The week's latest rap records worth checking out...
While the drama swirling around Justin Bieber and Lana Del Rey's new albums will undoubtedly consume the airwaves, a plethora of fantastic releases hit the web today.
Benny the Butcher finally released The Plugs I Met 2, and so far the reception has been outstanding. In fact, for rap fans in general, today was a good day, as many great rappers released full-length projects. Here are the records that deserve your attention if pop star drama doesn't float your boat.
Kota the Friend – To Kill a Sunrise
To Kill a Sunrise
"It took a lot of negative energy to create me," raps the empathetic Brooklyn emcee Kota the Friend. "Still, I flip it to a positive quick." Kota's sanguine past releases have ruminated on the simple pleasures of learning to fish or on the nostalgia that comes from reflecting on summer's past. Even as the world shuttered last year, Kota's sophomore effort, Everything, still forced listeners to bask in the sunshine for a moment. The album floated along with unassuming ease, Kota perpetuating this idea that sour attitudes be ignored and good vibes conquer all, even in a pandemic.
But on To Kill a Sunrise, the rapper's first legit tape of 2021, he uses the old school sprinklings of Statik Selektah to fill in the lines. Good vibes take work to metastasize, and Kota knows how exhausting that can be. Over Statik's dusty samplings and crackling hand scratches, Kota spits detailed narratives that ruminate deeper on the trials and tribulations that shaped his feel-good empathy.
To Kill a Sunrise is used as a means to reflect back on youthful naivete and look towards the future with a hardened growth that we all now possess as a result of this past year. "Everything I'm learning just confirming what I knew," he raps on the project's intro "Wolves." "I am working, I am worth it, and I earned what I accrue."
Pink Siifu & Fly Anakin – FlySiifu's (Deluxe Edition)
On the deluxe edition of 2020's FlySiifu's, Pink Siifu and Fly Anakin wander their way through yet another collection of muted jazz loopings and choppy soulful warbles. The duo's stark contrast on the microphone mix together like a fine wine. Fly Anakin spits with an oily flow, sliding around the project's soupy production with breezy confidence, while Pink Siifu's hushed replies loiter in the shadows, beckoning you to lean in closer so he can share his secrets. The contrast makes for a magnetic project, each track rippling into the next with a steady hand.
Tokyo Jetz – Cancel Culture
Tokyo Jetz Cancel Culture
After an ill-timed joke about George Floyd put Jacksonville rapper Tokyo Jetz in cancel culture's crosshairs, the emcee has returned to offer her two cents on the whole debacle with Cancel Culture. Whether or not her apologies and critiques resonate with you, the album has a handful of snappy tracks that bounce with rip-roaring energy. Those looking for high octane raps will find plenty here, with tracks like "At 'Em" and "Lotto" restless and buoyant. Let's just hope the project's poorly-timed feature with T.I. doesn't stir up more drama for Tokyo.
Guapdad 4000 & !llmind – 1176
As one of scam rap's pioneers, to hear Guapdad 4000 radiate empathy feels almost like a trick in and of itself, like waiting for a punchline to a joke. But 1176 isn't a set-up; it's a genuine reflection of a childhood abandoned. In the fall of 2019, Guapdad 4000's family lost his childhood home, a heartbreaking development that paused the imminent release of Guapdad's anticipated debut, Dior Deposits.
In its stead, Guapdad has released 1176, a pensive look at his loss of innocence over beats that alternate between dreamy piano chords and vibrant trap drums. Thanks to the multifaceted palette of !llmind, beats are versatile and fluctuate often. "Catching Bodies" opens up with a tranquil piano trill but soon dissolves into a minimalistic trap helping, with nothing but a thick 808 and flute pushing Guapdad along like a gentle breeze.
But while known for his colorful scammy anecdotes and playful flow, Guapdad across the board sounds reserved, swapping braggadocious jokes for moments of reflective transparency. He knows it's different than what fans are used to, but he just hopes you listen. "I just hope you feel the authenticity," he raps on closer "Stoop Kid." "Cause this the first song that I really cried on."
DDG – Die 4 Respect
DDG Die 4 Respect
Even at his most boastful, YouTube-personality-turned-rapper DDG always stayed even-tempered. On his second album, Die 4 Respect, the Michigan-bred emcee raps as if he's just having a late-night conversation. On the YoungBoy Never Broke Again collab, "Hood Melody," DDG speaks on traumatizing acts like the death of his brother with a numbed disassociation, a sharp contrast to Youngboy's anguished cries.
Even when placed alongside some of the album's biggest features (Pnb Rock, Lil Yachty, and 42 Dugg are but a few), he sounds calm and collected, like he's had a longstanding relationship with everyone on his roster for years. "I'm not trippin', I know how it get," he raps frankly.
22Gz – The Blixky Tape 2
22Gz The Blixky Tape 2
One of Brooklyn Drill's pioneers, 22Gz's The Blixky Tape 2 is another snappy collection of braggadocious rhymes over pummeling bass. The rough mixtape is 13 grainy trap songs, with tracks like "Fallen Blixkys" and "Casa" sounding like they should be blasted at full volume from an old handheld stereo on the C train.
As the subgenre continues to morph in new directions after Pop Smoke's death, 22Gz holds tightly onto the gritty textures that captivated New York City. The Blixky Tape 2 remains grounded in the BK streets, strictly for those it resonates with.
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