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.
While he wears his Chicago heritage with pride, the world Adamn Killa resides in feels self-contained. He doesn’t rely on features and, for the most part, appears alone in music videos, making for a palpably more personal listening experience. But it’s the sense of cohesion and triumph in his music that resonates loudest. He has a uniquely restrained emotion in his voice that complements the production backdrop on songs like ‘y-3’, ‘Rag N Bone’ and now ‘Catch Me’. It’s some of the most melodically satisfying music out there.
‘Touch Da Ground’
Even before the full song dropped, a 10-second snippet of Yung Gordon’s self-produced single was racking up plenty of Vines in Miami and its surrounding cities. Now that the single is officially here, we can finally bask in its hypnotic brilliance. If you DJ, enjoy music or are simply part of the human species, please join us in thanking the man behind so many of our favourite club anthems of the past few years for just doing what he does so damn well.
Tinashe’s Joyride appears to be going through the same launch process as Ty Dolla $ign’s Free TC, as several very different singles are rolled out to find out exactly what sticks. Most of them have been dope, but ‘Superlove’ is impossible to ignore, signaling the return of so many things we love, with production deities The-Dream and Tricky Stewart back on that bass groove, Terius showing once again that when he’s in “rap and bullshit” mode, few can touch him.
Tinashe, for her part, shows her adaptability, keeping it as light as the playful lyrics demand, and for a second we’re left fantasizing about So So Def Bass Allstars Vol. 4. If she were to pursue this currently wide-open lane – one people have been happily reminded of with the new school running man dance – and then make her next record a snap music revival, she could truly own it.
Ty Dolla $ign feat. Big TC
Now that Ty Dolla $ign is part of the rap and R&B wallpaper, he can have the exact career he wants without having to compromise a damn thing. Therefore, we’re putting out a personal request for him to record a full-length release with his brother TC as this latest comment on the troubles in the US is one of the most simple but most affecting yet. Ty never goes through the motions on these records and his brother’s tone is truly goosebump-inducing, particularly when complemented with Ty’s harmonies. Put this on repeat and zone out.
Drakeo The Ruler
Drakeo is best known for his DJ Mustard guest verses and compilation spots, but there’s a cult following building behind him. He raps with the delicate nonchalance and groove of Rappin’ 4-Tay yet retains his own unique edge. Rap rarely feels as blissful as this.
‘Gave It All I Got’
Florida’s Kodak Black is riding a wave right now. He distills the essence of vintage Cash Money and Boosie while possessing a clarity of voice so few ever achieve, and as his recent Lil B.I.G. Pac mixtape suggests, he’s one of the most substantial rappers of our time. If we’re factually representing the best music we’ve been listening to this month, we have to include that tape’s ‘Gave It All I Got’ – it’s so moreish it hurts.
Currently creeping on the subtlest of come-ups, Ye Ali is amassing a catalogue of great music right now. In the midst of rap-sanger overload, he retains the necessary level of idiosyncrasy to stand out. ‘305’ is spacious and minimal, but the melody is an immediate earworm. What Ye Ali understands is how to write the hooks within the hooks, and his claim to be the “trap house Jodeci” is more justified with every release.
Jevon Doe feat. Ty Dolla $ign
Jevon Doe’s debut mixtape Story Of My Life is one of the year’s most enjoyable releases, but has been mostly ignored so far. Once it eventually gains traction, there’ll be plenty scrambling to claim it. Doe’s voice is bold and distinct throughout the record and he shows no signs of pandering to recent trends in flow or timing. Therefore, despite being from Houston, he commands this slice of West Coast breeziness perfectly, as Ty Dolla $ign drops in for a guest spot that’s as effortless as ever.
‘Romeo & Juliet’
Atlanta rapper Pollàri’s dense and bizarre sound has finally been fully realized on his new mixtape lil llàri world. Occupying the same frenetic and blissful lane as Southern Hospitality favourite Lil Uzi Vert, the Lex Luger-produced ‘Romeo & Juliet’ is surely what Pokémon hunting in a strip club on hallucinogens feels like.
PnB Rock feat. Lil Bibby
It feels like every month we want to talk about PnB Rock, but that’s just the way it is when you’re witnessing the sound of right now. Much like Fetty last year, PnB is in his zone at the moment and everything he blesses sits above the rest. ‘Chosen’ is like a sequel to ‘Ballin’ from last year’s RNB 3, and its first verse has some of the lyrics of the year before PnB Rock switches the flow like it’s nothing.
There are even hints of R. Kelly in the delivery this time around, and SladeDaMonsta production simply swirls and bounces in the background, as if he’s just sitting back admiring his work. The next full-length PnB Rock release is shaping up to be a game-changer.