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Mixtape Round-up: Kendrick Lamar, Kutmah, Chella H, DJ Q, and more

With each passing week, listening to the deluge of mixtapes, radio shows, and live sets from electronic producers and hip-hop artists alike becomes an even more insurmountable task. Quality offerings can fly under the radar, either added to our ever-growing “to listen” list or — more often than not – disregarded all together.

This week, we revisit Kendrick Lamar’s first mixtape, check in on New York’s rap renaissance, and explore the work of Daedelus through the masterful mixing of Kutmah. Also on deck: a short-but-sweet mix from L-Vis 1990, a bassline house adventure courtesy DJ Q, an introduction to Bromance associate LOUISAHHH!, and an outsized rap collection from the legendary Funkmaster Flex.

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Queens rapper Chinx Drugz might have been overshadowed recently by the success of fellow Coke Boy French Montana, but that doesn’t make his new mixtape, Cocaine Riot 3, any less essential. In fact, Drugz sounds invigorated, and out raps Montana without a second thought on the record’s standout Harry Fraud-produced cut ‘I’m A Coke Boy’. He’s not bringing much originality to the table, but Cocaine Riot 3 is a short, well-sequenced collection of reasons not to pass the rapper off as simply another pawn in a well-represented scene. It’s not all good, the Flo Rida-sampling ‘Wild Ones’ is predictably pointless but with tracks like ‘All We Do’, which features a killer guest verse from Chicago hitta Lil Durk, and the sleazy Body Brown-produced ‘Hoppin’, there’s plenty to make Cocaine Riot 3 more than worth the download.

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Kutmah wowed us with his tribute to astral travelling LA troupe Sa Ra a few weeks back, and now he turns his hand to expertly fleshing out the history of fellow LA lynchpin Daedalus. Alfred Darlington’s confounding hodge-podge of electronics, beats and an ever-surprising array of samples has careered into plenty of hearts over the last decade, and Kutmah’s tribute is an apt celebration.

A blend of catalogue gems and remixes (since Darlington’s first release in 2001 there have been a lot of remixes), this charts a course through the canon of an artist who has perfected the art of eclecticism. We rarely say this, but in Darlington’s able hands a box of bad, long forgotten 12”s and a copy of Max/MSP is the starting point for music that’s both original and deeply charming. If you’re unfamiliar with Daedalus this hour-long mix couldn’t be a better place to start, and if you’re already a fan then sit back and enjoy the show.

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The North Bronx’s self-described “D Generation X of Hip Hop,” Bitches Is Crazy (or B.I.C. as they have preemptively abbreviated themselves) is a six-deep crew and part of New York’s growing rap renaissance. There is plenty of Golden Era boom bap here (‘NEVERCHILLIN’, ‘This Money’), but B.I.C. is not afraid to wile out in the style of contemporaries like Bruiser Brigade and Flatbush Zombies. Stylistically, the crew bounces between the positivity of ‘Shinin’ and the battle-ready, Warriors-sampling ‘What’s Up’ (produced by up-and-comer Black Noi$e), but they’re at their best somewhere in the middle: album closer ‘DOPM’ vibes on a bong-water beat and is an uncompromising example of don’t-call-it-conscious truth telling. Influence is an impressive debut, and it was clearly released with 4/20 in mind.

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The UK’s foremost proponent of bassline house, DJ Q shares this amped up mix of 60 tracks spun over nearly 80 minutes. We’re clearly fans of Q’s live-wire sets, be it his FACT mix or his all-Todd Edwards tribute, both from last year, and this one is no different. Forget track IDs – just put this one on this weekend and get your heart racing.

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Chella H aka Jennifer Low End makes a compelling case for that title of First Lady of Chicago on her latest mixtape. Sonically, The Realest Bitch In It alternates between Atlanta trap-rap (thanks to a handful of productions by Brick Squad mainstay Zaytoven), her hometown’s drill-rap stylings (with trunk rattlers by newcomers Gaggie Nicca, Snapback, and Blok On Da Track), and even some throwback head-nodders a la early-period Kanye. As a rapper, Chella’s bouncy flow is reminiscent of both Crime Mob’s Diamond (especially on ‘High’, with Chi-Town riser Lil Durk) and Miami fave Trina (on the Timbaland-aping booty club anthem ‘Rock Hard’). Chicago has an abundance of female rap talent, from Katie Got Bandz to Sasha Go Hard, and a friendly spirit of competition is working in everyone’s favor.

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L-VIS 1990

It’s not a long one at just shy of 25 minutes, but pretty much anything from L-Vis 1990 right now is likely to tickle our fancy – simply put the man is on fire. This mix was originally broadcast on Radio 1 and has the usual blend of Night Slugs exclusives, L-Vis originals and smart external picks. Kicking off with a snip of the producer’s brand new ‘Ballads’ the mix really doesn’t lose steam from here, dropping in a slick Sinjin Hawke rework of KW Griff’s ‘Bring in the Katz’ and a few mysterious unknown artists just to keep us on our toes. We know we bang on about Night Slugs a lot around these parts, but this mix just serves as proof that they’re one of the best labels around, and if you don’t believe us just take a listen.

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Before last year’s brilliant, sprawling concept album Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, before the jazzy, Roots-influenced Section.80, before Black Hippy and before Kendrick Lamar had been indicted to XXL Magazine’s Freshmen Class, there was Hub City Threat: Minor of the Year. The mixtape is Lamar’s first full-length, and shows a markedly different rapper from the one we know from ‘Swimming Pools (Drank)’. It’s hardly surprising, nearly ten years have passed since K.Dot recorded his debut tape (originally named Youngest Head Nigga In Charge), and while it’s aged poorly it shows the genesis of an artist who was to become a true original. In rapping over, as was customary back then, a handful of then-contemporary beats Kendrick begins to find a voice, and while it’s chilling at times how much he sounds like Jay-Z (just check ‘What the Deal’), this is a revealing portrait of a young rapper who was bound for great things.

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London culture vultures i-D Magazine and French club depository Bromance Records present this hour-long mix by superlative LA-via-NY artist LOUISAHHH!!!, in advance of her first EP on the label (due out April 22). The title may promise transcendence, but this is one subterranean romp through bass-drenched house and techno, with a diversion into ballroom via B. Ames’ superb ‘Itty Bitty Cunty’. For those unfamiliar with the musician born Louisah Pillot, her latest productions (‘In My Veins’, ‘Tap My Wire’) and sultry vocal tracks (in collaboration with both Light Year and Night Talk) are sprinkled throughout the mix.

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Signed to Meek Mill’s Dream Chasers Records, Jahlil Beats isn’t the most noticeable producer around right now, but his hard work and tirelessness shows on this mammoth collection of productions. Legend Era II is a grab-bag of Beats’ work for other rappers and packaged with a few of his own tracks it clocks in at nearly two hours and certainly shows he’s been busy. Beats doesn’t have the personality of Childish Major, the skill of Hit-Boy or the aggression of Young Chop, but he does manage to conjure an endearing selection of workmanlike hard hitters. With appearances from Juelz Santana, Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy, Problem, Meek Mill and Ace Hood there’s no shortage of talent or big tunes for that matter, we just can’t help feeling that there’s just something special missing.

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The New York radio legend and hip-hop mainstay delivers this hilariously-titled mixtape, which takes rap excess to a new level. It’s probably easier to list who isn’t included in the 56-track (!) collection, with chart-toppers 2 Chainz and Rick Ross, OG’s Jadakiss and Styles P, and Internet favorites Action Bronson and Joey Bada$$ all in the mix. A few of the highlights: A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg’s woozy ‘Max Julien’, Jeremih’s ‘Bump That Ass’, Fabolous’ AraabMuzik-produced ‘Money Talks’, Schoolboy Q’s combative ‘Hit Em Up’, and productions by two of the finest producers in hip-hop, Brooklyn block-rocker Harry Fraud and ratchet king DJ Mustard. While most mixtapes have problems with quality control, this one disregards that concern completely. Still, it’s notable enough for its list of contributors, if not for its overwhelming quality.

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