The Rap-Up For the Week of December 7

The week's best rap songs from DaBoii, Benny the Butcher, Blueface, Earl, Drego, Big Baby Scumbag & more
By    December 7, 2018

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Mano Sundaresan needs more shells than Taco Bell.

DaBoii – “Back 2 Skoo” (prod. Link+Up)

On the SOB X RBE albums, DaBoii is a central, commanding force, but the songs are designed such that his presence is reduced to a counterpoint. This isn’t a bad thing; in fact, it’s what makes the group so captivating. Songs like “Anti Social” have their highest payoff in the vocal transitions – Yhung T.O’s skittering chorus snapping into DaBoii’s yap. The voices complement each other by design.

Strip away T.O.’s melodies and Slimmy B and Lul G’s shit-talking, however, and DaBoii’s singularity really becomes apparent. He’s clearly the ringleader of the ‘80s electro fan club that SOB X RBE doubles as. On his latest solo project Neva Lookin Back, he dips into those deep funk sounds: booming drums, squelching basslines, Christmas bells, and other presets you’d find in a cheap Yamaha keyboard. DaBoii doesn’t compartmentalize his influences, often sliding from straightforward 20-year-old flows into off-beat rhythms on the same song. This shouldn’t go unnoticed on “Back 2 Skoo” – hear how he jumps into the Suga Free flow after the first eight on-beat bars. DaBoii’s a criminally underrated stylist. The video is a good portrayal of what nerdy high schoolers trying to shoot a video between classes looks like, down to the guy who’s wearing pants at least six sizes too big.

Blueface – “Studio” (prod. by Laudiano)

The road to universal appreciation of Blueface will be a long one. For every blog profile and artist co-sign, there’s someone comparing him to Hobo Johnson or still hoping that he’ll one day rap on-beat. And of course there are the memes, which occupy, and sometimes collapse, that viral grey area between praise and condescension. The jokes and criticism are hiding the fact that Blueface can make infectious, three-verse songs that never tire like this one. “Studio” is brimming with ludicrous quotables. The chorus sets up the prophecy of Blueface – “Hop in the booth and let the truth be told” – before we receive said truth, which contains no less than three Taco Bell references and a reminder that Blueface keeps his Glock on him like a lunch pail.

Big Baby Scumbag “Major Payne” (prod. by Polo Boy Shawty)

Someone needs to document how ad libs evolved from grunts and name drops to Big Baby Scumbag’s “Y’all take Apple Pay?”

Earl Sweatshirt “Red Water” (prod. by randomblackdude)

I go to a college where the price of admission is a chunk of your mental health. Any institution in the middle of nowhere that demands academic rigor from kids who don’t yet know if academia is their calling, is bound to be oppressive. When I hear from my friends about their depression, I sometimes glean a dark, stormy experience, but more often, they describe to me the banality of the mundane – waking up on a Tuesday and realizing you can’t leave your bed, feeling like a passenger in a body as you walk around campus, skipping meals because there’s no point leaving your half-done paper in the library for some unseasoned fish.

Some Rap Songs is a crystallization of this sort of emptiness. Grief is persistent, but never monolithic. It wraps itself up with nostalgia and longing, weaving its way into Earl Sweatshirt’s highs and lows. Earl smirks through “The Mint” and fires off brags on “The Bends,” all while struggling to keep his head afloat. His writing darts from hyperreal snapshots to surrealist escapism. “Red Water” haunts with images of blood in water and on Earl’s late father. The beat whirs and buzzes like an old TV in a waiting room.

Drego, Beno, Shredgang Strap, HMG Dunnies “Wit a D on You”

The Bay Area-Detroit connection is particularly strong on this week’s Detroit rap song. Keep the obvious samples coming too, this Bobby Caldwell flip is actually nasty.

Benny the Butcher- “Broken Bottles” (prod. by Alchemist)

Benny the Butcher lurks in the shadows in contrast to Griselda crewmates Westside Gunn and Conway, but that should change after Tana Talk 3, his best project to date. Benny is a menacing, deep-voiced rapper cut from the same stylistic cloth as his Buffalo peers. His aspirations on “Broken Bottles” read as brags. Over a noir stomper from Alchemist, Benny says he wants to see so much bread he has to take counseling. We love bars that hint at the ill effects of late capitalism.

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