New year, same grind. In case you missed some of the best rap that’s been dropped in this short holiday week, we’ve got you covered. There was a slew of rappers who spent the last days of December delivering last-minute jams, and of course, there were the two yearly Rap Ups by Skillz and Uncle Murda. There was also plenty of music that dropped after the ball, including a (mysteriously vanishing) collaboration between trap stars Future and French Montana, a reflection on fame by Taylor Bennett, and a typically stupendous track from NoName:
Future Feat. French Montana, “Nasa”
There are three certain things in life: death, taxes, and new Future music. After a busy 2018, Future set off another voyage to hit the moon on “NASA,” a silky, Ginuwine-samping track featuring French Montana. But there’s a chance Future may have lifted off with the Ginuwine sample too soon, as the track was officially taken down from YouTube. Hopefully, it’s re-released sooner than later.
Noname, “Song 31”
Noname started off the new year where her excellent Room 25 album left off: With compelling lyricism over an intimate, jazzy soundscape on “Song 31.” The track shows her unwinding incisive observations about TV representation for Black people and “smokin’ a holy weed, laughing baking my homie Tee hopin’ joking is all we need / when I sell pain for profit” with a nimble flow.
Taylor Bennett, “Streaming Services”
Taylor Bennett gets reflective on “Streaming Services,” cutting through a breezy production to sharply remind listeners of the travails your favorite rappers go through:
“Does it really make you feel like a rockstar? / Knowing everything you got came with a hard cost / Knowing you gotta keep two glocks in like all your cars.”
YBN Cordae, “What’s Life”
YBN Cordae commandeers a warm soul sample on “What’s Life,” getting introspective about how far he’s come — but how little it means without your loved ones around. He also laments being a “lost boy in this world full of hatred and greed/see a young n—a make it what they hatin’ to see.”
Lil Xan, “Watch Me Fall”
Lil Xan is out of rehab and ready to drop his Mac Miller-inspired Be Safe album on February 3. His latest offering is “Watch Me Fall,” a murky, despondent cry for help from a love interest. The track’s pensive pleas strike a poignant tone considering both he and Mac Miller’s romantic failings in recent years, and the impact those breakups may or may not have had on their troubles.
Michael Christmas, “Sideways,” “Say Cheese” (Feat. Elevator Jay)
Boston’s Michael Christmas graciously gave us a reprieve from shameless December 25 branding, dropping his pair of holiday season tracks on December 28. “Sideways” showcases a gnarly synth melody that Michael commandeers with fiery finesse, while he employs a slick delivery on the subdued “Say Cheese” with Elevator Jay.
Kxng Crooked, “The Old Me”
Get ready to hear everyone and their mama talk about the new them this week. But few will eulogize their old self like Kxng Crooked on ”The Old Me.” Over a soaring guitar, Crooked takes a shift from his usual assonant avalanche to harmonize about how “I could plug you with a whole ki but that’s the old me.”
2018 Rap Ups
The news cycle moves so fast that incidents from the first quarter of 2018 are long forgotten. Luckily, both MC Skillz and Uncle Murda covered it all in their “2018 Rap Up” songs. The two artists use distinctly different brands of humor to chronicle the happenings of a crazy year. Skillz is more measured and witty in his summation of 2018, while Uncle Murda pulled no punches by telling Kanye “don’t put no new music out, we don’t wanna hear that sh*t / you a coon and you fucked up Teyana Taylor’s sh*t.”
Cambridge, MA rapper Connis is set to drop his self-titled debut album this month, and offered his burgeoning fanbase a glimpse of what to expect with “Spent,” a pensive confessional on making up for lost time. The gifted rapper-producer matched the lush track, which was dominated by siren-like synths of urgency, with a self-directed video splicing performance footage with scenes from his native Cambridge.