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Mano Sundaresan drinks mad PG Tips.
SG Tip – “So High” (prod. Kid Hazel)
SG Tip sounds like 21 Savage’s little brother, and I don’t mean that as some played-out clone jab. It feels more like the continuation of a lineage than blatant biting, which makes sense given Tip and Savage’s close relationship. They’re both affiliated with Slaughter Gang, a tightly-wound East Atlanta group of which rap is a byproduct and survival is the end. They aren’t biologically related, but consider each other to be family. They both have a knife tattooed on their foreheads, commemorating Savage’s actual younger brother Tayman who was gunned down in a messy drug deal.
Unsurprisingly, the younger SG Tip takes cues from Savage, as any little brother tends to. In a year without much new 21 Savage music (yet) I’ve found myself going back to SG Tip’s early-summer tape Block Boy as a more-than-capable substitute. They both utilize the same deadpan delivery, Tip’s voice slightly higher and more croaky, and toe the same line between gritty realism and goofy irreverence.
Like his mentor, SG Tip is a writer whose wit is bolstered by supreme confidence. You can hear it on “So High.” “I’m so high I could shit on a bird / I’m a rich nigga, this a million dollar turd” is the best defecation boast I’ve heard in a minute.
E-40 – “These Days (feat. Yhung T.O.)” (prod. ProHoeZak)
While the other elder statesmen of rap musically distill their midlife crises with varying degrees of success, E-40 continues to churn out loquacious hyphy songs with bars like “I drink cognac like Kim Jong Un.” His latest project Gift of Gab (characteristically, the first in a series of three albums to be released this year) finds the ageless street pundit going toe-to-toe with a slew of rap’s blossoming and established stars, from G Perico and Vince Staples to Sada Baby and FMB DZ.
Of course, there are signs of the old man in 40. There’s “These Days,” a funky song that bears more resemblance to the PokéRap than an actual funk song. This isn’t totally a bad thing. Once you get past the fact that Biz Markie or a young Nav would body this beat, it’s honestly pretty catchy. Just as it’s getting a little too sinewy, Yhung T.O. swoops in with a superstar chorus over 80’s synths that have put food on Bruno Mars’ plate for years. If you’re a 50-year-old rapper whose closest thing to dad rap has a Yhung T.O. feature, you’re basically immortal.
TLE Cinco – “2 Smooth (feat. Lil 3)”
The name TLE Cinco might not mean anything to you right now. This Vine might. It’s a now-legendary rap battle on a bus in which the Alabama rapper, backed by a chorus of jeers and ad libs, rains down on an unprepared opponent with a string of non-sequitur schoolboy disses infamously ending with, “You smell like you farted (farted) / artist (artist) / A/B honor roll, all F’s you retarded.”
It took a few years, but this summer, TLE Cinco graduated from a Vine meme to a promising young hitmaker. All it really took was one song, “All The Money,” which earned him a WorldStar placement and the thousands of eyes that come with it. While Cinco shines on the deconstructed “All The Money” beat, he sounds more at home on “2 Smooth,” punching in a high-octane hook over bluesy keys. Look out for this guy.
Rucci – “Your Life (feat. Jay Ward)” (prod. Romo)
The way Rucci’s voice scrunches up on the chorus of this song reminds me of early, hungry-as-hell Schoolboy Q. On camera, he has a similarly inescapable presence. The video ends and you don’t recall much aside from that Rucci was everywhere.
This dropped a few days ago and only has around 2000 views, which baffles me but I’m also an out-of-touch rap writer. I’m just playing the waiting game with Rucci’s inevitable ascent to stardom.
Lil Blurry – “Now I Made It” (prod. Fly Melodies)
But it’s hard playing the waiting game when, for every Rucci out there, there’s one of these. If Matty B and Matt Ox are on opposite ends of the prepubescent rapper spectrum, Lil Blurry is precisely in the middle, unable to decide whether he wants to do squeaky-clean Kidz Bop covers of Biggie or make weird Working On Dying shit with fidget spinners. At this point, my criticism doesn’t matter. This new song was averaging 7.6 streams per second a couple days ago. Adam22 tweeted out the lyrics. Boosie signed him. I’m sure the SoundCloud thinktank has already arranged for the Lil Xan and Lil Skies collabs. Throw everything away.