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’s round-up features rap mixtapes from Long Beach to the South Bronx, a powerhouse mix by two UK hitmen, a tribute to Rihanna and more.
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CHIPPER JONES VOL. 2
Hailing from Long Beach, California, young rapper Joey Fatts has managed to rake in an impressive supporting cast for his second mixtape. Following last year’s brief Chipper Jones Vol. 1 EP, Chipper Jones Vol. 2 is an enhanced affair in every way, and features guest raps from Danny Brown, A$AP Rocky and Freddie Gibbs, and guest production from Alchemist, Young Chop, 808 Mafia and FACT favourite Childish Major.
Unsurprisingly it’s the Childish Major produced track that hits hardest – ‘Live Blasphemous’ features a guest spot from eccentric beardo Action Bronson and quickly exhibits Major’s eviable production skill in a flurry of ice-cold synths and neck-snapping snares. Fatts’ own rhymes aren’t lost either, and his low-key, kush-slowed rhymes echo with a strange poignancy, offsetting Bronson’s familiar strain with a smoked-out effortlessness. Elsewhere the A$AP Rocky and Danny Brown-featuring ‘Choppa’ is an obvious highlight, pitting the trio of rappers against some hypnotic electronic production from Waka-afiliated crew 808 Mafia.
A good proportion of the record was handled by Fatts’ in-house producer Eli Myles, and it’s here where the rapper feels most at home. Myles’ productions come across as bizarre and strangely original, and it’s here where we get the most revelation from Fatts. He tells his story on opening track ‘Chipper Jones II’ with a striking clarity, and as he raps “I remember those nights we slept by candlelight/stomach growling smelling the neighbors cooking Spanish rice” you’re right there next to him.
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CHAMPION & TERROR DANJAH
Just in time to promote the duo’s forthcoming collaborative EP Sons of Anarchy, this brand new mix finds Champion and Terror Danjah going back to back, staking a claim on the sounds they both pioneered. For Champion that’s his very particular brand of bass-heavy house music – sure some might call it ‘funky’, but at this point there’s way more to the producer’s sound than an outdated tag.
Terror Danjah isn’t afraid to keep the tempo just as high as he dives headfirst into the grime scene he helped to forge. Blending his own razor-sharp productions with DOK, Spyro and mix-buddy Champion, his half of the mix is painlessly enjoyable, and is evidence of a producer who is totally at ease with his chosen sound.
Download the mix now.
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BAD GAL RIRI MIX
The Brooklyn-via-Miami bass queen delivers nearly an hour of Rihanna-inspired tunes for this Opening Ceremony mix. Rather than a greatest hits set (no matter how you feel about the Barbadian pop princess, her hitmaking is undeniable), Jubilee digs deep into B-sides, remixes, and island-friendly dancehall and soca riddims.
Listen for reworks by Dubbel Dutch, DJ Sliink, Club Cheval, and Bmore club legend KW Griff. Kingdom and Kelela’s ‘Bank Head’ is expertly sandwiched between recent hits ‘Love Song’ and ‘Pour It Up’, and it wouldn’t be a Jubilee mix if there wasn’t any Trina, who joins Cassie and Lola Monroe for a girl power remix of ‘All Gold Everything’.
Download the mix now.
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FRED THE GODSON
TALKING BOUT MONEY
It feels like South Bronx rapper Fred the Godson has always been on the cusp of ‘making it’. After getting named in XXL’s Freshmen Class of ’11, Fred had a chance to nudge into the mainstream, but he’s still at a point in his career where he’s a rapper for heads only. Well that works for us, and Fred holds his own on this crew mixtape with a refreshing breath of nonchalance. It’s not breaking a ton of new ground, but neither is Talking Bout Money simply an exercise in duplicating the success of Kanye, A$AP Rocky or Rick Ross.
Fred has always had bags of personality in his smooth flow, and here he manages to spread it across a truly varied selection of tracks, from Atlanta strip-club staples (‘TBM’) and Dipset-influenced East Coast bangers (‘Feelings’) to street-smart R&B (‘Got Me Going’) and drill (‘Come Up’). The tape shines a light on Fred’s Talking Bout Money crew, but still manages to share enough of Fred’s own lyrical prowess to guarantee him at least a few more fans. Maybe 2013 will be his year after all.
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CHASE N CASHE
The New Orleans-based hip-hop talent has produced for the likes of Drake, Brandy, and Lil Wayne, collaborated with Hit-Boy as part of the Surf Club, and launched his own rap career. This mixtape, however, focuses on the first line of his resume. The Trek is a 13-track collection of his intergalactic instrumentals, all powerhouse tracks with the menacing intensity of trap without its reductive limits. ‘Asstronaut’ has the widescreen quality of AraabMuzik beats, while ‘Compton, Pluto’ apes that beatsmith’s trance obsession to great effect.
We’re not sure these instrumentals can all stand on their own, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see some of these crop up on mixtapes in the near future: the melancholy ‘Duo Die’ reworks the gloom-pop of Sóley’s ‘Pretty Face’ into a radio-ready tune that would be perfect for fellow Louisianian Kevin Gates.
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YOUNG JEEZY & CTE
ITS THA WORLD EP
With a studio album due later this year, there’s probably a good reason that Young Jeezy’s latest mixtape is merely a short five-song EP (or six if you managed to get in early enough). He’s not even on it all that much, and considering it’s billed as a follow-up to last year’s bumper It’s Tha World, no matter how good the production and performances are it’s always going to be a little disappointing.
Jeezy has used the record as a chance to highlight a recent signing to his CTE World label – Detroit rap group Doughboyz Cashout. The band feature on a good fifty-percent of the tracks, and are at a point in their career where they still sound thirsty. Courted by T.I. for some time, they do indeed sound like a good match for Jeezy’s occasional verses but it really doesn’t excuse the fact that when you’re promised a Jeezy tape, that’s really what you should get. This new LP had better be worth it.
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SIR MICHAEL ROCKS
WHILE YOU WAIT
While his former Cool Kids partner-in-crime Chuck Inglish is busy re-contextualizing 80s boom bap into something fresh and exciting, Sir Michael Rocks seems fixated on Midwest rap of a decade past. Career retrospective ‘Don’t Forget’ has the caressed piano of early Kanye, while the livewire ‘Madness’ finds him sing-rapping like Kid Cudi. Fans of The Cool Kids will appreciate the 808 bbounce of ‘Hold On, Hold Up’ and ‘Lookin’ for da Cuff’, and the mixtape ends with the soulful, Cardo and DJ Mustard-produced ‘The Lobby’.
Unfortunately, the variety comes across like an identity crisis. Six years after debuting with The Cool Kids and a few years after going solo, we’re still not sure who Mikey Rocks is (other than a competent rapper). As the title suggests, While You Wait is a final warm-up before his debut album, Banco; hopefully he’ll have it all figured out by then.
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(THEE) MIKE B
NOTHING BUT TIME
The Los Angeles party starter shares a marathon, 100-minute session of summery house and disco with something for everyone at your BBQ. The mix kicks off with Kaytranada’s superb remix of Modjo’s ‘Lady’ and never gives up. Mike seamlessly mixes in his originals (‘Goodwife’ with Jesse Rose) and remixes (‘Heart of Glass’ with Oliver) with tracks by contemporaries Oliver $, Tiger & Woods, and Doorly. The mixtape closes strongly with Switch’s remix of Jeremih’s ‘Fuck U All The Time’ and a tribute to a fallen icon, with the Romanthony-produced ‘I Can’t Hold It’ by DJ Syndicate.
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MAURICE JACKSON STORY
The Atlanta newcomer is a much more light-hearted act than the majority of his hometown trap-stars, and while the lyrics of the Maurice Jackson Story aren’t anything to write home about, the tape is more enjoyable than loads of the downcast drug rap coming out of ATL. Give Nuke a hook and a hyperactive beat and he’s content to rap/sing his heart out, like on the jubilant ‘Never Thought I’ and synth-heavy ‘Uh Huh’.
Lil Nuke’s main reference point seems to be Future: ATL tastemaker DJ Spinz is behind the Future-nodding ‘Me N U 4Ever’, and ‘You Deserve It’ producers Nard & B craft the earworming ‘Long Day’. The mixtape’s back nine features some of hip-hop’s finest producers: Young Chop provides the twinkling beat for the zeitgeist-grabbing ‘Turn Up’ and Drumma Boy goes heavy on the snare rolls on ‘Yes I Do’. There are a few diversions into trap/drill menace (‘Don’t Really Want It’, ‘In My Zone’), but Lil Nuke is best when he drops the pretense and goes straight for sing-along hooks and radio-friendly fare.
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HODGE & SHANDY
LOVE SAVES UKG
Super-tight old school UK garage mix from two of Bristol’s often-overlooked talents, Outboxx’s Hodge and DJ Shandy of the Crazylegs club-night and record label. Extra points for the intro – you’ll see what we mean.
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YOUNG BUCK & THA CITY PAPER
Still incarcerated on weapons charges, we’re assuming that Young Buck’s contributions to Gangsta and Street 2 were recorded prior to sentencing. That would certainly explain the reliance on Nashville rapper Tha City Paper, whose moniker has to rank as one of the worst in the game. Still, for all this G.A.S. 2 still hits hard, and Paper proves himself to be up to the challenge, matching Buck’s assured street raps with a savvy, throaty drawl.
The choice of beats is just as smart; 808 Mafia’s Purps props up the record’s lowest key number ‘Rubberband Banks’, but for the most part we’re treated to a selection of balls-to-the-wall trap. The highlights come from Shawty Redd production team G.O.T.H.A.M. City, who show they can roll with the big guns with a trio of thick, trunk rattling productions that would give Lex Luger a run for his money.
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