Ab-Soul- The End Is Near (Prod. By Larry Fisherman) Feat. Mac Miller
Mac Miller's sudden transformation into an interesting artist is an unexpected turn of events, but for an artist who has talked about the increasing importance of a "personal brand" in hip hop, there isn't a better one to allign yourself with than the Black Hippy clique, especially if you're in need of a cred boost. This is actually one of Mac's more conventional beats, and his third for Ab in the last few weeks. While his last two backdrops ranged from hazy and atmospheric, to sharp and jittery, this one is more of a typical boom bap cut, but it allows Soulo to shine as he often does, delivering some twisty lyricism that reveals it's complexities upon multiple listens. While it's tough to match such an engaging emcee when he's in his element, Miller also turns in an extended verse, that is far from one-upping Ab, but sits pretty comfortably beside him, something that would have been inconceivable 2 years back.
Mac Miller- SDS (Prod. By Flying Lotus)
FlyLo has been trying to get into the rap production game for a minute now. The producer's live show has always been heavily indebted to turnt up rap jams, but his studio work is more of the headphone record variety. Lotus actually expressed frustration that he wasn't being tapped for beatwork, and after a kind of messy collaboration with Mellowhype's Hodgy Beats, he decided to make his own rap record under the guise of Captain Murphy. A project equally owing to the stoned abstraction of DOOM as it is to the vocal manipulation and Adult Swim worship of Odd Future, FlyLo finally found his place in hip hop. He applies that formula to this track with Mac Miller, a rapper who also seems to have slowly cemented a lane for himself after being a bit aimless for a time.
Lil Reese- Stackin feat. Wale & Waka Flocka
Waka's influence on GBE is undeniable, and hearing him rap alongside Reese is almost like hearing Dre beside Kendrick in terms of influence. Rap moves a lot faster nowadays, and the range between the mostly teenage GBE camp, and Waka at 26 almosts feels like a generation gap at this point. Young Chop, who produced the track, may be the most indebted to the rapper's breakthrough Flockaveli, running with the sound that Lex Luger made a standard with the release. Chop has built upon the formula as well however, exemplifying an ability to craft catchier and more melodic layers to the abrasive base provided by Luger. Flocka still manages to outshine Reese, proving that while his intention is never a lyrical one, it doesn't mean his delivery is amateur. The "Hard In The Paint" rapper has definitely perfected his distinct style, only time will tell if the members of GBE will do the same.
King Los- Disappointed (Prod. by Dot & Pro) feat. Diddy & Ludacris
The Diddy guest appearance is a beautiful thing. While his verses come few and far between these days, he takes at least one opportunity every year to drop a shit talking verse with enough presence to hold his place in the game for a whole 12 months (His "O Let's Do It" feature, and "Y'ALL CAN'T MULTITASK" ad-lib on "Same Damn Time" come to mind). While he doesn't drop a full 16 here, his gigantic persona is definitely felt. Ludacris also turns in a solid performance, which suggests he should spend less time chasing trends, and more time perfecting the type of rap he's always done best. In between the two larger than life personalities is Los, whose continued display of lyrical elegance allows him to fit right in anywhere he wants.
French Montana- Freaks (Remix) feat. Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Wale, Mavado & DJ Khaled
"Freaks" has got to be the weirdest hit of the year. When French made the announcement that his album would be pushed back because he absolutely had to substitute "Freaks" as the single, and we got a look at the artwork, title, and feature, it seemed pretty clear that French was making the safe but smart business move of capitalizing on the trend of the Mike WiLL strip club track. When it dropped, what we got was a bizarre take on dancehall fusion. The remix makes a little more sense. While Rick Ross instantly faceplants on an almost entirely fake patois verse, we get some REAL patois from Mavado, who (naturally) sounds a lot more comfortable on the hook than French. We also get a pretty solid verse from Wale, who apparently was the original owner of the instrumental until Montana begged him for it. The low end also gets beefed up a bit, and overall the production sounds quite a bit tighter this time around. Still don't know if it's a number 1 though...
Joey Fatts- Choppa feat. A$AP Rocky & Danny Brown
While Lex Luger and Southside's 808 Mafia production collective, is a great idea, it makes it difficult to know who's really behind the boards at any given time. 10 or so beatmakers deep, any one of them could really be responsible for this instrumental, but I'm going to guess this one comes from one of the lesser known guys. What we'll call "authentic" trap continues to grow toward, or maybe parallel to it's EDM brand of imitation, with the woozy synths here sounding more akin to Lunice's trap tribute than anything Zaytoven has done. That being said, pure Atlanta trap continues to pull punches that those on the outside can rarely predict, most interestingly here is the almost rock infused bassline-- a far reach from the preferred toned bass drum sounds of the post-Mike WiLL era.
A full Danny Brown 16 may have been nice, and for a guy who claimed his next album was going to be retire "dick sucking jokes" and take on a more mature sound, he's certainly getting his classic "loveable gremlin" flows out on his features.