Mano Sundaresan is gonna troll ’til they fold blankets.
Chris Crack – “Sophisticated Ghetto Broad (feat. $tevie Adam$, U.G.L.Y. Boy Modeling)” (prod. IB Classic)
This is the time of year when we collectively assume that music is slowing down and our focus shifts from the release schedule to year-end lists. It’s true that the major artists typically don’t drop this late in the year, but that shouldn’t mean ignore December entirely. It’s what happened with Cold Devil by Drakeo the Ruler and 2 Tha Left by G Perico at the end of last year, and it’s what’s probably going to happen with this new Chris Crack album Thanks Uncle Trill, among other releases.
Crack has had a quietly prolific year — this is his sixth album of 2018 — and although he’s been hanging in the Chicago underground for years, he’s finally starting to get some national attention. It’s hard to pin down his sound. He rarely strays from a few themes — women, dreams of women, shit-talking, nights out — but he’s charismatic and weird enough to keep them interesting. Thanks Uncle Trill is a solid introduction to his music. It’s the aural equivalent of Chris Crack welcoming you into his home and telling you a little too much about his life before dragging you to the club, and J-Zone is there for some reason too.
The production is left-field, but like Crack’s mind, never settles into any one gear. Sprightly DIY music like “Run My Fade” exists alongside cinematic loops like “Hennergy” that you’d find on a Griselda record. “Sophisticated Ghetto Broad” is my current favorite but this album is brimming with gems.
Blueface – “Bleed It” (prod. Mike Crook)
A trend that I hope is finally shirked in 2019 is the mainstream tokenization of LA street rap. You know, dismissing the region’s music outright or, at most, having an artist fill a void in the memescape. It is a strange, festering byproduct of the East Coast-West Coast beef. Then, it was about substance and lyrics and whether or not people were allowed to have fun making rap. East and West Coast rappers aren’t slinging mud at each other anymore, but the anti-West sentiment still remains in the national consciousness. “It all sounds the same.” “They rap off-beat.”
Most recently, people who’ve finally exhausted the “Blueface raps three days behind the beat” take have started calling him an industry plant. Easily the most nonsensical use of that mostly meaningless term I’ve witnessed in a while. Go watch videos of his ridiculous local shows last summer. Or the video of him performing on top of a car, surrounded by high schoolers who know every word to “Freak Bitch.”
What will hopefully happen is that Blueface becomes a superstar next year, and his new fans intuitively dig into the rest of what the city has to offer. If Blueface gets past this meme phase — keep in mind that Chief Keef and Young Thug had to overcome this too, at least on a national level — he’ll likely gain some much-deserved respect and could serve as a gateway to other up-and-coming LA rappers.
Rucci – “Mopsticks Freestyle” (prod. Tio)
I’ve been thinking about Rucci in the aforementioned context, whether he can shoot for stardom on his own or is destined to be a scene artist that another LA star will have to introduce the world to. His new music makes me confident that he has independent star power, but the evil, compartmentalized reality of American rap consumption could still smother it. He just put out his new tape For My Dawgz, which he’s described as an informal prelude to his next album That’s Norf. The project comes off as a collection of songs that didn’t have a home between major releases, but it shows that Rucci’s been honing his craft, finding ways to incorporate his colossal personality into production that strays from his Inglewood roots. Rucci’s always had an affinity for Baton Rouge rap — Boosie, Webbie — and that is starting to come out more here.
Compared to the majority of this tape and his last album El Perro, “Mopsticks Freestyle” doesn’t bounce, it simmers and pulsates, like something LUCKI would murmur threats over. But instead of brooding over the beat, Rucci swallows it up, snarling truths on a full tank of adrenaline. What he’s saying is pre-reflective, coming to him in the moment, but you can tell he’s been thinking about some of the lines — his parents’ love, sending letters to his incarcerated uncle — for long past the minute and 40 seconds. If this is any indication of what That’s Norf will sound like, 2019 could be Rucci’s to lose.
Rizzoo Rizzoo – “Pistol on You”
Rizzoo Rizzoo hangs his legs out of an ice cream truck while barring out in this cut off his latest album Rario World. He’s often on hook duty for songs by The Sauce Factory, the sprawling artistic collective at the center of Houston street rap and culture. They innovated on hip-hop vernacular with “sauce” and “drip,” and have made a number of local hits over the years. Sauce Walka and Sosamann are the collective’s most promising solo artists — Walka’s “Ghetto Gospel” is one of the best Texas rap songs of 2018 — but Rizzoo Rizzoo is quickly working his way into the conversation. He’s honest and funny, both as a rapper and in interviews, and proudly sips out of a double-cup while firing off flows. His raps are effortless and self-aware on “Pistol on You”: “Sipping on lean, give a fuck ‘bout a kidney.”
Peezy – “2 Quick (feat. Payroll Giovanni & Tee Grizzley)”
The way this song and video build up to Payroll Giovanni’s verse (and specifically the first line of his verse) reminded me of a classic DJ Khaled posse cut and I mean that as the highest of compliments. Payroll comes in with, “I ain’t gon’ lie, I ain’t quick to do nothing / I gotta think strategic, gotta move with my stomach” like the rapper-slash-self-help guru he is slowly evolving into. Additional required listening: Payroll Giovanni’s 10 Stack Commandments. A Detroit rapper’s electro-influenced take on The Millionaire Next Door. It’s fire, but come on, the tracklist reads like chapters from a financial literacy book: “Get Money”; “Invest”; “Keep More Than One Income.” The Pistons organization needs to listen to it before trading for another max contract player without a winning mentality.