As lumpen urban dance pop continues to sweep America, carting along a string of major rappers who previously produced subtler sounds (step forward shamefaced Nicki Minaj, Pitbull and Flo Rida), it’s good to see there are still artists producing music designed to rock clubs as well as brain cells, without resorting to lowest common denominator LMFAO style cack. Here’s a quick round up of some proper hip hop we’re bumping to this month…
Kendrick Lamar has come with a new single Backseat Freestyle taken from his Interscope Records , Dr Dre assisted debut g.o.o.d kid m.A.A.d city (and yeah , the lower case/ upper case letters are how he wants the album title spelt. I have no idea why.) The production on Backseat, supplied by breaking sensation Hit-Boy (who was also behind Nigga’s In Paris) is quite simply disgusting. Sharp guitar stabs and weird jangling sounds and a bottom end dredged from the depths of Atlantis, it’s made to demolish speaker cones and flatten eardrums into whimpering submission. Over the top Lamar growls, boasts and roars, and though I’m not entirely sure how valid his comparisons of himself to Martin Luther King are—Im pretty sure that Dr King never prayed his ‘dick get big as the Eiffel Tower// so I can fuck the world for 72 hours’ but I may be wrong – he still kills the track with sheer force of will. On this form the album is gonna be incredible.
It never really happened for Joe Budden the way the early noughties hype suggested. The New Yorker has had a couple of under rated singles over the years (Pump It Up being an unsung classic), but his decision to leave Def Jam and go independent has always hurt him. However, new track She Don’t Put It Down Like You deserves to pick up props. The T-Minus produced beat is a curious, woozy, heady affair, all seasick synths, thick and gloopy over the tight bass pulses. Fellow early noughties RnB also-ran Tank shows up on the hook, and Lil Wayne delivers the star quality with a suitably laidback cameo. There’s a fantastical, dream like quality to the melody, and the more I listen the more I like. Realistically, and considering Budden’s independent status, it’s probably gonna be buried, but give it a chance.
Sticking with the East Coast, Angel Haze has dedicated a new cut to her home town of New York, and she uses it to stake a strong claim to new Queen of Hip Hop. Lyrically Haze is head and shoulders beyond the competition, getting venomous when and telling the competition that she’s “spitting like a dragon that went missing from a dungeon// y’all a bunch of niggas getting trippy offa nothing// tie a rope around your neck and kick you offa bunji’. The chorus is hardly there, Haze just sing-rapping ‘Oh yeah… I run New York’ over the clapping, blues influenced beat.. on this evidence she may well be right.
And from down South – Dallas to be specific – KO Boyz have dropped an underground bomb called I’m Rare . Taken from The Polo and Lacoste Mixtape which I’m yet to hear, Rare first came out a year ago, and is only now getting attention outside of regional plays. It's some hard trap shit, with a nasty blend of spooked out bleeps, gnarley bass, huge crashes and boastful lyrics. It’s got the sinister sparseness that characterised the best UK grime productions, and should appeal to fans of that genre. It's ain't pretty but it is sick... Whether the act will be one hit wonders of have more in the locker is anyone’s guess but right now Rare tailor made to smash the arse out of a decent sound system , play it loud and low.