Dizzy Wright- Maintain Feat. Joey Badass
Dizzy and Joey make for a solid team of elegant lyricists. In a rap climate that is increasingly divided into roided-out trap beats, and cloud rap haziness, it takes some competent emcees to go in on a good old fashioned soul beat that brings all attention to the rhyming. Wright and Badass deliver some tasteful and impressive flows that brings the listener's attention away from the flashy aspects of rap, and back to straight lyrical ability.
Ace Hood- Have Mercy (Prod. By Cardiak)
Ace Hood has been conditioned to rap like he's on a Khaled crew track at all times. He goes in on every verse, and sometimes he even switches it up and goes hard. Hood applies his rapidfire flows to Cardiak's equally hard beat, and everyone is satisfied.
Beyonce- Bow Down / I Been On
It's kind of insane that this record serves as the first time Bey has paid musical tribute to her hometown of Houston, Texas. The R&B superstar tries her hand at chopped and screwed vocals, and actually pulls it off quite well. The real star here however, is Hit-Boy who has the ability to craft instrumentals that are events in themselves. Though we'll have to wait for the official liner notes, I'm pretty sure Kanye's production henchmen Mike Dean and Jeff Bhasker may have also had a hand in this.
Yelawolf- Gangster Feat. A$AP Rocky & Big Henry
Yelawolf came through with his latest mixtape, reminding everyone of what they loved about the original Trunk Muzik. This track is surprising in that Yelawolf, who usually steals the spotlight from any feature he has on his tracks, is one-upped by the often renegaded A$AP Rocky. While Rocky is good at what he does, his persistent use of fashionable flows can easily be overshadowed by a more defined and timeless personality (see: everyone on 1 train). Rocky decides to pull out a slower and more distinct flow that allows him to establish a more developed voice, painting an interesting narrative in his verse.
Future- Usual (Prod. By Drumma Boy)
There was a lot of talk about Future's lack of auto-tune on this track. While the stigma behind the vocal effect persists, this song is certainly proof that at least for Future, it doesn't really make a difference whether or not he uses pitch correction. The Drumma Boy produced track is certainly more of the "Usual" for Fewch, even without his beloved vocal tweaking. Future kinda sounds the same no matter what, and uses auto-tune as more of just a general tone enhancer than a vocal crutch (it's not like he's a "good" singer even with it). So this track will not be selling any naysayers as it is, but for those who do fux with the Askronaut, I doubt you'll miss the effect, if you even notice it's gone.
Lupe Fiasco- Jonylah
More of a eulogy than a song. Lupe's tribute to the 6 month old baby girl who was tragically murdered in Chicago last week gives us some more perspective on the violence happening in the city right now. The track serves its purpose of creating discussion around an issue that has been overlooked in the past.
Birdman- Tapout Feat. Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Mack Maine & Future
This was the week we almost lost Lil Wayne (or at least we thought we did), and if we did this would have stood as his last verse. Who am I kidding? Lil Wayne's posthumous output would put Tupac to shame, but it's still interesting think of this as the last thing he would have done. Not the best verse to go out on, but definitely not the worst. Wayne pulls together a pretty strong melody and serves as the early highlight of the track, though props to Nicki for being the first rapper to end their verse with an asterixed action *rubs hands like Birdman*
Gucci Mane- Hell Yes
So Gucci Mane releases TWO mixtapes this week and the best track that comes out of it is his take at singing that appeared on neither? Yes, and it's better than it has any right to be. Gucci always hinted at having some melodic chops, as a rapper who always did his own hooks, and always had a knack for bringing some supreme catchiness to his street ready tracks. Maybe Gucci did make the mistake of dropping Waka from his label this week, and maybe he did make the mistake of spelling his name "Waka Flacka Flames", but the one mistake the Brick Squad rapper did not make was trying his hand at singing. It's worth it just to hear him say "Auskralia". So what do you think? Did you have this Guwop on luwop? or did he scruwop?
Earl Sweatshirt- Whoa Feat. Tyler The Creator
After his introspective cut, "Chum", Earl revisits his free-associative style that he so brilliantly delivered on his self titled debut track; the same song that introduced many to the Odd Future collective. Earl brings all of the jubilant and playful energy that was present in his early material, leaving out the immature misogyny which turns out was just as unnecessary as most expected. The result is a song that displays everything that initially intrigued everyone about OF in the first place, which is that they're a bunch of young kids making very interesting art for no one but themselves, but it's quite a spectacle to watch from the outside.
Staff picks for the week of March 11th-17th
This feature highlights a hand-picked selection of some of the bigger tracks of the week. We have chosen a few of the tracks that landed within our top 25 most played, focusing on those that stood out, and left room for discussion. This edition features A$AP Rocky, Beyonce, Future, Dizzy Wright and more! Take a look at the list in the gallery above, and feel free to let us know your own favorite tracks in the comments.