The best new hip-hop this week includes albums, videos, and songs from Icewear Vezzo, Lil Yachty, TiaCorine, and more.
It’s Grammys weekend, and you know what that means: It took me about a quarter of the time to write this column that it normally takes. Seriously, though, since more or less everyone in the music industry is converging on my hometown for the “biggest night in music,” we’ve all mostly been too busy schmoozing and connecting with acquaintances to manage the day-to-day logistics of putting new music out. Fortunately, that didn’t stop everybody from doing so, or this column might be even shorter than it already is.
This week, JT dropped her first new solo single in something like nine months, “Sideways.”
Lil Yachty got reflective on “A Cold Sunday,” continuing his hot streak of late:
And TiaCorine put her love for anime and video games on display in the video for “Bonnet” from her new EP, Almost There, which we cover a bit more in-depth below:
Here is the best of hip-hop this week ending February 2, 2024.
ALLBLACK — Slow Motion Is Better Than No Motion
It’s an age-old aphorism but remains as true as ever — and nobody knows that better than the Bay Area indie hero ALLBLACK, who has kept up an impressively steady pace of new releases for the past four years, with no fewer than five full-length projects since 2020. On the latest, he titles the songs after a collection of his underrated heroes, from perennial NBA sixth man Jamal Crawford to ’50s doo-wop legend Frankie Lymon.
Icewear Vezzo — Live From The 6
With all the talents burbling up from Michigan’s loose-limbed, hard-nosed underground scene, I hear weirdly little about Icewear Vezzo from fans. Perhaps indie elitists gave up on him when he signed to Quality Control in 2022. They shouldn’t have; he remains as street-rooted and quietly clever as ever. If his rhymes are less hilariously unhinged as some of his compatriots, his observations are as sharp-eyed and delivered as deftly as ever. Like Babyface Ray (who’s featured here, along with YTB Fatt, Chuckie CEO, and sigh, DaBaby), Vezzo’s calling card is his consistency — which will pay off eventually, if there is any justice in this world.
TiaCorine — Almost There
While much of the attention this week was still being lavished on Nicki Minaj’s increasingly one-sided “beef” with Megan Thee Stallion, Winston-Salem’s own TiaCorine made one helluva play to swing the spotlight back in her direction. Almost There features a who’s-who of buzzy net-rap faves (Key Glock, Luh Tyler, ZelooperZ) but she controls the show, spitting with the slick-tongued, sharp-toothed ferocity of any of your starving 1990s boom-bap artists. “Bonnet,” which I cited above, is a standout, and would probably be as big on TikTok as her breakout “FreakyT” had UMG not pulled the plug on its music-sharing deal with the video platform. Hopefully, other avenues will bring in the ears it deserves.
Beatking — “Outside” Feat. Natalie Nunn
I’m sorry… featuring WHO!? We’re including this solely out of nostalgia for the early days of Twitter and the heyday of the Bad Girls Club. (Also, the beat knocks, and the baddies will almost certainly be turning up to this anytime get go … ahem … outside this summer.)
Don Toliver — “Bandit”
I covered this a bit earlier this week but feel it deserves a second look because it is marked by a notable improvement in the songwriting department on Toliver’s part. This might sound like shade, but this is the first time I actually felt engaged by a new Toliver single rather than just obligated to give it a fair shot. Dare I say, he’s grown on me a bit, and “Bandit” somewhat justifies that developing affection in a way that has me genuinely interested in what he might do this year.
Monaleo — “Don Who Leo”
One of my favorite things to drop this week was Monaeleo’s video for her new single, “Don Who Leo” (that’s a great title). While comparing her to fellow Houstonian Megan feels borderline gauche, I think it’s worth the possible faux pas because this reminds me of Meg at the height of her freestyle prowess, just before she broke out huge with “Big Ole Freak.” The energy is infectious, the punchlines are guffaw inducing, and the charisma is through the roof. I don’t know if I’ve said it before, but 2024 has the potential to be the year of the divine — and unapologeticaly ratchet — feminine.
Skilla Baby — “Plate”
Simple, straightforward, and with a surprisingly positive message. Not something I would have anticipated from Skilla Baby (usually, street artists wait until they’re on album three before doing their most uplifting material) but I should have known better. He’s made his name doing the unexpected and has always displayed the sort of self-awareness he shows here with lines like “Yeah, I see ’em, but I still pray / I’m a hypocrite for real, telling kids to stop the violence, out here slidin’ the same day.” BARS.
YFN Lucci — “Free Me”
The fact that Lucci can record and release this is fascinating — and not just because he will be eligible for parole in an eye-popping three months. The Atlanta rapper was indicted on racketeering charges in 2021 much like his rival Young Thug, yet because he’s accepted a plea deal, he could be back on the streets and regularly dropping new music by summer. Intriguingly, the streets have yet to accuse him of snitching like Gunna, despite taking a similar deal. Again, this is the stuff of bestselling cultural criticism — and if you beat me to it, I want 5 percent.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.