Pitchfork’s weekly rap column covers songs, mixtapes, albums, Instagram freestyles, memes, dances, weird tweets, fashion trends—and anything else that catches our attention in the world of hip-hop.
Ka: Descendants of Cain
Nobody can describe Brooklyn like Ka. “It’s D-Day each week in BK, you see us here grimacin’/Never marinate on beef you don’t plan on finishing,” he raps, with nonchalant gravity, on his latest album, Descendants of Cain. Listening to the fortysomething Brownsville-raised rapper is often an intense experience, and he never wastes a bar. But even if I’m not in the mood to parse his dense wordplay, which weaves mythological and biblical references into stories from his everyday life, I’ll still immerse myself in his minimalist production, which makes his borough sound as spare as a samurai movie.
What rom-com is playing in the background of Chief Keef’s new video?
I’m always trying to find new details about the life of Chief Keef; I feel like I simultaneously know everything and nothing about him. His music videos usually give us a peek, and in the new clip for “Woosah/Street Cat,” I spotted an Anna Faris romantic comedy playing in the background. Of course, I had to figure out which one. A quick surf through the actress’s filmography of the last decade leaves us with only four options: Take Me Home Tonight, What’s Your Number?, I Give It a Year, and Overboard. My next step was trying to name another actor in the movie. I couldn’t. But I was able to eliminate I Give It a Year given the fact that Anna Faris had been at the center of every scene I watched over Chief Keef’s shoulder, and in I Give It a Year, she isn’t the lead. Finally, a freeze frame at the 2:33 mark blurrily revealed the title. What’s Your Number?, a 2011 comedy in which Anna Faris attempts to find a husband among her misfit exes, was playing in Chief Keef’s new music video.
Johnny Cinco: “I Got It”
Johnny Cinco came up in Atlanta at the start of the 2010s, when it was easy to be overlooked: Rich Gang were at the height of their powers, and Future was becoming a supervillain right in front of our eyes. Since then, he’s consistently laid down soft melodies over calm beats; he called his 2019 mixtape Hood Drake, and the comparison deserves consideration. On his new single “I Got It,” Cinco’s delivery sounds as sharp as ever as he sings about copping a Buggati, a Wraith, and VVS diamonds—the luxuries that make up an Atlanta rapper’s dreams.
How to decide if Playboi Carti’s “Pain 1993” verse is good or not
Does he name at least two high-end brands in consecutive bars?
Yes. “Got a Goyard bag, I threw them racks in it/Every time I’m home, you know I whip the Bentley”
Does the baby voice become more extreme as the song goes on?
Yes. At the start of Carti’s verse, he raps as calmly as he can. By the end, he’s holding notes as if he’s singing the national anthem.
Have you rewound the verse at least once?
Conclusion: The Carti verse is good.
Detroit mixtape of the week: Los and Nutty’s Panagnl4e, Vol. 2
Los and Nutty are old souls—they’re even still pushing physical CDs throughout their city. On Panagnl4e, Vol. 2, joined by a long list of Michigan’s best—Icewear Vezzo, Babyface Ray, WTM Scoob, Rio Da Yung OG, and more—the duo will do whatever it takes to secure a bag: drive to Pittsburgh, flip their mixtape money, sell fake drugs. Nothing is off limits.
Black Kray: “On Go”
Over the last decade, mush-mouthed Richmond, Virginia rapper Black Kray became an underground staple through consistently great mixtapes like Goth Luv and Thug Angel. On this track from his new Nokia Talk 2002 tape, Kray elevates his distinctive flow with lush production that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Keith Sweat album.
Jersey Club hours
Sometimes I’m just trying to turn up in my bedroom, you feel me? When the mood strikes, I’ll surf through SoundCloud and see what Jersey Club rap remixes have hit the web lately. My go-to this week is a remix of King Von’s “Crazy Story,” as producers SBF and 809 turn the Chicago rapper’s epic into something ready for the Memorial Day weekend we won’t get to enjoy. The energy is needed.
Baby Plug: Topic
The Young Thug family tree is endless. Baby Plug, like Lil Keed before him, has run off with Thug’s sweet melodies and airy beats. He’s still finding his voice, but on his new tape, Topic, he cranks out a handful of lighthearted and catchy numbers for the ATL summer. Jacking Thug’s style works more often than not.
Jay Aston and Richh: “2 Straps”
Jay Aston and Richh only have one goal on “2 Straps”: They want to get to the other side of Brooklyn’s hectic Atlantic Avenue safely. Along the way, they clown everyone who doesn’t have the same ability to successfully accomplish this task. “How you rappin’ still, you’s a rat/Known fact they can’t cross Atlantic,” taunts Jay Aston. So far this year, the duo have risen up in the drill rap ranks with “Don’t Panic” and “Blocked Messages,” a pair of tracks that introduced the wider world to the duo’s cold-hearted threats. The production on “2 Straps” may be mournful, but Jay Aston and Richh are celebrating every day that goes their way.
Originally Appeared on Pitchfork