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Singles - Hip Hop & Trap - Issue 531

BVA

This Love Is Love

High Focus Records

9.0
From the heart, from the soul — ripsnorting rhymes from BVA claiming rap back for the lovers of the form, dragging rap from the glitz and glamour dead-end it's found itself in back to the brute infinite possibilities of a mic, a beat, and a mind with something to say. Leaf Dog on the mix so you know precisely how compelling this is gonna be sonically, BVA fully charting his own changing relationship with this music and his trajectory for forward motion for both the form and himself. Superb stuff from a superb label. Be very aware that the album 'Be Very Aware' is out soon. Should be sick.

Dag Savage feat Blu

'Don't Stop '

Dirty Science

8.0
Nicely woozy vibe on this, a kind of soporific smear of rootsy organ and somnambulant dubbed-out Tribe-style beats from Exile (mirrored by the peachy back'n'forth 'tween Dag & Blu) — all the right moments suddenly leaping out of the mix in ultra-delayed relief. Not quite weed-related, not quite in the K-hole, unplaceably psychedelic and I'll have several pints of whatever these loons are on.

Scram Jones

'Fork In the Road'

Scram Jones Music

8.0
Eminem's scratch-DJ offa 'Berzerk' goes solo and awww, just love this — something to do with Scram's hyperkinetic funkativity, a speed and pace and unstoppable sense of fun all too lacking in rap at the moment, something to do with the hook, which goes for plaintive and poignant and unforgettable (unlike so much of the in one ear, out the other bragging-bullshit that passes for choruses so often these days), something to do with the absolutely fantastic video that combines Anime-weirdness with Sesame-Street style movement to delicious-fresh effect. From 'The Hat Trick' EP out now and judging by this, essential.

Cam'Ron & A-Trak

'Humphrey '

NA

8.5
Got to admit that after a couple of years of mediocrity Cam got back to his best with last year's 'Ghetto Heaven' mixtape, so my ears were pricked for his next opus, which turns out is gonna be an EP with A-Trak called 'Federal Reserve'. If 'Humphrey's anything to go by it might be almost as good as that mixtape — beautifully executed '70s pop-soul samples just the right side of unplaceable, and commanding, compelling rhymes from the Cam. Welcome back to the right side of niceness.

TPS Fam

'Monday Blues '

Revorg Records

7.5
Fuck the Boomtown Rats, this is surely the greatest track ever about just exactly how massively soul-destroyingly a pain in the arse it is getting yourself out of bed on a Monday morning. 'FUCK A JOB' goes the hook, "rage built up and I've only been up for an hour", every line a pearl of poetic wisdom that all of us wage slaves will empathise with hugely. Love the almost-Specials-like deadpan oddity of the chorus too and there's so many killer little lines you might miss it's a definite rewind all weekend. Pump loud on your daily commute and FUCK A JOB.

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib feat Earl Sweatshirt & Domo Genesis

'Robes '

Rappcatts

8.0
So how far-out-as-fuck can the music be the rapper is rapping over before it stops being hip-hop? To be sure, FG, ES & DG are all found rapping on this, tripping out from internal monologue to spinning planetary motion in the space of a syllable. As to what the fuck Madlib is doing, your guess is as good as mine — totally strung-out black sci-fi madness halfway 'tween Sun Ra and Rotary Connection. Not entirely sure how to USE this music but goddamnit — if Mario Kart 13 has a Rainbow Road on it THIS needs to be the soundtrack. Tune in, freak out.

Willie the Kid

'The Guilt '

Embassy Entertainment

9.0
It's tracks like this that remind you just how far behind life, how far from art so much mainstream rap is right now. 'The Guilt' is a stunning vignette of loss, bereavement and the scars left in the hearts of those that know and the lives of communities left in hell. Gorgeous production from Bronze Nazareth forms a noir-ish grainy, rain-pelted backdrop to the grimness contained lyrically, Willie telling the story with total clarity and conviction. A track you have to rewind a few times to truly feel its devastating impact. Superb stuff.

Dirty Dike

'The Sloshpot EP'

High Focus Records

9.0
What a thoroughly disreputable and utterly compelling fuck-up Dirty Dike is. Five slabs of slapped-up sloppy smoked-out skanked-up filthy-rhymes and compellingly twisted beats, pitched at just the right point between murderous self-deprecation and world-destroying hermetic (in)sanity. In a just and righteous pop universe he'll be on the Brits next year taking a piss in Jessie J's wineglass. Buy this and bring that dream a little bit closer.