The Rap-Up: Week of February 24, 2020

The Rap-Up returns with a Lil Tjay tribute to Pop Smoke and more.
By    February 24, 2020

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You don’t want to see Mano Sundaresan on a go-go dancefloor.

Lil Tjay – “Forever Pop”

Pop Smoke and Lil Tjay were supposed to take on the world together: New York’s two brightest young rap stars, adhering to different styles but cut from the same cloth. The Brooklyn half was the fiery drill savior, the Bronx half the butter-voiced prince of pop rap. Their chemistry was undeniable. “War” was haunting, “Mannequin” was colossal. Surely a collab tape down the line was in the cards.

When Pop was murdered, we paused. We processed — we’re still processing. And then, when that processing trickled out tangible feelings and duties, we transmitted that information. We talked about it. We wrote tweets. We wrote to our friends. We wrote obituaries, eulogies. Tjay wrote “Forever Pop.” It sounds like he’s still processing. It’s deeply tragic and beautiful.

For every handful of “R.I.P.” posts last week, there was one about not feeling anything. We’re being swallowed by numbness, more accustomed to losing our heroes, and that’ll only get worse as the world accelerates. In an essay for the Washington Post, the always-thoughtful Chris Richards said that “as everything gets faster, it’ll be important to grieve slowly.” That seems like a worthy practice to me; the world always needs more empathy. So fuck a news cycle. Keep processing. Keep feeling, mourning, remembering. Hold your loved ones close.

Tadoe & Lil Yachty – “Get It Bussin”

Lil Yachty’s 22, but at some point when he was 19, he decided he wanted to be taken more seriously. Less singing, more rapping, more Quality Control music. It was a reasonable career move. His 2017 pop album Teenage Emotions had been a massive flop, and the industry in general seemed to be moving away from the bubbly, post-regional rap he’d magicked in a gap year from college. He didn’t pull off the transition successfully, though. For some reason he named his next tape Lil Boat 2, which, to its detriment, sounded nothing like the original. Nuthin 2 Prove at least marked a distinct turn in style, although it was very obviously buoyed by the Quality Control stimulus package containing every playlistable feature artist in the game. 

In the last year, however, he’s piqued my interest more than a few times, and not because he’s hinting at the “old Yachty.” He’s always been excited about the Detroit rap scene, dating back to “From The D To The A” with Tee Grizzley, and that culminated in stellar collabs with Sada Baby and BabyTron in 2019. When Yachty really seems to care about the artists he’s working with, he delivers. On this one, he connects with Tadoe, somehow outrapping him on his home turf, a chaotic Chief Keef beat.

Baby Sosa – “Hectic”

You don’t know DMV underground culture until you’ve seen dozens of heads moshing in Northwest D.C. to the feathery voice of Baby Sosa. She has an arsenal of these delicate, glowing bulbs of songs that convey more personality in minutes than some major label rap albums do in an hour. “Hectic” is one of her latest, and it does not disappoint.

Baby Yungin – “Soul Loose”

There are too many Kevin Gates children to keep track of right now but Baby Yungin, who hails from Dallas, has the talent to pull this type of music off. Equipped with serious vocal chops and range, he makes Deep South flows sound like they were invented by blues artists. Strong writer, too; “Soul Loose” has one of the better hooks I’ve heard all year.

Duwap Kaine – “Killin’”

This new Duwap Kaine album is a Duwap Kaine-ass album. 18 songs take up just 38 minutes. The whole thing is all angular melodies, lines that make you scratch your head in the best way, and beats that quietly progress and reveal their parts. “Killin’” is bar-for-bar the one. Add “Pour lean in my apple juice, Adam and Eve” to Kaine’s book of proverbs.

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