After a year of isolation, it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that few of this week’s best hip-hop projects are Valentine’s Day-themed. After all, dating is tough when half the country is shut down (and the other half should be) and getting close to someone else is the last thing on anyone’s to-do list lately.
However, Phora’s got you covered if you’re still looking for a little romance this weekend. Meanwhile, there’s the usual mix of brashness, introspection, and political awareness on display elsewhere on the slate. For scam rap shenanigans, Babyface Ray is your guy; if you want a little outspoken observation on the state of the world, Marlon Craft deftly asks and answers the questions we all have; Slowthai’s sophomore project is off-kilter therapy; Ralo holds down the trap. This week’s singles also run the gamut from drill to West Coast party rap.
Here is the best of hip-hop this week ending February 12, 2021.
Babyface Ray — Unf*ckwitable (EP)
Detroit troublemaker Babyface Ray is part of a new wave of marble-mouthed Michigan rap centered on grimy activities and devious wit. He’s one of the top salesmen in this burgeoning business, as seen on his hilarious single “If You Know You Know” with Moneybagg Yo.
Marlon Craft — How We Intended
After weeks of rolling out innovative videos, New York rapper’s rapper Marlon Craft finally shares his sophomore album, showing off his growth and prowess. It’s a throwback, rhyme-heavy affair featuring some of rap’s more sober-minded documentarians like Katori Walker and Radamiz.
Phora — Heartbreak Hotel
Phora raps and sings a bunch about love, but he’s no sap. While the subject matter is personal and the rhymes are vulnerable, there’s a lot of steel behind his storytelling, the type it takes to bare your soul for the world to see and accept the inevitable judgment that comes with it.
Ralo — Conspiracy (Deluxe)
Gucci Mane signee Ralo may be locked up — and facing more time thanks to some innovative Apple Watch usage — but that didn’t stop him from adding eight new tracks to his 2018 mixtape, including a new track with the emergent Lil Baby.
Slowthai — Tyron
Another sophomore effort this week, Tyron sees Northhampton, England rapper Slowthai still on a chaotic rampage, but adding more personal dimensions to his music. Here, he addresses romance, mental health, and more in addition to his usual mosh pit-inspiring fare.
Smokepurpp — Psycho
Yes, that cover is an homage to Ozzy Osbourne, and while there’s little in the way of heavy metal on this particular EP, Smokepurpp does live like a “Rockstar,” inviting Seattle breakout rapper Lil Mosely along for the ride on “We Outside.”
Various Artists — Judas And The Black Messiah: The Inspired Album
A companion to the recently-released film depicting the last days of Civil Rights-era revolutionary Fred Hampton, this compilation tries to strike a balance between commercially-viable, polished, intellectual rap and the anti-establishment values professed by the former Black Panther Party Chairman.
Dusty Locane — “Rumble”
It’s almost scary how similar Dusty sounds to Pop Smoke, at least vocally (think BIG and Shyne). That being said, this is a head-nod-worthy drill track over a spooky, skeletal beat that showcases a very precise flow.
Joey Trap — “Brace”
Kloudgod Joey has had a solid track record over the past few years, and this upbeat banger is an admirable addition to his oeuvre.
Lil Gnar Feat. Trippie Redd — “Missiles”
Gnar’s been building his buzz over the past couple of years and his collab with Trippie gives me the impression that things are going to speed up for him very soon.
LPB Poody — “Batman”
The beat sounds like “Teach Me How To Dougie” and Poody’s plainspoken delivery almost slinks into self-parody, but there’s a giddy sort of “anything goes” energy that makes this an amusing introduction to this quirky Orlando newcomer.
Pink Siifu & Fly Anakin Feat. B Cool-Aid — “Open Up Shop”
While the mid-90s New York rap-mimicking, jazzy beat choice here could run the risk of sounding staid, Fly Anakin and B Cool-Aid’s deliveries spice things up nicely, bringing the dusty sound into the modern era.
Pooh Shiesty — “See Red”
Pooh’s debut mixtape is out now, and he smartly dropped a video for its best track to ensure folks quickly see the value in it. While the volume leveling on Shiesty Season is bewildering, this song justifies the hype for him by itself.
Producergrind Feat. Lil Gotit & Billyracxx — “Loaded”
Lil Keed’s brother isn’t on YSL records but he certainly deserves just as much attention for his slippery flow and boisterous personality.
Tokyo Jetz Feat. Toosii — “WYTD”
The Florida hard hitter switches things up a bit, adding Carolina lover boy Toosii to her latest single as she continues her climb to the top of public awareness.
Uno Hype — “Superman”
A Maryland native who will go over well with Dreamville fans, Uno Hype’s smooth new song is a densely-worded rumination that feels like the start of something very artistic and forward-thinking. (Also, isn’t it kinda funny that we have tracks named after the two most famous DC superheroes in the same week?)
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.