Kirko Bangz - Progression 3
We premiered Kirko's latest tape on August 12th, and it's been doing big numbers ever since. Led by the Houston anthem "Cup Up Top Down", which features Z-Ro, Paul Wall and Slim Thug, the project's main focus seems to be turning up and enjoying the good life, which is what summer is meant for, after all. Other features include Wale, Trinidad Jame$, YG, Nipsey Hussle and French Montana, with diverse and predominantly chill production from Jahlil Beats, Trakksounds, KE, Sound Mob and more. There's a fairly balanced mix of straight tracks, slow jams and bangers.
This 2013 XXL Freshman is one of the more noteworthy acts to emerge from the Texas in a minute, and Progression 3 has definitely been in heavy rotation since its release, in the South and beyond. Can you dig it?
Trinidad Jame$ - 10 Piece Mild
Trinidad Jame$' 10 Piece Mild dropped on August 13th, and is named after the emcee's favorite order at American Deli. Whatever your opinion of the ATLien may be, he's abolished a lot of hate with his latest project.
Like Kirko's Progression 3, the tape mostly focusses on success, turning up and the good life in general - it's heavier on bangers than slow jams, though. For example, the Young Roc/J. Padron-produced "Ea$tside", which features Gucci Mane, Young Scooter, Alley Boy and Childish Gambino. There's also the Young Chop-produced "Jumpin Off Texa$" with Rich Homie Quan on the assist. Other features include CyHi The Prynce, Travi$ Scott and Danny Brown, with production from Scott, K.E. On The Track, XXYYXX and more.
Hate it or love it, it looks like Trinidad is going to be around for a minute. Who's still bumping 10 Piece Mild?
Problem - The Separation
Problem's latest tape dropped on June 13th, and is definitely one of the most noteworthy West Coast projects of this summer, ideally bumped in the whip with seats back and windows down (and the top dropped, if possible). Lead by "Roll One" with T.I. and Snoop Dogg and "Bout Mine" with Wiz Khalifa, there's no shortage of carefree, celebratory bangers here. Once again, this is turn-up music.
Other features include The Game, Iamsu!, Tyga and Bad Lucc, with a diverse but G-Funk-focussed range of instrumentals from Terrace Martin, League of Starz, Problem himself and more. If you have yet to give The Separation a spin, it's about time you got on that.
Machine Gun Kelly - Black Flag
Machine Gun Kelly's latest project doesn't necessarily sound like summer, but it's done huge numbers since it's June 26th release, led by the single "Peso", which samples Aloe Blacc's "I Need A Dollar" and features Pusha T and Meek Mill. Consisting of bangers, straight rap cuts and slower, more introspective tracks, it's an impressive tape that pretty much offers something for everyone.
The all-original tape is named after the seminal hardcore punk band of the same name, who MGK regards as a major inspiration. As with most of his work, the punk influence is apparent throughout, but doesn't detract from the hip-hop vibe. Did you bump Black Flag this summer?
Migos - Young Rich Niggas
How could we omit the project that birthed the "Versace" phenomenon? However you feel about the breakout Atlanta trio, the hype currently surrounding the Migos is undeniable, and their new tape popped off as a result. Young Rich Niggas is exactly what you'd expect from both the lead single and the title of the project, focussing on the spoils of the dope game, hedonism and luxury. No need to dig deeper here - this is easy-listening trap music.
The feature/co-sign from Drake isn't included on the project, but it does feature Gucci Mane, Soulja Boy, RiFF RAFF, Trinidad Jame$ and more, with apt production from Zaytoven, Stack Boy Twaun, Phenom Da Don and others.
Young Rich Niggas has carried well beyond the South at this point. Are you down?
Tory Lanez - Conflicts Of My Soul
Although Tory Lanez dropped his latest effort on August 26th, we felt it was strong enough to merit honourable mention here. The project re-introduced the Toronto rapper to fans, as he's been absent from the scene for more than a year since releasing his Sincerely Tory project.
This new tape proves Tory not only has rapping chops, but singing ones as well, and the R&B flavour helps define his new sound. Some may say he’s following in the footsteps of his fellow Toronto rapper-slash-singer Drake, but Tory has definitely carved his own lane here. There's a touch of auto-tune throughout the project, which seems to work with Tory’s cadence and voice. The only features come from Roscoe Dash and fellow auto-tune advocate Kirko Bangz, and he doesn't seem to need anyone else. He keeps the listener's interest throughout the all-original tape with varied flows, shifts from rapping to singing and diverse, experimental production. Tory shares his life experiences here, whether dealing with women and love, his haters or his crew.
Conflicts Of My Soul puts Lanez up against fellow rising rappers to watch, such as his collaborator Kirko Bangz and his strong competition in Toronto. Keep an eye on this one.
DJ Mustard - Ketchup
Like it or not, DJ Mustard is one currently one of the most prominent producers coming out of the West Coast, having defined his own style of up-tempo, club-oriented "ratchet music". Ketchup certainly isn't for the philosophers, but it undoubtedly bangs.
Mustard's first official mixtape showcases what he does best, and he does so with the artists that compliment his style the most. While his sound has become a universally trendy choice for a single, it makes the most sense for artists that were birthed from the same scene, many of which came up alongside him. Led by big tracks such as "Been From The Gang" with Kay Ess, YG, Nipsey Hussle and RJ and "CNN" with Kid Ink, other features include Dom Kennedy, Ty Dolla $ign, E-40, Casey Veggies, Joe Moses and more. For the most part, the mix works.
This is drop-top and/or club music, plain and simple, something which Mustard has no qualms about. Take it or leave it.
Stalley - Honest Cowboy
"This mixtape I like to call the 'album before the album'. I wanted to give you guys a more personal piece of music to sit with before the album. This is the most open and honest I've ever been in my music."
Stalley's new 10-track project is a breath of fresh air from the MMG camp, led by the strong single "Swangin'" with Scarface and Joi Tiffany, and subsequent leaks "Raise Your Weapons" and "NINETEENEIGHTY7" with ScHoolboy Q. The sound of the project is diverse but still cohesive, with production handled by Block Beataz, Soundtrakk, Hidden Track, S1, Rashad, Black Diamond, Cardo, DJ Quik and Terrace Martin. Stalley touches on a whole spectrum of topics, from success and the good life to struggle and revolution. There's no trace of bullshit here, and it sounds good in the whip.
This Ohio emcee shows strong promise, and Honest Cowboy is essentially his first step. We're looking forward to the album. Are you?
Ty Dolla $ign - Beach House 2
With the amount of features on new Taylor Gang signee Ty Dolla $ign's Beach House 2, it feels more like a compilation than a solo effort, but it's well-suited to this particular list for that very reason, among others. It has a crew feel, dropped near the beginning of summer, did big numbers and is filled with tales of faded hedonism and the darker side of the party.
The sequel to Ty's Beach House was led by the mellow if not slightly paranoid "Ratchet In My Benz" with Juicy J and the heavy stoner anthem "Irie" with Wiz Khalifa. Other features include include Kevin Gates, IAMSU!, Chevy Woods, Trey Songz, Kirko Bangz, YG, Kid Ink, B.o.B, Chris Brown, Jay Rock, The Game and more. The diverse production was handled by DJ Mustard, Ty of DRUGS, D. Mile, The Invasion, FKI, DJ Spinz, Buddha Shampoo, and Peter Lee John.
Although it didn't do much for Ty's solo image, Beach House 2 was undoubtedly bumped in whips across the country this summer.
Party Next Door - PARTYNEXTDOOR
PartyNextDoor was essentially introduced to the world when Drake dropped "Make A Mil", the first leak from his self-titled project. Fans instantly gravitated towards the artist, who follows in a similar vein of R&B that The Weeknd popularized. The co-sign from Drizzy doesn't hurt, of course.
PARTYNEXTDOOR, which dropped on July 1st, is a good introduction to the singer. It's a digestible 10-track mixtape with only one feature from OVO label head Drake. All of the production is handled by the singer himself, and in the words of his fellow Toronto R&B singer, it's music you may want to be high for. While PartyNextDoor has been compared to The Weeknd, their styles are distinctive both in production and voice. However, the music is generally about the partying, girls, drugs - content The Weeknd is definitely well versed in. PartyNextDoor infuses more modern pop sounds in his production, but keeps it mellow, almost something you'd want to hear AFTER the party.
This mixtape definitely shows that there is potential in this upcoming R&B singer, we'll just have to wait and see where he goes with it.
Logic - Young Sinatra: Welcome To Forever
Maryland emcee Logic celebrated his 2013 XXL Freshman status with the release of this mixtape in early May, and it remained in rotation well into the summer months. Features include Jhene Aiko, Trinidad James, Dizzy Wright, Castro, Kid Ink and more, with strong production from NO I.D., Don Cannon, 6ix, Kevin Randolph, C Sick and others.
Young Sinatra: Welcome To Forever is an honest and reflective project, and Logic displays a new confidence on the mic, varying his flow and approach to suit the moments he describes. You won't find too many bangers here - although it does get intense at times, this project is more detailed and level-headed. Logic continues to prove himself as a completely dedicated emcee.
Don't sleep on this kid. Although humble, he's hungry, and is poised to infiltrate the mainstream.
King Los - Becoming King
King Los' Becoming King dropped in late April, but it's definitely left a lingering impact with its driven and generally anthemic tone. Following his previous project The Crown Ain’t Safe, Los explores the process of becoming kingly - what it takes to reach that level and what responsibilities await him at the top. Lyrically, he never relents, and whether braggadocios or more down to earth, his quest for greatness remains the focus.
Features include Pusha T, Juicy J, Ludacris, Diddy, Cassie, Twista and Wiz Khalifa, with production from 1500 or Nothin, Dot Pro, Yung Burg, J. Oliver and Rob Holladay and more. The project is well-rounded, showcasing Los' ability to tackle a wide variety of instrumentals and topics. As lofty as his aspirations are, there's something for pretty much everyone here.
This is definitely one of King Los' strongest projects to date, if not the strongest, and it remains in rotation.
Joey Badass - Summer Knights
Joey Badass dropped Summer Knights in celebration of the one-year anniversary of his debut mixtape 1999. With this new project, his continues his golden age revivalism in a similarly chill but slightly darker lane. This is a summer soundtrack for hip-hop heads.
Considered a free album, it features most of his Pro Era crew (Kirk Knight, Dirty Sanchez, Nyck Caution, Rokamouth, Dessy Hinds, T'nah Apex, Chuck Strangers, Dyemond Lewis, A La Sole and CJ Fly) and Collie Buddz, with production from Kirk Night, Lee Bannon, Chuck Stangers, Patrick Eulmi, Navie D, Statik Selektah, DOOM and Oddisee. Joey proves he's a beast on the mic once again, intently flowing over smooth instrumentals with an classic but updated New York sound, the subject matter ranging from getting faded to starting a revolution.
As our contributor Iva wrote of it, Summer Knights is "the best [new] soundtrack to play while cruising on a late summer night."
Chance The Rapper - Acid Rap
Rising Chicago emcee Chance The Rapper's Acid Rap was one of the most anticipated projects of the year to date, and needless to say, he delivered. The project was actually so popular that it charted at No. 63 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart due to illegal "bootlegs" on iTunes and Amazon. That has to mean something, right?
More of an album than a mixtape, Acid Rap features all-original production from Nate Fox, Blended Babies, Jake One and more, with guest appearances from Ab-Soul, Twista, Action Bronson, BJ The Chicago Kid and Childish Gambino, among others. It shows a lot of progression from his previous mixtape #10Day, with a more melodic vibe suiting both his singing and his quirky, relentless flow, not to mention his intricate, in-depth storytelling and wordplay. Chance is a poet, plain and simple, and a current leader in hip-hop psychedelia.
Although it was released in April, Acid Rap was bumped throughout the summer, and continues to be bumped. If you don't already have it, go download it at ChanceRaps.com.
Dizzy Wright - The Golden Age
Rising Las Vegas emcee Dizzy Wright's latest mixtape, which dropped on August 19th, is without a doubt one of the strongest projects of the summer. It follows The First Agreement EP, which dropped last December.
The Golden Age brings us 22 original tracks from The Funk Volume emcee, with varied production from DJ Hoppa, Rikio, 3rd Eye, 6IX and more. The project was led by the early leaks "Kill 'Em Wit Kindness", "World Peace" and "Maintain" with Joey Bada$$. Other features include Hopsin, SwizZz,Wyclef, Logic, Kid Ink and Honey Cocaine, among others. Although paying homage to hip-hop's early-90s golden age both sonically and lyrically, it sounds current as well, which isn't exactly an easy balance to maintain. Some tracks are chill, some hype, some contemplative. There's something for everyone here, and it all fits together nicely.
With The Golden Age, this 2013 XXL Freshman has officially proved himself as an emcee to watch. Don't sleep.