Well this sure was a f*cked up week, wasn’t it? Wayne wants off Cash Money, Mariah couldn’t hit that note, and Beans was shot this morning. Not to mention the f*ckery that is the Eric Garner case.
But at least we got some good rap music. Mickey Christmas snuck in another blazing song for Average Joes, Starlito dropped a record from his upcoming Black Sheep Don’t Grin LP, Earl Sweatshirt collided with Chicago’s Lil’ Herb, Vic Spencer revived Illa Ghee, and Jon Wayne came through with some perfectly weird sh*t. Catch up.
Starlito – “No Rearview TWO” (Feat. Don Trip) [Prod. by Five Points]
Lito is one of the most brutally honest rappers out right now, and when he pairs with Don Trip (as they’ve done for two albums as Step Brothers), it’s always worth a listen. Put DJ Burn One behind the boards and you have an automatic best rap song of the week.
While Don Trip reflects on how far he’s really come, Lito remembers what it’s like to be in the trap. They provide the right contrast for each other to shine, and with Starlito’s Black Sheep Don’t Grin album on the way, we can only hope to hear more from these three.
Earl Sweatshirt – “Knucklehead” (Feat. Lil’ Herb) [Prod. by RandomBlackDude]
Who would’ve thought 2014 would yield a collaboration from Odd Future rapper Earl Sweatshirt and Chicago’s own Lil’ Herb? Over a beat by Earl, they both sound at home. Herb takes a break from the hard Chitown beats that we’re used to hearing him rap over in favor of some spare keys and drums. “Knucklehead” proves that rappers who don’t seem to have much in common can come together and break boundaries on a track. More of this, please.
Jon Wayne – “Good Samaritans” (Feat. Samiyam) [Prod. by Ras G, Alchemist, and Samiyam]
Jon Wayne kind of sounds like your grandfather on a rap song, but he’s just as wise as grampy, too. His new joint is equal parts sh*t talking and defiance of the Devil, and the simplified beat by three of the West’s best producers only highlights his gruff, gravelly tone. Don’t sleep on Jon – he’s lowkey been one of the most talented new artists on Stones Throw for a minute now.
Michael Christmas – “Pleasant Christmas” (Prod. by North Villah)
Months ago we told you how dope Michael Christmas is, but we get it – people are slow. “Pleasant Christmas” is a lot more than what it sounds like. Mickey hears his family fighting while joking about how slow they’ll go in their Acura, but he also sees how hard his mom is working to check gifts off the Christmas list. His singing on the track only adds to the blatant vulnerability that’s strewn throughout his rhymes. Mickey Christmas is the most relatable rapper of 2014. You’ll be seeing a lot more of him in 2015.
Vic Spencer – “Jungle Gym” (Feat. Sean Price & Illa Ghee) [Prod. by Doc Da MindBenda]
This is so grimy. Vic Spencer is a rising rapper from Chicago and Sean Price is a New York rap vet, but the most impressive verse here is actually Illa Ghee’s – “The black Rocky, I’m cocky, I’m a fighting Akhi / My own moms tried to pop me.” He’s still got it. Watch out for Vic Spencer, too. Read an in-depth interview with him right here.
Bonus: Don Trip – “Open Letter” (Prod. by Yung Ladd)
Don Trip’s strength is punchlines and emotion, so he pours both into “Open Letter.” He talks about how he can’t feed his kids “Daddy tried” and he can’t take prayers to the bank. If anything, Trip keeps it all the way real in his music, even if it can be saddening, but he’s always resilient. This week, we needed a song like this.