Column: Favorite Rap Mixtapes of October 2019

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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.)

The 2010s decade is not yet dead, but Tiny Mix Tapes’s autopsy of it is already in the works. Hence, we have a slightly abbreviated Favorite Rap Mixtapes column this month, without even one Halloween-themed tape for the holiday weekend. (If that’s your thing, we have you covered with our latest Chocolate Grinder Mix.) Still, there’s plenty to go bump in the night (see what I did there).

Also, congratulations to Peewee Longway, who — sans an official count, of course — might have just set the record most appearances in this column. Now if only he’d return our phone calls!


Dark Lo – American Made

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A relentlessly unsparing, brutal, frank, merciless, calculated, and aggressive indictment of the country, the government, the genre, the unscrupulous… damn near everything and everyone. But don’t call American Made nihilist or sociopathic. There’s definitely a code in here. It might be as indecipherable to outsiders as Philadelphia is indescribable to those who’ve never been, but it’s there, unspoken by necessity. Even when Dark Lo raps, “Cops on my dick in Philly, I’m ‘bout to move to Atlanta,” it’s still inextricably, inexplicably tied to that place. An oversimplification, no doubt, but plainly speaking — it’s hard as fuck, even when the next line’s “And I wish she could see me, I do this shit for grandma.”


Skengdo x AM – Back Like We Never Left

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Brixton’s Skengdo and AM could well stake a claim to be UK drill’s current flag carriers, and for the most part, Back Like We Never Left is a tidy consolidation of their already-noted qualities: a shared intensity of vision (though not without their respective moments of introspection), matched by a tried-and-true dynamism between their bars, all bound up with the addictive sonics that have endeared UK drill to the wider world. Behind the driller exteriors and nostalgia-inducing cover art, though, stakes never was higher for Skengdo, AM, and the entire scene within these shores. The two have recently been sentenced for performing their music, and as such this tape flies in the face of the Met police force who, without material qualification, have described their activities as analogous to gang violence. The encroaching arm of the state, in its myriad guises, poses an existential threat to some of the most interesting musicians in the UK right now — Back Like We Never Left, then, speaks to a very particular truth while it can still be (just about) spoken.


Peewee Longway & Money Man – Long Money

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Thanks to Teejayx6 and Kasher Quon, scam rap’s having its cyberpunk moment right now, but let’s not forget to also recognize Atlanta MC Money Man’s instincts for online profit-making. In 2018, the 33-year-old Auto-crooner bought his way out of a frustrating deal with Cash Money records using money he’d earned trading Bitcoin. Relishing in newfound autonomy, he’s dropped five mixtapes since going indie, including his latest collaborative effort with like-minded local Peewee Longway. Peewee proves a well-suited partner, lending cartoonish, Young Thug-adjacent energy to Money Man’s understated composure, which makes brief forays into melody while largely clinging to hypnotic triplet pockets. Especially when riffing back and forth over guitar-sampling beats, they’re a formidable duo.


Black Sand (Pink Siifu & Akai Solo) – Black Sand

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Black Sand is traveling mystic Pink Siifu and New York-based MC Akai Solo, a duo previously heard on Siifu’s grden.2, iblss’s Infinity, and more recently billy woods’s Terror Management. Looking back to look forward, Akai’s 2019 output alone positions him as one of the most promising artists of the coming decade. Lately, Siifu seems to have turned his attention to the production side — he did all the beats here and only raps on two or three of 15 tracks — which make his verses fewer and farther between, and all the more potent for it. Whether this remains the format for future Black Sand releases or not, the duo’s proper debut does not disappoint. The two artists’ very different sounds and strengths complement one another beautifully, such that the often spoken but rarely realized phrase “combined force” truly works. Don’t sleep on Black Sand. It’s too hot.


MAVI – let the sun talk

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The thing about lettin’ the sun talk is… n***a, you don’t let the sun do nothin’.” MAVI’s output has thus far tended towards the economical, but every last SoundCloud morsel and YouTube upload has outsized its unassuming scale of distribution — whatever you do, don’t call them “loosies.” There’s (meta)narrative weaved into daydream, into darkly humorous aside, carved between familial strife — so much to chow down on, so much to hear in a two minute rap tune. let the sun talk explodes that logic onto a mixtape’s worth of lyrical about-turns and deviations, each free-flowing line an impressionistic stroke onto the hazily-arranged canvas. The sun is a leitmotif of sorts, as you’d expect, but MAVI nonetheless resists an easy animism or trite spirituality. Instead, his words and verses are always the animating thrust here, whether they’re razor-sharp or heavily blunted (and better yet, for those of us who may struggle to keep up, they’re all laid bare).


Curren$y, Trademark & Young Roddy – Plan of Attack

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Curren$y’s prolific and consistent enough that his output constitutes its own genre. He scatters mixtapes like a perpetually stoned Johnny Appleseed, his drops usually sprouting up from my crowded spotify backlog when I’m in need of something familiar and strangely cozy. The majority of his tapes, which seem to drop roughly tri-monthly these days, are encoded with the same genetic makeup — dreamy jazz-rap samples, somnambulant flow, and a knack for making opulence feel mundane. Curren$y’s arguably at his best when his work cross-pollinates with collaborators like Freddie Gibbs or Wiz Khalifa, and it’s no exception when the NoLa emcee enlists Jet Life co-founders Trademark and Young Roddy in their first proper trio outing since Jet World Order 2. Grounding Roddy’s high-register pugnacity, Trademark and Curren$y touch down in a hazy yet focused headspace, knocking out a dozen cuts of ambient music suited to soundtrack debates on the merits of bustdowns vs. plain janes.


Pipomixes – Raw Smooth Sh*t

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Again looking back to look forward, Raw Smooth Sh*t is something of a homecoming for Pipomixes, whose Marciano mixtape Sounds Like Porridge appeared in the inaugural edition of this column, all the way back in January 2015. (Personally speaking, that also makes this something of a 360 moment for me, as Sounds… was the first tape I covered for this column.) That said, Raw Smooth Sh*t is almost an entirely different animal of a mixtape, still seamlessly smoked out but with much greater emphasis on the “out.” It’s the Roc Marciano-Sade collaboration we’ve all been waiting for, if we’ve all been swapping multi-thousand-dollar OG Screwtapes via Dark Web promethazine transactions and expecting a sonic representation of that lifestyle. But with more cross-genre blends and beat juggling. The treatment is especially effective and exciting when applied to Roc’s later work, which sees him employing more melodic deliveries and uptempo cadences. As always, Pipomixes handles the juxtapositions deftly, with utmost respect for the source materials and commitment to originality.

Megan Thee Stallion Is The Prince Who Was Promised

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Megan-Thee-StallionMegan Thee Stallion is a rap fundamentalist. In the new FADER cover story about the surging Houston rapper, Megan talks about listening to ancestral Southern rap with her late mother, who was a rapper herself. As a young rap kid, Megan developed some specific ideas about what rap was supposed to be. And … More »

Sada Baby Made 2019’s First Great Rap Album

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Sada-BabySada Baby can sing. This was a pleasant surprise. If all you know about the Detroit rapper is “Bloxk Party,” the ridiculously fun 2018 collaboration with fellow Detroit rapper Drego, you would know that Sada Baby could dance. You would know that he could come up with viciously enjoyable punchlines. You would know that he’s … More »

Column: Favorite Rap Mixtapes of November & December 2018

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 October’s installment here.)

Soooooo many dope mixtapes these past two months that, even as TMT’s year-end coverage wrapped up like gifts bursting from Santa’s sack, our squad still jumped at the chance to pile on some final blurbs of 2018 before the ball-drop. “Overbearing?” Maybe. “Hyper-prolific?” Definitely. Multiple puns in that first sentence? Two for the price of one, hon. To that, before we get into our November and December favs, here are some “honorable mentions” that didn’t get a write-up below but are no less deserving of a spin this New Year’s Eve: Semiratruth – WAIT!, Demahjiae – Ghetto Blessings, SPNDA x Kae Tea – Mosaic EP Lil Durk – Signed to the Streets 3, City Girls – Girl Code, The Diplomats – Diplomatic Ties, Roc Marciano – Pimpstrumentals, Grimm Doza & SpaceGhostPurrp – The Haunting in New Jersey, Wiardon – Numba1Viktim, Chris Crack – Just Gimme A Minute and Thanks Uncle Trill, Bloodmoney Perez – Time is a Motherfucker, CL King – Waiting 4, and Defcee – A Mixtape As God Intended, Vol. 1 … also, three (!!!) Young Thug leaks.


Red Daughter, Trap Funk & Alivio – Red Funk Alivio 2

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It’s mixtapes like this one that have us quietly missing the days when the word “rap” wasn’t in this column’s title. W/o wasting too many words justifying this tape’s inclusion, let’s just say rap is a big part of it. But so too are Afrocentrism, feminism, indigenous pride, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Brazil, baile funk, Jersey club, house, footwork, and many more elements than an admittedly limited worldview can readily identify. One hesitates to revisit clichés like the dance after the revolt or “if this doesn’t get you moving, you’re already dead,” but, well, while Google Translate tells us that alivio is Portuguese for relief, our ears, eyes, and noses tell us that the club is flooding with oppressor blood. If you missed the first drop, catch up.


Tommy Genesis – Tommy Genesis

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We the undersigned/unwashed jabberers at TMT have a tastynasty habit of measuring years out in loosely-themed song mixes. I bet some super astute comment section glob thinks it’s an arbitrary habit. I humbly submit that when we cycle artifacts through a series of spaces, patterns emerge. Assumptions get split. Moods and usages cross and swerve. The exceptional artifacts fit every space. Tommy Genesis, the Vancouver rapper’s debut album, pumps blood and caresses muscles like GYM, cycles want until it subsumes self, a party in the VOID. “Drive” flecks acoustic strings at the CLIFF’s edge and Charlie Heat’s ballast production on “Play With It” turns the ALLEY concave, sends come-on invocations city-wide, supercharged fuel for the COUPE. Tommy Genesis sounds like a whole damn year — wanting more is loving living.


Peewee Longway – State of the Art

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A glaring omission from our Favorite Cover Art feature (putting him at two for the year), State of the Art finds Peewee Longway rapping as well as he ever has, retaining his distinctive style while adapting to the ever-evolving sound of the moment. Longway’s sound has always tracked the mainstream not directly but as a point of divergence; while likely not distinct enough to make him anyone’s absolute favorite rapper, he’s well-positioned for the reliable production of quality, personable raps. State of the Art is split between showpieces for relatively stock guest spots from the likes Gucci or members of Migos, and far more idiosyncratic one-offs; “Lets Be Real” (with Maxo Kream) is a Molly anthem reminiscent of some of Longway’s stranger inclinations, while “Top of the Bank” marries an Otis Redding interpolation and a cooing, celebratory hook without either seeming out of place. Longway’s more likely to retire from rap (yet again) than blow up any time soon, but State of the Art is more than enough proof that the roundest rapper working has got plenty left to give.


Adé Hakim – On To Better Things

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In a year of SlumsNYC triumphalism — see the series of landmark releases by navy blue, King Carter, MIKE et al., culminating with Earl Sweatshirt’s Some Rap Songs — Adé Hakim a.k.a. Sixpress has been like a silent partner to the movement. Featured on most of the aforementioned and having released a couple of short but no less notable mixtapes on his own this year, Hakim closes out an already-headway-making 2018 with his most complete and progressive work to date in the aptly titled On To Better Things. Low-key, high-impact beats, rhymes, and life insights from the birthplace of hip-hop coalesce here in a freely collective but clearly self-defined gestalt. Where do we go from this? Just listen.


AJ Suede – Darth Sueder II: Goth Marciano

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Don’t let your current intake of “lo-fi” hip-hop begin and end with Earl’s latest album. Rapper/Producer AJ Suede has perfected his own take on the subgenre with his latest tape, Darth Sueder II, chopping lightly treated soul samples to set his seasick verses adrift on a lemon-lime sea. What he’s doing sonically isn’t boundary-breaking or avant-garde, but his ear for memorable loops that settle into the backdrop is impeccable. On “Lovable,” a meandering organ shuffles against hi-hats that eke out what should be an un-rappable rhythm; somehow, though, it’s the perfect vehicle for Suede to wax romantic about autumn leaves before launching into asides about gentrification and white people who are too quick to call the cops. Ideas are scattered throughout the brief tracks, but each one’s focused, bridged by some of my favorite punchlines in recent memory (“I was in that county fair/ Like that kid apparently.”) If you’re not scared off by references to esoteric Christianity and MK ULTRA, give Goth Marciano a spin — it’s a fresh take on minimalistic East Coast hip-hop, especially for someone often entrenched in the distorted cloud rap favored by his brethren in the Underground Dust Funk collective.


Big Twins – Grimey Life

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Although Big Twins f.k.a. Twin Gambino has experienced something of a second life thanks to today’s boom-bap revival, one need look no further than the guestlist on this tape to recognize his Infamous Mobb credentials. In addition to features from fellow Infamous rappers Godfather Pt. 3 and Ty Nitty, as well as Mobb affiliate Big Noyd, Grimey Life includes a posthumous appearance by Prodigy, which finds the late icon far from phoning it in, with lines such as “I handle bars like lifers or motocross bikers.” For those keeping track, Havoc also lends a verse (to Knxwledge-produced eulogy “Memories”), and The Alchemist produces the fittingly ghostly “Phantom of the Opera.” In spite of these bigger names and many other features, the project is first and foremost a product of Big Twins whose often imitated but never duplicated voice remains the unmistakable audio definition of grime — inflicted pain inflected.


Bbymutha – Muthaz Day 3

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The cover art of Muthaz Day 3 is a photo of Bbymutha with her two sets of twins all dressed in red robes, surrounded by candles and sitting on what appears to be a pentagram. You’re in her domain now. Welcome to a world full of sinister instrumentals and trap beats that slither underneath the Chattanooga rapper’s spellbinding flow; a world where a single mom with two sets of twins doesn’t have to be bound by the traditional ideas of what a parent should or shouldn’t be; a world where confidence is the lifeblood of all things. On Muthaz Day 3, Bbymutha continues to champion her independence and forge ahead on a path that she’s laying brick by brick, all by herself.


DaBoii – Neva Lookin Back

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We should be thankful that this was even made into a playlist. For a little over two years, the members of Bay Area juggernaut SOB X RBE have operated as an essentially YouTube-only outfit; while enjoyable, both recent albums (GANGIN and GANGIN II) scan more as fulfillments of label obligations than as faithful documents of the group’s most essential, often online-only work. As obsessives were left to parse the steady stream of loosies from individual members and all possible combinations thereof, there were few safer bets than a DaBoii solo track. DaBoii raps with purist appeal, his style a charismatic but unornamented amalgam of the Bay’s long history of singular rap figures. The videos, courtesy directors Tyler Casey and BGIGGZ, are often as entertaining as the songs themselves; Neva Lookin Back corrals three of DaBoii’s best from the past year (“Ridin’,” “Onna Gang,” and “Sum it Up”) alongside a further nine new tracks, offering an imperfect but better-than-nothing document of DaBoii’s 2018. Still, it’s probably best to rip your own copy of this while you still can.


Curren$y, Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist (Fetti?) – Fetti (Roma?)

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A tangential anecdote that bears repeating: in a recent interview, rapper Milo reminisced about driving around Chicago with rapper Serengeti, listening to Freddie Gibbs and Madlib’s Piñata, which Milo recalled inspired ‘Geti to say, “I don’t know if it gets better than this.” Word. Although pairing with the Mad Liberator might’ve made Gibbs your favorite rappers’ favorite rapper, heads have been waiting for a Gibbs-Curren$y-Alchemist album since the trio first came together on 2011’s “Scottie Pippen.” Thankfully, Fetti does not disappoint nor does it rest on the laurels that the three artists have received independently of each other in the seven years since. Which brings us to another point not yet fully addressed in this tape’s coverage to date: none of the three artists’ names appear on the cover, yet the word “Roma” does, leading one to believe that it might in fact be the title to this, the first release by a rap supergroup named Fetti. Fingers crossed, lighters up.


Warhol.ss – Chest Pains

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Has it really been two and a half years since Warhol.ss dropped “Speed Racer?” Although it feels like little time has passed since the Chicago emcee broke into the SoundCloud mainstream, the platform’s predominant ethos has experienced so much change it’s easy to forget the potential that brief track packed. Surfing Brentrambo’s undulant percussion, Warhol.ss stood out with a gruff cadence and unflinching confidence that offset the bubblegum aesthetic that overtook 2016. Despite a handful of collaborations with tastemakers Pi’erre Bourne and Cole Bennett, he’s yet to recreate his initial brilliance — an understandably difficult feat for someone so ahead of their time. On Chest Pains, we find Warhol.ss exploring the lanes that lead him back to prominence: he’s at his most accessible muttering plosive-tinged one-liners on the Kenny Beats-produced “Bird’s Nest,” but “War Ready” proves to be the tape’s most fascinating venture. Kick drums stumble over bars as Warhol lines the off-kilter rhythm with a nimble collage of triplet flows. It’s difficult to wrap your head around, but it’s hypnotic if you can. This new crop of cuts doesn’t include an obvious hit, but it does appear to be a step toward something greater. Trust the process.


Black Josh – Yung Sweg Lawd

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Is it acute homesickness or latent agoraphobia that causes some people to become physically ill every time they leave their old stomping grounds? Or maybe just plain, ordinary travelers sickness? My brother, who works in an airport, told me that a few months back a flight touched down with every passenger and crew member sick, like vomiting sick… quarantine sick. Yung Sweg Lawd is that sick, bro. It’s dark. Absent a better frame of reference (my fault), it’s Wu-Tang on Tim Westwood in the 90s, blacked out, using the words “dark” and “horrible” as slang praise, having likely just learned it. Pharma-grade smoke clouds billowing like factory stacks, it’s the acid rain; Black Josh a climate-change centaur moving (in) packs.


The-Dream – Ménage à Trois: Sextape Vol. 1, 2, 3

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Weird times that we’re living in when an artist can release a three-volume, 42-song mixtape and it’s not anticipated or received as their magnum opus. In fact, I don’t even think that R&B heavyweight The-Dream announced Ménage à Trois beforehand beyond hinting that he was working on something. Thus Ménage à Trois, thematically billed as a three-part “sex tape,” with album art to match, lands as another long project from another major artist (which is the standard in The Age of Streaming), but it’s one worth sifting through if you like R&B even just a little bit. Singers-turned-rappers and/or rappers-turned-singers are a dime a dozen nowadays (i.e., that Drizzy-/Ty Dolla-esque hybrid style, which, make no mistake, I do enjoy), which is to say: for all the suave-crooning purists like myself, R&B proper has seen better days on the charts. Luckily, The-Dream gives us 2.5 hours of sultry singing (mostly) sans rap harmonies here while still delivering much stylistic variety. Think The Weeknd’s Trilogy except every song is about sex, with a modus operandi that overall seems to be downtempo and lush. Dig through this behemoth until you find something to cuddle up with — there’s bound to be stuff you’ll have on repeat.


Boosie Badazz – Boosie Blues Cafe

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From the Thanksgiving release date (announced two days prior) to its very concept, the actual existence of Boosie Blues Cafe was far from certain until the moment we had it in our hands. Not that expectations were tempered to match, of course. While not “bluesy,” per se, the cathartic baring of the soul has always factored heavily into Boosie’s work; he’s the man with a song for everything, a Baton Rouge legend off his ability to speak directly to the city’s youth. The prospect of him stepping fully into the region’s other musical tradition, then, was immensely appealing, if less out of optimism than sheer curiosity. It works OK — with the exception of absolute slapper “I Know How to Have a Good Time,” most of the tracks are identifiably Boosiean to a fault; Boosie’s got such a long history of rapping this stuff in a compelling way that translating it to a blues idiom can feel a bit rote. A worthwhile experiment, however; Boosie’s passion projects are by default a thousand times more interesting than someone else’s re-hashing of the very crowded Rap Caviar lane.


Sir E.U – Merry christmas my nigga! / Thc / To This Day / Cries for help

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Earlier this year, I was talking to an artist who shall remain nameless about the inclusion in this column of a tape by another artist who shall remain nameless. The artist I was kibitzing with took issue with the included work, saying something to the effect of “If you throw enough shit at the wall, eventually some will stick, but that doesn’t mean it’s any good,” which is more than fair. To be honest, my understanding of noise sets and DJing in general isn’t nearly adroit enough to tell if Sir E.U’s massive output over the last two weeks is an example of the aforementioned criticism or of a mix master purposely and methodically laying waste to two-turntable fundamentals. Either way, though, the shit bangs. And the sheer quantity of his year-end sound dump is something to behold. Dig in.

The 20 Best Music Videos Of 2018

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vidsIn the early days of this century, you could still turn on your television and, every so often, catch a music video. It didn’t last. Music videos still exist on television, but niche ventures like the MTV Jams Channel only exist in the shadowy nether reaches of cable subscriptions, and that’s not where music videos … More »

Watch: Brodinski & Peewee Longway – “Split”

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So dare yam destroying tube eye at oaf uber eat owing olive Asia den acre white tree rushing answers pulse up, two hunger runs infra see tanned one big dong eye in back. I wooden taff no tissed, boot damn raps tapeworms allowed, tea wort shay kingdom glass ammos. Hat canopy good foyer hearsayeth ought.

Column: Favorite Rap Mixtapes of April 2018

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.)

It’s official: rap is high art now. Eight out of ten classically trained musicians agree. I know, finally, right? Imagine being that one violinist who still doesn’t get it. Is that an ignorant-bliss thing? And wouldn’t we all feel better if there weren’t a part of me that kept saying, “Cool, yeah, but then what, ‘Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa’ should have all the Pulitzers, shouldn’t it?” Whatever, that is, Damn. Pulitzer has Pulitzers. Tiny Mix Tapes has Favorite Mixtapes. Young M.A. has both a mixtape and an all-female porn out this month. Everybody wins. Be warned, though; if Western politics have anything to say about token corrective status achievements and their populist fascist fallout, the next Pulitzer Prize for music will go to Taylor Swift Kid Rock. This has been a Public Service Announcement. Now scoot over and pass the sleep apnea medicine, Minnesota.


Doja Cat – Amala

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I saw Doja Cat’s debut performance at that weird Arcosanti festival in spring 2015, at which point she had one song, “So High,” to her name. I registered the performance, but didn’t expect to see her again. Enter Amala. While the stylistic pivot from the “So High” era is obvious, it’s more than welcome; where the former was utterly indistinguishable from any of a thousand Coachellan audio hallucinations, Amala is noteworthy for the mere fact that it’s immediately identifiable among a sea of vaguely psychedelic R&B albums populating the post-SZA world. The album is a survey of a sonic landscape that might be categorized as “Californian;” thoroughly chilled-out save for the occasional excursion into hard-edged Kehlani territory, and striking the requisite balance between slow jam production and beats made either by the Soulection crew or in their wake. It is, above all, varied. Say what you might about established genres’ capacity for yielding surprises; Amala is riddled with them.


BLVC SVND – LIL GRAIN SEASON

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Around the turn of the millennium, people used the tools of rock to make rap; now, people are starting to use the tools of rap to make rock. I’m hesitant to associate BLVC SVND with the oeuvre of, say, KoRn or Coal Chamber or something. And yet, at least on an aesthetic level, I can’t help but think that nü-/rap metal might have sowed the seeds of success for artists like him, Lil Peep (RIP), $UICIDEBOY$, Lil Uzi Vert, et al. Indeed, several songs on LIL GRAIN SEASON hit with the force of a death metal concert (“LEGIT,” “HAMMER TIME”), while others contain considerably less frenetic rage (“ROLL IT UHHH,” “BABE RUTH”). While I currently prefer the latter, I might soon come around more fully to the former, and maybe you will too.


WiFi OG – Web of Lies

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A jack of all trades, WiFi OG a.k.a. DJ Prince has worked on music videos for the likes of Conway (whose Blakk Tape dropped to acclaim this month); as DJ for Skyzoo (whose In Celebration Of Us is my #1 album of 2018 so far); as co-host of semi-weekly podcasts and vinyl record appreciation nights in NYC; and as MC, producer, and mixer on a number of solo and collaborative projects issued via his Mobile Kitchen collective. The latest, Web of Lies, has been in the works since at least 2015. That it retains the most essential raw elements of its OG Jamaican-toasting flavors despite three years of future-looking fusion and refinement is testament to WiFi’s maestro-minded musicality and dab-dread discipline. Web of Lies is a Work of Art, in the truest sense of both words.


PeeWee Longway – Spaghetti Factory

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Peewee Longway has been my favorite rapper for a while now, and you don’t have to look too far beyond the Spaghetti Factory cover art to see why. Over the past five or so years, he’s released a stream of mixtapes and features that have largely tracked with the ever-shifting Atlanta rap scene, never quite crossing over but also never sounding for a moment like the product of anyone but Longway. In an era in which personality seems like over half the battle, it’s remarkable that the PeeWee Longway experience — his reliably bonkers videos, knack for nicknames, and latent ability to out-rap anybody — hasn’t caught on in any evident fashion. Alas, those who know, know; Longway’s tapes do respectable numbers, and the fanbase that he does have doesn’t seem to be in any danger. Spaghetti Factory exists for those who need it, serving (much like Longway’s career as a whole) as a permanent, ever-replenishing resource for those who still can’t believe the year Atlanta had in 2014.


Princess Nokia – A Girl Cried Red

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A Girl Cried Red, the follow-up to last year’s much-beloved 1992, is a stylistic left turn, veering hard into the substantial lane of emo-rap hybridity that’s been blossoming with disarming grace as of late through the works of various “teen” artists. While others have mined the depths of autotune meloncholia or narrowly toed the line of mainstream hip-hop, Princess Nokia’s gleeful, singsong self-laceration on A Girl Cried Red imparts a decidedly weirder affective timbre. Nokia is never just operating on one level, and there is work being done herein equivalent to the decolonization of the sadboy mentality. And yet, that doesn’t prevent this tape from being straightforwardly cathartic: a welcome departure from an already eclectic artist.


KA5SH – Big Pink Loser

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Big Pink Loser is a hell of an elevator pitch. In 19 minutes, KA5SH rips through countless styles and flows. Right when you think he’s about to make a point, he changes topics. You’ll want to stop him and try to get ahold of what you’re hearing, but you’re so intrigued you let him go, and go, and go. He talks about his friends — Young Skrrt, Glitter Princess, and Swsh — like you’ve known them for years. He uses self-deprecating humor even though you’ve only just met. The elevator keeps going up, eventually hitting your floor, but you stay put. You’re in it now. What’s next? Tell me more. When he finishes, you look down at your watch and realize the budget meeting you were supposed to attend is over. So, what the hell: “Can you tell me that one more time?”


Papo Johnson – Hollywood Po

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My personal favorite emcee from the AF1MG/2oo4 crew, Papo Johnson released Hollywood Po as something of a one-off, a “West Coast” tape departing from the group’s usual post-Dipset New Jersey club sound. The subject matter’s still there — references to basketball and pop culture more broadly abound — but the beats are a revelation, in-house producers Cyber Tek and Subjxct2oo4 fully embracing breezy samples and G-funk whistles to completely reframe Johnson’s usually grimy Tri-State flows as soundtracks for cruising. The title track is the highlight by far, all parties stepping into uncharted territory to deliver the song of any and every summer between 1992 and 2018.


Maxo – Smile EP

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One of the few legitimate arguments I ever got into on Facebook was over the cult of positivity. (The other I can remember off the top was about Yeezus and might have helped bring this column into existence.) I’d posted a video in which a cancer survivor pointed out something that seems to elude many in my generation: that there are times when it’s healthier to be negative than positive, that some occasions call for abandoning any sense of hope or optimism and simply wallowing in despair, and that this is completely fine. One of the things I enjoy most about Maxo’s Smile EP is that, I think, the titular expression isn’t necessarily or primarily one of happiness here. It is equally a function of experiencing, appreciating, familiarizing, and knowing. You might’ve heard Maxo last year on the song “8 24” off Medslaus’s Poorboy. His was pretty obviously a standout contribution, and on an emotionally layered tiramisu like that album, making a memorable impression is, although critical, no cakewalk. They say it takes more effort to frown, but there are so many different kinds of smiles, and only some belong to happy faces. This one’s deeper.

Nicki Minaj Is Feeling The Pressure

This post was originally published on this site

It should not be this way. There should be more than one woman within rap’s A-list at a time, and the women within rap’s A-list should be able to peacefully coexist. They should be able to record with each other, tour with each other, be friends with each other. But it has never been this … More »