Column: Favorite Rap Mixtapes of October 2017

This post was originally published on this site

With a cascade of releases spewing from the likes of DatPiff, LiveMixtapes, Bandcamp, and SoundCloud, it can be difficult to keep up with the overbearing yet increasingly vital mixtape game. In this column, we aim to immerse ourselves in this hyper-prolific world and share our favorite releases each month. The focus will primarily be on rap mixtapes — loosely defined here as free (or sometimes free-to-stream) digital releases — but we’ll keep things loose enough to branch out if/when we feel it necessary. (Check out last month’s installment here.)


Trippie Redd – A Love Letter To You 2

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All those Lil Uzi Vert comparisons notwithstanding, Ohio’s Trippie Redd is doing a fine job carving out his own lane as hip-hop’s closest thing to an opera singer. I mean, sure, there’s crooning, but then there’s Trippie Redd’s emotive bellow that erupts like a bat out of hell on the pre-hook for In Too Deep (I see the future in my plans / I’m gonna be good, it’s in God’s hands). Redd’s consistently ariose flow is the major draw for me: he’s got an amazing ear for melody, particularly those that instill sadness. While not entirely morose, the tape does embody themes of loneliness, nostalgia, and heartbreak (Baby wish me well / You know that I live in hell / I’m hellboy, I live in hell). Using autotune and endlessly-alluring, eerie, and ambient instrumentals as his brush, Trippie paints a world of vivid, lush euphony. And he does it effortlessly, with genuine affect.


Antwon – Sunnyvale Gardens

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There’s a lot of talk about potential in the rap game these days. With infinite, uh, clout at stake for those early champions of the next to claim their fifteen minutes, rap nerdery can feel more than a little obsessed with the obscure. But what exactly are we hoping that these teenagers might turn into? With Sunnyvale Gardens, underground veteran Antwon provides one possible answer, summarizing the year in Soundcloud while retaining the form of an actual, polished album. It’s a reassuring step forward, a promise that the genre’s core tenets – unabashed emo influence, guitar front and center, gargled autotune melody – can carry weight even in the absence of minute-and-a-half runtimes and blown out mastering. In spanning seemingly the entire history of rap since 2010, Sunnyvale Gardens can certainly feel a bit uneven; more often than not, however, it’s worth your while – Antwon is the ideal auteur for the goofy sincerity of rap’s current moment.


Grandmilly & Shozae – Motel Six

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The desk clerk hardly takes her eyes off the TV, absolutely never shoots you a straight glance, but make no mistake, she’ll scan her peripherals enough times to piece together a mental image. So it pays for you to look around too, giving her as little as possible without making it obvious. The game plays out perpetually. That’s what passes for hospitality here — that and musty carpets and buckled wallboards and busted heat pumps and penitentiary-level shower pressure and springy mattresses and HBO — because they know you’re only here on business. Bring your own amenities.


Evil Haze x CowboyKiller – Western Haze EP

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Cowpokin’ ain’t a far cry from trappin’. Texan/Pennsylvanian tag-team Evil Haze and CowboyKiller ride foreign horses and tote big irons, shooting hissed bars from the hip atop oppressively crusty bass lines. Their first three-track collab, Western Haze is a desert heat wave, warping its cracking samples on the scorched horizon: it stifles in the biblical sense, drying my throat like baked clay as my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. Lay me in the dust of death and ride off, pistols blazing. I hear the whine of slide guitar against the lens flare in the pale blue sky. “I’m causing damage while you on the internet spamming,” CowboyKiller whispers from a distance so great that I’m unnerved to hear him at all. It cuts deep.


YoungBoy Never Broke Again – Ain’t Too Long

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Ain’t Too Long, the latest chapter in Baton Rouge rapper YoungBoy Never Broke Again’s rapid ascent to hip-hop’s front page, arrived early October in peculiar form: a playlist of 8 YouTube videos on YoungBoy’s official page, not accessible via the usual mixtape sites nor the main-channel streaming services. This very unceremoniousness is exactly what makes the 18 year-old rapper so refreshing: his melodic, repetitive storytelling bears equal imprints of gen Z stylistic cues and Kevin Gates-esque confessionalism, and this latest tape finds him pensive and morose even in the face of great success. “Pour One” and “Better Man” start at the origin of his struggle and tell a story elliptically, looking back on betrayal and past selves with equal parts disbelief and gratitude. The circular melancholy in YoungBoy’s grates on the listener, at times unrelentingly sad even as the beat continues to bounce and fade out. What else are you looking for?


Gunplay – Haram

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There’s not good reason that Gunplay isn’t one of the biggest rappers in the world. He has more than enough intensity, talent, grind, uniqueness and hit-making ability to get over. Crossover appeal? C Monster and I saw him rock a noise showcase during Red Bull music week a couple years ago! Plus, Gucci Mane and DMX sustained careers through worse recidivism. Regardless, a couple years removed from a debut album that was understandably underwhelming (in that it was so needlessly belated and highly anticipated), Gunplay has sounded reinvigorated throughout 2017, powdery explosiveness complemented by a sensibility that was at the heart of his finest early works and now feels more attuned. Gunplay with precision and consistency.


Injury Reserve – Drive It Like It’s Stolen

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God, these three will never get the credit they deserve. Drive It Like It’s Stolen is everything Injury Reserve fans have come to expect: beat-heavy, lyrically conscious songs drizzled with some of the silkiest flow in the game. The 23-minute mixtape showcases the dichotomy of the trio in a short amount of time. “See You Sweet” and “Boom (X3)” are tough enough to “have the landlord knocking like a burglary,” while “North Pole” and “Colors” sway slow enough to swing a room into a smoke-sesh. Jokes aside, Drive it Like It’s Stolen has moved Injury Reserve to a more permanent position in rap and lets the world know that the trio has finished flossing and is ready to eat again.


araabMUZIK – One of One

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In 2010, Dipset Trance Party was, as far as I was concerned, one of the coolest and most confounding things in music. Hosted by someone calling themselves “Your Boy SK,” the series of beat tapes, somehow inspired simultaneously by vocal trance and by the rhythm-focused, high-fidelity Dipset production aesthetic, introduced the world to araabMUZIK. Since the release of his debut album Electronic Dream one year later, in what was surely the biggest Dipset Trance Party success story, we haven’t heard very much from the producer, known for feverishly punching out drum sequences on his MPC as if it were a live percussion instrument. At six tracks, One of One feels like the perfect serving of his simple yet intoxicating blend of beats and emotional dance music. Nevelle Viracocha’s vocals on “Lock and Load” and “Wanted,” seated in the middle of the mix and shrouded in delay, take me back to the bygone Trance Party even more effectively than araabMUZIK’s studio efforts, while the drums hit with the swinging, hand-plucked weight I’ve come to expect from him. One of One is a nifty, powerful little collection of beats, as ready for SoundCloud freestyling as for home listening.


Future & Young Thug – Super Slimey

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According to the October 2017 edition of Physics Today:

Allison Sweeney and her colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania now report that they may have a solution to the long-standing puzzle of how the squid lens establishes its protein-density gradient in a way that maintains uniform transparency. They found that cells at different radial positions within the lens produce different ratios of some 40 subtly different variants of S-crystallin. All the mixtures form gels — or at least a volume-spanning protein network — but at varying densities. The gelation prevents the proteins from aggregating into opaque clumps and damps local density fluctuations that could distort vision.


Lil Durk – Signed to the Streets 2.5

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I guess Lil Durk and Dej Loaf aren’t together anymore. I hope they’re ok! Really. Though never short on flexes, Lil Durk’s music has always had a believable earnestness far beyond that of his peers, neither cartoonishly immersed in his feelings nor insistent that they don’t exist. Despite never quite breaking out beyond Chicago, Durk has enjoyed massive sustained popularity there since well before drill entered (and subsequently exited) the national stage. There was a brief period this summer when it seemed like Distance was going to break through, and practically every track on Signed to the Streets 2.5 is similarly easy to imagine as a hit. Then again, that’s been the case for most of his career.

Column: Favorite Rap Mixtapes of June 2017

This post was originally published on this site

With a daunting cascade of releases spewing from the likes of DatPiff, LiveMixtapes, Bandcamp, and SoundCloud, it can be difficult to keep up with the overbearing yet increasingly vital mixtape game. In this column, we aim to immerse ourselves in this hyper-prolific world and share our favorite releases each month. The focus will primarily be on rap mixtapes — loosely defined here as free (or sometimes free-to-stream) digital releases — but we’ll keep things loose enough to branch out if/when we feel it necessary. (Check out last month’s installment here.)


T.E.C. & Maine Musik – Spider Nation

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At some point during my third listen to Spider Nation, I realized that two rappers featured on it had since died. BTY YoungN and Zoe Realla are just two of too many killed this year in Baton Rouge, a troubled city for which a burgeoning rap scene has become a source of national attention. Along with the city’s fastest-rising star YoungBoy Never Broke Again (age 17), T.E.C. & Maine Musik (both 23) have made the most of the spotlight, collecting millions of views across their catalog of music videos (Baton Rouge’s primary method of music distribution). To ignore their music is to bury your head in the sand; while unkind to the gun-shy, Spider Nation is a direct transmission of an experience into which millions are born.


Adamn Killa – I Am Adamn

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Adamn Killa is the type of rapper who does one thing, and will do it proudly ‘til death — the ineffable aura encircling his flow lilts in how it refuses to make a case for its drooping metrics: yawning hooks trail off and form concentric rings around a self-image of solitude as Adamn constantly repeats his own name (“Please don’t ask me who I am, it’s on my face” he warbles on “Too Late”) and pens dirge after ballad about how bad his haters smell. I Am Adamn is the rising Chicagoan’s first proper album, bringing a hi-fidelity touch to the sparkling, gauzy production lane that 2016’s slept-on Back 2 Ballin tape codified. Adamn is nothing new for the eponymous rapper, but it is the best document thus far of what he does: immaculately mastered beats from Ryan Hemsworth, Shlohmo, UV Boi, and Dolan Beats form a silky continuum for Adamn’s cobwebby shittalking meditations to spread out, comfortably anesthetized in their sleepy half-articulation.


5G – LOR5TH

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Falling timbrally between OPN’s Replica and Tommy Wright III’s cassette discography, LOR5TH is a hypnagogic patchwork of trashed samples, off-kilter rhythms, and spoken-word chants that feel so aggressive they’re dreamy. Think of Deafheaven’s approach to blast-beats and tremelo-picked riffage ― the black-metal outfit’s arrangements are densely packed enough to fold in on themselves, creating blank space. Or perhaps they just melt in one’s mind like candy and good barbecue do on the tongue. However the San Fransico quartet manipulate their musical state of matter, Philly’s 5G and his all-star line up of beatmakers are equally capable of doing just that ― creating a liquid stream of harsh vibes that collect in the brain like warm pool water trapped in one’s inner ear. LOR5TH’s two Spaceghostpurrp-produced cuts are its best offerings, each adding grisly meat to 5G’s calculated, skeletal delivery.


Mozzy & Gunplay – Dreadlocks & Headshots

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The first time many of us saw Gunplay he was in Columbia, on the set of a Rick Ross video shoot, extolling the purity of the country’s cocaine and sniffing it on camera. But what if that purportedly candid WorldStar video was itself a staged video shoot, the Medellin cityscape actually the wall of a Hollywood sound stage? Gunplay’s brand is that of the wild card, the dreadlocked, tattooed man on coke with the machine gun. This being established, Gunplay could’ve rested on his WorldStar laurels… but then he would’ve been Stitches. Instead, he outshined the Boss every chance he got and built a rep as one of the most consistent mixtape pumpers of his time. That is, until it all stopped, leaving a vacuum where the rapper’s left nostril once resided. What happened? Who’s Mozzy? Whatever. Entertainment is spectacle, but if Gunplay was a mere provocateur, he wouldn’t have been missed. He was. Here’s hoping he’s back for good.


Chief Keef – Thot Breaker

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I don’t know what surprised me more while listening to Thot Breaker — that Chief Keef is still producing his own tracks, or that they all sound amazing. In terms of his entire musical craft, Keith Cozart has entered a new era, swapping the Chief Sosa mask with that of Chief Turbo. Every song is the kind of distracted love song he’s so good at making, blending what sound like true expressions of his emotions with crass and imaginative storytelling. “She told me that she loved me /And then I closed the curtains,” sings Turbo on “Couple of Coats,” practicing the latter and sort of expressing whatever of a romantic ethos he, one of rap’s ultimate cynics, has. The all auto-tuned delivery sounds somewhere between that of Almighty So, a kind of critical touchstone, and the in-your-face vocal style of more recent mixtapes. Turbo’s grown-up beats, though, are the main attraction. “Drank Head” reminds me of listening to Kingdom circa “Bank Head” (no pun consciously intended). If you “thought that you had Turbo in your palm,” like he speculates on “Alone (Intro),” he has 12 more tracks on deck to show you how wrong you were.


Slim Jesus – The Most Hated

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He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool (Proverbs 10:18).

Slim Jesus is a celestial entity that feeds off the hatred of others and is willing to intercede in the physical world in order to sow his feast of discontent. The Ohioan emcee’s controversial single-cum-video “Drill Time” wormed its way into meme status in the summer of 2015, largely thanks to the dubious authenticity of its white, pubescent mastermind, and partly on the strength of its deliciously sinister production and eyebrow-raising use of simile. It was the sort of track that one could take great pleasure in despising ― obnoxious enough to grab your initial attention, but catchy and stupidly clever enough to keep you bobbing your head, eventually joining in Jesus’ sneering, deliberate flow as he threatens to “take you out like a fucking date,” or catch you at the “wrong place at the wrong time.” To bump “Drill Time” is to ride the fence between pleasure and pain, toying with the idea of jumping toward either side. Nobody is more acutely aware of the unifying-yet-polarizing effect of Slim Jesus’ music than Slim himself ― his first-ever mixtape, The Most Hated, released nearly two years after the dust of “Drill Time” settled, is dedicated to those that have rebuked him in the past. The tape’s unlikely to garner any new detractors (or even do 5-digit numbers on Spotify), but I find it doubtful that doing so was in Slim Jesus’ plan. It’s instead the harvest of a patient farmer, gorging on his bumper crop of animosity.


Hus Kingpin & Big Ghost Ltd. – Cocaine Beach

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This shit splendid god namsayin?! Hus Kingpin got more jewels than Rabbi Yehodavich and the Hasidim boyz namsayin?! Just crazy, stupendous, ultra-violet, super-shine glow packs for the babies and all that. Toys, toolies, and King Tut hats out the archives, ya dig? Archaeology-type hieroglyph linguistics for you to see something, say something with your third eye and all that, love. But back up off me before you get touched, alright lord? Nah you good there, hibernate on it. Plus, Big Ghost jet-skiing on the wave-o like Spring Break forever kid. No splash neither, you feel me sunspot? Like the god incorporated his self in the tidal structure, Yao Ming? Noam Chomsky?


Starlito – Attention Tithes & Taxes 2: Gentrifried

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I’d almost forgotten that mixtapes used to feature other peoples’ beats. Then again, it’s easy enough to believe that Starlito is in short supply. He’s one of the hardest-working rappers in the business — this marks his fourth mixtape of 2017, yet is a mere aperitif for a proper album, Hot Chicken, coming next week. Nashville incarnate, Starlito has ruled his town for over a decade, enjoying a sort of localized dominance seemingly unique to southern rappers. Since a stint on the path to stardom in the mid-2000’s, Starlito has matured right along with his music, a sort of constant against which the rest of the rap game’s ebbs and flows may be measured. Lito has an excess of thoughts that need sharing, and he takes the opportunity to go on the record about topics that might not make the album, including his spat with Post Malone and the incarceration of his longtime collaborator Kevin Gates.

Gunplay Will Still Beat The Shit Out Of You

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Pity the rap-crew enforcer. It’s a vital but thankless job. Every ascendant rap Michael Jordan needs a Charles Oakley, a guy there to reinforce the idea that you cannot fuck with this person. A rap enforcer is not a security guard or anything like it. It’s a public-image thing, coupled with the vague possibility that … More »

Six Albums That Prove Underground Rap Is In A Great Place Right Now

This post was originally published on this site

This is a complete bullshit occurs-to-you-in-the-shower thought, but bear with me here: Trap music is our disco. It’s our late-’10s equivalent of what was happening in the late ’70s. Think about it: Trap is an absolutely dominant commercial force. It’s built around a very specific aesthetic blueprint, right down to its drum pattern, with skittering … More »

Six Albums That Prove Underground Rap Is In A Great Place Right Now

This post was originally published on this site

This is a complete bullshit occurs-to-you-in-the-shower thought, but bear with me here: Trap music is our disco. It’s our late-’10s equivalent of what was happening in the late ’70s. Think about it: Trap is an absolutely dominant commercial force. It’s built around a very specific aesthetic blueprint, right down to its drum pattern, with skittering … More »

MF Recruits Gunplay, Project Pat & More On His New EP

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Rising Florida rapper MF looks to keep his momentum going strong into 2017, releasing a brand new EP titled “America’s Angel.” The 8-track project features contributions from Project Pat, Gunplay, STREETRUNNER and more.

The project is available on all streaming services including Apple Music, Spotify, TIDAL, etc. Stream below via Soundcloud.

Gunplay On Donald Trump: I Don’t Condone His Ideology, I Do Respect His Business (VIDEO)

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(AllHipHop News) For those people waiting to find out Gunplay’s views on President-Elect Donald Trump, the Carol City rapper sat down with Tim Westwood to discuss the businessman-turned-politician.

“I don’t condone what Donald Trump believes in. I don’t condone his ideology. But what I do respect is that man’s business,” said Gunplay. “You’re not gonna see the click bait, ‘Gunplay says he was voting for Donald Trump.’ But he’s alright with me, as long as he just stays in the parameters of not [being a] total racist where it’s blatant which it is right now.”

Trump shocked most of the world when he scored an Electoral College victory over Hillary Clinton. Gunplay believes the Republican’s wealth played a role in his victory.

“He bought that b-tch,” declared the “Krazy” rhymer. “That’s like [Rick] Ross going to be President. It’s like one of us. He hustled. He did his thing. You gotta respect it. But I don’t believe what he believes in – his ideology and all his cockiness. That ain’t cool.”