The Rap-Up: Week of June 24, 2024

Steven Louis pulls up on back-to-back Rap-Ups, with the latest from Michael Christmas, Kaelin Ellis, Shoreline Mafia, Shelailai and so many more.
By    June 25, 2024

Image via Kaelin Ellis/Instagram

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

Steven Louis is the stage director for Snood: The Musical.

Shelailai – “GOODTIME”

This correspondent has never been to Vancouver in the summer, but Shelailai makes a compelling case for it here – may she send the fattest of invoices to British Columbia’s visitor services. “GOODTIME” is a hot-air gossamer jam with familiar vogue trappings and a few dramatic pop flourishes on the hook. Shelailai raps joyously across elastic bass, spelling out her desires until feet are sore and bottles are tapped empty. The green screen puts teal butterflies grooving at the foot of a snow-capped mountain, a landscape somewhere in between prime Studio Ghibli and Yung Lean’s ASMR sessions. Shelaila is magnetic even in single-shot closed space, and her dancehall stardom feels like a delightful inevitability.

Sebastian Mikael & Rapsody – “BYMYSIDE”

If she’s rapping Jadakiss’ verses from “By My Side,” then yes – she’s for sure mad at you. Rapsody uncoils scorned love and old hangups from the two-tone sports car, while Sebastian Mikael channels Brown Sugar vibes over pulsing blue keys and wandering jazz piano. The Tarheel emcee is enjoying a resurgent 2024; her first full-length in more than five years, last month’s Please Don’t Cry, warmly fuses the energies of Erykah Badu and Phylicia Rashad with Lil Wayne and Hit-Boy. And Mikael, a rising Boston-by-Sweden neo-soul act, undertakes a thousand-mile crawl to see a very particular smile at the end. Yes, you will hear a lot of D’Angelo on this. Why on earth would you be upset about that? “BYMYSIDE” is as much an ego-suppressant as a funk philter.

Kaelin Ellis – “Ain’t You Mad” (feat. Guapdad 4000, Buddy & Kenny Mason)

Kaelin Ellis is perhaps best known for his polished multi-instrumentation work with Virgil Abloh and Jazmine Sullivan, but I think the Floridian beatmaker is at his sharpest in simple beatmaking. He drops zip-file sound packs at a prolific rate, while hosting Ableton tutorials and sample guides on his YouTube account. “Ain’t You Mad” is a rhetorical question and a straightforward production job. Guapdad 4000 totes a stolen pistol and catches poptarts sprung up from the toaster; Buddy builds up a four-syllable rhyme scheme before dropping the world premiere of a new way to pronounce “accolades”; Kenny Mason gets emotional about his journey from West Atlanta to Southern California, and summarily wipes tears with the bundle of cash in his hands. His latest album, You Are Here, Start., also features Saba, TOBi and Duckwrth.

Lay Bankz – “AND DID”

At risk of dissolving into raw and uncured corniness, I’m gonna say that this year’s XXL Freshman Class is actually kind of solid. BigXthaPlug and That Mexican OT are the two most dynamic Texans of the generation, Cash Cobain has all five boroughs on fire, and Bossman Dlow earned an undeniable Southern-fried mega-hit. But the secret weapon here is 19-year-old Lay Bankz, a Philadelphia firebrand that makes explosive, combustible and pressurized pop-rap. “AND DID” is a march through industrial wasteland in six-inch heels; she taunts her no-name opps behind five-percent tints and a stainless grin. Her music can occasionally veer into the unfocused, but Bankz has disarming star potential.

LokiChaseabag x Bla$ta – “4 STEPS AHEAD”

Mos Def repurposed “One Step Ahead” to see his love interest’s huge butt from her front profile. That’s awesome and all, but it doesn’t contribute much – if anything – to Chasing a Bag, Richmond’s raison d’être. Up north in Contra Costa County, the Aretha Franklin classic is used to run up the score and get money, with help from the severely-underrated Armani Depaul on boards. Bla$ta’s goons are San Jose Sharking, as if you’re really going to stick around and learn what that means. Loki is in custom Chase a Bag from the denim to a ski mask and trucker hat. “You gotta stand on what you on, you don’t never do it” packs a much stronger punch than it should, hypernegation philosophy clouded by thousand-dollar two-liters.

Shoreline Mafia (OHGEESY & FENIX FLEXIN) – “Work”

Cue the Carlito’s Way bit, which I admittedly know as the Pain in Da Ass bit. Shoreline Mafia is reloaded, teased last week at Kendrick Lamar’s pop out-turned-Drake’s retirement ceremony. It’s now officially official with “Work,” their latest bid for Los Angeles summer supremacy. This is a standard-issue Shoreline joint, carefully adherent to the recipe’s instructions, but damn it feels good to see OhGeesy and Fenix Flexin muttering raps to perspiring dancers. The former scopes out pink Molly, recruits a new polycule and shops at Neiman with the nina tucked, while the latter is counting twenties with the green Gary Payton jersey to match. “Work” is our most persuasive reminder to get back in the gym this July.


I’ve long argued for G-Unit’s “Wanna Get to Know Ya” as a seminal rap song. I’ve made that case on this very website, on more than one occasion. Imagine my exuberance in stumbling upon this pitched-down, weirded-up sampling from DC’s LOOK DAMIEN! and Newark’s Quadie Diesel. Damien’s flow is crowded without ever breaking its cool, like Da$H with a slight caffeine buzz, and Diesel sounds giddy as he raps “you’ll forever be one of my pieces / move around me like telekinesis.” These drums are chaotic and even uncomfortable. I still think Lloyd Banks would slide on them.

Michael Christmas – “Glory Hole Gang”

It’s fair to assume that every single member of our LA readership is viscerally ill from the Celtics’ championship. So it seems only right to close this out with Boston’s Michael Christmas crooning from the other side of the glory hole. His new album Unsexy is the diametric force to a Joe Mazzulla postgame press conference, in that it’s listenable and won’t be reposted by Turning Points USA.

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