J-Dawg, “Forever and a Day” Alphabetically, this would fit somewhere in the middle, but not here. You don’t understand where J-Dawg ranks in the lineage of street Houston rappers. All of them find a way to convey emotion onto their records, but nobody damn near makes you want to cry and ask for forgiveness like J-Dawg. If you’ve been to a show of his, you know he rarely blinks, and often prays. He often shows emotion while wielding plenty of promises that some would consider threats. If you’ve noticed the tattoos on his face or the ink on his arm dedicated to fallen friends and ideals he stands by, then you know he’s dead serious about everything he raps about. Family more than anything.
Produced by Mr. Lee, “Forever and a Day” is a somber, piano-laced number that should be grave but instead tries to kick those who paid their respects to fallen rapper MUG straight into the pits of hell. From outlining people shedding tears and falling out to the fact that MUG doesn’t even have a headstone, “Forever and a Day” punches and curses its way to the finish line, as pissed off as any tribute you may ever get.
Trae Tha Truth feat. Problem & Lil Boss, “Yeah Hoe”
I could scream from the heavens to remind you that Tha Truth, Trae Tha Truth’s long-awaited solo disc is coming Friday. I could also tell you about the track list and everything else surrounding the album. But then I would be repeating myself, so here’s a little treat for you instead: “Yeah Hoe,” Trae's entry into strip-club music, the kind that drawls inspiration from arguably Master P’s most threatening No Limit track before Ghetto D dropped back in 1998. It’s Problem once more running to the Tank to create his best music and Lil Boss showing up as pure icing on the cake. Lord, I cannot wait for when the grittier side of Tha Truth meets ears.
Mitchelle’l feat. T.I. & Big K.R.I.T., “Spillin Drank (Remix)”
Last year, Mitchelle’l guest starred as the careful navigator for Delorean’s blaxploitated yet ready-made radio single “Picture Me Swangin’”. The Houston-spiked remix featuring Paul Wall, Slim Thug and Lil Keke arrived last November, but sadly couldn’t carry itself outside the city limits. It became a great rap single ultimately not given the push by outside forces it deserved, which sucks. But Mitchelle’l happens to belong to Grand Hustle and with that comes the opportunity of a Southern-rap lifetime — standing with his label boss T.I. and Big K.R.I.T. for “Spillin Drank (Remix)”. Lil C may not claim Texas residency, but I’ll be damned if he didn’t reach into K.R.I.T. and maybe even Cory Mo’s bag in creating a country-rap tune with Mitchelle’l pulling a Lil Wayne circa 2008 with a chorus reminiscent of “Don’t worry about what’s in my cup.” T.I. and Big K.R.I.T. offer serviceable verses but Mitchelle’l screeches and croons as if his voice could keep a double cup from spilling over onto his carpet.
Kirko Bangz feat. Fetty Wap, “Worry Bout It”
At this point, it’s redundant to ask Kirko Bangz about Bigger Than Me, his oft-delayed debut album that has now languished on not one but two labels. Kirko should probably step up in Atlantic’s offices, act like Blue from Jurassic World and rip everybody’s face off until some weakling who's barely hanging on to life greenlights a release date. But he's far too cool for that, so instead we’re left to slow grind to “Worry Bout It” featuring Fetty Wap. Is it awkward to see two singers who can work with hood hooks and melody like these two work together? Not really. Even when you think Fetty is going to turn into Fetty Levert and take over, Kirko mostly owns the show over some wound-up ‘90s production that feels like it looked up to Ginuwine’s “Pony” for inspiration, bed squeaks included. Kirko won when he discussed his life issues on “Rich”. Now he’s aiming straight for promiscuous women he refuses to judge; not a bad proposition to stand on. It’s been purported that "Worry Bout It" is the first single from Bigger Than Me, and that the album will finally drop next year.
Easy Yves Saint feat. Jack Freeman, “Work”
Yves and Jack. Jack and Yves. The II. VI. V. collective has put in plenty of work together in the past, whether it be on Freeman’s solo discs or Yves getting an assist from the Houston singer on any number of Niceguys tracks. You could say that “Work,” the duo's collab with Grandior Free on the beat is a reunion of what made “Not at All” the breakthrough Niceguys single back in 2010. Yves is Yves, evident by his return on “7187,” while Freeman of course has that knack for making songs that could easily double as him talking shit as smooth as possible. They make a rather dope tandem and Yves is sticking and moving, back in a good creative space where talking shit on a higher level suits him.
D-Risha, “Lesson 1”
Any astute Houston rap fan will tell you that he or she prefers a certain style of rapper. Either he’s street, he’s flashy, he enjoys creating music for your escape or a call back to the golden era mix of East Coast boom-bap and countrified Southern twang. There’s no real in-between; doesn’t matter if said rapper could even climb on a beat properly. If it appeals to a certain sensibility, it will eventually win. D-Risha, more capable a prizefighter-rapper rather than song creator, has no qualms about being a bit “different." His “different” earned him a victory in Houston’s Jackin’ 4 Beats competition and has given him the chance of earning $10,000 and something or other with DJ Khaled. “Lesson 1” is his first release of any kind since that moment, and while it's going to be a footnote in regards to Escape From Houston Texas, it's also going to serve as a healthy reminder that D-Risha gives a shit about normalcy in local rap.
Sauce Walka & K Camp, “A Bag” For some strange reason, now I want to see what Sauce Walka would do in his own version of Animal House. The visual for “A Bag” one of the first "Sauce Does Atlanta" tracks where a member of The Sauce Factory goes Freebird Rules with someone in the ATL's constantly moving rap ecosystem is simple. It’s Sauce Walka, at his house, looking at everyone asleep before dressing himself in money, standing on countertops with K Camp in front of him, and stepping outside to smoke. He’s also rolling through the house on one of those handless Segways. What makes “A Bag” a fun, if strictly-of-the-moment, song? All in the motivations. K Camp joins in on the Sauce lingo, but it’s mostly Walka's show through and through, his enunciation through slick talk once more a highlight.
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