Lucas Foster prefers Jeremy Renner to Matt Damon.
N.E.R.D. – “1000 (Feat. Future)”
The blunt force consistency of Future’s output since he renewed his commitment to street records and 808 Mafia collaborations has been as spectacular as the hype for a new N.E.R.D. album since Tyler introduced them to a new demographic. Both have cultivated enough goodwill to be praised for a joint effort regardless of what they release, but this unique collaboration is worthy of the hype. While this is ostensibly a single, it seems more to be a mid-concept-album addition to No One Ever Really Dies. Here, Pharrell, Future, and Shay Haley are dancing around a fire summoning the kinetic energy required to purchase Future’s belts, coupes, and his girlfriend’s thousand dollar shoes in a classic-sounding N.E.R.D. track.
This is the sort of thing that gets Illuminati rumors pumping in comment sections and dance floors pumping. By the time Shay Haley’s bridge pauses time in the middle of Neptunes synths and rhythmic vocal samples, the song has maintained conceptual and sonic consistency across three movements in a way that’s both anticipated of the Neptunes and completely unexpected.
Playboi Carti – “Yo Pierre! (Feat. Pierre Bourne)”
With Playboi Carti mustering all the clout of a newly-minted superstar on instructions to “Get to know Pierre,” this track should mark the moment that “Magnolia” producer Pierre Bourne elevated himself to a notable vocalist in the mainstream consciousness. The producer turned rapper-producer has styled himself as a new Kanye West, going so far as to illustrate the connection in interviews and title his mixtapes, The Life of Pierre series.
While his lazy rapping on this song is no “Through the Wire,” his production has carried mealymouthed rappers to stardom before. The industry is eagerly anticipating his next tape and his feature on a semi-confirmed 2018 Drake album. At this point, anything less than multiple homeruns will come off as a disappointment.
Chief Keef – “Glory Bridge (Feat. A Boogie Wit da Hoodie)”
If Chief Keef was a legend at 16 and a cautionary tale at 20, then he’s “just” a rapper at 22. Albeit a highly influential legendary one. Far removed from the heights of his initial success and controversy, he is now mostly evaluated for his musical output rather than vague analysis of his personal life or star potential. Never once during his label troubles, rehab stints, or purported gang beefs did Keith Cozart lose focus on music. He has continued exploring the outer limits of drill and trap with little regard for genre conventions or industry expectations; his commitment to this was never lauded in the media or hyped up by fans, but projects like 2014’s fully self-produced Back From the Dead 2 and this year’s Thot Breaker are all the evidence needed for his work ethic and artistic evolution.
His third studio album, Dedication, will be released tomorrow, and if this song and the numerous leaks on Youtube are any indication, it should be a critical success—if not a commercial one.
Rather than the expected A Boogie auto-tune R&B feature, this single is an update on the hard-hitting drill sound that made Keef a global star. Instead of an anthemic chorus swallowing an entire song with full-throttle energy, the bells and piano keys of the beat are matched with a series of snarling straight-up rap verses of a more contained and world-weary Keef. The result is something that doesn’t feel quite new for Chief Keef, but still sounds fresh for an artist in his 6th year of relevancy.
Tracy – “Gorilla (Prod. by Forza)”
There’s good reason to call Chief Keef the father of Soundcloud rap; this song by two artists at the peak of “come-up” hype sounds like 2013 Keef pitched up at 1.5x playback speed. That’s not to hate on Tracy (formerly Lil Tracy of Lil Peep’s Goth Boi Clique) and Working on Dying producer Forza, this single is a victory lap for them after amazing 2017 runs from both artists.
Z-Ro – “You Ain’t Gotta Worry”
After releasing some mediocre records over the past several years, this is an encouraging return to form for the most naturally talented vocalist to ever emerge from Houston. It seems that his proclamations of retirement earlier in the year were premature, or at the very least, Z-Ro is committed to promoting one last project for the large cult fanbase that kept his career chugging along for two decades despite Ro’s vocal disgust with industry sounds and politics.
“You Ain’t Gotta Worry” is classic Z-Ro—a lush blend of silky singing, old school Dirty South production, and lyrics explicitly relating his struggles with mental health to his audience. If he is able to maintain this level of quality over a 30 minute album, he could build momentum through his 40s. Why shouldn’t he continue to shirk every industry trend?
Kirb La Goop – “Servin Jz (Feat. ZChronik & Prod. by PoshPrada)”
Kirb La Goop’s oddball voice and flow may be an acquired taste, but once it is acquired the sound of his falsetto yelps about serving dog food and hitting licks is undoubtedly addicting. Since emerging five years ago, Kirb has been continuously derided as a one trick pony and a novelty act while he continues to command one of the most impressive arrays of collaborators on production and vocals on the internet. Fresh off a year of evolving his sound and strengthening his position with Lil Peep, Chxpo, Yung Lean, Working on Dying, as well as induction into Spaceghost Purrp’s Black Money Boys, Kirb La Goop is continuing to put in work for the underground.
The one-two punch of Kirb’s weirdo rapping and ZChronik’s speaking voice monotone flow is clinically underappreciated in and outside of the underground. This B-Side is the sort of thing they could have made any time over the past several years; the lush and bubbly sound of Posh Prada’s synths are as much of a of Soundcloud rap staple as Kirb’s flow bouncing off-kilter around them.