It’s been a wild month over here, and this month’s top 10 will reflect that. I went down a lot of different wormholes whether it was a Tupac nostalgia trip brought on by my birthday and feeling old, to randomly bumping a lot of 80s R&B which rarely happens either, to a journey through the new Memphis to exploring a bunch of stuff I missed from the Griselda label and ultimately checking out a bevy of quality new releases from Nipsey Hussle, Kodak, Ralo, 6ix 9ine, and more. Hey any month that you can headbang to 6ix 9ine and slow dance to New Edition in the same month is a month worth living if you ask me. So here’s my February top 10, we’re a day late but let’s do it…
Benny the Butcher – Fat Dom
Benny’s got me feeling like throwing on a Buffalo Sabers jersey (the red and black one with the evil-looking buffalo, of course) with all this fire he’s releasing. I posted about Benny last week after seeing a really nice freestyle from him and this song ‘Fat Dom’ is my favorite song from his ‘Butcher on Steroids’ tape with Green Lantern that came out in November. Between Green Lantern shouting out his name and ‘Invasion’ over the tracks, to the flashy coke raps and the next-level lyricism, this tape (and song) really brought me back to another time and place, like the mid-2000s Dipset golden age and that is a very good thing in my opinion. Benny is like an Upstate NY, modern-day Diplomat. I’m going to feel like an idiot, but a grateful idiot, when one of my loyal readers points out to me what this beat is from since I know I’ve heard it before and it’s probably something obvious but I just can’t remember what it’s from, but in any case Benny kills it. This tape was great, and his project that just came out about a week or so ago entitled ‘Stabbed & Shot’ with his fellow Upstater 38 Spesh was really good as well (and features one track with Benny & 38 trading bars with Styles P and Jadakiss in typical Styles and Kiss fashion)
6ix 9ine ft. Tory Lanez, Young Thug
Much to the chagrin of rainbow-grill haters from coast to coast, the 6ix 9ine debut album (mixtape?) finally came and while it was short, it was economical in that it packed a lot of bangers into just under a half hour. Everyone already knew Kooda, Gummo and Keke which were amongst the best songs on it, but perhaps the best of all of them was a new song called Rondo. Rondo features a trio of collaborators in 6ix9ine, Tory Lanez, and Young Thug that is as unexpected as it is potent. I feel like Young Thug basically was the 6ix 9ine of a few years ago, with people up in arms about him wearing a dress and having a nose ring so it’s perhaps only right that these two kindred but very different spirits came together to bring some serious heat. I’m usually not really down with Tory Lanez but I have to admit his vocals on the chorus here were sick and really brought the whole song together. Like most of 6ix 9ine’s other big hits so far, especially Keke, really the only problem with ‘Rondo’ is that it’s way too short for such a dope song especially when you have 3 different guys of this caliber on it. Whether you love 6ix 9ine or hate him, or fall somewhere in between, I challenge you to bump Rondo at top volume and not get amped up about it.
Nipsey Hussle – Grinding All My Life
I actually posted this song in my top 10 a while back probably in September or October, but after appearing on Nipsey’s highly-anticipated ‘Victory Lap’ it’s back in this month’s 10. Nipsey was talking about Victory Lap for literally about a year and a half and it finally came out for All-Star weekend in Los Angeles. There were a lot of dope tracks on it and I have to say, I don’t think I’ve seen an album get this much love/anticipation both from the internet whether it was blogs, social media, or forums AND people bumping it outside in real life in quite a while, so good for Nip. There were a lot of good songs on it and it’s a nice, cohesive album where he really hammers home his vision of entrepeneurship and empowerment, but Grinding All My Life is still my favorite after all this time. I like his flow and bars better in the first half of the song than in the second, but either way it’s a banger.
“Don’t know a nigga like myself. I say self-made meaning I designed myself. County jail fade you could pull my file yourself. Spot raid, swallowed rocks I’m getting high myself.”
“Damn right I like the life I built, I’m from West side 60s, shit I might got killed, standing so tall they think I might got stilts. Legendary baller like Mike like Wilt, ’96 Impala Thug Life on wheels. Up against the wall, squabble at Fox Hills. Like a motherfucking boss ask me how I feel, successful street niggas touching their first mill.”
“Look I’m married to this game, that’s who I made my wife. She said I’d die alone I told that bitch she probably right. One thing that’s for sure, I’m not a stranger to this life, got a safe that’s full of Franklins and a shoulder full of stripes.
Nipsey Hussle ft. Kendrick Lamar – Dedication
Another highlight from Victory Lap. I’m usually not crazy about Kendrick but this song was incredible and it was cool to see him and Nipsey on a song together. Nice beat, great verses from two of the biggest modern-day LA/West Coast rappers, and furthermore it’s actually a pretty uplifting/positive song. Favorite line… Nipsey – “This ain’t entertainment. This for niggas on the slave ship. These songs are the spirituals that I swam against the waves with; made it to the shore to their amazement.” That line is so real it legitimately sent a chill down this old jaded blogger’s spine.
Moneybagg Yo – Black Heart
Wrote about this one earlier this month during my audio trip through Memphis…
The intro to Moneybagg Yo’s new project ‘2 Heartless’ goes hard as a mother. It’s under a minute and a half long but it packs quite a punch. I wish it was a full-length 3 or so minute song because it ends right as he’s really heating up. The beat is harsh and I’m always down with rappers starting mixtapes with clips about themselves/their crimes/shootings etc. from the radio/news. I’m also down with Moneybagg including a clip of a guy yelling ‘Man, fuck Moneybagg!’ on his own tape. “Niggas turned hippie, they want peace, hit ’em with the iron get ’em creased, hottest nigga moving through these streets, all in my shows with the heat, dealt with more crosses than a priest, I ain’t let it break me with the lease.” The ‘niggas turned hippie they want peace, hit ’em with the iron get em creased’ is one of my favorite rhymes in a while it’s so simple but so effective. The hippie line has me picturing Moneybagg Yo’s opps in Memphis walking around with bell bottoms and tie-dyed shirts and something about hit ’em with the iron get ’em creased just sounds so brutal. I love the way he says ‘iron’ with that Tennessee drawl; ‘eearun‘.
Blocboy JB ft. Drake – Look Alive
From original article…
As I predicted a couple of weeks ago, Drake wasn’t down at the FedEx Forum taking in a Grizzlies game with Blocboy JB because he wanted to take in Mario Chalmers NBA return or to see one half of the Harrison twins. Drake knows exactly what he’s doing – while it may look like he’s trying to help out a less famous up and coming artist, he actually needs Blocboy more than Blocboy needs him – he sees the hype Blocboy JB is getting and the love he’s getting on the streets, so he jumps on a song with him and rides the wave with him. I’m not even hating on it it’s actually a great business strategy and as much as I’m not usually a big fan of Drake as a rapper I will say he does have a great ear/eye for talent in terms of a lot of the guys he’s co-signed over the years and would make a great A&R.
I’m down with the Jordan jumpsuit Drake is rocking in the video; I’d be in full favor of clothes like that making a return instead of the women’s jeans and designer man-purses that a lot of rappers are sporting today. Drake’s dance actually isn’t bad in this video, but it’s no surprise that he’s upstaged by Blocboy, the guy who has all kinds of college and pro teams copying his dance from Shoot. And speaking of the fashion in this video, anyone of you readers out there know what the cargo pants w the orange stripe on the side that Blocboy is sporting are? Those are pretty fresh. P.S. I think he’s also wearing a Green Day ‘American Idiot’ shirt?
The ‘blow you like a flute’ line was kiiiiind of suspect but hey for the guy that made ‘Rover’ and ‘Shoot’ we’ll let it slide, Blocboy has earned himself a few slip-ups. He gets back into more typical excellent Blocboy form shortly after with this dope line – ‘Came a long way from sitting in the nosebleeds. Now a nigga on the floor talking to the ath-letes, man I’m so close to the game that I could steal the stat sheet.”
Drizzy is feeling grapey after his Memphis Vacation and who can blame him?
6ix 9ine – Billy
‘Billy’ is just so, so aggressive. It’s almost more of a hardcore song than a rap song. Apparently the video shoot for this got shut down in NYC today. I had thought there was a clip or version of this with Cuban Doll in it but I guess it didn’t make it to the album? I don’t know who is giving the speech in the beginning but it definitley sets the tone for the rest of the tape. A lot of high school kids are going to get punched in the face at parties with this song on in the background. I kind of want to make a mixtape with this, Kooda, and Knuck if You Buck just on a continuous loop.
Top Dolla – Set Trippin (C Mix)
Even 6ix 9ine’s harshest critics have to indirectly give him credit for at least getting Casanova to make ‘Set Trippin,’ one of the unfriendliest songs out of NYC in a long time, which then indirectly caused a wave of Set Trippin remixes all over the city and beyond, my favorite of which may honestly be this OG ‘Top Dolla’ trying his hand at it. I don’t know much about him and he only has a couple of songs over the last few years but I’ll take him over half the rappers out here these days, the man has charisma and stage presence.
I love the skit at the beginning. To summarize; Top Dolla and his boys are cooling out on the block when an erstwhile Blood is unlucky enough to stumble across their path. Top Dolla disappointedly asks him when/why he turned Blood and chides him for turning Blood in jail when he didn’t even have a long bid. Top Dolla’s henchman also takes his flag out of his pocket for wearing it on the wrong side. But then ultimately in a surprise twist, Top Dolla acts fairly magnanimously and decides to spare him because they grew up on the same block, their moms know each other, and he basically watched him grow up. Knowing he’s no match for him, he lets him cross the street and leaves it to the Damus down the block to deal with him.
The navy blue and gold Pelle Pelle jacket he’s rocking looks sick and goes well with his standard Yankees hat, always a timeless classic. There are a lot of dope clothing choices in this video amongst his crew, whether it’s his boy in the Seattle Mariners pullover from the skit, or the guy with the New York Islanders jersey. Perhaps best of all is the rarely seen Minnesota Wild hoodie.
I like the raw aggression/energy and just sheer gravity Top Dolla brings to his version of the song, you just feel an added weight with some of the lines since you know he’s lived what he’s rapping here in his unique take on the song. He mainly talks about being in the minority as a Crip at Rikers Island and the NY State prison system, and standing tall whereas many other Crips were afraid to claim in jail since they were vastly outnumbered.
I love his spin on the chorus; ‘Throw your hood up, nigga bang, on Rikers Island a lot of niggas they was scared to claim, Neighborhood nigga that’s the gang.’
‘Young top Dolla a known threat; 18 Years, Neighborhood, only been one set. They tuckin from the streets to the jail, nigga I bang mine, the Six is like kids around tax time, I claim mine. What I hate is tuck and tell, knowing well, they get in a spot with some Crips, they claimin’ other jails.’
‘Some niggas pick and choose when they rep, we gotta fix that, if you reppin over there adn not over here, you gettin’ bitch slapped…on Rikers I was making it known, they can’t forget that, and up north, I was keeping it funky like where the Rips at?’
SOB X RBE – God
Amazing song from SOB X RBE. Only caught this at the very end of the month but this is so good. ‘God’ is off their new album Gangin, which is apparently being called a debut album – I thought that last year’s self-titled one was their debut album but I guess that was a mixtape. Last year’s album/mixtape was one of the best projects of the year; I have to really get into the rest of this album and listen to it in full while I have time but so far it sounds great. SOB X RBE is definitley one of the top groups in the game these days and individually these guys all have some great solo stuff too. After being on the Black Panther soundtrack I’m sure they’ll blow up even more and they certainly deserve to. It’s too early to say because this was a last-minute change right before I put this article up but so far I’d go as far as to say ‘God’ is one of my favorite songs from the SOB X RBE camp so far to date.
Kodak Black – Why You Always Gotta Go
The new Kodak Black album was kind of hit or miss to me but when you really try to try some new things and push the envelope some things are going to miss so I can’t fault Kodak for that. I almost feel like this new album HBK was him going avant-garde. I picked ‘Why You Always Gotta Go’ as my top song from it and my 10th song for the month after a couple of listens of the album but really it was a close choice between this and the couple of other songs I liked from HBK, namely Acting Wierd, Laudy, Running Outta Love and When Vultures Cry. I loved the ‘I made my first $100,000 in my Soldiers’ line.