The Rap-Up: Week of June 13, 2022

Donald Morrison's Rap-Up is here featuring new music from Hiway, Ball Greezy, Kevin Gates and more.
By    June 13, 2022

Image via Hiway/YouTube

The Rap-Up is the only weekly round-up providing you with the best rap songs you’ve yet to hear. So support real, independent music journalism by subscribing to Passion of the Weiss on Patreon.

Donald Morrison is currently writing an ‘Ocean’s 12’ style movie where a group of thieves knock off the Powell’s Books rare book room in Portland.

Hiway – “Orange Cap City”

When I was in high school in 2007 we smoked Oxycontin pills off tin foil or cut them up and snorted them if we wanted it to last longer. It was safer than shooting it because you were more likely to pass out or throw up before actually overdosing. We also had a better idea of where the pills were coming from, not that it would have mattered anyway.

In 2022, the oxy’s that big pharma illegally and maliciously flooded our streets with aren’t being made anymore. But not to worry: the black market has filled the void with pressed pills containing fentanyl made to look like 30mg blue Percocets. They’re potent enough to kill you just from smoking it – and lab testing on confiscated pills can take weeks to get back because police are scared to touch them. Taking opiates recreationally has always been a game of Russian Roulette, it’s just now the gun is loaded with more bullets.

Eureka is a port town in Northern California of roughly 30,000, known for being the largest coastal city between San Francisco and Portland, Oregon. It’s located in Humboldt County, which saw fentanyl deaths quadruple between 2020 and 2021. The Humboldt County Drug Task Force reported this year that the synthetic opiate eclipsed heroin as the second most popular drug in the area. There isn’t a single person in America who can say they haven’t been personally impacted by the opiate epidemic. If you haven’t overdosed yourself, you know somebody who has. You likely have a family member who can’t seem to get their shit together. Or you’re actually the family member I’m speaking about, in which case kudos to you for reading this bullshit in between fixes.

Eureka-based rapper Hiway has seen firsthand the devastation the opiate epidemic has brought to his community, which he grimly refers to as Orange Cap City. Even in a smaller area like Eureka, it’s inevitable you’ll eventually walk past a discarded syringe cap or plunger. Hiway paints a picture of Eureka that’s both dark and hopeless, lamenting on the gloomy climate and small-town malaise. “We up North, but I think they forget we’re still California, same attitude but in our case it’s worse because we battle boredom.” Hiway is succinctly describing the conditions that led to the addiction crisis in small town America: boredom, desperation and spiritual pain, mixed with a steady-supply of opiates.

The video for “Orange Cap City” is a tour through the dilapidated streets of Eureka, showing rows of abandoned homes and boarded-up buildings. You get a sense that Hiway truly loves his city in a nonjudgmental way. He doesn’t love Eureka despite the littered syringes; he loves Eureka because of the littered syringes. But he’s not afraid to ask for change. Hiway speaks about addiction with a perspective that shows real love towards the addict still suffering. He refrains from ever blaming the addict and instead looks at the big picture, name checking the government and big corporations like Walmart as the true criminals in this equation. It’s refreshing to hear in a genre that heavily glorifies abusing opiates, while also pushing a narrative that being unable to stop is somehow a moral failing.

Ball Greezy – “Comin Thru”

Finally, a remake of an underappreciated early-2000s song that pays creative homage to the source material without sounding hitched to cheap nostalgia. Florida native Ball Greezy participates in elevated car-talk in “Comin Thru” over a flip of Trick Daddy’s 2002 song-of-the-summer contender “In Da Wind,” featuring Big Boi, a pre-superstar CeeLo Green and produced by Jazze Pha. The beat’s simple guitar riff instantly transports me back to the first time I heard Trick Daddy riding in the back of my friend’s older sister’s car.

“Comin Thru” is a worthy ode to one of the region’s most inspiring voices and couldn’t have come at a better time. Trick Daddy has spent the past decade battling legal troubles, health problems and bankruptcy. In the past few months he’s seemed to have entered a new era turning a well received Instagram and Facebook Live feed into a Youtube cooking show called “I Got My Pots.”

Trick Daddy appears briefly in the video for “Comin Thru,” and the comments section is filled with rabid fans begging for an official remix, setting up a scenario where Trick Daddy earns another song-of-the-sumer two decades after “In Da Wind.” Ball Greezy displays a conversational flow reminiscent of the best Trick Daddy songs. He smartly decides to let the beat ride with a minimalist chorus, showcasing the nostalgic production we all know and love.

Axion – “Warzone” feat. SleazyWorld Go and 81Hundo

Axion is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin but is currently based in Texas. He’s worked with a host of Michigan rappers including Babyface Ray, Veeze and Peezy, each of which complimented Axion’s stripped down, Southern-inspired sound. “Warzone” is the first collaboration with Sleazyworld Go and 81Hundo, and it sits nicely next to the other firearms-obsessed singles they’ve released the past year.

Axion is smart enough to make music with two artists who are clearly destined for some sort of stardom, with Sleazyworld having enough charisma to turn everything he says into some kind of dark catchphrase, like “we be stretching,” which closes out his first verse in “Warzone,” and is featured in the chorus of his runaway hit “Sleazy Flow.”

B-Lovee – “SHOTTAS” | “BACK IN BLOOD” PT 2 feat. 150 EBK and COE Wiki | “Demon” feat. Coi Leray

B-Lovee raps with an intensity that reminds me of a mix between Pop Smoke and G Herbo. The Bronx-raised rapper is quickly becoming his area’s biggest drill artist in the wake of Kay Flock’s arrest for first-degree murder in January. This week marks a turn in the young artist’s career, with a new single featuring Coi Leray, as well as a set of tabloid stealing rumors that the two might be dating.

“Demon” doesn’t find B-Lovee toning down his assertive nature. He tells his girl to stay classy while making gun noises with his mouth. The beat mixes the drill sound with the Cuban, club-leaning sounds coming out of Miami. Coi Leray delivers an unremarkable opening verse but saves it with an infectious hook that could easily place the song in rotation on NYC radio stations this summer. B-Lovee rounded out his week by releasing videos for “SHOTTAS,” and “BACK IN BLOOD 2,” which is a collaboration with 150 EBK and CEO Wiki. Both songs are more standard fare for the 21-year-old rapper, with the latter showing off a brilliant exchange of bars between B-Lovee and EBK.

Kevin Gates – “Super General” (Freestyle)

Kevin Gates is back to his messy ways with another five and a half minute confessional airing out his dirty laundry. It exists in the same vein of classic Gates grievance songs, like “The Truth,” from his album Islah, where he expands on the time he kicked in the chest a fan in Florida, an incident he’d eventually do prison time for. In that song, he eye-rolling blames the woman for getting herself kicked by grabbing at his crotch and violating his personal boundaries. Whie maybe true, this is a good example of the limitations Gates runs into when getting autobiographical. He;s able to be vulnerable to a point, but stops just short of taking any real personal responsibility.

The “Super General Freestyle,” shows Gates at his most raw in years. He’s learning to get to know himself again after breaking up with his long-time partner, Dreka Gates, a relationship that’s played-out in the public eye for more than six years. I’m an adult, so I won’t relitigate every salacious detail Gates includes in his screed, but I will say that he sounds reinvigorated and it looks like the break-up has only instigated him to go even harder for his upcoming album. Gates is best when engaging in the kind of radical honesty present in the “Super General Freestyle” and I hope he continues opening up on his upcoming record, the intro of which can be listened to here.

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