The state of rap through the month of May 2017 is very good. While nothing came close to achieving the zeitgeist-grabbing force of Kendrick Lamar’s album DAMN, there was a diverse lineup of different artists from different corners of the country, and hell, different eras all putting out quality jams to soundtrack those earliest days of Summer.
The biggest release this month was Logic’s album Everybody. I’m going to be honest and just say that that one really didn’t grab my attention. While his lyrical acrobatics are indisputable, the content under the surface of his tongue-twisting flow stikes me as hollow. More power to you if you enjoyed that album — based on those first week numbers, there’s quite a lot of you out there — but you won’t find any tracks from the Maryland rapper below.
What you will find however is a choice cut from one of my favorite rap albums of 2017, G Perico’s All Blue. Brandon Caldwell’s interview with the L.A. rapper is an absolute must-read by the way. Though the album technically came out at the very end of April, because of some scheduling issues, I couldn’t include it in my last monthly round-up, thus, here it is. G-Funk was some of the first rap music that really grabbed my attention when I was a kid. Dr. Dre, N.W.A, Tupac, Warren G, etc. G Perico taps into that golden vein of music on his latest project in a way that doesn’t come off as a cheap cash-in on an older aesthetic. Speaking of which, have you heard Snoop Dogg’s new album Neva Left? The Doggfather is back on his grind and I’m here for it.
There was also some new material from Vince Staples – if his latest full-length is even half as good as Summertime ’06, everyone needs to watch out – a full album from Lil Yachty – maybe a little too full? – and the long-rumored, fresh from 2009 collaboration between T-Pain and Lil Wayne: T-Wayne. Oh, and the hardest working man in hip-hop, Gucci Mane, dropped a new tape produced by Metro Boomin. Blessings, on blessings, on blessings.
2 Chainz – “4 AM” (Featuring Travis Scott)
2 Chainz is on what feels like an unstoppable wave. The Atlanta rapper and punchline legend has been dropping nothing but quality music for a minute now, going back to his off the books collaboration album with Lil Wayne, Collegrove, and beyond. Heading into his next major project, Pretty Girls Like Trap Music, the double-necklace is advancing his win streak with this dreamy, trap banger. Travis Scott adds his signature ad-libs, but the real star is Chainz and he knows it: “Call me Deuce or Dos, anything but broke / Got my aim from the scope, got the game by the throat, damn!”
G Perico – “Turnin Corners”
This is my favorite song off G Perico’s new album All Blue. The second you hear that funky, opening bass tone, your mind is immediately goes to South Central Los Angeles. Peri takes you on a tour though his hood, even if you aren’t from there, which means you’re an enemy. You’re riding in his BM, taking lefts and rights, “flying straight through the red light.” It’s vivid storytelling at its finest.
Vince Staples – “Big Fish”
Vince Staples is back! I guess, he never really left, but as we draw closer to the release of his next full-length album, Big Fish Theory, it’s hard not to get excited. This latest single, is not helping tamp down my enthusiasm. The song finds Vince at his perilous best, surrounded by sharks and trying to make it clean to the shore. He’s not worried though, because he, “Learned it from the Dogg I’m from Long Beach / That’s the city where the skinny carry strong heat.”
Buddy – “Find Me”
Buddy is a Compton native and sometime-protégé of Pharrell. His latest EP, Ocean & Montana, was a project produced by Kaytranada and it’s entirely worth your time to check it out. It’s an EP, it won’t take long. The standout track is this single “Find Me,” a deeply emotional, semi-autobiographical day in the life of Buddy as hopes to find himself somewhere in the city of Los Angeles. The vibes are positively spine-tingling.
Lil Yachty – “Made Of Glass”
Lil Yachty decided to go the Drake route with his debut album Teengage Emotions, and pack it with more than 20 different songs. It’s a little messy, but then again, so are teenage emotions themselves. I like the album personally. My favorite song is the second-to-last track “Made Of Glass.” It contains none of Lil Boat’s signature optimism, and instead finds the 19-year old feeling invisible to a woman that he loves, but doesn’t even notice him. The authenticity that lies just beneath the surface is almost too much.
Snoop Dogg – “Neva Left”
Snoop’s status as a self-effacing media personality sometimes has the effect of obscuring people’s perceptions of him as an MC. This is a grave mistake. With his latest album, The Doggfather is out to prove to his detractors that he indeed has Neva Left. To that end, he largely succeeds. Neva Left, while a little unfocused sonically, is Snoop’s best release in quite some time. The title track, a mission statement of sorts, goes all the way up.
Danger Mouse – “Chase Me” (Featuring Run The Jewels and Big Boi)
This song makes me want to put my fist through a concrete wall. It makes me want to douse my own car in gasoline, toss a lit match over my shoulder and walk away while it explodes. It makes me want to fight a tiger with my bare hands. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wouldn’t mind one bit if Run The Jewels inducted Big Boi and officially became a trio.
T-Wayne – “Listen To Me”
I’m still not sure that this is really, real. Whatever, even if this song, this entire T-Wayne project, is a figment of my own delusional imagination, I’m extremely grateful to have this music rolling around inside my head. 2008-2009 Weezy is an untouchable rap God, and he doesn’t hold back any bit of his prime weirdness on this Wonka-d out banger. It’s like the man says, “This ain’t no Nintendo rap cause I don’t play no games.”
Gucci Mane – “Met Gala” (Featuring Offset)
Are we so sure that Quavo is the best rapper in the Migos? Offset has been making a pretty compelling case for his mic skill supremacy amongst the Atlanta three-some lately. Exhibit A is this scene-stealing guest turn on the dark and brooding “Met Gala” from Gucci Mane’s latest Metro Boomin-produced tape Drop Top Wop. Coming with a mile-a-minute flow, Offset does the incredible, and dusts Guwop on his own song, rapping about his journey from a prison cell to the glitziest fashion event of the year.
Meek Mill – “Glow Up”
Meek is absolutely ruthless on this cut, and I’m here for it. From the opening bell, it seems like he’s managed to tap into vintage Meek mode, begging the “Lord to be my savior / When it come to gettin’ this paper / Please protect me from my haters / Just save me and I won’t save her.” The beat he’s riding, produced by The Honorable C. Note, is dramatic, bombastic and fearsome. If this is really meant to be the first single for his next project Wins And Losses, it’s a positive step.
Mach-Hommy x Knxwledge – “Yeezy Taught H.E.R.”
Knxwledge achieved the greater level of recognition that his talents deserve late last year through his NxWorries duo with Anderson .Paak, but while his talented-beyond-talent partner has been hitting Europe these last few months with Bruno Mars, Knxwledge went back into the studio with Mach-Hommy and came back out with a decidedly minor-key EP titled The Spook. The second track “Yeezy Taught H.E.R.” grabbed my attention right away from the title and didn’t disappoint. It’s bass-heavy atmospherics lend a weary, weight of the world vibe that is endlessly engrossing.
Travis Scott – “Butterfly Effect”
The standout track in a trio of loosies that La Flame dumped on his Soundcloud in the middle of the month, “Butterfly Effect,” is a mid-tempo burner that offers a glimpse into his life as a newly minted superstar resident of Hidden Hills. It’s moody, atmospheric and gloriously uncluttered. “Butterfly Effect” is also another feather in the cap of Murda Beatz who is quickly emerging as one of the most vital producers of the year.