The closing track from Rapsody's utterly brilliant 'Eve' album gets a single release, and it's just about the most defiantly inspirational slice of positive hip-hop we could hope for in this bleak midwinter. Piping summer into your cells via a gorgeously lambent production, hingeing on a sample of Deniece Williams peach-perfect 'Free', lyrically Rapsody manages to balance the resistant with the resigned, the positive with the plangent, with the same devastatingly wide vision and close-in focus she brings to everything she does. One of the finest doing it right now, at absolutely peak form. Essential.
Mooch & Rigz
'Dead Beats '
Big Ghost Ltd Music
Creeping out on Christmas Eve last year, Mooch & Rigz's 'The Only Way Out' LP, entirely produced by that Big Ghost genius, may well have slipped through the cracks of 2019, but you've no excuse now that a new single is dropping from it. 'Dead Beats' is emblematic of all that's fantastic about that record: dank, delirious production from BG, Mooch & Rigz swapping punchy, darkly desperate lines in amidst the grainy loops and beats. Stoned immaculate.
Love the downered, gentle, thoughtful feel of this. When I heard that RF's forthcoming album was entirely produced by The Jefferson Park Boys (Kenny Segal, Mike Parvizi, Mr. Carmack), I kind of guessed it would sound sublime, but wasn't prepared for just how deliciously balanced, spacey and suggestive it would be. Ferreira's rhymes achieve that neat trick of being able to sound diffuse and abstract but also incisively lucid at key moments ("all my homies suffering the same") — moments that make this track not just beautiful, but also compassionate down to its bones. Superb.
Digdat X Aitch
Massively addicted to the Digdat album of the same name, from which this title track is now oozing out of passing cars, JDB Sports speakers, and probably your mum's phone as I type. It's his flows that rise him a cut above the grime/drill pile, plus the sense that, though able to be dark as fuck when he wants to be, there's also an unbridled sense of glee and joy in getting heard that's utterly infectious. Say you were into him before he becomes a massive star.
'Live & Breathe '
Mello Music Group
Not enough people listened to 'Dusty'. Go listen to it via this superb single. Love the mix HS raps over: almost beatless, but a billion miles away from that new cliche, just a heavy kick, a few choice hi-hats and rimshots, a lovely, heavily tremoloed wah-wah guitar, and rhymes that become more and more unsettlingly hypnotic as the track goes on. Love Homeboy Sandman, and really do think that in the welter of riches MMG brings us, he's too often overlooked. Remedy that immediately.
The Leonard Simpson Duo
Guilty Simpson and New Zealand producer Leonard Charles hook up to drop 'LSD': a stunning collection of acid/psyche-touched jazzy hip-hop, of which this is the first leaked cut. Like an eyedropper of DMT into the eyeball. YOU KNOW you're gonna dig this.
'Paid The Cost '
Black Butter Records
Perhaps one of the dankest, darkest salvos from Trap's brilliantly baleful 'No Magic' set. Trap's on fire lyrically, allowing lines to slip into silence and punchlines to go unanswered at all the right moments, RV producing the track by basically layering up bass-heavy strata until the beat becomes almost crushed out of existence. There are no signs for me yet that drill is becoming any less addictive. One suspects that, given our current political realities, it's providing a more and more apposite soundtrack to UK life as the days pass by.
No Cure Records
"No time for barbarism or this bling-bling bullshit" — drawing incisive and telling analogies between rap's early political edge and African freedom fighters from across the continent's history, 'Raptivism' is a stunning intro to the soon-dropping 'The Ghost Infantry' full length from this brilliant Senegalese rap crew. Endemic Emerald behind the decks, so you know this lunges and pirouettes with clarity and concision. The more voices hip-hop starts listening to from around the world and beyond its UK/US holding patterns, the better. More of this please.
High Focus Records
So glad that RB has got round to one of the most aggravating phenomena of the online age — the way that acclaim can so often only be gained posthumously in hip-hop, the way everybody loves rap when a rapper dies, and GOATs often get anointed only when there's pennies in their eyes. Typically torsioned, engrossing rhymes from Ramson, and fantastically heavy, solid production from Mark Fear (who produces the whole of RB's forthcoming 'Death Mask' LP). High Focus' darkest dreamer.