ShowYouSuck-ShowYouSuck Raps Over Toro y Moi Songs EP

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I’m unfamiliar with ShowYouSuck, but if you’re going to take on tracks from one of the best producers in today’s music scene, I’m listening. The hilarious artwork doesn’t hurt either. It’s pretty much the artwork Drake should be attaching to his albums/singles/walls at his house.

Here he takes on three tracks from Toro’s fantastic Anything In Return album, grabbing Cola, Cake and Never Matter as his backdrops on this project. All three were very enjoyable listens on the original, particularly Cola, and it’ll be interesting to see how they’re taken on. Again, with no prior knowledge of SYS, it’s a strong way to introduce yourself, and at worst should refresh those originals for many Toro fans. Free download below

ShowYouSuck-ShowYouSuck Raps Over Toro y Moi Songs EP

MeLo-x-GOD:WiFi EP

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For the final chapter of MeLo-X’s GOD EP series, we find the artist connecting the global dots he has acquired throughout his travels around the world. From enlisting producers from South Africa like B EZE, and joining creative seductive forces with Lary Poppins from Germany, to the small vocal dialogues throughout the EP in French, Spanish and more, MeLo-X paints a vivid picture of an artist becoming a globally recognized contributor to music and art.

Wasting no time MeLo will be readying his official album GOD: Pièce de Résistance as a culmination of all the EP’s with exclusive new material.

MeLo’s had a fantastic year with this GOD series, and he finishes the trilogy with yet another free EP. I’ve somehow missed the singles that have landed before today’s release, though the eclectic features listed above along with an appearance from Sango suggests we’re in for a diverse, varied EP that should offer yet another string to MeLo’s bow. He’s definitely turned some heads this year, and hopefully he closes the series with the same level of quality he’s previously delivered, ahead of that full album release soon. Stream and download for free below.

MeLo-X-GOD:WiFi

Dan Kent - Feels Like Fire ft. Kuniva (of D12), Flexplicit & KOF [Video]

Avid readers of OTU know that we’ve been following producer Dan Kent’s progress closely over the last three years (check the rest of his stuff out posted on OTU here), and here he returns with a new vid.

This is from his upcoming debut EP release, Feels Like Fire, which will feature heavy hitters such as Wiley and Krept & Konan, as well as US artists such as Kuniva on this track, and fellow Shady alumni Cashis.

This title track from the EP comes with an ultra addictive chorus that’s guaranteed to have you playing this on repeat. D12 member Kuniva combines with Birmingham rapper Flexplicit & Liverpool rapper KOF to provide a cultural blend of hip hop.

Keep an eye out for the EP, it’s not far away from release.

Stalley-Blue Collar Gang/Sticks and Stones

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Stalley’s Honest Cowboy mixtape has been very well recieved; so much so, that it’s headed to iTunes in EP format, and comes packed with the two tracks included here.

Both feature and are produced by his frequent collaborator Rashad, something longtime fans will be pleased with given their previous successful releases. Blue Collar Gang has a rather triumphant vibe to it, celebrating Stalley’s crew and current status with an uplifting production and “bottom-to-top” lyricism that provides a good motivational angle. It all combines into a consistent sound, and one that will not only motivate many, but do so whilst remaining true to Stalley’s natural penchant for realistic songwriting rather than overblown statements. Sticks and Stones has a similar style of lyricism, though the production throws out the ‘pop’ key change and brings in a head-nodding percussion line, adding an urgency to the verses that allows them to get spotlighted ahead of Rashad’s gentle hook.

Of the two, the latter is my preferred track of the two, though there’s probably more mileage in the first as far as mainstream exposure goes. Both are enjoyable though, and be sure to grab them on iTunes now.

Audio Push-Come As You Are (Free Album)

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They’re one of very few duos coming up in hip-hop, and whilst that makes them a rare commodity, beyond that novelty they’re an excellent act with plenty of potential. Their Inland Empire mixtape had some great tracks on it, and even if it lacked a little consistency it was a good showing.

This project comes with a ton of backing from their label boss Hit-Boy, who also serves as the project’s executive producer- whilst that’s clearly to be expected of their employer, his claim that the tape featured some of the best music he’s ever made (or something to that effect) is not one he’d likely be throwing around too easily. Features include Joey Bada$$, Wale, T.I., and labelmate K. Roosevelt amongst others, whilst Hit-Boy’s frequent co-production credits suggests the beat work will also be up to scratch. It’s a project that could very well see Audio Push move into a more prominent position in hip-hop, and in any case should prove a good listen for mainstream hip-hop heads. Free stream and download below.

Audio Push-Come As You Are

Eminem-Bezerk (Video)

Understandably, a lot of Em fans aren’t keen on this, but I certainly am and this video only serves to enhance that. It might be because Em’s set such a low benchmark with the poor produce of his last 3 albums, but it just feels much closer to the Eminem that warped so many of us as youths. Part of that seems to be the revival of the Slim Shady character too, signified by the return of his trademark blonde hair. Clearly, that’s a stunt designed to try and get those hip-hop heads back on his side, but if you compare this to the first singles from his last two albums, that simple stunt combines with this seeming improvement for more than a glimmer of hope.

The visual pays a bit of homage to a Beastie Boys classic, mirroring the influences many heard in the audio, whilst the common factor between the Beasties and this single also makes an extended cameo- Rick Rubin makes a rare appearance in front of the camera, indicative of his influence on this track and possibly on the entire album Em’s got coming. Other cameos include several Slaughterhouse appearances (Joell Ortiz has lost a lot of weight!), a fun Kendrick Lamar appearance, whilst Kid Rock and Yelawolf pop up too, adding to what is an active, busy visual that captures the energy of the track well. It’s not hugely complicated, and instead is a pretty simple slice of fun that offers just enough promise to actually give me some hope for this upcoming LP.

Travie McCoy-Rough Water ft. Jason Mraz

It’s been a long time since we’ve had new solo material from Gym Class Heroes’ Travie McCoy, but he re-emerges here with this mainstream-ready single.

Many will remember his global hit Billionaire, a track that also proved one of the key factors in Bruno Mars’ subsequent rise to prominence, and I’d imagine this will find favour with those who enjoyed that effort. The Jason Mraz hook is very “family friendly”, with emotional, catchy vocals that pack in enough love-centric lyricism to make it a real favourite with the younger crowd, and hence provides the sort of anchor that should make this track a big mainstream seller. McCoy’s verses stay on track well enough, and though it’s definitely not the best use of his ability (though admittedly, it’s been a while since he’s been ‘properly’ used), he’s clearly good at making pop-friendly tracks, and credit for coming back into the spotlight after a long time out and not losing that ability.

It won’t be to the tastes of most of the older readers here, but it’ll almost definitely be a big hit in the next few months, so prepare for it to dominate the usual mainstream outlets.

Hodgy Beats-Karateman ft. Left Brain (Video)

Hodgy’s Untitled 2 EP was a generally strong project, and this effort certainly stood out as a favourite for many.

It’s one of those that somehow strikes that difficult middle ground between upbeat and laidback, throwing forth a production with elements of both styles, and sliding it underneath verses that pack plenty of energy in, and mellow, easygoing verses. Left Brain’s dulcet tones make for a good blend with the production too, working in contrast to Hodgy’s high-pitched verses to cool the song off a little. It’s a solid hybrid sound throughout, and one that makes for very versatile listening- hence, it’ll endure beyond a few lazy sunny day plays.

The video works more with the laidback elements, featuring Hodgy smoking, walking and just hanging around a pool/house party, along with a couple of cameos from his Odd Future cohorts. Nothing massively notable, but a bit of fun and a good fit with the relatively light-hearted audio. Available on the EP linked above.

Lil' Wayne-Dedication 5 (Mixtape)

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Call it stupidity, but any hip-hop fan who got caught up in the mid-2000′s Lil’ Wayne whirlwind will understand the glimmer of hope some retain when his mixtapes land. Most readers are acutely aware I’m not a fan of most of his work (evidenced by the fact I simply don’t cover it any more), but that’s “album Wayne”- mixtape Wayne has always seemed a seperate entity, and hence that sliver of expectation that surfaces when he does release new tapes, even if he’s not been in-form for a while.

Notable features include The Weeknd, Chance the Rapper and T.I., with the latter particularly interesting as he joins Wayne on a remix of Jay-Z and Rick Ross’ Fuckwithmeyouknowigotit. There are a couple of eye-catching beats of that nature on this tape too, including New Slaves and Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe amongst others, and it’s those in particular that I’m keen on giving a try over any original material. Whether Wayne will disappoint once again or deliver is yet to be seen, but you can stream and/or download the project below.

Lil’ Wayne-Dedication 5

Floco Torres-Bad Guy (OTU Exclusive)

Floco Torres - Bad Guy artwork
Floco’s Psycadelphia Two is set for release on 16th September, and he’s kindly allowed OTU to be the first site to throw this track out there. Let’s be honest- knowing my naturally-critical nature, it’s probably riskier than Floco realises.

Thankfully, the music holds up. If V For Vendetta had a rap soundtrack (the novel, not the film), this would be a surefire inclusion- it’s dark, moody and full of grounded, everyday lyricism that makes it both realistic and relatable. The former is important: often, rap tends to focus on the (currently) unattainable or centre around a lifestyle that many won’t get anywhere near- it’s hard to criticise that for many rappers, as it’s just simply where their mindset dwells in their current circumstance, but it is generally fantasy talk for listeners. This clearly comes from a place of everyday regularity, and hence it’s not only relatable but also familiar in places, and hence paints a much more realistic mental image. The gritty, industrial production helps to bring out the lyricism further, and though the distortion level on the vocals is a little overdone (occassionally distracting attention away from the lyrical content), it’s an enjoyably dark, anti-authority all-rounder that might just soundtrack your next (comic) book reading.

Joey Bada$$-Killuminati pt. 2

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Isn’t it interesting that none of the rappers that Kendrick namechecked haven’t responded musically, but almost everyone else has? I’m not complaining at all, and frankly responses from the likes of Budden, Lupe and Bada$$ are more welcomed than some of those named, but it almost justifies Kendrick’s ‘attack’ if they remain apathetic to competition.

Joey leaves the Control beat alone and goes for an original Knxwledge piece, letting out some semi-aggressive raps over a smooth, soulful production. Joey’s performance is good throughout, combining a couple of clever lines and themed quartets with an intense delivery, and of course a couple of light jabs at Kendrick, for a rounded performance that probably won’t go down as a classic but instead a solid listen. Notable is Joey’s ever-increasing confidence, comparing himself to most of NY’s greats, and doing so with plenty of conviction, making for a slice of arrogance that’s more about his ability than the things he owns- welcomed as a relative rarity in today’s scene. Worth a listen, even if it does seem as though Joey was holding back a little.

Eminem-Berzerk

Eminem’s new album lands on 5th November, interestingly/worryingly titled Marshall Mathers LP 2, a sequel to his seminal Marshall Mathers LP- one of the best hip-hop albums in history (an argument for a different time). I call it worrying based on Em’s recent form- if we’re honest, his last LP that was anywhere near good was The Eminem Show, and despite mainstream approval, the pop-influenced direction of Recovery didn’t change that. I say all this as one of the few that didn’t mind Relapse too, despite his weird voice on it.

There are positives though: MMLP2 is helmed by Dr. Dre and Rick Rubin. Once you press play on this, it’s Rubin’s involvement that becomes most notable- if Em is heading back to his ‘roots’ with the album’s title, Rubin’s done the same with his production involvement here, throwing forth a backdrop that’s right out of his mid/late-80s production playbook. The punk/hip-hop crossover that made Rubin famous makes a thumping comeback here, combining sharp guitars with pounding percussion for a Beastie Boys-esque beat, adding an intense, upbeat energy to Eminem’s raps that goes some way to scrubbing away the pop-driven works of the Recovery singles. It’s not the aggressive, angry Eminem that I suspect many want, but it’s got some classic Em hallmarks, from the dexterous flows through to some of the clever lines used, whilst also fitting in with Em’s traditional ‘light-hearted lead single’ routine. I can see why many won’t like this, but it’s far closer to properly utilising Em’s talents than his previous album offered, and that’s not a bad sign ahead of the album release.

B.o.B-Missing

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B.o.B sounds aggrieved, and comes through with a lyrical output focused around governmental distrust, social commentary and so on; an ever-interesting set of topics that B.o.B lends a good level of emotion to for a sharp reminder of his capabilities.

The first verse focuses on politically-charged conspiracies, with Illuminati references, presidential views and a little more in a charged verse that sets the track off well. A quick switch occurs, with B.o.B intertwining comments on the hood with a couple of jabs on authority for the second verse, before heading back toward the conspiracy route more heavily for the closing verse, paying attention to more global and galactically-focused theories around hidden knowledge and such. For a conspiracy nerd like myself, this (alongside many Ab-Soul tracks) makes for a fun listen that are easy to enjoy- whether it’s the actual referencing of certain theories or simply the knowledge that even well-known folk think about this stuff, there’s a unique novelty about this sort of track, and hence it’ll get a few more plays in my library.

Captain Murphy-Between Villains ft. DOOM and Earl Sweatshirt

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Pseudonym city. As many will know, Murphy is the rapping alter-ego of Flying Lotus, whose production credentials seep into mainstream consciousness with each passing day, whilst DOOM is credited as Viktor Vaughn, one of his many alternative handles.

Comprised of light piano melodies, distant guitar plucks, creepy vocal samples and a few other in-and-out additions, the production is dark, bleak, and downright eerie throughout- an ideal platform for the deadpan deliveries of all involved. Vaughn opens up with a very likeable verse, packing in some very impressive internal rhyme schemes that give his verse a very natural bounce, whilst his comparatively higher pitch leads Earl’s more dulcet tones in excellently, who himself follows up with a solid verse, though not quite on par with his predecessor here. Murphy closes out by lowering the pitch even further with his distorted effect, giving the track’s sonics a natural downward progression that works to create a deep, ‘next level of hell’ type effect, before he switches back to his regular voice to close off another enjoyable verse. 3 verses of good quality, and a grim, gritty production that would be fit to soundtrack any horror movie or bad mood, and it’s another great release from the Adult Swim Singles series.

Lupe Fiasco-SLR 3 (Round of Applause)

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Whether it’s that Kendrick verse or the fact his Tetsuo and Youth album is due in the coming months, Lupe has been on a mini-tear recently in terms of releasing material, both in terms of original work and features.

Unlike SLR 2, Lupe generally seems a little more relaxed here, coming through with his typically-intelligent and double entendre-heavy raps, but in a laidback delivery with only a couple of heightened emotional bursts. Whilst many enjoyed hearing Lupe finally step away from his perenially-easygoing style, his raps here suit the beat excellently, with frequent collaborator Soundtrakk serving up a soulful, slightly triumphant production that will certainly evoke memories of Lupe’s Food & Liquor debut; the combination of smooth percussion with the bursts of celebratory horns makes for a contemporary production with a nice vintage twist, with a soulful outcome that’ll be rightly compared to some of the beats on the aforementioned album. A very enjoyable piece, and if its an indication of what to expect on T&Y, we’re in for a good project.

Who Responded To Kendrick Lamar's Verse on Control?

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Hip-hop woke up. After several months of relative stagnancy and few highlights in the mainstream scene (underground heads, put your picket signs away), Kendrick’s inflammatory verse on Big Sean’s Control not only got most music fans talking, but also provoked precisely the sort of response he would have wanted from his rapping peers.

Many responded via Twitter, video or other means, and though none of those who were namechecked have taken to the studio to put out a response, several others have taken up the baton and either delivered a worthwhile response or used the opportunity to get a little bit of media coverage. The latter statement isn’t meant disrespectfully either- hip-hop is about as prominent in ‘water cooler’ and social media discussions as it has been in a rather long time, and it’s a great chance for some acts to get their names out to a wider audience. It’s tough to be mad at that opportunism.

The dust is beginning to settle, and though there’s bound to be several other rappers who are preparing responses (Joe Budden for one), now seems a good time to offer a quick recap on those who’ve offered musical replies to Kendrick’s barbed bars. Head below for a collection of the releases thus far (in no order). → Continue Reading

Earl Sweatshirt-Doris (Full Album Stream)

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For a release that was highly anticipated around a year or so ago, it has to be said that the buzz for it doesn’t quite seem at the fever pitch many would have expected. Nonetheless, Earl’s talent is undeniable, and the lack of furore surrounding it might allow the LP to be absorbed for the breakout rap album it could very well become.

His Odd Future teammates are along for the ride, with Frank Ocean, Tyler, The Creator and Domo Genesis appearing alongside frequent OF collaborators Vince Staples and Casey Veggies, whilst Mac Miller and RZA also tag along for the ride. Undoubtedly though, this one’s all about Earl for most listeners, and whilst those features are a nice bonus, there’s a ton of expectation on Earl given the glimpses of ability we’ve been allowed to see thus far. Fingers crossed, this LP holds up and we’ve got another young talent to add to hip-hop’s growing roster. Stream below.

Earl Sweatshirt-Doris

Joell Ortiz-Control Freestyle

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Let the competition begin. Unless you’ve been buried in a grave for the last day, you’ll know Kendrick Lamar has pretty much set the entire internet on fire with his combative verse on Big Sean’s Control, to such an extent that the rare Jay Electronica appearance got mostly overlooked.

Arguably the most inflammatory statement (in the spirit of competition, of course) was Kendrick declaration that he’s ‘the king of NY’, despite his California origin, a proclamation that provoked several interesting responses and observations on Twitter from his rap peers. Talk is easy and talk is cheap: Joell takes action with the first response to Lamar’s verse, representing both his NY heritage and his Slaughterhouse team. In the vein of the original it’s not about personal attacks, and rather about expressing a sense of general frustration, as Joell takes aim at mainstream hip-hop and a few of its incumbents, including a couple of thinly-veiled jabs at some of his hip-hop colleagues. It moves away from the directly competitive elements into an aggressive Joell showcase as the track evolves, but the intensity and venom in Joell’s voice is a great listen in any context, and a strong opening response from the NY scene. Who’s next?

Tanya Morgan-Rubber Souls (Artwork and Tracklist)

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It’s been four years since their excellent Brooklynati album, and The Almighty Tanya Morgan return with their third LP on 24th September. Features include talented upcomers Rocki Evans, Spree Wilson and Nitty Scott, MC, whilst the entire project is produced entirely by 6th Sense- all exciting facets of album (not to mention a lovely bit of album art), and you can check out the tracklist below. Sidenote: Tanya Morgan fans out here in the UK/Europe can now grab official TM merch locally.

1. For Real
2. The Day I
3. The Only One ft. Tiara Wiles, Mike Maven, Spree Wilson and Rocki Evans
4. Never Too Much ft. Nitty Scott, MC
5. All Em ft. Outasight
6. Pick It Up
7. More ft. Rocki Evans
8. Eulogy
9. Worldmade
10. The Vehicle ft. Spec Boogie and 6th Sense

Crooked I-No Sleep Gang (Video)

When someone like Crooked I makes a club-ready banger, you had better get your good headphones on. Cardo serves up one hell of a production here, throwing together a top tier production for the newest single from Crook’s recently-released Apex Predator album.

That production is built on two primary components- a fast-paced, urgent melody on top and a eardrum-bursting amount of bass sitting underneath it. There’s plenty in between of note too, from the touch of synth through to a rugged, gristly distorted sound I can’t quite identify, but it’s those first two elements that really make this the type of production you’ll happily throw your body around for when it’s played. Menacing bass and lively melodies rarely fail. Crook’s flows are as watertight as ever, whilst his natural aggression is scaled back a touch to allow for a more club-oriented lyricism, though his rough nature still comes through well-enough. Put it this way: it’s still identifiable as a Crooked I track, but instead it’s got much more mainstream appeal than almost anything I’ve hear from his direction.

The video is pretty simple, as Crook is featured either roaming around in the club, or hanging around with his gang (who, as the title might suggest, aren’t keen on sleep). Nothing new or exciting, but a dimly-lit clip that suits the heavy production well. Grab the track on Apex Predator, which is available now.

Stalley-Honest Cowboy (Mixtape)

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Over the last 18 months, Stalley’s worked his way into a position as one of the leading rappers in my iTunes: his lyrical approach is versatile enough for almost any type of track, whilst his flows are equally capable and diverse, and when added to his generally solid beat selections, it’s difficult to figure out why he’s not held in higher regard.

Nonetheless, it’s his first full release of the year, and another 10 new tracks to add to an impressive back catalogue. Features are minimal, though appearances from Scarface and ScHoolboy Q certainly suggests quality over quantity, whilst production credits that feature the likes of DJ Quik, Cardo, Terrace Martin, and frequent Stalley collaborators Block Beataz. The latter for me is most exciting, given their stellar track record together, and I’ve got no doubt that they’ll deliver once more with their offerings here. Stream and grab the whole damn show below.

Stalley-Honest Cowboy

Ab-Soul-Christopher DRONEr

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Given Ab-Soul’s fondness for conspiratorial topics, and the controversial yet strange nature of the Chris Dorner killings, this is textbook work from the TDE rapper. Few upcomers rap with the venom, belief and combative nature of Ab-Soul, and when combined with his often outspoken, leftfield subject matters, more often than not it’s very unique listening.

He’s backed by an intense, rather uneasy production, which uses bells to great effect to create a dark, post-apocalyptic style sound, built on with slow, sharp percussion and a touch of synth for a hint of modernism. As mentioned above, Soul’s raps feature that conspiratorial influence, tempered with brash street raps and arrogant bragger lines to keep a sense of relative normality running through the track, whilst his flows are admirably flexible throughout, moving through various speeds and cadences to create natural checkpoints in the track. The song has the caption ‘new project coming soon’, and let’s hope it features more of this ilk.

Nipsey Hu$$le-Change Nothing

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Having long championed Nipsey as one of my favourite West Coast acts in recent years, it’s always good to get fresh work from the upcoming rapper.

I’ve been on a mini-spree of old school West Coast rap recently, and this effort may just conjure up memories of that style. The production is a great blend of intense, mellow and fast-moving, with urgent melodies sitting above quickfire percussion for the verses, and airy synths and drifty vocal samples thrown in around the hook-the result is a track with plenty of energy, but just enough smoothness to make it a good summer listen. Nipsey’s not known for being lazy with his raps, and his crisp flow is on point once again here, riding along the pulsating production well and coolly adjusting his cadence on the beat’s various transitions. The lyricism is again a combination of street realism and arrogant, bragger raps, and whilst that’s not to everyone’s tastes, it works with the production well enough to deliver that classic West vibe. Will hang around my playlists for some time to come, and hopefully a new project is on the way soon.

Big Sean-Fire (Video)

Big Sean’s Hall of Fame album is due on 27th August, and when you’ve got Miley Cyrus as the sole star of your latest video, you’ve probably cracked the mainstream quite thoroughly ahead of its release.

The track was premiered just a short while back, and I passed on it as it didn’t really capture my attention. Admittedly, that’s improved with repeat spins, though the production can be rather grating- whilst vocal loop beats can sometimes be quite solid, this one comes in at a pitch that ends up being a touch too piercing to enjoy the whole way through. That being said, the rest of the elements are strong, throwing together Ratatat-esque guitars, a commanding percussion line and a touch of piano keys for a relatively motivational offering. Sean’s lyricism is generally biographical, moving between reflective and modern-day arrogance, with the former being the lyrical highlights.

From that Jay Z reference to various other micro incidents, it seems Miley either wants to be viewed as an adult or is desperate to win over the hip-hop audience. This video is pretty much just her standing or walking around in various outfits, generally looking quite surly to seemingly capture a glamour model vibe. It seems to have the feel of Kanye West’s style of video from around the 808s and MBDTF phase, which works well enough with the audio. Probably worth a quick watch, but give that audio a little time and it might just grow on you.

Hodgy Beats-Heart of the City Remix

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There is never a bad time to be reminded of this thoroughly-excellent Kanye West production. Not only was it one of the primary pieces that led Kanye to the position he’s currently in, but it arguably still stands up as one of the finer beats in his entire back catalogue. Many will disagree, but to those I offer this rebuttal: I don’t care.

Hodgy does a smooth job on the soulful, triumphant production, coming through with his characteristically laidback style and packing it into a relatively sharp flow that has a couple of nice high-speed peaks. Lyrically, it’s one most mainstream rappers would be quite pleased with, combining arrogant raps with a little wit to keep that net cast wide, and making this one accessible to a pretty varied audience. Of course, dissenters will suggest he shouldn’t touch a production of this ilk, but in truth it’s a nice refresh of a track I suspect many have played into the ground, and will surely bring the fantastic production to a brand new generation of listeners. Worth a go for sure.

Hodgy Beats-Heart of the City Remix

Drake-All Me ft. 2 Chainz and Big Sean

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Drake’s recent releases have been much improved over the set that preceded them, to such an extent that my once-famed distate for his work seems to have been forgotten. Well, this might ease me back in the ‘dislike’ direction.

It’s lyrically similar to Started From The Bottom, with the bottom-to-top theme running rampant throughout both Drake’s semi-sung hook and his relatively-intense verse. Credit to him for the latter; his work is generally beginning to pack in much more intensity, which at the very least makes for a departure from his once-monotonous style. However, his lyricism is a little forced throughout, and comes across as a little too light-hearted to warrant the more aggressive delivery he’s chosen here, whilst the dark, somewhat flat production doesn’t help paper the cracks of his songwriting either. I’m all for moody productions, but this doesn’t ever commit to a particular sound (atmospheric? angry? night drive?), and rather just plods along quite arduously, with none of the three rappers offering much to save it- closest thing to replayable is Big Sean’s closing verse, which cycles through a couple of different flows to relatively good effect. Otherwise, this is pretty skippable all-round, and will remain that way when it lands on Nothing Was The Same.

Chuck Inglish-Swervin' ft. Sir Michael Rocks

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Can you believe The Cool Kids haven’t worked together since 2011? Hard to believe that one of hip-hop’s most promising duos went their seperate ways so early on, but they reunite here for a single from Chuck’s upcoming Convertibles album. Whilst that LP is slated to feature names such as Big Boi, Mac Miller and Ab-Soul, it’s this feature that will probably command most attention.

Rightly so too, as it’s a speaker-rattler of a track that’s entirely addictive. There’s no heavy overproducing or ‘two tracks condensed into one’ business going on here; it’s a bassy, percussion-heavy production that cuts back on layers to create an intimidating wall of sound out of what is fundamentally very little. Chuck and Mikey’s laidback raps are a great fit for the production too, as neither attempts to match the beat’s intensity and rather both opt to smoothly ride along with comparatively easygoing flows, with their unique cadences making for enough distinction between the two. No complications or complexities, this is a head-nodding hip-hop jam that’s going to sound rather special on a good set of car speakers.

Childish Gambino-Centipede

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It’s been quite some time since we got some new Gambino, and after the announcement that his involvement in season 5 of Community will be significantly reduced (and there’s talk he’ll be killed off too?!) so he can focus more on his music, it’s a release that many will hope precedes several more.

If you ever wanted to encapsulate the trichotomy of Gambino’s work as an artist, this track does it for you. Opening up in an alternative, acapella fashion, the opening is reminiscent of his earlier, more leftfield work and focuses on his oft-forgotten skill as a vocalist. We heard plenty of those vocals on Camp, an album which also featured the type of contemplative production and storytelling lyricism that makes up the second segment of this track, with the delicate piano melody and relatively quick raps combining for an effort that would have slotted in well on that LP. The third segment is a bassier, more aggressive approach that’s closer to his work since Camp, particularly on Royalty, delivering the same semi-autobiographical lyricism in a more intense manner that fits the harsher, grittier production he’s provided with. It’s a good performance throughout, with the three distinct sections held together by the songwriting, and in theory there should be something in here to satisfy each section of his fanbase- stream and download here.

Esko the Kid-Nightmares ft. Sarah Green

nightmares
Lupe’s FNF label is still going, and signee/frequent Lupe collaborator Sarah Green hooks up with its latest signing in Esko for a single from his upcoming Young & Restless II mixtape.

It’s a contemplative, introspective effort that’s got some great storytelling lyricism throughout, with Esko essentially running through his thoughts, social environment and professional positioning. His work is certainly relatable, and his willingness to expose his fears, concerns and insecurities on record is commendable, whilst from a technical perspective his delivery is consistently sharp and speedy throughout, making for a good performance from the upcomer. Sarah anchors the track very well with her empassioned vocals, whilst the minimal backdrop of piano keys and light percussion enhances the reflective atmosphere of the track, finishing off what is a good slice of introverted hip-hop. In truth, it’s just nice to hear an upcomer who isn’t trying to convince anyone he’s already laced with money and jewels.