Harley Geffner would like to invite you to read the Game of Thrones series.
NBA Youngboy – “FREEDDAWG”
At the time of this writing, random Soundcloud rips of “FREEDDAWG” occupy the 3,4,5,6,7,9, 11, 15, and 16 spots on Soundcloud’s New & Hot hip hop chart. There’s still a significant disconnect in how much the mainstream conversation involves NBA Youngboy and how much of America actually bangs his music on the daily. A friend of mine last week said he wasn’t a household name and while that may be true in his and my irl circles for the most part, go to any hood in America and he’s definitely more well-known than your favorite rapper on the come-up getting all the reviews.
According to YouTube views, Youngboy is among the most popular artists in America. Their charts have had him ranked as the most played artist list across all genres for much of the last five months. He had to run away from fans at an arena yesterday in a hilarious video and fan reaction videos to his Insta stories get millions of plays. It’s probably not news to you, but it’s still easy because his new music rarely seems to have much of a promo strategy. But that’s the same approach that got him popular in the first place–a steady stream of loosies and snippets.
The lack of coverage in the major press inevitably stems from the pending assault charges against him — admittedly a gruesome fact to deliberate. Nonetheless that hasn’t put a dent in his rabid fanbase who blow up every fragment of his music. It’s easy to forget that he’s 19, given the eternity it feels like he’s been popular, but there remains a haunted gravity to his music and that can’t be ignored.
Retch ft. Roc Marciano – “Dubs & Losses” (prod. Grimm Doza)
Dubs & Losses conjures up vivid nightmares of haunted corridors filled with cobwebs, creaky floors and swinging axes. Escape the booby trapped mansion and the headless horseman is waiting outside with an army of white walkers (I hope this is a correct reference, I don’t watch GoT). Grimm Doza loves these Halloweeny freestyle beats that bring me back to trying to rap over Shook Ones II.
Retch always spits with this air of disgust like he’s sick that he’s even been called on to spend his precious time doing anything other than carving corpses and handing out Ls to his enemies. And Roc Marci might still be the most underrated lyricist of this generation, threatening to split your mango and flip your Kangol. This song was officially off Retch’s July, 2018 album After the Verdict, but I only caught it this week when Grimm Doza re-uploaded to SC. Alexa, set a reminder to revisit in October.
Breezy Blixky – “Rampage”
Brooklyn drill’s distinctly wobbling bass lines are so entrancing. Matched with the bells, cymbal crashes and stuttering BK flows, I could spend my whole life listening to nothing but Bliggity videos. Humanity would level up if Bliggity had an Apple Music channel. Breezy Blixky takes a rip at this teetering beat, drilling and lurking in suburbans. He goes in and out of talking and rapping like Donald Glover’s “Pound Cake” freestyle that everyone and their cousin swears is as underrated as Frank Ocean’s Oldie verse.
He raps in a way that reminds me of how Caris LeVert plays basketball. He’s off-rhythm and gets his shots off a second before or after a defender expects them, usually leaning in a weird direction or jumping off the wrong foot. It still syncs with the beat though, same as Caris still gets buckets. When he opens, rapping, “Doing hits by my doley, Sixo my name and I keep me a 40 // Spinnin blocks in a Stoley, 24 stay strapped so I think that I’m Kobe,” the emphases fall on ‘doley,’ ‘Sixo,’ and ‘keep’ in the set-up. Again, this is all stylistically common in BK drill, but it still hits hard every time. Heavy doses of punchlines, threats that feel a little too legit, and big church bells too?
FMB DZ x Lil Yee x Lil Pete – “Sacrifices”
No Rap-Up is complete without some bumpy Detroit keys. It’s a style that’s been hitting heavily in the Bay too, so it’s no surprise to see the Detroit’s FMB DZ teaming with the the Bay’s Lil Yee. DZ opens with a verse reflecting on the sacrifices he’s made to get a slice, mixed with some brags about his Dominican girl having little feet. Lil Pete handles hook duties, bridging DZ’s sinister gruff into Lil Yee’s silky and pained ruminations on his mom moving out of the hood when she couldn’t handle the shots ringing out every night.
Rich N****z – “Late Nights”
Last I heard from GMC’s Rich Baby’s insta story, Rich N****z was being held on $250K bail on attempted murder charges. I know absolutely nothing about the case outside of that snapshot and I’m not going to pretend to, but this track of his dropped a week ago and reflects the intuitive ear for melodies and pillowy voice that makes Rich N****z and a lot of GMC so special. He’s reminiscing over his lost brothers while killers are on the hunt for him, all over this gorgeous piano loop. Long prosper these GMC kids, man. Houston is right there with Brooklyn as possibly my favorite regional scene right now. LA, DMV and Detroit would round out the top 5, if you were wondering.