From Gucci Mane and Future to Freddie Gibbs, Benny The Butcher and Mach Hommy, the last month of hip-hop releases has everyone covered. There are the aforementioned artists, as well as the genre-bending exploits of Goldlink and upstart artist Pell, and the grimy war reports from Chicago’s Polo G and Brooklyn favorites The Underachievers. Here are the best releases of the month:
Gucci Mane, Delusions Of Grandeur
The theme for this month is widely respected artists sticking to their script and delivering their fans exactly what they expect in a potent dosage. Gucci Mane’s latest effort Delusions Of Grandeur is a prime example, as the trap lord once again exercises his winning formula of an easy-going delivery chockful of witty lines over thumping trap production.
Gucci hasn’t just won his acclaim with quantity, but a consistent level of quality that’s demonstrated on tracks like the redemptive “Proud Of You.” He rides co-pilot on a notable portion of the project’s 18-tracks, collaborating with old friends Rick Ross and Young Dolph as well as the newer generation of artists like the smooth “Blind” with A Boogie and “ICE” with Gunna and Lil Baby. There are no delusions on this project, as Gucci Mane sticks to what works for him and delivers his fans his second effort in six months.
Future, Save Me
Future has undoubtedly been treading the same lovelorn, nihilistic waters for the past several years — but luckily for him, his fans usually seem to enjoy the ride. Ditto for Save Me, an EP where the ATLien uses his pained crooning to get gruff, flashy, menacing, and debaucherous with bits of relatable melancholy sprinkled in between. “Shotgun” is the most-talked-about track from the project, as he may or may not have thrown his ex Ciara under the bus for the umpteenth time with a little reverse psychology. He croons about an ex who stayed loyal to him over the track, which samples Ciara’s “Promise.”
The entire story is microcosmic of what’s been keeping Future from pushing into a new realm of artistry, as he’s just a bit too stuck on the past, and is releasing music that too often loses its appeal after the initial rush of “new Future” dissipates. This project will undoubtedly rock through the summer, but hopefully, he saves himself and goes back to the drawing board for future work.
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Bandana
Freddie Gibbs and Madlib’s Bandana has been several years in the making. Since 2014’s Cocaine Pinata, fans have anticipated the second helping of Freddie Gibbs’ brute-yet-harmonious street tales over Madlib’s eclectic, arresting production.
On Bandana, Freddie is still on top of his game lyrically and spitting that A1 drug rap. But he sets himself apart from the lot of sociopathic drug rap with sprinkles of insight that demonstrate he’s serving listeners from a grizzled OG’s perspective. On “Crime Pays” he rhymes, “I slang but I’m still a slave / twisted in the system, just a number listed on the page” and on “Education” he hangs with two pillars of so-called “conscious rap” in Black Thought and Yasiin Bey, letting listeners know he “got off the stove and slowed my role, I’m in the mosque now / but I’ll still serve you a baked potato Bobby Johnson style.” Bandana more than delivers, as Gibbs and Madlib put in the time and effort to make a project that stands near the top of the heap not just this year, but for the rest of hip-hop history.
Benny The Butcher, The Plugs I Met
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know Buffalo, New York’s Griselda collective has been putting out consistent heat for several years now. Benny The Butcher just delivered what could be the crew’s crown jewel with The Plugs I Met a six-song masterpiece where Benny uses his assonant, technical expertise to delve into the kind of vivid street tales that sound way too experiential to be mere artistic license — as the project’s vocal clips about Buffalo’s Black Soprano Family hammer home.
The beauty of the project is in its simplicity. There’s no reaching for mass appeal with hits or “girl songs,” Benny just talks dirty with a slew of guests like Pusha T, Griselda family Conway, and Jadakiss, who teams with Benny and 38 Spesh to make “Sunday School” one of the hardest lyrical exhibitions in recent memory. Every producer laced him with a sinister, face-scrunching soundscape, and every feature on the project shows up to with their best effort. They had to be on 100 in order to keep up with Benny, who’s locked in with lines like, “cook with gas for the raw, so much glass on the floor / I got my b*tch kitchen lookin’ like I broke in.”
Goldlink’s Diaspora could have easily been a gimmicky, virtue-signaling project where he exploited the red-hot Afrobeats wave, but he deserves credit for releasing a smooth, energetic project that will likely be looked back on as one of the canonical projects in the exciting union of American and African-born artists. Goldlink is of course from the DMV area, but decided to highlight the damn-near spiritual bonds of Black music across the world by seamlessly infusing hip-hop, R&B, soul with energetic Afrobeats percussion, and lush instrumentation throughout the 14-track project.
Mach Hommy, Wap Konn Jòj
Mach Hommy is known for disguising himself pretty often, but he’s still become one of the hottest names in the underground because of work like Wap Konn Jòj, his latest EP. Right on the heels of his DJ Muggs collaboration, Mach’s seven-track project shows him unfurling dense, abstract lyricism over murky, jazz-influenced production. Several gifted artists make appearances on the track, such as Earl Sweatshirt, Quelle Chris, Your Old Droog, and Tha God Fahim. Earl and Fahim also help soundscape the fascinating EP.
New Orleans artist Pell has framed “B*tch A**,” a track from his recently released Gravity project, as “a warning to those wasting my time.” It’s a good thing that the Mass Appeal records signee was able to affirm his space — and do it in a melodic fashion. The groovy, genre-bending single sets the tone of Gravity, a project that shows him crooning and culling through relatable themes of love, loneliness, and triumphs over a soundscape that culls from elements of hip-hop, R&B, electronic, and more. Project standouts include the dreamy “Too Much Of A Good Thing,” “Skyfall (featuring Ambré Perkins & Malik Ninety Five),” and “NOLA Grown,” in which he reflects on his rise.
Polo G, Die A Legend
Chicago’s Polo G gave his latest offering a lofty title, then spit his heart out in an effort to affirm it. There’s an unfortunate spate of rappers telling tales from the trenches of underserved communities, but Polo sets himself apart on Die A Legend with his versatility. He steps up to the plate with the Drip twins Lil Baby and Gunna on the melodic “Pop Out Again,” then bares his soul on “Effortless” with cold imagery like, “judge tryna give ’em life so them gang signs turn to prayer hands.”
He then unleashes a tirade of double-time bars on “Lost Files,” where he rhymes feverishly over a haunting piano melody that properly channels the terror of his dire narrative. Polo is able to appeal to a wide swathe of fans with his incisive perspective of the streets, which exemplifies that he’s already on his way to being a Chicago legend if nothing else.
Stro, Last Friday
Stro recently made waves by proclaiming on Sway’s Universe that he’s a better MC than all the XXL Freshman. That’s a polarizing statement that will surely have equally passionate defenders and detractors, but he offered up a project to gauge his statement by with Last Friday, a compilation of the best tracks from his weekly Grade A Friday Series.
Those who may not be familiar with the relatively unheralded MC can get acquainted with his deft lyricism on the two-part project, which features four songs that can be found on streaming sites and six more released to file-sharing site Zippyshare. He’s just as adept at imbuing smooth, synth-driven tracks like “Overload” and “Mansions” with slick lyricism as he is sharing the spotlight with Mass Appeal Records labelmate 070 Phi on tracks like “At Least.”
The Underachievers, Lords Of Flatbush 3
Fresh off of the long-awaited, still-buzzing Beast Coast collaboration project, New York’s The Underachievers duo dropped the latest entry in their Lords Of Flatbush series. They had to spar with their fellow New York titans throughout Escape From New York, but the sees Issa Gold and Ak The Savior returning to their back-and-forth essence, on a nine-song slate suite of searing, energetic production. They told XXL that they envision the project as “all bangers,” and they saw that vision through on tracks like “No Detectives,” “Rowdy” and “Packs,” where Issa Gold bemoans, “ain’t no love in my city, straight drugs in my cit y / n—-s walk around this sh*t, no hope.”
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.