At first glance, this week’s offerings in the new hip-hop department look slim. After all, the music industry is still spooling back up after a long holiday, making January a traditionally quiet period for new releases. However, there are still some noteworthy projects dropping if you know where to look, and this week, in particular, brings something we don’t see all the time in hip-hop: A new movie produced by a record label.
Griselda Records is already known for putting out a plethora of new projects in any given year, but this year sees the Buffalo-based indie branching out beyond its usual proliferation. Putting out a feature-length film is nothing to shake a stick at, so the Griselda gang deserves big props for joining hip-hop’s continuum of underground labels taking pains to make more than just music.
Meanwhile, many new artists are utilizing the “dead zone” to rack up streams for their new singles and views for their latest videos, hoping to make an impact before the big names return to take up all the space. Fortunately for them, they only have to compete with one huge single this week: Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion’s first on-record connection on the raunchy remix to pop star Ariana Grande’s “34+35” single. Let’s see how the Republicans react to this one.
Here is the best of hip-hop this week ending January 15, 2021
Fredo Bang — Still Most Hated
Def Jam’s Baton Rouge signee arrived with a splash last year thanks to his April album Most Hated. Now, he’s capitalizing on the momentum from that project and the popularity of its single “Trust Issues” to keep his wave building with a follow-up including 10 tracks with features from Lil Durk, Moneybagg Yo, Rylo Rodriguez, and Sada Baby.
K.A.A.N. — Long Time No See
A ludicrously productive underground presence, K.A.A.N. has long been one of those rappers who flies way under the radar, doing whatever he wants whenever he wants to and earning a loyal, engaged fanbase as a result. He’s a rapper’s rapper, with an M16-on-full-auto flow and a willingness to tackle a broad spectrum of subjects. Long Time No See continues the trend, while also begging the question: How does this man make Griselda Records look downright lackadaisical?
Nyck Caution — Anywhere But Here
It has been more than four years since the Pro Era product’s last full-length, but that time has been well-spent. Following his Brooklyn brothers Aaron Rose, CJ Fly, and Dessy Hinds in returning from a long hiatus, Nyck shows off his artistic growth while remaining anchored to the lyrical style that set his crew apart when they arrived fresh out of high school in 2012. There’s a smooth instinct here, but Nyck and guests Joey Badass, Denzel Curry, and Kota The Architect (among others) dabble in drill, trap, and more.
There’s a strong tradition in hip-hop of labels releasing films that could best be described as “hood classics.” Packed to the gills with quotable scenes, relatable narratives, and familiar characters, these gritty street crime dramas usually don’t move mainstream needles or satisfy critics, but they more than exceed expectations for the labels’ fans. Conflicted is one such movie; the technical craft on display isn’t what you’d call “professional” and it’s quirky as all hell (the best-scripted dialogue comes from side characters in mundane day jobs), but it gets the job done and has one of the most unintentionally hilarious endings I have ever seen in one of these things.
Ariana Grande Feat. Doja Cat & Megan Thee Stallion — “34+35 (Remix)”
While the original tickled pop fans’ sensibilities with its unabashed dirty talk, the remix tweaks the knob up a few notches, and Doja Cat utterly slays her verse, proving those LA rap cipher chops are never going to go to waste.
Bobby Sessions – “Made A Way Remix” Feat. Lecrae
Dallas rapper Bobby Sessions remixes the single from his debut RVLTN (Chapter 3): The Price Of Freedom with veteran rapper Lecrae, pairing the song with a visual celebrating Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s historic election win.
EST Gee — “Members Only” Feat. 42 Dugg
Louisville’s EST Gee made a splash on his Kentucky comrade Jack Harlow’s debut album late last year but gets back on his grizzly to start 2021 with a sound familiar to fans of the driving Midwest sound popularized by Dugg and his Detroit ilk.
Joey Trap — “Spicy”
The San Diego rapper takes on the West Coast ratchet sound for an irreverent party rap from his Playlist For The End Of The World deluxe edition.
Lakeyah — “Hit Different”
Quality Control’s new rapper shows off her flow and reminisces on her younger days in this introspective single that references one of Lil Wayne’s biggest hits and plants and flag in the sand.
LNDN DRGS — “Drills” Feat. El Camino
Jay Worthy’s deadpan flow plays havoc over Sean House’s wobbly symphonic sample.
Masiwei — “Why”
88rising’s Masiwei — of the trio Higher Brothers — dropped off this woeful tale of love gone wrong with helpful subtitles for all the non-Mandarin speakers out there.
Metro Marrs — “Nonchalant”
17-year-old Metro Marrs is the newest signee to Atlanta’s Quality Control Music and he comes out with a bang. Slurry trap&B reminiscent of early Post Malone marks Metro’s new single, while QC helps bring polish to its simple video.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.