The Rap-Up: Week of March 18, 2024

Harley Geffner delivers the latest edition of The Rap-Up, rounding up some early Song of the Year contenders including new music from Bossman Dlow, K2icyy, Cash Cobain and more.
By    March 18, 2024

Image via K2icyy/Instagram

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ASM Bopster – “Boppy Dance”

After reshaping the sound of LA rap music in his image over the last two years, ASM Bopster just keeps pushing it further. He’s got another one with “Boppy Dance,” which hits all the checkboxes for a modern LA hit. But it’s more than just a formula at this point. He has that improvisational spirit that all the best rappers have to complement their strong fundamentals. It’s that ear for little flourishes that separates the best from the pack – it’s when to rattle your chains on the track, it’s little tonal flares, and it’s knowing the exact right way to make your presence felt on any given song.

ASM Bopster sparks “Boppy Dance” to life, teasing “Like haaaaa,” right as the first bass hit smacks. The bass is blown out and way at the front of the mix here, so it already sounds like you’re listening to it out of your boy’s 2007 Honda Accord. The teasing nature of “Like haaaaa” adds to the intimate feeling of the track. Every word ASM speaks has a little lag, like watching a trail behind someone running in slow motion. But it’s a slurry, drunken slo-mo, like he’s wobbling in front of the mic just talking his shit. It has an unhinged feeling to it – just listening feels like getting drunk and letting loose.

When he instructs you to do your boppy dance, it’s a movement spell. Even basic lines about making it to the top and making sure not to flop sound hard when he casts his bouncy attitude in them. The vulgar bars barely even register either when you’re too busy bopping.

Cash Cobain x Bay Swag – “Fisherrr”

The groundswell for Cash Cobain and the sexy drill wave is reaching a bursting point, and this is the song taking it over the top. Cash has always been endlessly memeable, from his dj tag to his, let’s say carnal, lifestyle. But the little dance he hits at 1:36 in this From The Block performance inspired a whole new trend on TikTok of people hitting “the reemski.” Our cultural correspondent can also confirm that it is, indeed, outside (even if only to NY-based industry heads).

It’s a whimsical-feeling song with a simple wobble and light touch, but there’s no wasted motion as Cash and Bay Swag glide back and forth like synchronous military planes, weaving in and out with each other through the currents. The result makes you feel like you’re levitating, and in a timeline where pluggnb was the dominant industry sound for the last 5 years rather than just a hovering beneath the surface offshoot of the 2016 SoundCloud boom.

BossMan Dlow x Rob49 – “Lil Bastard”

Port Salerno, Florida rapper Bossman Dlow certainly seems like the artist du jour, cutting through the noise into the clubs, college locker rooms, and ByteDance’s server farm. After Anthony Edwards rapped along to “The Biggest,” and they started throwing his highlights over it, it was a wrap. Even Jeff Teague said on his 520 pod that all the clubs in Indianapolis for the All Star festivities were playing Bossman on repeat. You know how lit a song has to be for a club to run it back three times in a row?

It’s because Bossman Dlow has ’06 trap house motivational energy. His voice booms off the walls and he’s got that country southern pimp sound, but is also sort of cartoonish in his villainy. It reminds me of a mix between BigXThaplug and RiffRaff, with flows that lean upwards, leaving the listener hanging on for more after every bar. The linkup with Rob49 makes too much sense given the aggression with which both of these guys rap and similar turnt up southern energy.

On “Lil Bastard” though, Bossman tees it up with a snappy hook for Rob to drop nukes on the engine-churning beat. Rob comes in like he’s about to slap the shit out of the camera, primally growling about kicking the door down. He’s rapping like he’s angry, swinging his arms and screaming at the camera that he only pops out with attractive women and rich guys. This is real flexer music.

K2icyy x Zoe Osama – “In Line”

There’s the gang-banging side of LA rap, which slides up or down on the Bopster scale, and then there’s the smoother, more R&B-leaning side of the game, which similarly slides up or down in its boppiness. “In Line,” represents some of the best of the smoother side with the scroller maxed out. RonRon lays the foundation with an airy Kalan.FrFr type LA beat and K2 gets busy on it, singing about his rotation of women while dancing a little two step with an overhead motion that’s been the next iteration of the Surf City squabble dance. Zoe, meanwhile, adds some necessary gruff to the song to counterbalance the sky-high flow of K2. It’s an endlessly danceable cut and is a good snapshot, alongside the Bopster cut I highlighted above, of where LA is at right now.

MIKE x Niontay – “2K24 Tour”

The Tony Seltzer and MIKE project might be my favorite of the year so far, and “2K24 Tour” is easily the breakout song from the tape. The way it emerges from the ashes of the sequence of previous songs, like a fire was lit under a pile of broken down synths to revitalize them into this heroic theme song, is so rewarding as a finale to the tape. Niontay finds an irregular stop and start sort of flow pattern that works in concert to spotlight the best parts of the beat, creating seamless build up right before the splashy moments, and MIKE follows the same pattern from Niontay’s hook, dropping in and out to make room for Seltzer’s sunny palette to shine.

I have been listening to the song on repeat and still can’t figure out exactly what’s going on here to make this sound so good, but everything just feels perfectly placed. Every syllable, every sound, every part of the mix – it’s entering an enchanted forest to find God. It’s the soundtrack of self-discovery, of Blue Dream Nirvana, of just chilling and also reaching the pinnacles of success. I feel like a superhero.

Emptying the Chamber

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