Welcome back to Southern Hospitality‘s monthly column.
Based in London and Los Angeles, Rob Pursey and Davey Boy Smith are on new hip-hop and r’n’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’ll be rounding up 10 hip-hop and r’n’b tracks that have got them in raptures – between this column and Chris Kelly and John Twells’ weekly rap round-up, we should have all bases covered.
If ever a song was about to totally define the first half of 2015 it’s this one. Seemingly arriving from nowhere (although there are Post Malone production credits on records from Key! etc.) this is an anthem for all those on the come-up. Luxurious from start to finish, with the kind of bass and keys that make you want to sink into the ground beneath you, ‘White Iverson’ finds Post Malone balling out in the most mellow, yet inspiring way possible. Each verse winds to a mini-crescendo and after a couple of plays you can’t help crooning along in support to “I want that money like that ring I never won,” egging him on all the way to the beautiful choral breakdown at the end. A more perfect four minutes of music – or as one prominent Atlanta DJ described it to us “a lifestyle” – won’t be found this year.
‘Stopped’ (feat. 5th Ward JP & Yella Beezy)
Club God’s self-admitted weakness is that he’s just too good – and we agree. The man releases an ungodly amount of music, with everything hitting the anthemic satisfaction of Three 6 at their peak, and yet because he lets so many kill shots out the clip it’s easy to miss things. We always knew ‘Stopped’ was another astounding Beat King single, but when he performed it to a screeching crowd at our SXSW showcase last week we, and he, only then fully appreciated its potential impact. If you’re a student of linguistics may we suggest you start hypothesising about just how incredibly powerful Beat King’s way with words is.
‘Is You Mad’ (feat. Migos)
It probably wasn’t their intention, but the combination of Migos’ anticipation-drenched vocals splashed over anxious horns on this new Jose Guapo single will make you want to drive into a wall. Migos are Atlanta’s answer to whatever band you deem better than The Beatles and are hitting frequencies that just do stuff to us. Music doesn’t get more visceral than this. Shoutout Murda on the beat.
‘Let Your Hair Down’ (feat. The Dream & Vantrease)
The correlation between The-Dream and T-Pain fanatics will forever be strong and seeing them combine is a truly beautiful thing, especially when they have the sense to just make a record that could have sat as comfortably on Love/Hate as it would Epiphany. This is not to say that it’s a simple retro nod, though, as both artists were so ahead of their time; this slightly updated sound is as contemporary as it needs to be, and Nappy Boy’s Vantrease comes through in the final verse more than holding his own in the intimidating company. Really though it’s just all about that “Killllaaa” from Terius at the beginning that will have so many of us going all misty-eyed.
‘Worth It’ (feat. Iamsu!)
Tinashe’s recent Amethyst EP was seen as a return to the pre-Aquarius mixtape zone that rounded up her initial fans, however it’s so much more than that. Whilst her vocals slowly burned in that era, these new records are defiantly groove-led and on ‘Worth It’ Iamsu! confirms once again that not only is he a great R&B guest rapper, he also knows how to produce perfectly for Tinashe to sit in the pocket like only she can. The “we the best in the West” hook rings true and the sax and vocal outro arrives as an unexpected bonus.
Public consensus seems to be that Keef hasn’t come with anything worth listening to since his public Interscope departure, but people are lazy and there’s been some real gems in his recent few projects that are well worth digging for; this one from Sorry For The Weight seemingly treads the line between the more melody-saturated branch of GloGang music and actual Afro-beats.
The influence of Tity Boi’s reinvented run at the turn of the decade can never be downplayed and whilst it feels an age since Codeine Cowboy and T.R.U. REALigion, this is a reminder that with the right production (this time from Chill Go Hard) 2 Chainz can still flip the loose ATL style better than most. During the A3C festival last year he gave the crowd at the Cap 1 show a full history of his mixtapes and it’s now even clearer that he’s fully back in that zone for the time being at least. Long may it continue.
‘Came Up’ (feat. Pewee Longway, Ethan Sacii, Spiiker & Nephew Texas Boy)
808 Mafia are leading one of the most avant-garde production movements in a very long time and seem totally unconcerned about getting weirder and more experimental with each record. As well as the layering of noises and vocal tics within the track, each rapper uses a different vocal effect and flow and whilst Peewee Longway is already the low-key favourite of many, it’s hard to pick a winner as they all deliver something special. Atlanta keeps creating it.
The Ratchets rapper and producer Mr 2-17 released one of the most underexposed mixtapes of the year in ‘Know What I’m Sayin 2’. And new viral video cut ‘Dabbin’ is precisely the kind of joy-saturated ATL dance rap we love to love. Please don’t sleep.
‘Pots & Stoves’ (feat. Lil Boosie & Quick)
Scooter rapping about rappers “rappin lyrics” with sheer disdain is one of life’s few true joys, and testament to his attitude over wordplay approach to music, something we fully support. The Boosie feature should hint that this is the one to check from his recent ‘Jug Season’ tape, which is front-to-back one-note glory.