Do you feel that heat (insert mixtape joke here)? This weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, and hip-hop is getting ready. There’s a boatload of releases coming next month from the GOOD music and Young Money camps, but there are several other artists dropping tracks that will be played at plenty of cookouts and functions this weekend. From 808-dominated burners to true-school rhyming from Tyler to a breezy collaboration from Kyle and Khalid, this week perfectly encapsulates the balance that exists in the hip-hop game — if one looks for it. But for those who don’t want to go digging, we’re here:
Tyler, The Creator, “435”
With 435,” Tyler, The Creator decided to give us what he described on the song’s YouTube description as “a random song laying around from the flower boy tour.” He forgot to mention a key point: that the song is fire. Over a production that sounds like a pluck from MF Doom’s lost files, Tyler freestyles in a deliberate, raspy tone about a range of topics. “435” is a classic example of Tyler’s musical gift, as he laced a dope beat, gave it dope rhymes, then just had it laying around.
Nas and Dave East, “NYCHA”
Def Jam and Mass Appeal recently released the official soundtrack to Rapture, the documentary series about both rising and regal hip-hop figures. One of the standout moments of the project is “NYCHA,” which features the rare Nas appearance. Kanye said Nas is dropping an album in June, but Nas hasn’t said anything about it — perhaps because any media appearances would be derailed by questions about his ex-wife Kelis’ recent domestic abuse allegations. Whatever the case, Nas is letting the rhymes speak for him on “NYCHA,” a true-to-NYC production which features him and Dave East trading bars about their come up in the rotten apple.
A Boogie, “Way Too Fly”
To quote the late Prodigy, “ain’t nothin’ like Summer in New York,” and A Boogie’s about to fully capitalize with a heap of music. He’s dropping a collaboration tape with Lil Durk, and another solo project called The International Artist. It looks like his latest track “Way Too Fly” with Nigerian artist Davido, may be for the latter record. The wavy, dancehall-leaning soundscape is perfect for The Bigger Artist’s lithe voice and melodic flow to unfurl and contort like the people who will be dancing to this at rooftop parties this summer.
Kyle ft. Khalid, “iMissMe”
Kyle and Khalid are two darlings of Generation Z with their infectious, melodic odes to youth resonating with hoards of teenagers all over the country. It’s only natural that they collaborate on “iMissMe,” the funky, dancefloor-ready cut from Kyle’s joyous Light Of Mine album. The two take turns crooning over a gyrating bassline on the fun track that may be one of the Billboard charters from Kyle’s latest offering.
Belly ft. The Weeknd, “What You Want”
Quiet as kept, Toronto’s Belly is one of the best in the game at fusing modern, 808-based sonics with a flow that demonstrates his technical lyricism. That precision was on display throughout his ironically titled Mumble Rap album, but he switches it up a bit on “What You Want,” featuring The Weeknd. Belly employs a breezy, melodic flow to delve into a relationship that may not be based on love, but is enough for the moment.
G Herbo, “Focused”
“Yes, it’s that n—- again,” Herbo lets us know on “Focused,” a thumping, Southside-produced loosie in which Herbo sheds light on his recent tribulations but keeps forward-progress at the center of his mission. He’s battling a case, but he’s still dropping potent bars and feeding his fans on the heels of the “Who Run It” hysteria he initiated with a freestyle.
Lou Phelps, “Want To (For The Youth)”
Kaytranada and Lou Phelps are one of the best artist-producer combinations going in hip-hop, as Phelps’ recent “Want To” attests. Phelps floats over a groovy Kaytranada production with an unconscionable thump, rhyming about how he does what he feels — and so can the youth. The track is just their latest collaboration as fans clamor for the follow-up to Phelps’ 001: Experiments project.
In conversation, hip-hop editor Aaron Williams has called Maryland’s IDK “bizarro Kendrick,” based on his cerebral, cynical introspection that parallels Duckworth but turns abruptly left on his IWasVeryBad album. But that’s not all he is. In his own words, he “ain’t no killa, ain’t no hitta, ain’t no hoe” either, but a “motherf*ckin star,” as he emphatically proclaimed on his most recent record. IDK has been steadily ascending for the past three years, but 2018 may be the year that his self-fulfilling prophecy of stardom comes true.