Conway the Machine — From a King to a God
Criticisms of the whole Griselda squad have been founded in their oft-monotonous flows, repetitive lyrical content, and regressive beat selection. But with From a King to a God, Conway builds on groupmate Westside Gunn’s 2020 effort Pray For Paris, boasting a diverse set of flows, A+ production from contributors such as Murda Beatz, and complementary features that support Conway’s talents, keeping his voice interesting throughout the whole album.
“Anza” is one of the album’s biggest highlights, featuring labelmate Armani Caesar, rocking a stripped-down, bop-ya-head beat that Conway rides like a Lamborghini on the highway. Armani’s verse is just as smooth, completing the track as one of the most streaming-friendly tracks on the album. “Seen Anything But Jesus” silences the haters that say Conway can’t sing, as he takes on the hook and chorus, ceding room to friend of Griselda, Freddie Gibbs, for the verses. All in the span of 50 minutes, Conway plants the Griselda flag smack dab in the middle of the hip-hop landscape, demanding to be heard as the God he knows himself to be.
Spillage Village — Baptize
Spillage Village are back with a vengeance, and they have a potential album of the year on their hands, spurred by the creepy beauty of “Baptize.” Alluring verses from Olu and wowgr8 of Earthgang as well as JID will keep you on the edge of your seat for the duration of the track. “Baptize” is the type of pre-album single that feels like a warm-up; each rapper puts on a show, but doesn’t turn up to the maximum in a way that we all know they can.
James Blake — Godspeed
Look, it’s a cover. James Blake has a beautiful voice, but he doesn’t have a Frank Ocean-level voice. And that’s okay. But every time I hear this song, I’m just going to want to listen to Frank’s version. Regardless, it’s dope to see him come full circle from helping produce the original to singing it.
Omar Apollo — Kamikaze
As his third single release of the new decade, Omar Apollo dropped “Kamikaze,” which features a vocal-heavy plot and a waterfall of instrumentation layering. This must-listen track displays Omar pushing the boundaries of his lyrical expertise and really pulling it off.
Phoebe Bridgers — Tiny Desk (Home) Concert
Bridgers is business formal wearing, oval office occupying, cute looking, and apocalyptic energizing. Her band as the secret service is the cherry on top! Just get to 10:55 for a surprise. The whole thing really captures a sense of impending doom with a very well executed soundtrack. Her live sound is phenomenal and so is the whole weird production.
Still Woozy — BS
We didn’t need it as proof, but “BS” is yet another exhibition of Still Woozy’s remarkable reliability. He hasn’t dropped a flop in his several years of production, and while this one takes a step back, stripping down the instrumental to take the pressure off the listener, it still keeps the signature Still Woozy aspect of happy-go-lucky summertime music.
Action Bronson — Golden Eye
The first single since his announcement of forthcoming album Only For Dolphins, “Golden Eye” is an adeptly-titled track referencing the James Bond movie from 1995. As shown in the recently released “Latin Grammys” video, Bronson showed he’s just as athletic in competition as Bond is, and with “Golden Eye,” he reinforced the fact that any Bond villain would murder for a personality as vivid as Bronson’s. “Golden Eye” might not catch any of his fans’ eyes for its run-of-the-mill Bronson food references and boasts, but it for sure means SOMETHING. We’ll see just what it means on Sept. 25.
Trippie Redd & Busta Rhymes — I Got You
Seeing this collaboration was certainly a surprise, and it stays that way throughout the track. Complete vibe switch-ups between Trippie Redd’s wailing vocals and Busta’s romantic verse make this release hard to justify. Not to disrespect Busta Rhymes at all — he just would’ve been better off finding literally anyone else to collaborate with for this kind of song.
Dame D.O.L.L.A. — Kobe (feat. Snoop Dogg & Derrick Milano)
Dame D.O.L.L.A. might be eliminated from the playoffs, but his competitive spirit will never fade — a quality he (in part) learned from Kobe. The track, dedicated to late NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, pays homage to Kobe’s everlasting impact. Dame and Snoop each shoutout his signature pull-up jumper, making a track that’ll stick in the rotations of Kobe stans worldwide.
Lil Tecca — Our Time
A weak hook will keep this track from charting nearly as well as “Ransom” did. Nonetheless, this track is elevated by a pair of strong verses, filled with introspection that I can only imagine comes naturally from being new to unimaginable amounts of fame. I’m a Lil Tecca truther, and this track might not have furthered his stardom in the eyes of many, but it provides a backdrop that could spur more hits going forward.
Audrey Nuna — Damn Right
After gaining mad clout with her “Comic Sans” release last year, Audrey Nuna keeps the bank open with “damn Right,” an anthem dedicated to the haters that just want to see her fail. She rocks a laid-back flow atop an inventive trap beat, and a series of clever and catchy bars make this track a strong release — one that’ll separate her success from her Jack Harlow co-sign.
T.I. — Ring (feat. Young Thug)
Since their collaboration on “About the Money” on T.I.’s Paperwork, fans have been craving more of this legend-prodigy Atlanta duo. “Ring” displays the rappers going back and forth with hard-hitting verses, plus a fire T.I. refrain to Thug chorus that rings consistently over the whole track.
YBN Nahmir — Pop Like This (feat. Yo Gotti)
The YBN squad took a hit with the loss of Cordae, but with this song, YBN Nahmir is telling the world he’s not going to be forgotten. A beat that could be the tune to speeding 140 mph on the highway underpins several strong verses, giving the feeling that Nahmir and Gotti could be a reliable combination going forward.
Sylvan Esso— Frequency
They’re back again! The third single release off Sylvan Esso’s upcoming album is a sweet minimal piece featuring a synthy beat and tender vocals. A music video directed by Moses Sumney accompanies the track and captures a freaky dystopian dance routine in the suburbs — definitely worth a watch.