Torii MacAdams been right about Shaun Livingston
Ghostface Killah ft. Raekwon
“Let The Record Spin”
The world doesn’t need 12 Reasons To Die II, the awkwardly titled sequel to the bland miasma that was 12 Reasons To Die. Ghostface–who one could’ve argued was the greatest rapper alive during the mid-late 2000’s–has been reduced to late-career Kevin Garnett; the infrequent flashes of brilliance only serve as reminders of what used to be near-unimpeachable genius.
Cam & China ft. Glasses Malone and NameBrand
“Cruella De Vil”
Glasses Malone uses the phrase “No Frank Ocean,” a turn of mush-mouthed homophobia culturally aligned with Glasses’ fellow Malone, Karl. The multi-faceted Cam & China didn’t even need Glasses Malone on “Cruella De Vil”–they’re infinitely more interesting and talented than he is.
King Hendricks ft. Sauce Walka and BeatKing
“Boss In My City”
Everything about BeatKing is oversized, from the oversized font on his oversized t-shirts to his oversized personality and oversized nickname, “Club Godzilla.” That’s not to say Sauce Walka’s charms are subtle–he’s a shrieking maniac. Neither King Hendricks, nor Sauce Walka, nor BeatKing have a real claim to being the boss of Houston, but I appreciate their gumption.
Czarface ft. MF Doom
I have an embarrassing confession: I once paid for a 7L & Esoteric album. I was like 14 years old. That’s not even a good excuse.
I’m in constant disbelief that Doom’s voice has deteriorated to its current state of unrecognizability. If you really feel the need to bear witness to Doom’s decay, the first verse belongs to The Metalface Terrorist. Don’t listen to this song. It’s a snake pit of depression and saddening memories.
Vito’s hometown, San Bernardino, is an ex-urb wasteland nearly indistinguishable from America’s nuclear post-apocalyptic future. He has pink hair. The fucking song is called “HumbleBoys2015,” which sounds like a rival posse to the Slutty Boyz and the Sad Boys in a longstanding Tumblr turf war. With all these strikes against it, “HumbleBoys2015” has no right to be as good as it is. Despite a reasonable assumption that this’d be cloud rap for 17 year-olds, “HumbleBoys2015” is gritty, boom bap street shit. I recommend this very highly.
The XXL Freshman cover is the one of the magazine’s last resorts for its flagging print operation. All discussions/arguments about each year’s freshmen should be backgrounded by conversations about marketability; everyone with a functioning set of ears knows that Lil Herb is a better rapper than all of this year’s freshmen aside from Vince Staples. The XXL cover isn’t a meritocracy, though. We’ll always have industry ferns like Raury, a talented but personality-less rapper like Tink, Southern fifth round picks like Kidd Kidd and K Camp, and one-hit wonders like Dej Loaf. Lil Herb doesn’t need XXL to validate his fledgling career.
Statik Selektah ft. Action Bronson & Joey Bada$$
Statik Selektah’s schtick, as I’ve mentioned before, is usually bodega-quality DJ Premier. “Beautiful Life” is a welcome digression from the producer’s Jeep beats style. In fact, it’s downright pop-y. Were Action Bronson not rapping about the tennis elbow-inducing frequency with which he grabs his dick, Joey Bada$$ probably would’ve turned “Beautiful Life” into a song about an old summer fling or some lame shit like that.
Action Bronson could make fart noises with his armpit for three and half minutes and I’d probably play it at my next barbecue.
Chuck Inglish ft. Grey Sweatpants
“2003” is, fittingly, a song about 2003, with an instrumental that lands somewhere between The Clipse’s “Grindin’” and J-Kwon’s execrable “Tipsy.” Inglish and cousin Grey Sweatpants are openly nostalgic for the era of durags with matching Alex English Mitchell & Ness jerseys, Murphy Lee, and the Harlem Shake. I only care for one of those three things (Hint: it involves the Denver Nuggets), but, in retrospect, 2003 was at the lip of rap music’s cratering in the mid-2000’s. Still, that’s no excuse for the widespread shouting of “FREE YAYO!”