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Harley Geffner keeps a good pair of snowshoes just in case shit gets heavy.
03 Greedo – “Dear Winter”
Every time a new Greedo song drops, it’s a mixed bag of emotions. We get to hear more from the best rapper to come out of LA since I started paying attention to rap, but the celebrations have an air of tragedy. Whether he gets out of prison in 20 years or 5 with parole, it feels like an eternity to me. Who can barely think more than 20 hours into the future? His releases hit with the same disoriented rush you get from posthumous releases.
Greedo supposedly recorded over 600 songs that his team can drop while he’s away, and “Dear Winter” is my favorite to come out yet. The trickle of snow and cackling fire are palpable as Greedo puts you in a nice log cabin with your girl, bear rugs and bare hugs. It’s chilly out this bitch, but he’s got fire weed. I thought the track couldn’t get any smoother, then Greedo caps it off with a coda inspired by Soul For Real’s “Candy Rain.”
21 Savage – “Ball w/o You”
Depending on your vantage, 21 Savage is either jaded or he has post-traumatic stress disorder. Maybe it’s a little of both. Violence barely registers any emotion and he’s seen enough heartbreak to disillusion him from love. It started in middle school when he got his heart broken and stopped writing love letters. Now his heart’s so cold it needs a Moncler sweater. 21 goes full Donald Glover talking over the pound cake beat to express his preference for loyalty over love. People will love you and still stab you in the back, but loyalty demands a higher form of respect.
Anyone who’s been through a bad breakup should be able to relate to “ball w/o you.” It’s “thank u, next” for men. What is there left to do after having your heart broken by the girl who used to heal your pain? No choice but to ball without her.
Father x Zack Fox – “Family Function”
The line between comedy and rap has been blurred since “Rappin’ Rodney” and it’s only getting fuzzier. Zack Fox is the owner of one of the funniest Twitter accounts on the internet, yet here he is on a rap blog. Enabled by the dark comedy of of internet-centric weirdo aesthetics, Fox has been with Atlanta’s Awful Records through it all. He grew up in ATL and Ethereal was his buddy long before he was the Ethereal producing the best music of Carti’s career. Fox also helped spawn Father’s trunk-rattling troll job of a banger “Wrist.” So it made too much sense when Fox dropped his first song “Square Up,” over a no melody beat paired with the most absurd variety of a Woah Dance, encouraging flying fists on the dance floor (apologies to Uzi for the one from F1LTHY’s Insta).
Fox teams back up with Father for an earworm of a holiday song that starts “2-dicked up on a Tuesday night.” It sounds like a classic Awful song, with Father pulling up to the family function with the pint-full and Fox bragging about hitting up the club to do something that’ll get his ass whooped and smoking on Elon-pack. Zack is now 2/2 in the rap game. He’s Weird Al Yankovic updated for the internet, but actually good and actually funny [ed. note: we do not condone this outrageous Weird Al slander]. He has a sense for teasing out cultural moments and for solely selfish reasons, I’m hoping he’ll prioritize making more music to go along with his bevy of other creative pursuits.
Sauce Walka – “Family”
Over the most familiar sample of all time (from Alice DeeJay’s 1998 “Better Off Alone”), that has also been used by Wiz Khalifa and David Guetta, Sauce tells a story of intergenerational familial mismanagement. A girl gets pregnant at 16 and is still smoking weed while her mom sleeps with the pressed pill guy. Her brother gets shot and his partner drives him to the hospital, but mom’s still at the bar. It’s revealed that the father of his sister’s baby is his partner and now he’s debating shooting his partner, but he’s worried about who’s going to take care of the baby.
It’s a heart-wrenching tale and one that Sauce is uniquely capable of fully fleshing out as one of the most gifted story-tellers of his class of rappers. It’s moving as a standalone, but hit up the rest of his new album, Sauce Ghetto Gospel, to get a sense for the full extent of his powers. Keep a finger on the playback though, you won’t want to miss a moment.
Polo G – “My Brother”
Chicago’s Polo G established himself as one of the silkiest voices in the game alongside Melly and Tjay with his single Finer Things earlier this year. He’s only 19 and hasn’t put out a full project yet, but his sporadic singles have gained some serious traction and he’s had a bunch of loosies surface over the past few weeks.
On “My Brother,” Polo speaks to the pain from growing up in a place where brains get evicted by red beams. The song is a little scatter-brained, touching on everything from riding for his brother, his love for music, to cleaning up skeletons in his closet when his girl discovers them. But it’s all pulled together by the soulful intonation that sits somewhere between resigned and just tired of all the hood shit.