Rap music is alive and well—at least this week, which delivered new projects worth checking out from Black Milk, SOB X RBE, Towkio, EarthGang, Hoodrich Pablo Juan & Brodinski, and Jericho Jackson (Elzhi & Khrysis), to name just a few, and at least one project not worth checking out from 6ix9ine.
But let’s narrow things down and go right for the heart with everyone’s favorite series that just started last week: 10 New Songs You Need This Week. (Listen to them all in a Spotify playlist here.)
Flatbush Zombies — ”Headstone”
After a two-year break, Flatbush Zombies have returned with the lead single from their excellently titled sophomore outing Vacation In Hell. “Headstone” is a fitting soundtrack for the trip to hell, provided the trip is a cold and rainy nighttime walk to the train with headphones, and it’s also an expert lesson in packing classic rap references into a song without sounding forced.
Wiki — “Ballin on the Low” ft. Antwon
No one evangelizes the city of New York quite as well as Wiki, so even with my reluctance to describe a new Wiki song without mentioning the standard NYC tropes he’s so closely associated with, the typecasting is warranted. Assisted by frequent collaborator Antwon, “Ballin in the Low” is a jovial ode to come-ups in any shape or size.
Rejjie Snow — “Charlie Brown” ft. Anna of the North
Released last Friday, Rejjie Snow’s long-awaited debut Dear Annie is an album well worth its wait time, showcasing many sides of the Dublin-born rapper and straddling the worlds of lo-fi hip-hop and danceable pop. “Charlie Brown”—a slightly amended cover of Republic of Loose’s “The Steady Song”—is a cheerful dive into the latter; Rejjie’s slight rasp is contrasted nicely by the bright and airy vocals of guest Anna of the North for the happiest song about heroin and licking balls this year (so far).
Post Malone — “Psycho” ft. Ty Dolla $ign
I’m not here to change your mind about Post Malone. My job is simply to tell you that this song is good and slip in a reminder that Ty$ doesn’t get the reverence he deserves.
Janelle Monáe — “Make Me Feel”
The underappreciated Janelle Monáe returned with two new songs this week. While “Django Jane” sounded a lot like a Bryson Tiller rap record, the other draws its influence from decades earlier. Channeling the impossibly sexual funk of Prince at his best, “Make Me Feel” is a forceful groove that highlights the power of her voice and makes it really hard to sit still.
SOB X RBE — “Anti Social”
There’s something uplifting about an artist delivering on the promise of a rising tide of buzz with a quality project. SOB X RBE isn’t Migos dropping Culture during peak “Bad and Boujee” mania, but after a home run performance in a prime slot in Black Panther The Album, the Bay Area group capitalizing with the solid and varied GANGIN is a beautiful sight to see. “Anti Social” is a rousing dismissal of rappers that make music about lives they don’t live, balancing Yhung T.O.’s smooth melodies with DaBoii’s in-your-face aggression.
EarthGang — “LOLSMH”
If EarthGang’s Royalty EP continues their strange, wondrous journey, “LOLSMH” is the Atlanta duo reducing speed and kicking out the landing gear to touch down, a heady blend of reflective raps, hazy atmospheres, and an extended outro of communion.
Black Milk — “Will Remain”
Warm, inviting, nostalgic—this standout from Black Milk’s new album FEVER is good for your soul.
Hoodrich Pablo Juan & Brodinksi — “The Matrix”
Hoodrich Pablo Juan’s slurry drawl and Brodinski’s post-apocalyptic arena trap shouldn’t mesh together so well, but shit happens differently in The Matrix.
PRhyme — “Rock It”
In the wake of their disappointing last single “Era,” PRhyme has returned to form with “Rock It.” Royce da 5’9” pays homage (“I write for Sean Price and Dilla, my mic is Thriller / My ratchet blows, it’s trappin’ souls like Bryson Tiller”) over frantically building keys and squealing strings from Preemo.
Album of the Week
Black Milk — FEVER