Rap Blog: Hook’s filthy “Mattress”

Rap Blog is a weekly showcase of a standout rap song.

When I first listened to Hook‘s 2019 project Bully, I remember thinking how apt a title it is. The California rapper’s flows — whether sledgehammer blunt or wispy smooth — are all delivered by the coolest mean girl you’ve ever had the misfortune of being read by: you think that you don’t care about what people think until someone like Hook trains her sights on you like a cobra, ready to detach her jaw and let the venom fly.

Of course, this quality isn’t the source of Hook’s appeal. What really makes her shine are her experimental tendencies, the kind on display on Castle, her first full-length project in four years. Some tracks like “city!,” you’d hesitate to call rap, with Hook’s swaying, nearly off-mic melodies over the menacing trap beat recalling a Dean Blunt loosie. That’s one pole of a project with a fascinating looseness: on the other, she’s flowing immaculately over beats from Surf Gang (“DIAMONDS”) and Working On Dying (“UBER THERAPY”).

“Mattress” rests at the equator. The first voice we hear on the song isn’t Hook’s but that of French rapper Obakxs, who raps resplendently over a beat somewhere between industrial techno and Klingon rave. Here, Hook’s verses have a jazzy form that takes a cue from the frenetic beat: she scats, unleashes volley after volley of memorable lines, screams “EASY A” with an unhinged bellow, and coos softly on the outro. It’s tough to keep up, but it’s fun as hell to try.