Image via Bruiser Wolf/Instagram
Bruiser Wolf – “2 BAD” (feat. Danny Brown & Zelooperz)
There are dozens of Reddit posts and even an article on Genius dedicated to ranking the best verses on “1 Train,” the infamous, blog-ara ensemble from A$AP Rocky’s 2013 debut album. The safest answer is Big K.R.I.T., who closes out his extended 16’ by comparing himself to tattoo artist Miya Bailey. But the wild card pick has always been Danny Brown, who becomes one of the only rappers in history to rhyme the word penguin, and proclaims that his dick stretches all the way to the planet Venus. Every rapper did their thing, but Danny’s verse is the only one I’ve seen rapped at a party word-for-word by the whole room. While everyone else succumbed to the ultimately degrading competitive spirit, buckling down and rapping like their lives depended on it, Danny decided to simply have the most fun possible. That’s how you win a posse cut.
For this reason, perhaps it’s only right that we begin 2024 by hearing Danny Brown once again rap over the “1 Train” beat, albeit a slightly reworked version this time. The surprise comes via the latest single from Bruiser Wolf’s My Story Got Stories, an eccentric and soulful album that plays like a companion piece to an old Iceberg Slim novel. His off-kilter flow and pimp syntax draws obvious comparisons to Suga Free in SoCal and The Bay Area’s E-40, but what Bruiser Wolf is doing feels more vintage, like he’s reviving an oral tradition in danger of being lost to the ash heap of history.
“2 BAD” is a not-too-serious ode to threesomes that finds Bruiser Wolf at his most X-Rated, saying “don’t love them, don’t trust them, fuck sisters and cousins, and send them home to their husband.” Danny Brown closes the song with an exercise in technical ability and reference-heavy musings. A great verse from the head of the Bruiser Brigade label and a perfect place to begin what will likely be one of the best records of the year.
Ralfy the Plug – “Survival”
Ralfy the Plug displays the grizzled stare and measured wisdom of a man freshly returned from battle. It’s the resolve of someone who’s lived through hell, but has managed to make it out the other side and become proud of the person he is today. Yet he’ll always be haunted by the traumas of his past. On “Survival,” Ralfy addresses the fake thugs and internet gangsters who think they could withstand what it takes to really live the street life. It’s not all Gallery Dept. and Loose Leaf pop-ups. Ralfy has lost a brother, a best friend and will always be instinctively looking over his shoulders.
Lefty Gunplay – “WALK EM DOWN”
Lefty Gunplay is a Latino rapper who was released from prison in December after serving nine years for shooting up a house party when he was 18 years old. He’s been called the Mexican Crip Mac, due to the fact that he’s got “HK,” meaning “Hoover Killer,” tattooed on his face and also has the unrestrained energy of a child without his ADHD medicine.
Lefty’s No Jumper interview is already making waves due to the rapper’s unfiltered speech and natural charisma. If he doesn’t make it as a rapper, I wouldn’t be surprised if he enters the world of vlogging or content creation. Lefty’s latest single, “WALK EM DOWN,” certainly isn’t breaking any new ground, but it does showcase his natural showmanship and an ability to personify a type of LA character the world has lacked since the arrest of Crip Mac last month.
Icewear Vezzo – “Pouring Wok”
Another song about pouring cough syrup. Icewear Vezzo is a veteran at this point, part of the cohort of Detroit rappers like Peezy, Babyface Ray and Damedot who forged a path for the Motor City to become a premiere rap city. “Pouring Wok” is smooth and eloquent in the way a Larry June track is. Its smile-inducing lean music that also doubles as grown man rap.
BabyDrill – “What’s the Ticket”
BabyDrill is the most exciting rapper coming out of Atlanta. He’s from the dead-panned, laid-back lineage of Young Nudy and 21 Savage, but with the capacity for switching flows and changing his voice like Young Thug. Plus, his ear for production sets himself apart from the saturated trap sound coming out of Atlanta lately. “What’s The Ticket” is the type of song I send to friends moments after hearing it. It’s a genuinely fresh, late night drive worthy tune for those who stay up cruising around looking for trouble.
Emptying the Chamber