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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Observer

Straight fire: Rap’s best new releases

Mary O'Reilly
Mary O'Reilly | The Observer

It’s 2020, the world is on fire, they killed Pop Smoke, Kanye leaked his contract, Justin Bieber and Chance the Rapper released a devotional love song, Bobby Shmurda and Drakeo the Ruler are still in jail, Kendrick Lamar is M.I.A. and if it’s a hit, it’s probably a TikTok hit.

But rap music hasn’t stopped. New artists and new songs are arriving everyday, almost too many to keep up with. Below are a few of the best tracks from the past month.

“hooligan” — Baby Keem

Baby Keem is one of the most genuinely exciting and promising new rappers to come around in a hot minute. His new single “hooligans,” which arrives a year after his standout album “DIE FOR MY B—” and was released alongside “sons & critics freestyle,” proves that Baby Keem’s stock is still rising. The song is quick with a catchy chorus — shades of previous hit “ORANGE SODA” — and a piano-driven beat. Here’s hoping that the new releases from Baby Keem are a prelude to a 2020 full length project.

“Float On” — Baby Plug

Baby Plug’s “Float On” sounds timeless. The high energy flip of Modest Mouse’s 2004 hit “Float On,” also reworked by Lupe Fiasco on his 2011 song “The Show Goes On,” radiates with the eternal joy of a day in the sun, a nice cold beverage and an afternoon with nothing to do but stay outside. Show some love for the forgotten but not gone Soundcloud and stream “Float On” on repeat or listen via the song’s abundantly fun music video.

“Whole Lotta Choppas” — Sada Baby

Despite being a shining star in the rising Detroit rap scene, Sada Baby has been often unfairly dismissed as a regional rapper, which makes him all the more worthy of the TikTok generated success of “Whole Lotta Choppas.” Sada’s fast-paced, near-whispered verses lurk over a strobing dance beat, an unlikely combination that works well. Given the song’s TikTok virality, the chorus hits close to home, as Sada announces “They wanna see me do my dance / In these thousand-dollar pants.”

“Richard Pryor” — Pink Siifu and Fly Anakin

Pink Siifu and Fly Anakin are two members of a growing scene of underground rappers delivering thoughtful verses over hazy, lo-fi and sample-heavy beats. Spotify calls it “Jazz Rap,” I’d call it lo-fi rap, but genre labels aside, it sounds cool. The two lyricists trade verses over a soulful sample reworked by producer Playa Haze and create a track that captures the best features of the genre. “Richard Pryor” comes off the duo’s collaborative album “Fly Siifu’s,” slated to arrive in November.

“Gucci Casket” — Armani Caesar (feat. Conway the Machine)

As the proclaimed first lady of Griselda Records, the Buffalo-based collective and label bringing new life to the old school New York hip-hop sound, Armani Caesar has big shoes to fill. On “Gucci Casket,” she lives up to expectations and then some. Over a haunting, sparse beat she comes correct, rapping with unaffected bravado and swagger while setting up label mate Conway the Machine for a crushing closing verse.

“Lemonade” — Internet Money, Gunna, Don Toliver and NAV

This song is almost too popular to be on the list, but it’s also too good to be left off. Internet Money, a hot new record producer collective, distill the most popular sounds of rap music into a three-minute beat and invite two of the most popular rappers and NAV to lay down some sing-rap verses and create a song sweeter than lemonade.

“Santos Party House” — Smoke DZA, Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y (feat. Big K.R.I.T., Girl Talk)

Despite the fact that no one contributing to “Santos Party House” is from California and that the song is named after a New York nightclub, the new track sounds like a certified Cali jam. Something about the song’s breezy, bouncing production, handled by Pittsburgh native Girl Talk, brings to mind a night time ride on Mulholland Drive with the top down. And although Big K.R.I.T.’s invitation ought to be rescinded due to his near vibe-killing verse, the song still comes out on top.