Freestyle of the Week review: Torch – “Hands on the Wheel Freestyle”

Let us start with the beat: “Hands on the Wheel” has an interesting composition, being built around a sample of Lissie’s cover of Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness,” thereby making it something of a third generation derivative of Cudi’s piece, and the end result of a trajectory which skewed south from the looping luxury and blunted party mentality of Ratatat’s original production, to the far more disconcerting, dirty kneed sexuality Lissie laces the cut with, to the syrup drenched, dangerously beautiful state, like spiderwebbed glass, that Schoolboy Q and A$AP Rocky found it in.

 

How they handled such a marvelously strung out, purple lacquered soundscape is what sets them apart from Torch’s freestyle over the same. Q lays confidently on top of the beat, like lines on a glass table, but never quite overwhelms it, for the most part standing aside and letting Lissie’s suicidal, solipsistic hook (“Hands on the wheel/Uh uh fuck that”) breathe and imbue the song with the fatalistic nihilism it deserves (“life to me is just weed and brews” is both sad and paradisiacal, depending on one’s desire and drive during listening; this is blunt smoke curling music, or, at most, nose to the dollar bill music, not nose to the grindstone music). For his part, A$AP takes his usual, two pronged approach, this one particularly dichotomous as his nimble, sharp bars are underscored by the deep, slow groans he so often ad-libs with. His treatment is a touch more aggressive, slathering the beat from both directions, but it is important to note that, as a feature rapper on a rather fine album, it behooved A$AP to make sure people knew he was there; little is worse than a weak guest spot, and an artist who can consistently enhance other’s tracks has a long career ahead of them (see: 2 Chainz).

 
Torch, by comparison, manhandles the beat, albeit without bruising; one could say he batters it with a bag of oranges. His voice is a touch flat, with the same airy, thundercloud vibe of Rick Ross and Gunplay, but lacking in their respective sinister diamond drenching or bombast. The verses are capable, roiling along atop and between the sinewy strands of “Hands On The Wheel,” and he lofts up into something resembling a sing-song that demonstrates some flexibility.

 
In its own way, Torch’s freestyle should not necessarily be considered lesser than than the original; more that it approached the beat in a way that does not seem as successful. If the listener wishes to skip to roughly the 1:15 mark, they will find there a few bars which serve as a microcosm of the above: “Hands on the wheel,” Lissie breathes, the entire time Torch rapping away. 

 
Download: “Hands on the Wheel” Freestyle

 

“Hands on the Wheel Freestyle” receives a PAR

 

Rating:
P…Horrible
PA…Tolerable
PAR…Good
PARL…Kinda Great
PARLÉ… Classic

 

Also Check Out:
Freestyle of the Week Review: Nitty Scott, MC – “Bath Salt Freestyle”
Freestyle of the Week Review: Gunplay, “No Church”
Introducing iMega. Brooklyn Bred, Hip-Hop Influenced
Introducing The NAACP
Drake – “Started From The Bottom” + The Remix

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