Welcome to Hit Or Miss, our new weekly column where we cover as many new rap tapes, albums, EPs, and projects from the week as we can. Some are good, others, not so much, but don’t be scared. Honesty is the best policy.
Beatking – Houston 3 AM
Beatking is a rapping ass motherfucker. He can rap about anything – getting neck like Exorcist, losing all his friends, jerking off to “BET Uncut” – and make it more entertaining than 95% of this other bullshit out right now. He’s the kind of guy you’d actually want to hear do that corny thing where a rapper goes off the top about words you throw at them – gardening, hamburgers, post-its, whatever. (Seriously though – stop making rappers do that.) His personality is big enough to fill up a 20-track mixtape with ease.
This is his second dope mixtape of the year after Club God 4, further proving he’s quietly one of the most consistent rappers out right now. So why aren’t more people talking about him? Freestyling over screwed LOX and Goodie Mob beats might not do it, and it’s surprising more crusaders haven’t lambasted him for embellishing details about the singles he rubs in between strippers’ butt cheeks. The fact that he’s flying just under the radar makes it little more delicious to hear a mixtape as strong as Houston 3 AM without any forced buzz, though. – Max Weinstein
Best Songs: “Stoppped,” “Isolated,” “Japan”
Supastition – Gold Standard
North Carolina MC Supastition is like that one dude on the block you didn’t want to play the dozens with. He will step out of his house in slippers and socks and effortlessly eviscerate you, leaving your pride hanging on a Mimi Faust shower rod waiting for TMZ to show up. From his 2002 debut 7 Years of Bad Luck and the evolved follow-up Chain Letters to last year’s Honest Living EP, Supa’s caustic bars have made him a favorite in the underground and inspired the likes of Royce Da’ 5 9, KRS-One and Ras Kass to share mic time with him.
For his latest project Gold Standard Supastition packages 10 tracks worth of truculent lyricism with occasional breaks to touch on social ills (“Black Bodies”) and relationships (“Song For the Mrs” and “End of Forever”). Co-stars like Kenn Starr and Boog Brown ride shotgun firing high calibre rounds while Supa perforates the beats with lines like, “If I’m not in your top five, that ain’t nothin’ god/ because you ain’t in the top 100 employees at your fuckin job…when my team run up on you, ain’t no wavin’ fair catch/have you shaking in your boots, scare you out your Air Max, after Supastition spits who dare raps?”
Sonically the lion’s share of Gold Standard is handled by producer Praise, who leans on a popular beat-battle ready style that marries staggered vocal chops with heavy drums and thick bass akin to Apollo Brown’s. His execution peaks on tracks like “Flawless” and “Know My Worth” but can feel a tad repetitive with extended listens. Even when another producer like Rik Marvel takes the helm on “In Crowd” he employs this same formula. Producers Moss and Soundsci offer a respite later in the tracklist that is worth hanging around for and all things considered, the soundbeds do much more help than harm in the mission to support ‘Stition and his guest star’s rewind-worthy couplets.
Supastition is a gifted storyteller who rhymes without a seatbelt giving every word he utters the same urgency regardless of the topic. In an age of bitCoin raps with suspect value it’s good to know that there is still a gold standard. — Jerry L. Barrow
Best Songs: “Know My Worth,” “Flawless” “Gold Standard”
Don Trip – In The Meantime
Don Trip’s new tape opens with Peter Rosenberg saying he’s got the personality of a “frog” four years ago. Trip doesn’t even address the shade. He just starts rapping his ass off from the jump. More rappers could learn from the guy.
The clever Tennessee rapper is the last of the punchline Mohicans. He’s light-hearted enough to counteract the heavy-lidded Starlito as one half of Stepbrothers, but his music has an emotional punch that lets you know it’s not always jokes. In The Meantime is just lyrical exercise before the main attraction – Godspeed, the album that drops June 23rd – but if Meantime is just a warm-up, then these other rappers look funny in the light. His ear for beats is immaculate and his cut-the-bullshit attitude is so on the nose, it can be a little jarring for listeners used to rappers lying all over tracks.
It’s embarrassing more people aren’t talking about this 5-track EP, but maybe when people catch wind of his selfie stick line, they’ll have reason to gush about this tape. – MW
Best Songs: “In The Mean Time,” “Food Fight,” “Bet Some”
Focus… – Analog In a Digital World
Bernard “Focus…” Edwards, Jr. is a man who vibrates at multiple frequencies and this is no more evident than on his latest project Analog In Digital World. The Grammy-winning MC and producer provided his special brand of funk for both R&B artists (Marshia Ambrosius, Beyonce and J.Lo) and some of hip-hop’s finest (Bustah Rhymes “Respect My Conglomerate,” Schoolboy Q’s “Light Years Ahead” to name a few). When he’s not helping Dr. Dre perform sonic surgery for his Aftermath label, Focus…is bending our ears with instrumental treats that marry his analog DNA (he is the son of late CHIC co-founder Bernard Edwards) with the binary beat-bop of the millennial masses. However, for AIDw Focus is not content to just let the planet rock and endeavors to move the whole galaxy, giving new meaning to the word “subspace” with his warm, heavy thump.
On Analog… the compound song titles nod to the duality of each instrumental. For example, the subdued 808s and galactic fish-tank vibes of “East&West” are hit in the mid section by an aggressive, trunk waving boast halfway through. “Fire&Ice” starts out with a guitar that sounds like its screaming into a pillow, but makes an about-face into an amorous yearning. And On “iN and oUT,” the dusty piano and moog is stripped down to an ominous “Crenshaw at sunset” feel. It’s like someone had bad intentions but got a text from their mom to bring their ass home just as they were about to catch a case.
Anyone looking to procure an instrumental canvas for the voices living in their head —or simply drowned them out during a night of top-down, four-wheeled introspection on your favorite empty road— keep this one close. – JB
3 Best Songs: “iN&oUT,” “sOMETHING&nOTHING”, “bEGIN&eND”
Lucki Eck$ – X
I remember being disappointed by Lucki Ecki$’s Alternative Trap in 2013. I was gassed off “No Troubles” but the project was too weird for me. His new X tape is a bit more conservative, for better or worse. He tiptoes on the edge of the boring “plug rap” pool, but avoids falling in by exploring some of the consequences of drug use – bloody noses and such. On “Lowlife,” he doesn’t just mention his drug supplier – he identifies with the guy’s follies.
The real stars on X, however, are producers Plu2o Nash and Skywlkr, the latter of whom took on a side project, Bulletproof Dolphin, with Black Noise. Skywlkr’s Silver Haze soul on “None Other” is all-enveloping while Nash throws a dance twist on the catchy “Lil Bitch,” bringing Eck$ out of his darkness. The weakness of X is ultimately its self-absorption, but Eck$ has made significant strides in nailing down his own sound, so X is a satisfying listen. – MW
Best Songs: “Lil Bitch, “Mia Wallace,” “Stevie Wonder”
Earlly Mac – Cousin Trap
Earlly Mac leads us through the trap houses of the Midwest in his second solo project Cousin Trap. The Detroit emcee tapped into his inner dope boy and tweaked his flow for his trap-inspired EP. In a nutshell, Mac takes on a Migos-type flow yet strays away from biting the sea of Southern trap rappers by incorporating deep bars about his struggles during his come-up. “I need a hundred, a hundred and one/That shit’s a lot when you coming from none,” he raps in “Chaldean Talk.”
Mac spits his grimy raps along with several popular names in the game like Trae Tha Truth, Manolo Rose, Bizzy Crook, and Trinidad James as well as up-and-coming emcees Supakaine and Prada Leary. Producer IcePic has his fingerprints embedded on all nine tracks with help from other producers like Sergio, Mo Beatz, and Reuel.
Mac has songs that will fit any type of situation, whether he’s uplifting someone by sending a positive message through “Be Ok” or getting the party started with his club banger “BBB (Big Booty Bitches).” His trap-inspired EP wouldn’t be complete without “#LikeGucci,” an ode to the trap’s most revered musician, Gucci Mane. Mac’s nod to Guwop is the cherry on top of this dope EP. – Tony Centeno
Best Songs: “Chaldean Talk,” “Be Ok,” Big Bank”
Cousin Stizz – Suffolk County
Cousin Stizz’s new mixtape is OK. Not good, not bad. It has echoes of Drake’s music – more about the atmosphere (read: beats) than the bars. Talk of plugs and drugs is rote at this point, but the repetition is cured by the hooks and an occasional clever line about feeling like Aladdin – or not having any feelings at all.
Still, the producers are the stars on Suffolk County – Lil Rich, DumDrumz, Tee-WaTT, Latrell James, Tedd Boyd, and Obeatz all give Stizz plenty of space to drop humdrum bars. The beats are a lot more enticing than what the Boston rapper is saying over them but he admits he doesn’t want to “beat people’s ears up,” so if you’re into sleepy raps, Suffolk Country is for you. – MW
Best Songs: “Ain’t Really Much,” “No Bells,” “Bonds”
Lil Durk – Remember My Name
It’s been four years since Lil Durk began working on Remember My Name. The OTF emcee has been teasing us with his debut album for some time. Initially, I anticipated that his latest body of work would offer something completely different than the rest of his catalog, especially after dealing with all of his legal issues and unexpected deaths in his camp. Although he upgraded his choice in producers and collaborators, Durk’s style hasn’t fully evolved from his previous work.
In the introductory track “5000 Homicides,” it’s evident that Durk’s Chi-town influence has yet to fade away, even after relocating to Los Angeles. Along with his quick-paced flow, Durk also overdosed on his signature, auto-tuned hooks throughout the album, which he acknowledges in the Young Chop-produced “What Your Life Like” – “I ride with too much auto-tune, I heard that shit before/This my life, I run my life.”
His supporting band of producers and feature artists is a pivotal aspect of the project that stuck out to me the most. Rather than filling the album with OTF and Coke Boyz artists like Lil Reese and French Montana, Durk only relied on his Def Jam label mate Logic to throw down a verse on “Tryna Tryna” and hip-hop’s favorite crooner Jeremih for the lead single “Like Me.” As far as production goes, Durk rhymed over beats from Metro Boomin, Boi-1da, Vinylz, and, of course, his go-to producer Young Chop.
Unfortunately, the album isn’t anything out of the ordinary. With all the jail time he had to endure along with losing both his manager Chino Dolla and his friend Chinx, I expected something more deep and personal. Although he made a moment of reflection in his song “Don’t Judge Me,” hopefully his follow-up album will show us another side of Durk we haven’t seen yet. – Tony Centeno
Best Songs: “Why Me,” “Like Me,” “Higher”
Other Notable Releases:
Glizzy Gang – Be Careful
Manolo Rose – Concrete Rose
Skooly – Blacc John Gotti
Dom Kennedy – By Dom Kennedy
Xavier Wulf – Project X