Lets close out this exhausting week with some gritty new music.
First things first: Rest in peace, King Von.
The Chicago emcee, an unprecedented talent and storyteller, had one of the most captivating releases of 2020. This morning, he passed away from gunshot wounds after a shootout near the Monaco Hookah Lounge in downtown Atlanta late last night.
TMZ listed the number of people shot at six, and conflicting reports show that Von's death could have been caused either by police or Quando Rondo's entourage. More details are emerging; but either way, it is a heartbreaking development.
As we mourn the loss of this prolific talent, here are some of today's most compelling rap releases. This dramatic election, as well as Von's death, will no doubt overshadow them, but they're worth perusing for those in need of new music.
NLE Choppa returned today with his best work yet, and G$ Lil Ronnie and FREEBANDZ emcee Guap Tarantino offer tough new unforgiving trap tapes for those feeling a little rough around the edges after a truly exhausting week.
The brooding Cali-based emcee made rounds in 2018 with his slow-burn melodic raps on 2018's Love Is Hell. His new project, With Love 2, is another collection of deeply yearning tracks.
While still a relatively unknown talent, Phora has continuously enlisted hard-hitting features for his projects, and With Love 2 is no different. Ty Dolla $ign, Jhene Aiko, and Kehlani all make appearances and add a little splash of variety to Phora's lustful warbling.
While the project's melodies trace familiar territory, it's still a compelling collection of heartbreak anthems for anyone stuck deep in their feelings. It can at times be a bit melodramatic; lyrics like, "I just want to say that I think you're amazing, so, shawty, won't you smile for me?" leave a lot to be desired, but moments of actual vulnerability on songs like "Cupid's Curse" and "Stars In The Sky" keep the vibe alive.
The Memphis emcee's debut, Top Shotta, was saturated in gritty street tales and violent undertakings. But in the last few months, the young rapper has become enveloped in holistic medicine, flooding his social media feed with breathing pot tutorials and other Joe Dispenza-Esque meditative guidance.
NLE's new project, From Dark to Light, elaborates further on this sentiment and, as a result, is some of the best music of his career. He's traded in braggadocio bars about gun violence for bouts of reflective wisdom.
On "Twin Flame," NLE croons for the empowerment of Black women and revels in their beauty: "Told my queen if she manifest, she can be where Oprah at / But they want us glorifying sex, hey, let that shit rest / y'all go through the most shit, y'all gotta be special."
On "Bryson," NLE told Genius that the track's hook was merely a reiteration of a nursery rhyme his mom created and sang to him as a baby. The 18-year-old has significantly softened his edges on From Dark to Light and, in turn, showcases a candid maturity often unseen in trap music.
There still remains plenty of masculine acidity–songs like "Taliban" and "100 Grapes" are absolutely explosive–but the project's best moments are when NLE exhales and basks in the sunlight. "Manifesting in my dreams, I'm reachin' out to bigger things," he howls on "Paradise."
"Best Smoke In Texas" by G$ Lil Ronnie
Armed with a slick spit-fire flow and dark storytelling, "The Best Gambler in Texas" returns with another haunting mixtape. Best Smoke in Texas is full of harrowing street tales laid over eerie trap instrumentals. Ronnie barely takes a breath throughout the project's entirety, with his wavy vibrato pushing each track forward with urgency as he intersperses cunning flexes with anecdotal street tales.
The mixtape is elevated by well-placed underground features from Go Yayo, Murdagang PB, and others, which keep the experience fresh as the project rarely lets up its gruff momentum., Best Smoke in Texas is Ronnie's second release of 2020 and his tightest work so far. The Texan's buzz is bubbling over, and he seems ready to meet his moment head-on.
"Bandemic" by Guap Tarantino
At just 30 minutes long, Guap Tarantino's wavy Bandemic mixtape is relentless in its pacing, but Tarantino bops along unphased. Tarantino is honing in on his artistic identity; that much is clear., and h He has moments where he sounds truly menacing on Bandemic.
The FREEBANDZ emcee's signature snarl sounds more robust and less nasally, making comparisons to Lil Keed and Young Thug less prevalent throughout the tape.
He thrives on the minimalist bass-driven tracks of "Hoe House" and "Trap Krazy" and slinks alongside the tape's disorienting trap beats of "Plug Talk" and "Smokin ZaZa" with unassuming confidence. It's been a joy watching Tarantino chisel away at his sound over the last few years, and Bandemic is another step in a promising direction.
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