Drake Dark Lane Demo Tapes
Drake is one of the most prolific artists of his time. He has so many loosies laying around that he put together a compilation called Care Package last year and he already has enough for another compilation entitled Dark Lane Demo Tapes. Aside from relatively upbeat moments like Toosie Slide and Demons, the project is another dose of doleful lamentations and existential discontent for the worlds most distressed superstar. There has been mounting criticism that Drake no longer seems to be leading the wave as much as chasing it. But, songs like Chicago Freestyle, Losses, and From Florida With Love show that even if hes not in his creative prime (a question his next studio album will answer), hes still compelling at his best.
Gunna might have already won the 2020 award for most creative branding around a project. His Wunna era has come complete with and a Wunnascope collaboration with @TheHoodHealer but that doesnt mean hes all about positive vibes. Consider these bars from Cooler Than A Bitch featuring Roddy Ricch: Your favorite rapper burnt and he runnin’ out of hits / Say the wrong word, and I’ma shoot him in his sh*t. Its unmistakable that Wunnas thematic grounding is still the streets of Atlanta on his latest collection of slinky flows over immersive Wheezy beats. The albums 19-tracks could eventually wear for those who arent diehard Gunna fans, but songs like Skybox, the erotic Nasty Girl / On Camera and the Hot-adjacent Top Floor show Gunna at his best.
Polo G GOAT
Polo Gs sophomore studio album Isnt just one of the best albums of May, its some of the best work youre gonna hear all year. The Chicago rhymers melodic flow and technical lyricism is an elite combination. He infuses his lyrical gift with grim, honest depictions of Chicago that explore themes of grief, self-medicating, and violence and how theyre all interconnected. So many young artists are being forthright about how the trauma of systemic oppression manifests in their life. Polo is doing the same, from chemical dependency (explored on 21 with the late Juice WRLD) to romantic relationships on “Beautiful Pain (Losing My Mind),” where he rhymes, “it’s hard to love with dysfunction, wish my scars was thinner.” Polos GOAT title is a lofty aspiration, but in time he just may have a claim as he continues to experience life and refine his artistry.
Freddie Gibbs Alfredo
Last year, Freddie Gibbs declared himself the best rapper in the world, and hes given those in agreeance no reason to let up off that claim. Hes been in the zone for over four years now, and that run doesnt slow up on Alfredo, a soulful collaboration album with Alchemist. Gangsta Gibbs is one of the games best examples of sticking to the script and excelling, as the project shows him rattling off flows and quotables like Michael Jordan, 1985, b*tch, I travel with a cocaine circus on Alchemists soulful, lowkey production. Griselda artists Conway and Benny The Butcher both appear on the album, each giving a taste of what a joint EP with Gibbs could sound like.
Mozzy Beyond Bulletproof
Mozzy got subversive with the title of his latest project, Beyond Bulletproof, noting that, In my neighborhood and the ghettos of America, bulletproof means love. He shows love to his native Sacramento throughout the project, exploring the good, bad, and ugly of Northern Cali with features like Eric Bellinger, Polo G, G Herbo, and King Von. The latter two appear on Body Count, an album standout where the three artists trade menacing bars over a piano loop fit for a horror scene. But beyond the no-nonsense bangers, Mozzy is also beloved for his introspection, and Betrayed and I Aint Perfect fit that bill, where he laments the toll oppression has taken on his community and expresses compassion for the hopeless and the homeless ’cause they been through enough. Mozzy has been through his own share of turmoil, and the game should be thankful that hes so adept at expressing it on his latest.
Little Simz Drop 6
In late April, Little Simz took to Instagram to speak for many right now by lamenting that, I dont mind being alone…however choosing to be alone is different from being forced to be alone and thats where the difficulty comes in. The forced quarantining in the wake of Covid-19 has society feeling a myriad of emotions, and Simz culled through her own emotional stage on Drop 6, the latest entry of her Drop mixtape series. As she noted on project intro Might Bang, Might Not, shes a one-woman army on the five-song project, looming over the albums sparse production with her vulnerable poetics. The project feels like a portrait of the moment, as she explores matters of life and career, surmising on You Should Call Mum that times we livin’ in don’t seem real / But it was never a fairytale to begin with.
KOTA The Friend Everything
KOTA The Friends FOTO project was a portrait of Brooklyn through the lens of twentysomethings experiencing life trials amid the beast of gentrification. He has expressed wanting Everything, his latest project, to be a bit more upbeat for his burgeoning fanbase. He accomplishes that goal with fun, feel-good tracks like B.Q.E. with Bas and Joey Badass, Always with Kyle and Braxton Cook and the title track, which he posits as that spend a week up in the mountains just to heal some type music. His slick, ever-confident delivery bolsters lyrics about his ascension and rhymes about people who are always jackin that you know me but you knew me on Morocco. Indeed, the versatility of Everything shows that KOTA The Friend is constantly evolving as an artist, which can only reflect personal evolution.
Ka Descendants Of Cain
There are probably a lot of people culling through the bible these days but few, if any could transfuse the good books contents into a work as compelling as Ka’s Descendants Of Cain, the Brooklyn rappers seventh studio album. Ka is one of the rap games best-kept secrets, mostly because the lowkey lyricist wants it that way. But tracks like Solitude Of Enoch and Sins Of The Father with Roc Marciano speak loudly for his presence. The masterful rhymer gets off his thought-provoking witticisms in sparse, spoken word-esque couplets, darting through minimalist beats with reflective gems like My past bent me, see it half-empty / My theme’s still tryin’ to get clean from last century that act as passages on their own.
Key Glock Son Of A Gun
Released right in time for mothers day, Key Glocks Son Of A Gun project is a tribute to his mother, as well as an exhibition of why hes one of the games most intriguing trap rappers. Hes in his wheelhouse throughout the 15-track album, rhyming over a collection of hypnotic loops that serve as the perfect framework for his gun-toting, braggadocious lyrics. The beats lure you in, and Key Glock keeps you enthralled with his intense mic presence. He talks big on Money Talks and Flexxxin, where he lets us know I still aint touch my stash. But its not all good. Album standout I Can Tell shows him in paranoia mode, rhyming, It’sa lot ofrappers hatin’ onme, I can tell. As much as rappers shout out imaginary haters, the knack for quality street music that Son Of A Gun displays makes it believable.
Larry June & Cardo — Cruise USA
If youre new to Larry June, get ready to bask in a lush catalog of Bay game over laidback beats. But if you’re familiar then you already know whats going on when June and Cardo link up. Theyre one of the games most underrated rapper-producer combos, and they got to it again on Cruise USA, a feel-good 8-track project. The title harkens to the ideal vibe to take in Junes game-heavy raps over smooth soundscapes that veer from the glitzy Meet Me In Frisco to the hypnotic Orange Juice with Dom Kennedy, which is an intriguing fusion of dripped-out Houston with laidback Cali vibes. If you find yourself taking a lengthy drive this June, this is surely one for the rotation.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.