As the summer starts to heat up, hip hop artists from across the country are searching for that hit track to be played on repeat in everyone’s car. Unfortunately, many will fail, as “Old Town Road” continues to dominate the airwaves. But hey, there’s still a lot of quality content for diehard listeners, and I’m here to help point you in the right direction. For this edition of the Bi-weekly hip hop roundup, we look at five of the best tracks over the last ten days, with notable lyrics to go with them (in no particular order). As always, if you have suggestions, leave them down below. Enjoy!
MIKE – “Scarred Lungs Vol. 1 & 2”
I’m all in for a rawer, more stripped-back version of rap. Trap has been in the spotlight for three plus years now. It may be time for a change. Hoping to spearhead that movement is New York underground lyricist MIKE; an artist who’s made waves through sharp songwriting and a candid approach. On “Scarred Lungs Vol. 1 & 2,” MIKE tells a heartbreaking story about coping after the passing of his mother-over a sincerely poignant piano sample. It’s an ode to 90s rap, just without the drums. But that’s what makes this experience so moving. MIKE’s intimacy shines through more than anything. From there, he crafts this gritty and infectious aesthetic not too often seen in the mainstream.
Notable lyrics: “Now I’m staying on my grind, got my pops sour/Gotta state it every time yo try to pop off.”
Jaydayoungan & Yungeen Ace – “Opps”
Jaydayoungan’s raspy voice completely fits the tone of this menacing track about the griminess of the streets. Between its catchy chorus and rugged verses, “Opps” exemplifies the lower-class neighborhood in its moodiest form-and rightfully so. Cops are still killing minorities. Rappers till need to rap about it. Consequently, it’s the only way to get the message through to the public. “Opps” is another entry into that canon. And it’s a memorable one at that.
Notable Lyrics: “Fuck all the cops/I know they hope we gon’ stop, but the way that I’m living’, I’m not.”
Dreamville – “Sleep Deprived” (feat. Lute, Omen, Mez & DaVionne)
At this point, we know what J Cole and JID are capable of; especially when it comes to flow, technique, and socially conscious lyricism. Outside of that, the world is still oblivious to Dpeamville’s roster, and what each and every rapper is capable of. On “Sleep Deprived,” listeners finally catch a glimpse (off of the Revenge of the Dreamers III album). Cole’s signees trade bars about the hard work they’ve put in to get to where they are now. Lute, Omen and Mez discuss their come-up through clever wordplay and tight narratives. The uber-melodic piano and DaVionne chorus ties everything together nicely-summing up the track in its simplest form.
Earl Sweatshirt & Apollo Brown – “Cleo’s Robes” (feat. Freddie Gibbs)
Earl Sweatshirt’s career has been anything but normal. After gaining mega popularity from Tyler, the Creator’s Odd Future collective, the former provocateur has reached a level of obscurity due to a major change up in style (i.e. his Some Rap Songs album). On his newest single with Apollo Brown, Earl continues to go down the path of soulful jazz instrumentals, and lo-fi verses. This time, him and Freddie Gibbs go back to the basics-exemplifying their greatest strengths. At its core, “Cleo’s Robes” is passionate wordplay at its finest. It’s a reminder of Earl’s impeccable talent for stringing together sentences you’ve never heard before. Hopefully, more people start to appreciate his knack for getting the most out of every bar.
Notable lyrics: “Check your press releases of the beeper like a pimp/Threw his demons off the cliff.” (Earl Sweatshirt)
Rick Ross – “Big Tyme” (feat. Swiss Beats)
Rick Ross just sounds rejuvenated. His next album could be Grammy worthy. After a killer song with D.C.’s Wale, the BOSS is back with another Florida anthem. Him and Swizz Beats is a match made in heaven on “Big Tyme”-a song that’s as grand as its title. Both sound in their prime, with Swizz bringing victorious percussion, and Ross bringing impassioned vocals. It almost sounds like Rick is fighting the beat, trying to muster everything out of it. He’s very convincing in his lyrics-in a way, he firmly believes everything he’s saying has merit to it. He might be right. Either way, the outcome is entertaining, and only gets me more excited for what Ross has to offer on his upcoming project.
Notable lyrics: “I pray somebody tell you bout these bumpy roads/Only maps to follow is your bible quotes/And all them things your grandmother and father spoke.”