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Macabre rap, skewed electronics and trap music: the week's best mixtapes and free mixes

Listening to the deluge of mixtapes and free mixes from hip-hop artists and electronic producers alike is often an insurmountable task. That’s why we scour Datpiff, LiveMixtapes and beyond, separating the wheat from the chaff each week.

Southern hip-hop had a major week, with Brick Squad-styled tapes from Atlanta and elsewhere. Xosar keeps things weird, and if you’re looking for something post-punk, post-Drake or post-Yeezus, we’ve got you covered.

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Camp & Street vocalist Donchristian returns with the follow-up to last year’s excellent The Wayfarer entitled Renzo Piano. “I think he’s probably more flamboyant, flagrant, obnoxious. But still kind of suave, more colorful,” he tells Noisey about his Renzo Piano alter ego, which shares a name with the Italian architect. Alter ego or not, Donchristian’s decision to sing more was a smart one.

While his smoky, percussive rapping often sounds deliberate, his singing voice is rich and natural — just listen to ‘Winning’. Maybe it runs in the family: the late-great Teddy Pendergrass was his uncle. Production is handled by The-Drum’s Jeremiah Meece, Camp & Street associate Boody, Russian newcomer Crying and Atlanta crew Introspective Minds, and like The Wayfarer, the order of the day is hazy beats, heavy on low-end wallop and smoked-out atmospherics. There’s good interplay with his collaborators: his voice is a human juxtaposition to the synthetic machine-funk on ‘Build’, his duets with Rahel are impressive, and Le1f and Antwon add a bit of rap heft on their tracks.

“Drake, I feel you / takes a real dude / to say what he mean and mean all the time,” he sings/raps on the double-tracked ‘Designed II Work’. Drake filtered through underground club music is a decent log line here, but unlike the legion of Drakish talents, Donchristian insists he’s “tired of waiting, I’m going to make it on my own.”

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The Montreal magpie casts his net wide for his Little White Earbuds podcast, flip-flopping between luxuriant deep house (Innervisions’ Frankey & Sandrino), fist-pumping big room shapes (Aden’s ‘Part Of Me’), various flavours of post-Drake R&B (Partynextdoor, How To Dress Well, a bonkers Drizzy edit from TEAMS ∞ TRUST) and the truly weird vaporwave-meets-J-pop flex of A.G. Cook. Dig into the tracklist and you’ll find no fewer than eight unreleased tracks, including a bunch from Greene himself – listen out for forthcoming LuckyMe single ‘Night Tracking’.

Download at LittleWhiteEarbuds

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We’ve occasionally used post-Yeezus as a tongue-in-cheek descriptor of rap that apes Kanye’s newfound nihilism and industrial indulgences, but few artists have made the Yeezus template (if you can call it that) their own quite like Ibn Inglor. On his sequel to last year’s equally macabre New Wave, Ibn Inglor is in his own lane, both in his Chicago hometown and elsewhere.

New Wave 2 sounds like nothing else in rap: the instrumentals are an abrasive patchwork of horror-score synths, industrial clatter, fuzzed-out guitar squeals, lurching drums, shotgun blasts of static, and truly out-there samples and interpolations — and it all works, never putting experimentation above songcraft.

For his part, Inglor doesn’t fall down a gloom-and-doom rabbit hole: always engaging, whether taking on higher powers (“I can’t say God no more? / Are you too cool for the ride I’m on? / Are you too cool for the path I’m on?”) or more earthly subjects (“we’re just so fucking young / the youth is just so fucking dumb”). His lyrics have the broad self-loathing (“I’ve tried so hard / I’ve given up”), but like moody musicians before him, he knows he’ll find a like-minded audience: “I’m damaged, motherfucka / come share my shame.”

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TRAX 102

Xosar is a total weirdo – the kind of weirdo who moves from sunny California to The Hague to sit indoors all day with the curtains shut making weird loops on weird old analogue synths. A FACT-approved weirdo, obviously, and her instructions for this mix are as follows: “You should listen to if you’re in a weird mood, dark and intense, and you are looking to match this mood”.

Contained within are records from L.I.E.S. and White Material, Dutch techno berserkers Psychick Warriors ov Gaia, Software’s Huerco S. and Proibito’s Local Artist. Plus, as Xosar explains, “some ratty bands of bleeding from drains on cassettes and records unearthed bizarre caves thrift decrepit, trampled by Unit Moebius, chewed by Ancient Methods, cut into small pieces with a samurai sword by Regis, then spat out by Terrence Dixon.” You get the idea. Recommended!

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Derek Schklar is back with another disturbing Atlanta rap concept album under his Devil alias. In the same vein as last year’s underrated Harbinger, Violence interlaces menacing street rap with spoken word monologues and samples of media reports about violence — whether acts of homicide, terrorism, war or even sports.

The Devil is joined by Duct Tape roughnecks Alley Boy and Pesci and assorted Atlanta backbenchers; also like last time around, some of his “featured guests” are symbolic – “Trauma & Horrific Acts” is not some rap duo you’ve never heard of. The high point is the six-minute ‘Kill Radio Kill / The Ride’, a powerhouse Southern banger that turns the radio dial to Johnny Cash, metal and more; the next track samples A.O.S.’s ‘History Repeats Itself’ — last heard on the Natural Born Killers soundtrack, naturally. Sure, the creepshow conceit might not work for everyone, but there are some, uh, killer rap tracks amid the sociopathic soliloquies and cultural commentary.

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Sit down at the back! Spit that gum out! Juan Mendez is here to teach us a very important lesson about the lesser-charted waters of scrappy post-punk and skewed electronics. If you’re already familiar with the likes of Religious Overdose, Lora Logic, Pig Bag, Electric Chairs and Alexander Robotnick then well done, collect a house point. The rest of you – consider this the most enjoyable homework you’ve ever been set. [The fun starts at the 31-minute mark]

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Atlanta’s DJ Iceberg drops one of these compilation tapes every few months, and this one is surprisingly stacked, even if it definitely needs a edit job (Travis Porter is year late on ‘Hundalay’, the Rozay and Chinx remixes are unnecessary, and if you want to hear Future’s ‘T-Shirt’, cop Honest elsewhere). And while most of these kids are content to rip off Migos and/or HPG, there are some growers.

Young Thug continues to find new things to do with his voice. His high-pitched cooing — at times acapella — is just eery on the waterlogged ‘Chickens’, and after coming together for a few tracks and teasing a joint tape, he reunites with Yakki Divioshi for the downcast sex jam ‘Tired’ (his verse on Topdolla Sweizy’s ‘Hundos’ is less impressive). Newcomers not to miss: Silk the Prince’s clipped flow and lethargic chanting are strangely hypnotic over a melody seemingly played on a child’s xylophone on the stark ‘Work’, and PoloKnoHow’s gritty rasp animates the bow-throwing ‘Kno Undoe’.

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South Carolina’s Shyst Red is a member of Young Scooter’s Black Migo Gang, which should clue you in on what to expect from Black Migo Shyst: the tried-and-true combo of boastful drug talk and identikit trap beats. Yet even as the overlong tape veers into anonymous territory, Shyst’s exuberance, vocal contortions (listen to how he extends his vowels on ‘Hoarders’) and playful wordplay (‘Lose Weight’, ‘Ostrich Skin’) result in some memorable moments.

The tape is produced by the usual suspects (Zaytoven, Metro Boomin, DJ Spinz, MPC Cartel), and some of the beats sound phoned-in (Ca$h Out’s feature on ‘We Up’ literally so). The best track by far is early leak ‘Water Diamonds’, a hypnotic banger produced by BB Slimm that features Young Thug shouting out Marilyn Manson, among other things. Shyst ropes in some legit hookmen for tracks like ‘Street Nigga’ but even the always-great Kevin Gates cannot balance the Wale appearance on ‘Facedown’.

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With apologies to readers in the southern hemisphere and Toronto, it looks like spring has sprung – at least in FACT’s backyard, where T-shirts and flimsy shoes are suddenly back on the menu. Appropriately, our pals over at Truants have rustled up a mix that promises to Blast Fat And Get Ripped In 7 Days Truants Style! Aidan Hanratty’s monster two-hour mix has got your back from warm up to cool down, with a barmy assortment of tracks from King Louie, Nightwave, Perc, Girl Unit, DJ Funk, Mousse T. and Whigfield. Yeah, Whigfield – and what? You’ll be trim and ready to go #tapsaff in no time.

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The Memphis rapper and one-time 1017 Brick Squader drops his first effort of the year with the 10-track Cross Country Trappin. As usual, this is pretty standard Brick Squad fare, with the permanently laidback Dolph leading the way. At his more idiosyncratic moments, Dolph sounds like a more country 2 Chainz, who shows up on ‘Get This Money’ — a song that features “too many codeine margaritas” side-by-side with some unfortunate Mexican impressions. The “cross country” in the title must refer to the guests Dolph ropes in: along with 2 Chainz, Migos and Paul Wall do their respective things, while ‘Put Ur Hands Up’ relies on some pitch-perfect turns from Gucci Mane and Young Thug.

It’s not a great sign when the best song — ‘At The House’ — came out on his last mixtape, too, but if you missed it the first time, the second verse is still great: “Mama, do me a favor, and keep yo ass up out the South” / Now Mama waving at her white neighbors, just chillin at the house”… “But Daddy just like me, that nigga still running in and out / Whatchu doing in the hood Dad? ‘Young nigga watch your mouth.'”

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