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Pure-hearted pop, Bay Area rap and tranced-out dembow: the week's best mixtapes and 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.

This week we’ve dug up sneak previews of the new How To Dress Well album, a collection of windows-down slappers from the Bay Area, a glimpse into the hyperactive hive mind of #KUNQ and a missive from the bleeding edge of what passes for club music. And yes, there is another Gucci Mane tape.


With a lengthy prison sentence hanging over his head, the prodigious Gucci Mane keeps the hits coming with his second tape of the year, Brick Factory Vol. 1, and weed smoke and melancholy are in the air, as the gravity of Gucci’s situation sets in.

Even with promises of another three (!) mixtapes this summer, it feels like Gucci’s associates are running out of pre-recorded material. He doesn’t even appear on ‘On Us’ (the biggest bummer of a party since Lil Durk and Young Thug’s recent collaboration) and past and present Brick Squadders are called upon to do the heavy lifting, with Waka, Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan, Peewee Longway and others appearing throughout. But even without a verse, he looms large over posse cut ‘Homeboys’, a tribute to friends who didn’t make it home.

Not that there aren’t great tracks here: Gucci teams with a melodramatic Rich Homie Quan on ‘Say A Prayer’, dropping punchlines (“I made the Forbes list, nigga, man, you just a subscriber”) and shouting out Steve McNair with the same casual grumble. ‘Love Somebody’ is an Auto-Tuned sex jam that pairs Gucci’s whispered promises with Thugger’s full-throated, Wayne-reminiscent boasts. Let’s hoping there’s more like those in the vaults.


Tom Krell describes his latest mix as a combination of “some meditative religious moments” and “some pure-hearted pop moments,” and it’s an apt description of his recent work as How To Dress Well, as well. Made up of songs that inspired his forthcoming album What Is This Heart?, No Words To Say bounds between seemingly divergent sounds — Tracy Chapman into Rich Homie Quan into The Starting Line into Everything But The Girl – that are united by the same heart-wrenching melodies and love-lorn lyrics of his own music. Highlights include sneak previews of the new album, previously unheard edits, and a cover of emo-punks Taking Back Sunday that melts into a Beyoncé edit.


Bay Area veteran Cousin Fik keeps the Year of the West Coast going with the sequel to 2012’s Sickest Nigga Healthy, a collection of 20 windows-down slappers with enough variations on the theme to keep it more sonically interesting than comparatively paint-by-numbers ratchet offerings.

Fik flashes a precise and percussive flow, like on the ratatat ‘Really Outchea’, and he certainly has an ear for clever, outside-the-lines imagery (“wetter than aloe vera wipes” a particular favorite). Highlights include the street-life confessional ‘Think Fast’, synth-blasted tracks like ‘Far Out’ and ‘My Cousin Fik’, the squelching ‘An I Pull Heauxs’, and the melancholy ‘Weary Eyes’. While most of the features are forgettable, listen for spots by Bay Area godfather E-40 and promising newcomer Ezale.


Brooklyn’s D’hana presents a short-but-sweet mix of #kunq, the hyperactive, queer-oriented mélange of sounds that he’s pioneered with contemporaries Rizzla, Blk.Adonis and False Witness. Loaded with remixes and edits from the crew, the mixfile will cause heart arrhythmia as tranced-out dembow gives way to supercharged ballroom. From Rizzla’s remix of Kelela’s ‘Keep It Cool’ to Robbie Tronco’s classic ‘C.U.N.T.’ to Nicki’s RuPaul’s Drag Race-inspired ‘Yasss Bish’, this one is fierce.



Kingdom is a man on a mission to map club music’s unchartered territories, finding new routes between previously disparate styles. Over the past year in particular, he’s been doing just that as part of Fade To Mind’s transatlantic alliance with UK futurologists Night Slugs, and his HUMIDEX mix displays a steely adventurer’s spirit – all ice-cold synths, machete kicks and adrenaline-pumping bass throbs.

The tracklist a snapshot of the vanguard with scant regard to regional or genre divisions, stretching from Atlanta freestyler Young Scooter to ballroom figurehead MikeQ and across the Atlantic to Pearson Sound, Spooky and Bok Bok in the UK and Berlin’s truly bizarre Lotic. You’d hardly call it easy drinking, but it’s refreshing all the same.



Brooklyn producer and DJ Alex Burkat released an incredible, love-it-or-hate-it record called ‘Shower Scene’ on local label Mister Saturday Night last year – totally dancefloor-unfriendly yet mysteriously anthemic, and especially suited to the languorous afternoon party sessions that the MSN crew specialise in. He’s also put out tracks on 100% Silk and Hot Mom and has an EP coming up on Permanent Vacation, so with his producer credentials established, how’s that mix looking?

Not too shabby, since you asked, with wonky disco, downbeat house and pie-eyed grooves nabbed from local faces like !!! (via a neatly skewed Maurice Fulton remix), Shawn O’Sullivan and Blondes, plus eclectic picks from Jaydee, Clams Casino and Bee Mask. It hots up around the 23 minute mark with Willie Ninja’s aptly titled ‘Hot’.



Talking of easy drinking, here’s one a little better suited to the disposable barbecue party you’re hoping to pull off this weekend – JD Twitch, tufty-haired titan of Scottish clubbing as one half of Optimo, mixes a selection of straight-down-memory-lane tracks culled from the forthcoming Nightmares on Wax 25th anniversary compilation.

It’s a fleet-footed affair, packing in the maximum amount of the Warp veteran’s beat wizardry as is humanly possible in 10 minutes, but it serves as a fine amuse bouche for the double album coming mid-June. An introduction to the introduction, if you like.

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