Pittsburgh’s North and South sides unite for the track “Haunting,” with rappers Ramon Yancey and Shamar representing the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, respectively.
“Haunting” is a gripping display of technical and lyrical chops, both a vivid picture of and a diatribe against a rigged financial system, structural racism, and the effects of gentrification. The instrumental is simple, a few, contemplative swatches of melody placed overtop a gate-slamming boom-bap rhythm; its unhurried pace allows the two artists to do linguistic karate within and around the beat. Ramon handles the first verse, busting out a dizzying array of flows with x-acto knife precision. When he’s going at full steam, he combines Meek Mill’s white knuckle intensity with André 3000’s syncopated twang. The dude basically spits out an entire dictionary’s worth of words over the course of two minutes, each with a purpose. Shamar’s second verse is a bit more economical; he delivers his bars with a gruff breathlessness and follows the beat more loosely, and it sounds natural rather than sloppy when he falls out of time for brief moments. It’s like he’s making a speech or holding court at the dinner table with friends and family. The two styles–gymnastic and then conversational- contrast with and complement each other perfectly. Both rappers drop the following refrain near the end of their verses: “I think I’m viewed as a suspect constantly/Even in uniform, my skin tone haunting me/I should’ve listened to history taunting me/Now I’m a victim in a fucked economy.” They may take different paths to get there, but they’re united in their opposition to the oppressive forces around them.