Welcome back to Southern Hospitality’s monthly column.
Based in London and Los Angeles, Rob Pursey and Davey Boy Smith are onto new hip-hop and R&B faster than pretty much anyone else around, showcasing it through their club nights Players Ball, Rated R and Hip Hop Karaoke, their regular mixes and radio show, and their record label, which has released music by Danny Brown & Darq E Freaker, Lunice & Young L and more.
Unlike a lot of rap critics (and of course, SH would never refer to themselves as critics), they’re also about as unsnobbish as it’s possible to get, and are always trying to make things happen – they’ve been behind some of the most interesting rapper-producer hook-ups of recent years. Every month, they round up 10 hip-hop and R&B tracks that have got them in raptures. Between this column and FACT’s bi-weekly rap round-up, we should have all bases covered.
Don’t forget to check the crew’s essential monthly radio show, which is fast becoming one of the world’s most essential rap radio shows.
‘All I Do Is Sauce’
DJ Ghost affiliate and Southern Hospitality favourite Yung Gordon has followed up the underrated Miami club rap one-two ‘Bobble Walk’ and ‘Just Like Dat’ with his long-awaited debut mixtape Bossin Up, which is so fresh and playable we’re hesitant to pick a highlight.
Consider ‘All I Do Is Sauce’ a mere primer to the rhythmically superior, gloriously spacious set of uptempo face-scrunchers conjured up by one of the most exciting vocalists out. Oh yeah.
The one rapper, one producer formula really paid off for Antwon on recent Anticon EP Double Ecstasy, the San Jose rapper’s most focused project to date thanks to Lars Stalfors’ elegant but devastatingly slap-heavy compositions.
‘100k’ manages to feel at once reassuringly familiar and disarmingly new, which might just be testament to Twon’s atmospheric mouth sounds, but is almost definitely the sound of a rapper coming into his own.
BMac The Queen
Starting with the kind of expectant horn riff you may have found on a mid-90s Street Knowledge album, BMac brings that classic West Coast bounce to her flow, and by the time the drums, bass and very welcome cuts arrive it’s one of the most sinister and mesmerising records in a minute. The play-out that repeats “Back with that hard street shit” really just confirms everything we know – namely that LA is fully back on its pure rap music.
YG feat. Drake & Kamaiyah
‘Why You Always Hatin?’
After YG’s masterfully crafted debut album surprised so many who had the rapper pegged as merely a mixtape artist, he’s continued to prove both his incredible ear for music and his respect for West Coast rap lineage. Pretty much everything he’s released since My Krazy Life, including the criminally overlooked ‘Twist My Fingaz’, has been in strict defiance of any trends happening in rap music.
Of course, having the Drake feature makes it more palatable, but by placing his homegirl Kamaiyah on the hook and allowing her to simply do her, he shows how hard he’s riding for his area. Musically it fits perfectly into the YG discography, a beautifully mastered slap that never tries too hard to be anything it’s not.
It’s no secret that Atlanta dance craze perpetuator, rapper and Street Execs-certified producer Mr. 2-17 is one of our absolute favourite young proponents of the city’s music and culture, but even after the radio play and club success of recent record placements, hearing his production tag on the breakout single from Bankroll Fresh’s five-year-old nephew somehow feels like one of his finest moments to date.
And while PJ only recently graduated from kindergarten, there’s nothing elementary about the musical prowess coursing through every second of this song. We can only humbly look on as the next generation of ATL does its past and future proud.
Houston’s Sauce movement is putting out some of the most effervescent rap on the planet right now, a fact not lost on the Taylor Gang bosses who recently signed TSF’s Sosamann. Like his Sauce Twinz partners, he is insufficiently appreciated for his near-maniacal expression of pimp philosophies over abstract rhythms. This story is truly far from over.
Kolyon feat. Boosie Badazz & Kodak Black
‘Gooked Out Remix’
The original version of this record (when Kolyon was called Koly P) has been justifiably bubbling for the last few months. However, by putting the original Kodak (aka Boosie) on the remix it’s about to go all the way over the top. Everything that’s great about Southern rap music is present: the church chords, the melodic riff, the militantly hard verses and an introduction to the the necessary slanguage.
Boosie makes a point of stealing the show here, but what’s so noticeable is how Kodak already has the effortless flow of a veteran despite being just out of his teens. It’s been a minute since we’ve had this feeling about a tune, and it’s a feeling we’ll never tire of.
Big Baby Flava
The spirit of Big Moe is strong in Sauce-affiliated Houston crooner Big Baby Flava, who belts out one of the most gripping vocal performances we’ve heard in months on calling-card single ‘Flava’, taken off his recent City Of Sauce mixtape. Music doesn’t get much more musical than this.
NSG feat. Kilo Keemzo
It’s no secret that while the UK vets are finally getting theirs, a whole new movement is bubbling in the streets. With Afrobeats powering so much of the freshest music around, plenty of low-key gems are starting to rise to the top.
The groove is addictive from jump and the hook just elevates it to that anthem level. Kilo Keemzo, who was buzzing hard at the top of 2015 with ‘Boogie Dance’ and ‘Healthy’, pins it all together with a simple but extremely memorable verse. Along with New Age Muzik, J. Hus and a few other key artists/groups, the new wave is real and NSG are moving the right way.
On the low, the West Coast feels like ’95 again. There’s absolutely no identity crisis on recent releases from artists like Nef The Pharaoh, Kamaiyah, LNDN DRGS and now Payroll Giovanni. Crucially, his recent mixtape Big Bossin Vol 1 is produced entirely by Cardo, who did the same thing for Nef earlier in the year with the same timeless results.
Cardo just understands how to make rider music that nods to the past without losing the context of today, and most importantly sounds so damn good. ‘Brainstorm’ is one of the most luxurious tracks on tape and the moment Payroll Giovanni goes hammer with the runaway flow on the second half of the record, the synergy is certified.