Mano Sundaresan does it because it gives him sort of piece of mind.
Remy Banks – “and more. (feat Wiki)” (prod. Black Noi$e)
Every time a World’s Fair or Ratking affiliate comes out with a gem like this, you remember why you saw their names next to Pro Era and A$AP Mob in blogs just a few years ago. Despite some stagnation in output, the gritty New Yorkers are still remarkably consistent. Wiki, of Ratking, made a solid commercial debut last year with No Mountains in Manhattan, while World’s Fair finally released their proper debut album New Lows this past summer. There are obviously a lot of “what-ifs” in the history of these (and many other) strands of 2010s NYC rap, but the music is still good.
This beat is just devastating. Black Noi$e knows; he lets the cinematic instrumental ride out and evolve for a minute-and-a-half after the rapping. He turns part of a Whispers ballad into a somber wail that exudes excess and temptation. Remy Banks and Wiki get the message, coming with their best weed raps. Banks sees the smoke turn to spirits in his blunted daydream, while Wiki finds solace in reality – scorched lips, smells in school hallways, anxiety about wasted weed.
7981Kal – “Trap Addict (feat. Illy Dee)”
When I first heard 7981Kal, I was irrationally baffled. How could this guy making drill music be from Boston? Then I realized that there’s nothing really wrong with that. Boston rap doesn’t have a sound. There are blog rap holdovers like Michael Christmas and a rising emo rap wave and Cousin Stizz, but nothing definitive like Detroit funk or Los Angeles nervous rap.
In light of this, 7981Kal might represent a breakthrough. Sure, the sound isn’t Boston’s. But it could be a promising scene that matures into something original, like Brooklyn drill.
The style pairs nicely with 7981Kal’s content. Through drill, you hear the battle-scarred homer in 7981Kal. These are verses about growing up quickly in Dorchester, becoming a trap addict out of necessity. Dorchester is a wellpool of both nostalgia and trauma that Stizz has accessed for some of his most compelling songs too.
Anderson .Paak/Robert Glasper – “Fall in Love” (Slum Village cover)
When Robert Glasper plays at Blue Note Jazz Club in NYC, spontaneous shit beyond Glasper taking his tenth solo tends to happen. Most famously, Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, and Yasiin Bey once all hopped on stage to freestyle over Glasper’s renditions of assorted Dilla beats – a rap dream for a late-90s baby that’s still impressive (ignoring a few Kanye respectability politics bars that have aged like milk).
This time, Anderson .Paak was the surprise guest, making a cameo in Glasper’s show at Blue Note earlier this week as part of the pianist’s October residency there. The video’s title is slightly misleading. The lyrics are lifted from the Slum Village song (with some updates to reflect, uh, Instagram thots) but Glasper’s chords are from “The Look of Love” by Busta Rhymes. .Paak’s occasional head-scratching ad libs are forgiven because drummer Chris Dave’s pocket could soundtrack a procession of the jazz gods.
Blueface – “Respect My Crypn” (prod Lillaudiano)
While on the subject of pockets, let’s talk about Blueface’s. What Twitter says through memes is that (1) he sounds like Courage the Cowardly Dog (this is true) and (2) he’s bad at rapping (this isn’t). I don’t want to frame him as some kind of virtuosic rapper’s rapper, but the best way I can describe Blueface’s rapping is that it’s daring. Blueface spends dangerous time stringing together words in all spaces outside of the beat, reaching (and, for many, breaching) the limit of listenability before flinging himself back on the top of the next bar. “Play with my respect / Leave him wetter than a dream” could easily be subdivided into even sixteenth notes but he instead starts the second line offbeat, somehow stringing together the words so that he ends back on-beat. I’m losing my mind at 4:00AM over a wet dream bar, thank you Blueface.
Sheck Wes – “Kyrie” (prod. Redda)
The jury’s still out on the official POW verdict on Mudboy but I like this album for basically every inexplicable reason other fans of it do. Many describe Sheck Wes as “objectively bad” but I don’t think we can grade him on the same scale as Playboi Carti, let alone most rappers. The mix of clear enunciation, straightforward cadences, and not saying much reminds me of Travis Scott, but I know more about Sheck from “Wanted” than I do about Travis from Astroworld. I chose “Kyrie” for all of the explicable reasons. Can’t wait to watch Jayson Tatum hoist his Finals MVP trophy next summer to “Jayson Tatum, rookie, how I’m ballin’ in this sleeve!”