10 & 2 – the latest single from Ghanaian/American dancer, rapper and singer-songwriter NanaBcool, and directly addresses his own experiences of police oppression and violence. After spending a couple of months performing and writing throughout multiple cities in Europe, the hook for 10 & 2 came to him while walking around Amsterdam. “I was in such a calm mood, but for “10 and 2, 10 and 2 what the fuck a nigga supposed to do” to come up really indicates that regardless of the mood I’m in, I always have to be aware when police are around.” Intricately, soulfully produced, it’s one of the most impressive hip hop cuts I’ve heard so far this year.
Warm and soulful on the surface but packed with a political directness in its lyrics which are, as ever, flawlessly delivered by Noname, Rainforest packs in an outrageous amount into its relatively short running time. There are so many lyrical earworms here, but “A rainforest cries / Everybody dies a little / And I just wanna dance tonight” is the one that’s stuck with me. On paper perhaps this comes across as a little cliche, but the understated delivery makes dancing seems like the most understandable – and perhaps only – reaction to one of the many approaching global calamities we’re faced with on a daily basis.
This. Is. Absolutely. Ridiculous. Best, most creative rapper currently working. I said it! Cos it’s true!
In times gone by Coi Leray’s No More Parties would sound more like a hungover pep talk delivered to yourself after yet another write-off of a Sunday than a grim prediction of just how little fun we’ll be having this year, but regardless: it’s still really fun and I really like it, and lyrics like “I’m only doing shit that’s gonna make me elevate / Only want people around that’s gonna make me better” is making me feel significantly more motivated to Get Shit Done than 1000 ham-fisted open letters from our utter fucking moron of a leader ever could.
I’ve always associated Father and Awful Records with a certain kind of drug-fuelled hedonism that seems to spark both creativity and extreme levels of lethargy, probably in large part due to that Boiler Room documentary where they all sit around in a pretty run-down house, talking about music, religion and getting extremely fucked up. His music has always been fairly tongue-in-cheek and hazily delivered, but Come Outside, We Not Gone Jump You – the title track from his latest LP – sounds almost sincere and, well, romantic? Maybe that’s taking things a little too far, especially given some of the lyrical content, but regardless, it’s a welcome return.
JPEGMAFIA produces like he’s channel surfing at a billion miles an hour. The sheer amount of influences and styles packed into relatively short tracks can at times be a little overwhelming, but when it works, it’s some of the most creatively inspired and unpredictable music out there. SUPER TUESDAY is built around a warping, string-led ballroom sample – like The Caretaker doing woozy hip-hop – and is the last track on his new EP (confusingly titled EP!) that packs a frankly ridiculous amount of ideas into its 26 minute running time.
There aren’t many artists who could pull together album features from Kid Cudi, Post Malone, Kanye West, Anderson .Paak, Thundercat, Nicki Minaj, Kehlani, Future, Young Thug, etc, etc – but Ty Dolla $ign is a Big Dog Indeed and ha$ done ju$t that. Honestly I haven’t enjoyed a rap album this much since Saint Jhn’s Ghetto Lenny’s Love Songs (and I really, really enjoyed that), and even though it conforms to the now omnipresent rap trend of clocking in at over an hour and includes more tracks than seems reasonable, it never overstays its welcome, and actually just gets better and better. Time Will Tell is one of the few tracks with no features, but without doubt one of the strongest, with Ty rolling effortlessly over a subdued, hypnotic beat.
“I smashed the stripper in the hotel with my chains on” Thus spake 21 Savage at the start of his infamous 2016 collaboration with Metro Boomin, Savage Mode. Misogynistic, nihilistic, but also darkly brilliant and compelling with brooding, eerie production, it stands as a high (or low, depending on your point of view) watermark for both artists. Now we have the much-anticipated Savage Mode II: a lazer-focused distillation of what makes them work so well together. Though perhaps a couple of shades lighter in tone – the Drake featuring Mr. Bright Now is positively buoyant – it conjures the same beautifully oppressive atmosphere as its predecessor. So…. Savage Mode III?
Toro Y Moi isn’t adverse to popping up on as a featured artist on hip-hop tracks, but he rarely, if ever, actually raps. Should we count last year’s drawled verse on Blood Orange’s Dark & Handsome? No, we should not. He nails it here though, beefing up his usually relaxed considerably in order to cut through the glossy production and keep pace with MadeInTYO. All in all: a banger.
ROUGH 7 rolls along with a stumbling rhythm that – like a lot of JPEGMAFIA’s music – seems to be doing it’s very best to trip you up, briefly heading down tangents for a few bars before turning back, or stopping altogether, glitching back to the backbone of the track with a jarring quality that makes his music quite unlike anyone else working in rap. It’s unsettling, brilliant and sleazy as fuck.