The best new hip-hop this week includes albums, videos, and songs from Drake, Little Simz, and more.
In addition to the headliners of the week, Memphis rapper Big30 came through with a mid-week release of his debut project, King Of KillBranch, led by the single “Free Shiest Life.” The Bluff City native has been building a buzz with his high-profile collabs and co-signs from big names like Gucci Mane, Moneybagg Yo, and Yo Gotti. Here, he earns the buzz, proving he can carry a full-length as charismatic as his features.
While Friday was light on new music in light of Drake’s week-long takeover, we did get Rico Nasty’s rocking Tiny Desk debut, along with entertaining videos for Drake’s “Way 2 Sexy” featuring Future and Young Thug and Little Simz’s “Point And Kill” featuring Obongjayar, as well as a slew of amusing reactions to Drake’s album, its features, and one questionable line from its standout song “Girls Want Girls.” Oh, and Bobby’s back!
Here is the best of hip-hop this week ending September 3, 2021.
Asher Roth — The Greenhouse Effect Vol. 3
Hey, remember this guy? Way back in 2009, the so-called “frat rap” movement was bubbling up, earning its moniker largely on the back of Asher’s breakout single “I Love College.” Incidentally, much like “frat rap” as an institution, this phase of his career fizzled out pretty quickly, considering how limiting such a label wound up being (it similarly hamstrung early career development for both Mac Miller and Lil Dicky, who both far surpassed its bounds). While his peers either faded away or expanded their palettes, though, Asher burrowed deeper and deeper into hip-hop’s underground, becoming something of a degree-bearing disciple of MF DOOM. That tradition more or less continues here, with heady, intricate wordplay and a dizzying overall concept constructed of contributions from Roth’s loyal base of fans via Discord server.
Big30 — King Of KillBranch
Big30 has been one of the most entertaining characters fizzing up from Memphis’ burgeoning trap scene, rising side-by-side with fellow standout and close friend Pooh Shiesty. While Shiesty awaits trial for a litany of aggravated battery charges thanks to his itchy trigger finger, 30 keeps the flag waving high, putting his buddy on several of the debut mixtape’s tracks. However, while there’s plenty of room for guest stars like Lil Durk, Quavo, and Offest to do what they do, 30 steers the ship adeptly, staking his own well-deserved claim on some territory in rap’s ever-sprawling landscape.
Drake — Certified Lover Boy
After months of delays, Drake’s latest arrived in a flurry of activity seemingly motivated (at least in part) by his on-again-off-again rival Kanye. From its troll-ish, emoji-laden cover, to its hijacking of Right Said Fred samples — and the accompanying, fittingly goofy music video for “Way 2 Sexy” — Drake’s sense of humor has been evident throughout the well-executed rollout. However, judging from early fan reactions, it’s also a musical course correction after letting his competition set the tone for Scorpion; it seems the lesson he learned from that debacle was to play his own game on the music while dancing around direct confrontation in the rollout stage. For what it’s worth, it looks like it’s working — Kanye must be tearing his hair out (or giggling with his frenemy on the group chat — rap is as real as wrestling, friends, and never forget it).
Little Simz — Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
While Drake may vacuum up all the attention for his big-name release, Simz’s own long-awaited comeback shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s personal and poetic and political and powerful in equal measure, while Simz sets about clearing her mental hard drive of all the thoughts that have crowded it since quarantine. “It’s me being this introverted person that has all these crazy thoughts and ideas and theories in my head and not always feeling like I’m able to express it if it’s not through my art,” she told The Guardian. Fortunately for her — and us — her art capably handles the challenge of wrangling the clutter and making it incredibly compelling.
DijahSB — “Here to Dance” Feat. Mick Jenkins
Hip-hop and house have gone hand-in-hand for almost their entire parallel existences and the combination never gets stale. Here the Torontonian rapper/singer employs the Chicago-based rap philosopher Mick Jenkins for a smooth, surprisingly heady meditation on the problems of the world and the things we do to escape them.
Ray Vaughn — “Tap”
Okay, yes, technically, we did break out this video in its own standalone post. But Ray Vaughn, Top Dawg Entertainment’s Long Beach-bred new signee, deserves the attention. Rarely has an artist been so polished, cutting, and open in his earliest works, but as an artist who’s still technically developing, that’s a truly exciting prospect for this young man’s future.
Saweetie & NIKI — “Swan Song”
Say what you want about Saweetie’s nigh-ubiquity at this point but she’s been very good at positioning herself at the forefront of pop culture. Case in point, here she leverages her heritage and Bay Area upbringing to land a placement on 88rising’s groundbreaking soundtrack for Marvel’s newest superhero film, Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings that perfectly fits the theme and setting of one of the hottest properties on Earth this weekend.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.