Each week, FACT’s Mixtape Round-Up trawls through the untamed world of free mixes, radio specials and live blends so you don’t have to.
We’ve now decided to break this into two features: the week’s Best Free Mixes (think Soundcloud, Mixcloud) and the week’s Best Mixtapes (think DatPiff, LiveMixtapes). Naturally, there’ll always be some level of crossover between the two, but for now we’ve split the columns up, with Mixes running every Thursday, and Mixtapes every Friday.
This week’s round-up has a bit of everything: among rap tapes from Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles are some offcuts from R&B crooner Jeremih, twisted club mashups, and an introduction to Rio’s latest sound, heavy baile.
Use your keyboard’s arrow keys or hit the prev / next arrows on your screen to turn pages (page 1/7)
Mixtape of the week:
We missed Lucki Eck$’s debut mixtape the first time around, and we weren’t going to make that same mistake again. Body High is the second effort from the teenaged Chicago rapper, and he continues to live up to his “alternative trap” billing by detailing drug-dealing and drug-doing with a stoned lethargy that’s punctuated by handfuls of sly humor.
“Biggie told me, never use your own supply / but he ownt understand, I need it like a school supply,” he raps on opener ‘4th Commandment’, “so I’m just glued to this shit until I prolly die / but if you want to ride, I still got it like Do or Die.” References to legends past, clever wordplay and yet it never feels overwrought — that half the song is a meditation on a half-remembered recollection of the Lucy trailer is even more endearing.
The tape is loaded with warped, drug-dazed beats, all EMP bass pulses, faraway drums and tape-hissing samples. Lucki never gets lost in the fog, though: on standout ‘Finese’, he brings a sing-song lilt to some drug-game storytelling over SKYWLKR’s lush beat. The creepy ‘Witchcraft’ toys with a murder-fantasy but he never falls into horrorcore/OFWGKTA hyperbole, despite his youth. As he raps on sunny closer ‘Count On Me 3’, we’ll be counting on Lucki Eck$ for a while.
CHIPPER JONES 3
Having risen out of the LA scene with FACT favorite (and Earl Sweatshirt collaborator) Vince Staples, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Joey Fatts doesn’t mind getting a bit weird. Chipper Jones 3 is notable above everything else for the fact that it sounds like it’s been pushed out of time, and that’s a good thing. There’s little of your mass-produced trap here, and we’re left with another tape from Fatts that’s laced with personality and charm.
The production throughout is burned and melancholy, from ‘Do or Die’s woozy synths through to ‘Ended Up’s sparse treatment of The Delfonics’ stone-cold-classic ‘Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)’. Lyrically he’s on point too, recounting his tough teenage years in some of LA’s most ragged neighborhoods with an eye to the future. He even manages to eke the best from his collaborators – ATL trap deity Waka Flocka Flame pops up for a surprising verse on ‘Paradise’ and manages to hold his own, and A$AP Rocky, who’s been quiet for some time now, contributes to the album’s blunted, cloud rap highlight ‘Keep It G Pt.II’.
Since 2012’s outstanding Late Nights Wih Jeremih, Chicago’s terminally underrated crooner has been constantly dogged with calls to release the much-touted followup full-length. Well, with its release supposedly just around the corner, N.O.M.A (Not On My Album, of course) collects up seven tracks that didn’t make it, and it’s not a bad stop-gap by any means. The tracks don’t have the immediacy or druggy impact of ‘Fuck You All the Time’, certainly, but low-key shufflers like the Spinz-produced ‘Can’t Go No Mo’ and the bass-heavy outro ‘What I Like’ are good reminders why we still get excited about Jeremih’s potential. Now let’s hear the full-length. [Full review]
TOP 40 BOOTLEGS (2009-2014)
Baltimore club anarchist Schwarz has absolutely no respect for things like “constraint” and “genre convention,” and at at a time when Soundcloud is packed to the gills with bedroom producers ready to flip super-obvious tracks into flavor-du-jour remixes (Jersey club, EDM, trap, name it), his irreverent style is a refreshing finger to the eye of identikit producer culture.
Sure, his gun-cocking, breakbeat-laced club remixes of Lil Wayne, Kanye and J. Cole and his vogue-ready takes on Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj will work in a club — but those seem too easy, too ephemeral. What about a club remix of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, an EDM Trap remix of Alanis Morissette’s ‘Head Over Feet’ or a twerk remix of Sixpence None The Richer’s’ ‘Kiss Me’? Or even more out-there, his “Rave Mix” (with cover artists 333 Boyz) of Blink 182’s mall-punk classic ‘Dammit’? Depending on the crowd, they work as well (trust us) and if you’re a DJ in a bind, they might work for you.
MONEY TO DIE 4 EP
It wouldn’t be a FACT mixtape column without some Atlanta action, and this week’s contender is Que collaborator Bankroll Fresh. He’s been busy recently, Money to Die 4 precedes Fresh’s tipped Life of a Hot Boy full length tape, but isn’t worth avoiding simply because it’s only a handful of tracks – in fact that’s almost more reason to grab it.
Sonny Digital-produced Que collaboration ‘Fuck Around’ (which appeared a few weeks back) is the tape’s clear high point, but there’s plenty more where that came from. ‘Come Wit It’ is a neatly aggressive slice of 808 Mafia-produced fire (with a memorable hook to boot), and Rich Homie Quan collaboration ‘Show Em How To Do It’ is just the right kind of minimal ATL slow-burner. It’s not breaking any boundaries, but Bankroll Fresh hardly needs to – by collecting up and economical ten tracks and bundling them up at 320kbps, he’s already doing it better than most of his peers.
This year has served as a reminder that local scenes and sounds don’t cease to exist when hipster tourists move onto the next hot topic. Just as Baltimore club is seeing a resurgence, baile funk has moved beyond the tape-stitched soundclash sounds that poured out of Rio nearly a decade ago. DJ/producer Leo Justi is pushing an off-shoot he calls “heavy baile,” and his mixtape of the same name is a half-hour introduction. Justi’s baile beats sound like fuller, rounded versions of the sound’s anything-goes amalgamations, giving freestyle, Miami bass, Baltimore club, hip-hop, and dembow a spin in the blender. Coincidentally (or not), Mad Decent still looms large: listen for ‘Pon De Floor’ and ‘Shake It To The Ground’ mash-ups.