Baeza? No? Then You’re A Racist. A$AP, Some Cents (50 To Be Exact), Too Short Vs. Adam Sandler, Busta Rhymes Saying “Cock Ring” And More

"Diamonds & Wood" is an ongoing series in which music critic Shea Serrano breaks down the 5 hip-hop tracks you need to hear this week.

I think right around the middle of October, or maybe the beginning of November, that’s when most students start to feel really comfortable in the school environment.

For the “shy” ones, that means they’ll finally start participating in class, asking or answering questions, volunteering to pass things out or pick things up, things like that. For the “bad” ones, that means they’ll really start to flex because they’ve had nine weeks to figure out exactly how their new set of teachers and administrators hand out discipline and calibrated their behavior accordingly. (Note: The “bad” ones are rarely ever truly bad. More often than not, they’re just listless. And more often than not, they’re WAY more interesting than everyone else. More importantly though, they are uncommonly loyal. If you earn a “bad” one’s trust, he or she will eat a bowl of rattlesnakes if you ask him or her to.) But for the “good” ones, that means they’ll begin to open up. They’ll start showing a bit of their personality, occasionally attempting to make a joke or start a conversation with an adult that doesn’t eventually wiggle its way into a request to go to the bathroom. That’s how I came to learn about Baeza.

According to several of the girls in a couple of my classes, he’s basically the best thing of all: a thin-but-not-waifish, tattooed-but-not-overly-so, Mexican-looking-but-also-kind-of-Asian-looking musician. The Baeza brain trust here at my school, they’re a less than thorough bunch. None of the questions I asked (Where’s he from? What does his music sound like? How old is he? How do you spell his name?) could be answered. Mostly, the few in-passing conversations I’ve been backed into about him have ended in a knot of shrieks and affable acronym gibberish I pretend to understand.

Some of the things the things about Baeza I’ve been able to put together:

1. He is so cute.

2. OH MY GOD HE IS SOOOOOO CUTE.

I found him online. He’s here. He’s serviceable, sure, but his rating doesn’t extend too much further past that (though I don’t imagine that’s any reason not to give him several million dollars). His apparent popularity among my population of students isn’t altogether surprising though. My school is nearly exclusively Latino. And while there is no shortage of OHMYGODCUTEBOYS in pop music (clear favorite: One Direction’s Zayn Malik), there is an uncomfortably low number that my kids can specifically identify with.

I guess there’s Puerto Rico’s Chayanne, but besides being 44 (which is basically 1,000-years-old to teenagers), he’s mostly a Spanish performer. And the kids, though they almost all speak Spanish, are nearly always looking for ways assimilate further into American culture (part of the reason they regularly refer to each other as “nigga” I suspect). Pitbull* is maybe one, but that guy is, like, for realsies 90-years-old, I think. He’s no more relevant to them than I am or Enrique Iglesias is or the Dutch economy is.

This feels like a conversation that needs to be had soon, but maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it’s too big of a problem or maybe it’s not even a problem at all. Maybe the election was an indicator: maybe Latinos are about to flex their importance everywhere? Maybe we’ll flood the music industry, same as we did cities along the border. I don’t know. I just know that if you happen to ask a teenage girl that’s heard about him what her favorite song is, she’ll sprout wings from her back and fly to the moon. And that certainly seems like a start.

1. Baeza, “Far From Ready”

Not brand new, but, I’m saying, I couldn’t NOT put this here.

2. A$AP Rocky, “Long Live A$AP”

Oozing spooky charm here.

This didn’t happen, but let’s just say that had A$AP’s album leaked, and had I illegally downloaded it (which I’d absolutely supplement by buying the real thing when it officially released), I’d probably encourage you to get it. It is good. Or, rather, it’ll probably be good.

3. Too Short, “Hanukkah Rap”

“This ain’t Rosh Hashanah, this ain’t Passover, this is Hanukkah, baby, so move that ass over.”

*EVERYONE DIES*

Can someone please explain how Too Short’s Hanukkah song is better than every song about anything?

4. 50 Cent, “Major Distribution,” featuring Snoop and Jeezy

Add together his verse on Chief Keef’s “Hate Bein’ Sober” with his work here, and it turns out, 50 Cent can still rap. Who knew?

5. Busta Rhymes, “Poetic Justice,” featuring Q-Tip

Such a great, winning I Was There verse from Busta Rhymes about Janet Jackson. Also, Q-TIP, MOTHERFUCKERS. This dude is pure love.

Shea Serrano is a writer living in Houston, TX. His work has appeared in the Houston Press, LA Weekly, Village Voice, XXL, The Source, Grantland and more. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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  • neeka y

    #TeamBaeza♥ puttin our city on the map!
    55nino shit