The Rap-Up: Week of August 17, 2020

The Rap-Up returns with new cuts from Lil Blade, 18Veno, and more.
By    August 17, 2020

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Brandon Callender was partying with the Pistons in ’04.

Lil Blade – “Chrome Hearts”

There isn’t a city in rap with better lines about jewelry than Detroit. Back in 2004, Blade Icewood let it be known that he “wasn’t be rocking ice anymore; he’d exclusively be wearing “frost.” 15 years after his passing, his son Lil Blade is continuing to carry the torch with his own S-Rank shit-talking abilities. “You niggas wearing glass, my shit hittin’ with no flash,” he raps with disgust in his voice. In two minutes, he goes through an entire catalog of reasons why he’s living life better than you and it feels like he’s nowhere near done. There’s no end to the insults. When he says “I never wear Vlone, I don’t turn around in pictures,” you can picture a bunch of teenagers angrily stuffing their faded t-shirts into the trash. I can’t think of many Father-Son duos in rap that could match Blade Icewood and Lil Blade bar for bar.

18Veno – “Slugs”

The Carolinas have been waiting for a chance to become major players in the rap game ever since Petey Pablo told everyone to take off their shirts and spin it around like a helicopter. On “Slugs,” 18Veno effortlessly glides over 1st Class’ mellowing production. Even though the BoyMeetSpace producers have placements with DaBaby and Playboi Carti, they’re continuing to build with artists from back home in the Carolinas. “Slugs” is the kind of song you find yourself getting lost in easily. Veno’s more reserved on this song than normal, finding himself in different pockets of the beat, but still keeping an aggressive edge while he croons over the lullaby-like beat. It’s not easy to squeeze through the DaBaby-shaped hole in the wall, but that won’t stop Veno from trying.

Coi Leray – “Do Better”

Coi Leray’s someone I’ve paid attention to on and off ever since “Huddy.” Some of her other singles since then, like “Envy C” and “Messy,” caught my attention, but others not so much. Last month, she teamed up with her brother Chavo on the Pierre Bourne-produced “American Deli,” with both of them going at it over the eerie beat. “Do Better” is the second single from her latest EP, Now or Never, and it’s been one of the songs I just keep running back. It’s a song that feels like it’d probably end up in a pregame kick-off DJ set to hype up a team, and the video only affirms that thought. Unhurriedly, she raps, “Now we all ballin’, we pull up and hop out of foreigns / Foot on the gas, no type of stallin’.” With Coi Leray steadily releasing solo music that seems to be getting better, her earworm hooks are gonna end up on someone’s warm-up playlist eventually.

Ovrkast. – “Face (feat. Navy Blue)”

What happens when you don’t feel confident in yourself as an artist? Ovrkast. opens “Face” with a confession, rapping, “Everywhere like I don’t know my place / I got people waiting on me, still though, I can’t show my face.” It’s a line that’s haunted me since I first heard it back when Try Again released in January. He regains some ground in the next line, saying, “I got people hatin’ on me, mad that I control my fate,” but retreats just as quickly in the next line, “Shit, but I can’t show my face.” Those three lines fully illustrate the push-and-pull of self-doubt, with Ovrkast. knowing that he’s capable of doing whatever he wants — even controlling his own destiny — but not being able to bring himself to do anything. It’s a feeling hard to overcome, trying to match the success of others never ends up working out, which becomes evident when he raps, “Cuz I can’t finish what I started, I get locked inside my place.”

Navy Blue’s verse covers ground just as quickly as Ovrkast.’s, talking about his family life, the friends he misses, and his own mission to become a better person. “With Heaven’s grace I’ll make my way with ease across the plain,” he raps with warmth in his voice. Ovrkast. and Navy Blue are wandering through the depths of their mind, slowly untangling all the knots and twists.

Baby 9eno – “Free Bundy”

Baby 9eno makes rapping look way too easy. At this point, I think he could find the pocket on any beat without breaking a sweat. “Free Bundy” is the most recent visual for his latest project Digital 2. With his slithery flow, he squeezes words in-between the flute notes. “They be crankin’ my shit from the west to the east / The opps see me and they don’t even speak,” he taunts. I’ve been hearing his gravelly voice saying, “How you get money but always look crummy?,” in my head all week. The Prince George’s County rapper has been one of the most consistent in the DMV for a while now, Digital 2 was just a reminder.

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