The Rap-Up: June 29th, 2020

The Rap-Up returns with new bangers from Cruel Santino, JPEGMAFIA, and more.
By    June 29, 2020

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Mano Sundaresan is dragging bodies like it’s Metal Gear.

Miss Kam – Birthday Pack

The last song Miss Kam uploaded to her SoundCloud before her latest tape Birthday Pack was a freestyle over “We Takin’ Over” by DJ Khaled. Rapping on that beat, you’re basically setting yourself up for a disastrous Wayne comparison, but Kam demolishes it. From the six songs she has out, you can tell she has a passion and gift for the form at an elemental level. She can rap her ass off. 

Kam is from Baltimore but has the formless, borderless versatility of a Busta Rhymes or Missy Elliott. On the three-song Birthday Pack, you get a track like “Nasty,” a delirious twerk anthem, right next to “Never Ever,” which has the true-school sound and energy of a Funkmaster Flex freestyle. The opener “Solar Return” is the pièce de résistance, a shit-talking manifesto complete with a half dozen flows and immaculate production.

JPEGMAFIA – “The Bends!”

Maybe I just hang in the wrong circles, but it feels like JPEGMAFIA has slipped out of the discourse this year. Just last year he was being touted as one of rap’s great experimentalists, with many hailing All My Heroes Are Cornballs one of the best albums of 2019. Do people just not care about his singles the same way? Or is this something deeper — a general obsession with/fetishization of music discovery, as opposed to growing with an artist?

That’s a worry I’ve personally had as a writer focused on new music. It’s important to remind yourself as someone in this that music journalism isn’t placing bets on artists. Nor is it a race to who gets to an artist first. Save that for the industry people. This is about putting on and contextualizing artists, then watching those artists grow, mapping out their careers and impact as a continual symbiosis with culture, not just a single, vacuous starting point. 

If your music writer brain is telling you that Peggy is “boring” or “washed” because you’ve known about him for two years, then you’ve been missing out for no good reason. He’s been on a tear the last few months. “The Bends!” takes aim at our reigning, unmasked Cheeto in the prettiest way possible. Glowing, industrial boom bap floating somewhere among the bees.

Cruel Santino – “End Of The Wicked”

Here’s something that’ll take some getting used to: the artist formerly known as Santi. Allegedly, a guy from Spain got mad at the Nigerian pop artist for using his name, so now he’s Cruel Santino, which is such an evil villain name for someone who makes such soothing music. As he hints at in this video, there may be some sort of YNW Melly multiple personalities thing happening.

One thing’s clear: none of this has meant a shift in music quality. His new single “End Of The Wicked” with Octavian is perfectly elastic with an absolutely nuts hook. And yet, for its summery feel, there is a slight shift in tone from last year’s Mandy And The Jungle. Santino puts a tab on his tongue and watches girls turn to demons. Octavian is skulking at the club, scoffing at everyone. Nothing edgy enough to be associated with someone named “Cruel Santino” but what’s a name anyway. He’s still the best. I hope that guy in Spain is happy.

(Also: The song takes its name from a 1999 Nollywood horror film, which you can watch on YouTube in two parts. It looks insane. Here’s the poster and yes that’s a witch with dick out.)

BandGang Masoe – “Westside Rodney”

BandGang Masoe has always moved a little differently from his Detroit peers. On his last tape Zai Chari, he pulled from styles well past the city limits. Here, he experiments with the lo-fi recording quality and video style of the SoundCloud boom. It works really well, and it’s amazing how these tiny changes can change the entire tone of a regional sound.

Diamondsonmydick & Yung Gud – “Cryjng Diamonds”

A music video that does the rare, impressive work of generating all kinds of nostalgia without directly referencing anything in particular. Hints of Ape Escape, Animal Crossing, Kirby 64, Luigi’s Mansion. Logically paired with helium voices floating over Harry Nilsson’s greatest hit.

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