This week, we lost one of the best to ever do it, one half of a group that was also the best to ever do it. Mobb Deep was able to transport a kid born and raised in California right into the hallways of Queensbridge before the Internet allowed you to go almost anywhere via Google Maps.
It’s been years since I’ve actively checked for a Gucci Mane record. To be clear, I’m not one of those rap critics who dismiss Southern rap – quite the opposite, actually. Gucci Mane’s career snd importance to the culture is criminally overlooked in my opinion – partly because of his own output, though. The problem with Gucci Mane is that for every good record he’s ever put out, there are hundreds that should have never left the studio. Gucci Mane is certainly talented and witty when he wants to be, but stretching that too thin while trying to remain relevant through taking the kitchen sink approach to mixtape output only results in an MC being consistently overlooked when the time comes to give credit where it’s due.
Let’s be clear – Rick Ross can rap. However, he also rarely sheds the immovable heel persona he’s known for, so it’s difficult to see the glint of talent shining amidst the corner he’s painted himself into creatively. But the man can definitely rap when he puts his mind to it. On Rather You Than Me, Rick Ross delivers exactly what’s expected of him in the way of big, blustering records to ride around to alongside a few soulful, more luxurious tracks so as not to confuse an album for a mixtape. The heel persona slips away on certain records, revealing a more thoughtful, vulnerable mafioso than we’re used to hearing from.
The Alchemist is one of few hip-hop producers that really manage to nail the concept of an instrumental album every time. If the previous joints in this series weren’t an indication, then try out some of his other instrumental albums like Retarded Alligator Beats and Israeli Salad, which focused less on beats to rap over and more on stand-alone records, minus any vocal performances. Either way, this newest offering should provide some dope freestyle fodder or at minimum, something to play at work.
If you watch Silicon Valley and if you’re anything like me, you stopped dead in your tracks when you heard the song playing during the end credits of this past weekend’s season premiere. If you’re not like me and didn’t look it up immediately, the full song is right here for your enjoyment.
Larger-than-life MC Quadir Lateef has been nice for years, which is something I can say, having been acquainted with the man since Howard University, where his penchant for spoken word and writing were apparent. While I’m always glad to see a Statik Selektah joint getting burn, it really feels good to see the Ruff Ryders imprint back on the scene putting out the same gritty and true-to-hip-hop material they were known for when they initially kicked in the door on the rap game.
A personal selection off of this month’s The Art Of Rock Climbing, on “Liquid To A Solid”, former Cool Kids guest Boldy James delivers his standard monotone wit-and-grit combo over sinister production to cook up a crime anthem that rides beautifully.
The once reclusive Ukrainian-American MC Your Old Droog is back with a banger for the top of the year with “G.K.A.C.”, an alarmingly gritty telling of a police shootout in the vein of Slick Rick’s classic “Children’s Story”, but off a dust blunt. Clearly, Droog is not messing around on his sophomore album Packs, due out March 10th.
While a ragtag band of some of the sorriest excuses for rappers of all time squabble in what constitutes “rap beef” in the modern day, it’s good to know that in 2017, real heads can still count on the art to sometimes win out over the business of rap. In addition to Run The Jewels’ 3rd album currently in rotation, we now have this to rock to for a while. On Shadow The Jewels, DJ Skarface takes some classic DJ Shadow cuts and blends them with Run The Jewels’ first LP.
I absolutely and without question consider my 2011 interview with Camp Lo a feather in my cap when it comes to writing about rap music and pushing the culture forward, so I always check for new music from the Bronx duo both on the strength of them being dope and for giving me that opportunity as an up and coming (and still there, honestly) music journalist. On “Piece of the Action”, we get a version of Camp Lo very similar to the Camp Lo we got in 1997 on the critically acclaimed Uptown Saturday Night. Even in 1997, Geechi Suede and Sonny Cheeba had a knack for combining thematic elements from ’70s Blaxploitation culture with a stream-of-consciousness delivery that was way ahead of their time and thus, still sounds great today.