I’ll admit I was immediately skeptical of this year’s sad rap phenomenon, but Brooklyn’s Little Pain has won me over with his debut tape, When Thugz Cry. In the wrong hands, his brand of wryly literal chronicles of depression could have become sardonic memes, but it becomes clear that Pain’s not winking here—he’s pouring his heart out in earnest. Cavernous, harrowing production from FADER Producer To Watch Suicideyear, who produces four of the tape’s tracks, intensifies the heartbreak; his eerie chimes only augment the gut-punch of Pain’s resigned hook on “Big Pain Tribute”—My dog died, my dog died. No gimmick hurts like this.
Download: Little Pain, When Thugz Cry