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 round 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.
We’ve spoken about our love for Boston’s Cousin Stizz on several occasions, but it would be disingenuous to not rep the latest highlight from his recent MONDA project here. The cohesiveness is so potent on the video for ‘Every Season’ we’d also be remiss not to mention producer Cardo and director Goodwin for contributing to one of the most refined and life-giving experiences we’ve had in months. Go back to MONDA if you haven’t already.
Trinidad James feat. Bankroll Fresh
When Trinidad’s DJ Looney dropped this track at our last LA party it felt like we’d been transported to Blue Flame during a Swamp Izzo set, which is just about the highest compliment we could pay any human. Bankroll sprinkled his genius on the track and thankfully was there for the video, but it’s James’s hook that taps into the carnal energy underpinning any great club rap anthem. Immense.
Dae Dae has been on the steadiest of come-ups, first being introduced by legendary producer Nitti and more recently having ‘Wat U Mean’ and ‘Spend It’ connect after months of heavy underground rotation. There are multiple Dae Dae tracks floating around right now, but ‘Woke Up’ is the pick thanks to production from London On The Track that Nitti himself would have been proud of in 2006. The fact that this beat didn’t go to Thug tells you a lot about where Dae Dae is headed.
Jeezy feat. Bankroll Fresh
With each additional posthumous release it becomes more painfully clear that Bankroll Fresh, shot dead in March, was one of Atlanta’s true greats. That point is underlined further when he matches the power and presence of Jeezy on Trap Or Die 3 lead-in ‘All There’. It’s produced by D. Rich who, like Shawty Redd, never fails to capture an intensity that sounds like rapping with your head out an airplane window. Triumphant doesn’t even cover it.
‘Han Solo On 4s’
These days it’s extremely unsurprising to hear a Houston rap legend releasing incredible music way past his supposed prime – recent albums from Slim Thug, Z-Ro, Lil Keke and now Paul Wall have all been immensely enjoyable. ‘Han Solo On 4s’ is genius in spite of the Star Wars reference; it even manages to make a Star Wars reference somehow aspirational. And like most of the tracks on The Houston Oiler, Paul is in his element, having a lot of fun and recalling those heady days of his game-changing work with Chamillionaire.
‘Let Me Explain’
If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last 12 months, it’s that none of Bryson Tiller’s peers and followers have been able to capture the feeling that the TRAPSOUL singer gave people in 2015. When you hit that untouchable zone, you shouldn’t back away from it for at least another album, and thankfully this track suggests he’s heading in that direction. Sure, the tempo and snares sound like everything else right now, but it’s the subtlety of groove and confidence that separates Bryson. He truly sounds like the leader rather than the underdog now.
Mr Wired Up feat. Chedda Da Connect & Beat King
‘She Want Me’
Beat King’s trademark brand of gangsta stripper music is close to all of our hearts, but frequent collaborator and fellow Houstonian Mr Wired Up’s latest single is closer to the Club God’s slower, more sensual Pole Sex EP. The nuance here is important; ‘She Want Me’ is so emotional it’s as likely to make a dancer excel at her job as inspire her to pack up, go home and hug her kids. Either way, you’d infinitely improve your life by googling Mr Wired Up and downloading everything he’s ever done.
Sevyn Streeter feat. The Dream
The truest R&B lovers out there have been rooting for Sevyn for the longest time, and everything about this record feels right. First, we’ve got The-Dream back on his mid-2000s Nivea vibe with a perfect example of how to allow a great vocalist to do what she does. Second, it serves as a well-timed reference to the recently departed Shawty Lo. Crucially, we hear Terius harmonize “radio killa” one more time, making us pray for a full collaboration album.
If ‘Eastside’ is Jacquees’ bid to become the new Lloyd, then consider us completely on board. Much like all the rap sangers in the game right now, we love him best when he’s singing and ‘Eastside’ shows that vocally he’s one of the strongest, with some essential and long-overdue shawty talk. If Birdman is banking the immediate future of Rich Gang on Jacquees, then returning to what made him dope in the first place is an essential step.
2 Chainz feat. Quavo & Gucci Mane
The worst-kept secret of the year is that 2 Chainz has been releasing some of his best music yet, and this track in particular has us reminiscing over his mixtape run at the start of the decade. Mike Dean has absolutely blessed this track, letting the chords dictate the rappers’ flows as Chainz keeps it slow and low before Quavo reminds us all once again why he needs to do a Busta Rhymes 2017 with a ridiculous solo album. The true highlight, though, is the extended verse from Guwop, which serves as a reminder that the current generation of rappers are truly all his sons.