Over the course of about three months rapper Fabolous released a series of freestyles every Friday as part of his Friday Night Freestyles series with DJ Clue. Once Fabolous wrapped up his FNF series, he packaged all the releases together in a free to stream or download mixtape. Fabolous is one of the most creative punchline rappers of all time, and the FNF series is full of them. Some of the things Fabolous says just can’t possibly be truly freestyled because they’re just too clever, but it doesn’t matter because it still makes you laugh. My favorite freestyle from FNF can be streamed below and includes the gems “I don’t care what her man says / he better come airing (Aaron) like Hernandez”, “talking like they’re shooters but they wouldn’t spray perfume”, and of course “all I do is fill up (Philip) banks, Aunt Viv it”.
Los Angeles indie rapper Dom Kennedy is the closest thing to an easy listening rapper in hip-hop. Dom is currently promoting his third studio album, including a leading appearance at Trillectro this weekend. By Dom Kennedy is 11 tracks of Dom’s smooth voice over perfectly slow, soft, melodic, and deliberate beats. Three songs include production credit from frequent Rhymesayers Entertainment collaborator Jake One. It’s a quality, relaxing album and deserves a listen. A common complaint about rap music is that it’s too angry or aggressive. I don’t know if Dom Kennedy has an angry or aggressive bone in his body, and that’s reflected in his music. There is also very little cussing in his music but even when Dom does cuss, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. By Dom Kennedy can be streamed here or purchased here. The highlight of the album is “Lemonade“, an ode to Dom’s son, relaxing, reminiscing, and thinking about the future. “Lemonade” can be streamed below.
Memphis-native Don Trip has been making a name for himself in underground hip-hop for a number of years, however his most notable contributions to the genre have come from his Step Brothers collaborations with fellow Tennessean Starlito. Don Trip had one noticeable blip on the radar back in 2011 but ultimately has not been able to get much attention beyond that. I would entirely attribute that to how brutally honest and baggage-filled his music has always been. Don Trip’s newest offering, God Speed, continues to match the criteria. It’s a great album from beginning to end, including the song “Medicine“, a somber and moving tale about getting caught being unfaithful. It may also be the most beautiful hip-hop song of 2015. God Speed can be picked up on iTunes or Google Play, and “Medicine” can be heard below.
Fresh off getting dropped from Def Jam Records, GOOD Music artist CyHi the Prynce did not mince words with his latest release. CyHi has been signed to GOOD Music for five years and the label has not released any of his music. In that same time span CyHi has released seven mixtapes and countless music videos, all using his own money. Feeling passed over and ignored, CyHi finally let the world know how he feels by way of a diss song primarily aimed at GOOD Music’s head Kanye West. This is raw emotion at its best. The Cage the Elephant sample works so well here.
Since her 2010 mixtape debut, Snow Tha Product has consistently proven herself to be one of the best rappers of the most recent era in hip-hop. She even gets my vote for the best active female rapper, without a doubt. Snow Tha Product’s most recent outing, The Rest Comes Later, is more of the consistency we’re used to from her: solid beats, incredible delivery, thought provoking song content, and the usual smattering of English/Spanglish/Spanish stemming from her Mexican-American upbringing in San Diego. She kicks off “The Rest Comes Later tour” next week, and the last leg of the tour has her coming through the Parish in Austin on August 14th. The Rest Comes Later can be streamed or downloaded for free via DatPiff. The video for her lead single on the mixtape “Bet That I Will” is below.
Dipset member Jim Jones continues his Vampire Life series with his new mixtape Miami Vampin. Jim Jones delivers his usual blend of gritty and humorous lyrics over hard hitting beats, now moving his night life–Vampire Life–to a Miami backdrop. The Vampire Life series has also turned into a clothing line and a soda (not available in Austin, but can be ordered online). Something new to Jim Jones’ music with this mixtape is the use of Auto-Tune. I am not a big fan of Auto-Tune but fortunately the mixtape is not bogged down by it. The mixtape can be downloaded or streamed for free from DatPiff. The opening track can be streamed below.
Bronx-natives and 20 year hip-hop veterans Camp Lo have continued their trend of putting out an album every four to five years with their newest release, Ragtime Hightimes. Camp Lo knocked their debut album Uptown Saturday Night out of the park in 1997, and while the quality of their music has remained the same, they have never achieved as much success. Anyone familiar with Camp Lo will remember them most for their hit single “Luchini/This Is It” which samples Dynasty’s “Adventurs In Music Land“. Some of their noteworthy singles since then include 2002’s “Glow” and 2008’s “Lumdi“. For Ragtime Hightimes, Camp Lo returned to working with frequent collaborator, famed hip-hop producer Ski. The video for one of Camp Lo’s singles off their newest album is below.
I am not one that actively looks for hip-hop with social commentary nor am I one who steers clear from it. If it’s good music to me, it’s good music. Raz Simone is someone who’s been on my radar for a while–and not all of his music is a social commentary–but with this song I think he truly has the potential to start becoming more of a known name. I don’t agree with everything that’s said, but I don’t have to and that’s part of what makes this song great. “Same Problems” also features guest spots from Gifted Gab and Fatal Lucciauno but Raz Simone is the clear stand out talent on the track. The visuals for the music video are basic but effective for the song.
A Juicy J and Wiz Khalifa collaboration is nothing new, nor is an ode to groupies. But what I like about this newest song between the two, “For Everybody”, is the purposeful contradictions throughout the whole song. Also included is a very obvious entire verse dedicated to Wiz Khalifa’s ex-wife, exotic dancer turned video vixen Amber Rose: “I fell in love with a stripperrrr / funny thing is I fell back out of love quickerrrr”. This is not slut shaming. It’s far from it.
Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill has hit the ground running since being released from prison in December. One of his recent contributions is a freestyle over a redone version of the same sample used on Raekwon’s 1995 single “Ice Cream”. Some may see this as a desecration, but I see it as a dedication. Meek Mill goes off in his usual aggresive delivery and the end result is gold.