The 10 hip-hop and R&B tracks you need to hear this month: February 2016

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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&B tracks that have got them in raptures. Between this column and FACT’s 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.

Tate Kobang
‘Oh My’

Having eviscerated clubs worldwide with breakout freestyle single ‘Bank Rolls’, Baltimore’s Tate Kobang adds more fuel to the fire that is 300 Ent’s impeccable rap roster with the Honorable C.N.O.T.E-produced, 2011 Neptunes-leaning anthem ‘Oh My’. About as undeniable as it gets.

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‘Pop A Perc’

Now it’s been bubbling for a couple months, ‘Pop A Perc’ is surely only a crucial Vine’s breadth from blowing all the way. If you didn’t catch it on Chris Brown’s IG, it’s fairly simple to describe, with a ‘Boyz N Tha Hood’-driven beat and bars switched from LL’s ‘I Need Love’ as a dedication to the under-the-counter lifestyle.

It’s Boone’s delivery that really sets it off though, essentially paying homage to Philly legend Schoolly D with a dusted, off-hand delivery, and once the hook hits, your brain just concedes defeat. Add in one of the most basic but effective viral videos in years and it’s a wrap.

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Trill Sammy & Dice Soho

In the spirit of club rap duo forebears Rae Sremmurd, Yung Nation and TK N Cash, H-Town’s buzzing Trill Sammy and Dice Soho are making all the right moves with a steady string of vibrant could-be radio rotators, ‘Jumpin’ being their most fully formed to date. Watch this space and check the Soulja Boy-featuring ‘Dip’ while you’re at it.

YFN Lucci
‘Woke Up (Boss)’

Ever since tear-jerker ‘I Wonder Why’ made us feel infinitely more emotion than your least favourite sad rapper might feign, YFN’s always dialed-in Lucci has been our go-to highway-coasting soundtracker, alongside equally ethereal associates Johnny Cinco and Skooly of the Rich Kidz.

New TM88-produced single ‘Woke Up (Boss)’ is Lucci’s grandest song to date, making you feel like anything in life is possible and working with the kind of evocatively epic sounds you might expect from French rap audio cinematographers PNL.

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E-40 feat. Nef The Pharaoh & D.R.A.M.

There are only a few givens in this world and one of them is that E-40 is simply never going to fall off. Ever. In fact, almost 30 years into a career he’s still making nothing but the most futuristic slaps alongside long-time collaborator and perennially underrated slapmaster Rick Rock.

What makes this most recent Sick-Wid-It wave even more exciting though is the addition of Nef The Pharaoh to the roster, who is not only keeping the spirit of Mac Dre fully alive, but also returns that fresh Bay Area energy to rap music; something that does, but should never, go unappreciated. One just to play loud and restore that feeling.

Balance feat. Symba
‘Always Playin’

Oakland veteran Balance has been putting out consistently slapping sub-forward rap music ever since 2006 breakout album Young & Restless dropped on the legendary SMC Recordings, and there’s rarely a club we don’t soundcheck with opener ‘Let The Bass Go’.

New single ‘Always Playin’ is produced by Cisco, features Berkeley’s Symba and knocks like a descendant of Jacka’s ‘All Over Me’. It’s the perfect taster of Balance’s upcoming 41510 Redwall EP.

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DJ Chose

Having come up with Houston’s brilliant Brook Gang before working with Southern Hospitality favourite Beat King, and more recently legends like Paul Wall, Akon and Trey Songz, DJ Chose’s exposure is finally catching up to his painfully obvious talent as a rapper, songwriter and producer. ‘Superstar’, which kicks off new mixtape A Long Way From Village Way, is the perfect culmination of Chose’s knack for superior melody, space and snap.

Kirko Bangz feat. Ye Ali
‘Go First’

With everyone trying to restore that ‘90s feeling in R&B (generally by sampling a classic record, we must add), it’s good to see that Kirko Bangz can still make these kind of nostalgic jams with ease.

Ever since he changed our world half a decade ago with ‘What Yo Name Iz’, Kirko now weirdly feels like a veteran of the new scene, but if you look past all the hype he still does it better than most. Notable here also is the inclusion of Ye Ali, who seems to be one of the next Chicago rappers to break, and the way producer XO just lets those synths luxuriate at the start, you know this is a headboard hit right out the gate.

Lil Uzi Vert
‘Money Longer’

Philadelphia is creeping on a come up right now, with PNB Rock and others finally getting recognised, but Lil Uzi Vert still remains the most likely to blow. With a new looser groove defining early 2016 (‘Cut It’ etc), there’s few more equipped to ride these kind of beats than Vert, and in the crowded world of rap singers his voice sits in that perfect pocket of natural melody. He also knows exactly when to toughen his flow to give the record bite and avoid those Fetty comparisons.

Incredible production from Don Cannon and Maaly Raw also has the perfect combination of familiar yet super fresh. Following from his buzzing Luv Is Rage tape, it seems like there’s about to be a lot of loose Lil Uzi Vert records, and it’s hard to tell exactly which is gonna stick – if it is this one, we can’t be mad.

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Yo Gotti feat. Lil Wayne

After years of under-the-radar classics, Yo Gotti’s full commercial re-up has been one of the more rewarding scenes of the last year in rap. Even more so due to the fact that Gotti has done it by still being Gotti, and while ‘Down in the DM’ relied partly on the zeitgeist, his new album simply carries on the tradition his fanbase love him for.

The logical next move may, however, still be another Ben Billions-produced record as ‘Bible’ moves with the same urgency and has the perfect amount of space to sound huge in a club. The feature is also perfectly placed to remind everyone that Wayne isn’t only the primary influence to the new breed, but can still rip like none other when given the right record.

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