Since there’s about a million other columns that utilize the “hip hop roundup” moniker, I figured that it’s probably best to spice things up a bit. So, to show my respect for the great Earl Sweatshirt, the “Hip Hop Roundup” has now been changed to “Some Rap Songs.”
It’s been about three or four weeks since the last time I gathered my favorite hip hop tracks and projects, but I’m officially back! I will continue “Some Rap Songs” for as long as I can. For those publicists or artists who want to reach out to me for consideration, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And now, back to business.
Connis – Waited All Summer For the Weekend
Connis wants to leave Massachusetts with someone he loves for as long as possible. I can’t say I blame him. From a short-term perspective, our state is currently in the red zone for COVID-19, and our governor continues to blame individuals for the spread rather than a wider institution that refuses to offer any assistance.
But even simpler than that, the Cambridge native just wants to find peace in a new environment. His songs since “Palindrome” have felt intimately pensive and drastically more personal than a lot of what was on Sessions 001. His new EP Waited All Summer For the Weekend is a dream sequence waiting to become reality. It’s a project about escaping, that also functions as an escape itself. When Connis raps on “Soft Serve,” he portrays someone who’s on the verge of breaking out; ready to leave for his ideal destination when the time is right (“We should take a trip, head out to Ireland/Introduce you to my fam/We could take a walk along the farm until it rains again”)
Across five tracks, Connis is able to successfully illustrate a life in constant motion, particularly through a lens of fairytale ambition. Within that framing, he leaves room for his own reality. Over a velvety saxophone on “Rizzo’s Song,” Connis vehemently raps about his past with universal embrace-“I used to think about buying a map, picking a city/Graze it with my fingertips, start driving away/I was a 17, looking for a time and a place”). Listening to his verses almost feels like reading a novel. There’s so much innate detail in his writing.
The EP brings up an interesting point in its title. I feel like we’ve all been waiting for a true “weekend.” But unfortunately, that’s none of our realities at the moment. But then again, I did read one time that “our thoughts are our only reality.” And if that’s really the case, then the reality Connis is vying for will happen soon enough.
Jiles (feat. BoriRock, SAINT LYOR, Meech, Lord Felix, & Luke Bar$) – “Rutland”
Rap posse cuts have kind of become a lost art recently. We don’t see very many “So Appalleds” or “1Trains” anymore. The closest we get to these in mainstream rap are senseless DJ Khaled collaborations that make very little sense on paper. Seriously though, you can’t just throw J Balvin, Lil Baby, and Meek Mill in a room and expect something fire.
Brockton, MA’s Van Buren Records continues to be the only group putting out interesting posse tracks, and that’s partly because they’re great friends from the same city. Individually, they’re just as talented as any other booming regional scene. “Rutland” is another great example of this.
The beat that Van Buren producer RLouie cooks up here feels like a never-ending space odyssey. Jiles, who just recently released the deluxe version of his excellent It’s Not Much, But It’s Mine project, performs one of the greatest choruses of the year. Quite frankly, I don’t know if I’ve heard a delivery this adrenalized.
I highly suggest everyone to listen to all of Van Buren’s projects. Saint Lyor, Lord Felix, Jiles, Luke Bar$, Meech, Ricky Felix, and RLouie all carry some of my favorite albums/EPS from the year.
Gao the Arsonist & Dr. Skywalker – The Hallowed EP
When I first listened to this EP, I was in the car driving to my friend’s house out in Boston. It was right before Halloween, and the skies were a typical New England gray. To be honest, when the sinister prayer began on the intro track “Hallowed,” I felt like an exorcism was about to go down on the highway. The pulsating drums and Gao’s possessive voice immediately changed the tone for the rest of my drive. I was figuratively transported into a graveyard at my old stomping grounds in Salem. In a weird twisted kind of way, it was a nostalgic feeling.
I’ve covered Gao pretty extensively in the past, and I will continue to do so until he receives a substantial worldwide fanbase. The transitions on this project are impressively seamless. He strikes a balance in the production, where the drums are perfectly mixed but far from sterile. Him and Dr. Skywalker capture two artists who are seeking recognition as they battle their own ego. I highly recommend checking out Gao’s Instagram, as he broke down what each track means on this project. Here’s a link: https://www.instagram.com/p/CHnrmwmDP4v/
Casanova (feat. Ugly God & Duke Deuce) – “Virgil”
A noticeably leaner Ugly God is rejuvenated and ready to turn up. This new attitude probably has a lot to do with working aside Duke Deuce and Casanova-two guys who aren’t afraid to flaunt their boisterous personalities. This sounds like Atlanta and Memphis wrapped into one ball of insane fury.
Big Mali – “Win”
A timely message that carries the ethos of a Lil Baby song. Keep an eye on Big Mali. There’s a couple misses on her new tape Gangsta Talk, but the stuff that does hit leaves a lasting impact on you.