Welcome back to Southern Hospitality’s monthly column.
Based in London and Los Angeles, Rob Pursey and Davey Boy Smith are onto new hip-hop and R&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’ bi-weekly rap round-up, we should have all bases covered.
Don’t forget to check the crew’s essential monthly radio show, which is fast becoming one of the world’s most essential rap radio shows.
iHeart Memphis & Oh Boy Prince
‘Chop It Up’
Any DJ worth their salt would already be digging into iHeart Memphis’s back catalogue in the wake of viral dance hit ‘Hit The Quan’, and in doing so should stumble across the absolutely insane ‘Chop It Up’, which galvanizes any dancefloor into a state of wonderment and confirms that the Memphis club rapper is far from a one-hit wonder.
‘Work Ya Muscle’
It is without debate that, with Rae Sremmurd’s Sremmlife, Ear Drummer Records set the tone for the year. Whilst that record continues to quietly work (and we pray for that Swae Lee solo) the label is using the spotlight to introduce Eearz with one of the most uncompromisingly minimal singles of the year.
Produced of course by Mike WiLL alongside 30 Roc of The Drumatics (of ‘Nasty Freestyle’ fame) this makes no commercial concession whatsoever and much like a harder cut from Mike Will’s own mixtape, chugs along in a blur of tough bass and noise as Eearz keeps it truly Southern, flowing between the bars before the riotously addicting chorus hits. ATL stays creating it.
Having a Boston artist we can really, truly get behind is a rare occurrence in rap (shoutout Mr Lif), so the reassuringly steady rise of Dorchester’s Coustin Stizz on the back of his mesmeric Suffolk County tape makes his moment all the more special. By all accounts Stizz has his city on lock right now, and the internet is paying attention, with highlights like ‘Dirty Bands’ getting perfectly judged videos from director-manager Goodwin Winsgood as we approach what should be his breakout SXSW.
The hype on Section Boyz is real and ‘Lock Arff’ is unquestionably the number one UK street record right now. Meanwhile, beyond the heavy co-signs from Skepta, the recently released Don’t Panic has anthems for days and this would feel more than right if it was plucked for the next single.
As hard as it is melodious, all the MCs in the group complement each other and are unafraid to lavish hooks within hooks, completing lines and layering harmonies to the very necessary Morley’s references. South London is on a tear right now and the flows and delivery of Section Boyz are perhaps the best evidence of this. This is one of those you’ve just got to get on board with.
We first came across ATL’s Kollosus when we heard the humungous ‘Campaign’ on Ballers Eve radio last year. Since then it’s stayed in our collective playlists as we wait for the follow-up. New tape Proper Etiquette is packed wall-to-wall with bangers but ‘Check’, which shares much musical DNA with H-Town’s Chedda Da Connect, pairs the kind of anticipation and looseness we so feverishly look for in a rap club anthem.
At this point we just have to concede that Florida is one of our favourite rap regions in 2015. From Kodak Black and 1WayFrank’s pitch-perfect early Cash Money/Trill Ent-leaning ballads to Yung Gordon’s dance anthems, there’s just so much life coming from Pompano to Miami beach that we’d be remiss not to call it something of a movement.
Tee Stunna is another firm Southern Hospitality favourite, hailing from Fort Lauderdale and putting out immensely catchy anthems like ‘Came Up’, the highlight from his recent DJ Smallz-hosted Rejected mixtape.
‘Lean On Me’
From the anxiously spaced-out intro to the MDMA-peaking bass drop, no codeine anthem has us wanting to mosh as hard as Butlerboy’s ‘Lean On Me’ right now, and we don’t mosh. God damn.
Tink feat. K-Camp
The Tink and Timbaland jump-out late last year had original fans worried that the essence of the Winters Diary series was about to be lost to the mainstream all too quick. So how does Tink respond? By releasing a third volume of the now-classic series filled with her typically idiosyncratic slow jams and then remixing one of the stand-out tracks with the permanently underrated K-Camp, keeping everything as pure as it ever was.
Tink even makes it super Chi, by channelling the famous R-Kelly “this is the remix” opener. Four minutes of subtle keys and languid bass later, you’re hitting the replay over and over.
Keyshia Cole feat. Young Thug
‘Don’t Waste My Time’
Keyshia Cole is one of the last spiritual daughters of Mary J. Blige, putting it all out there and, as wild as it may sound, perhaps a whisker away from being treated like an old-school artist. However, by linking up with the always inspired pairing of London On The Track and Young Thug, she’s been given the perfect sound to let the soul in her voice breathe. The record almost works like a duet with Thugga, who even gets his croon on mid-verse, and the distinctly R&B production shows the versatility in his partner that we pray isn’t a one-off. And hearing Keyshia open by singing “Loooondooon On The Track” is easily one of the musical highlights of the year.
‘Here I Go’
Low-key, whilst Metro Boomin and 808 Mafia take the plaudits, DJ Spinz has been quietly killing this year with a string of typically deep productions for both known artists and newcomers like K-Major (now known as Slay Tre) who dropped arguably the R&B album of the year.
Following the blueprint of the work he did in reinventing Ca$h Out, this track for is built around a defiantly simple keyboard line and rolling bass, whilst Dino flexes with an almost Midwest-style sing-song flow. As ever Spinz leaves so much space in the record, you just know it needs that club or car system to let it fully expand, and just try to get that hook out of your head after a couple of listens.