The 10 best new rap songs right now

Featuring Rico Nasty, Shordie Shordie, Mozzy, Polo G, Kari Faux, Skepta, and more.

Photographer Katie McCurdy
April 10, 2020
The 10 best new rap songs right now
"Popstar" — Rico Nasty

A lot of what has made Rico Nasty hot over the past few years is the music that makes people mosh, jump around violently, and plead for the DMV rapper to spit in their mouths during live shows. But I’d argue that much of Rico’s best music comes when she leans into her ability to create beautiful melodies, as she does on her newest track, “Popstar.” If you casually listen, the song is a lighthearted bop that’ll have you humming along by the midway point. When you listen closely, though, the track is a deeply vulnerable account of what life currently feels like for her as her profile continues to rise and life becomes a bit more strange.

"Two" — Shordie Shordie

It’s wild to think that just earlier this year, Shordie Shordie became the first rapper from Baltimore to ever score a platinum single with 2018’s “Bitchuary.” Since that track started to gain traction in the Baltimore/DMV region and exploded out West, Shordie has been consistent in dropping scratchy-voiced harmonies about the complications of his love life. Last week he dropped his second solo project with >Music, and it’s filled with much more of that. The cool thing about the Northeast Baltimore rapper’s catalogue is that, at times, it feels like any of his songs could realistically end up as singles. And with this new project, that’s still consistent. But none hit quite like “Two.” The song boasts beautiful string play and it finds Shordie stuck in the middle of wanting to be loved by two women. It’s very ‘90s R&B in that way.

"Waze" — Skepta, Young Adz & Chip

A couple weeks ago London heavyweights Skepta, Young Adz, and Chip dropped a fun, 12-track joint project titled Insomnia, a U.K. take on swagged out trap. Just about every track slides equally, which makes it difficult to isolate one as a standout, but if I was forced to choose right now it would be “Waze.” Adz handles the hook while London vets Chip and Skepta use their verses to chat shit and boast about how none of their peers share the same longevity, success, or P's they do. It’s my favorite banger on here but most would be equally satisfied with what the rest of the project.

"Wifi" — Baby 9eno

If you’ve been paying attention to the street music coming out of the DMV area over the past four years or so then you are familiar with the popular punch-in, double time raps that about 90 percent of rappers out of the area use. Generally speaking, a lot of good music (or at least, music that cranks) continues to come out of this, but it can feel a bit monotonous at times. That’s why Suitland, Maryland’s Baby 9eno is a gem out of this scene. The Marino Infantry affiliate’s delivery is a branch off of the DMV flow tree, but he separates himself from the pack by adding variations to that style, fitting humor, real-life memories, and harmonies into the mix. Today, he dropped a seven-track EP titled Supply & Demand 2, which is a collection of recent loosies that mostly lived on YouTube (the first was released in late 2018). One of the best songs on the tape is “Wifi,” which captures 9eno in a more impassioned mood than his normal, laid-back self. It’s just another reminder that, though he might not be the area’s most popular, he has more versatility to offer than many of his peers.

"Go Up" — Lancey Foux & Juvie

At the top of the year, while scrolling through my IG feed, I noticed that model and rapper Lancey Foux (who is sorta like the British lite version of Playboi Carti and I mean that in the most respectful way possible) posted a pic along with one of his mates. I barely come across Lancey’s page, so I’m not sure why this photo piqued my interest. But I clicked on the tag and came across a rapper named Juvie who seemed to be fairly unknown, with less than 4,000 followers. But what struck me was that his swag reminded me of kids in the U.S., particularly from cities like Philly and New Orleans due to him rocking a skinny Dickies set with a backwards fitted. When I clicked the music in his bio, I wasn’t expecting to gain a new favorite from across the pond, but I did. Juvie’s music is strictly road rap — first person accounts of what street life is like in London’s boroughs — but what makes it interesting is that on his Bad Ass EP, he raps on beats that you’d typically hear an artist like Mozzy (or others in The Bay area/Northern California region) rap over. Today, the two dropped a track together called “Go Up” and against all odds, their worlds-apart styles mesh perfectly together.

"McGrady" — Kari Faux

Arkansas native Kari Faux is a chameleon musically — just when you think you’ve figured out what kind of artist she is, she wields a new tool out of her box. Earlier this week she released Lowkey Superstar an eight-track follow up to last year’s deeply personal Cry 4 Help EP and just about every track offers something different. But the most fun out of the bunch is “McGrady” where she absolutely slides. What’s most fun about the song is not just that she’s talking her shit with ease, celebrating the fact that she now enjoys crabmeat on the regular as opposed to the canned meat she used to have at her grandma’s growing up. It’s also how she does it — something about her flow here harkens back to late 2000’s Atlanta rockstar rap phase standouts like Yung L.A.

"Adios" — Tmcthedon

With Shordie Shordie’s recent ascension, the eastside of Baltimore is starting to produce more artists that are leaning into harmonizing as their primary method of delivery, which still isn’t common in a city that mainly supports rappers spitting hard about the trails they face. The leader of that new school of artists is Northeast Baltimore’s Tmcthedon who scored a local sensation with last summer’s “Hellcat,” a song about how getting a Dodge Challenger would boost his self-confidence and make women that’ve overlooked him think twice. Last week he dropped the follow up to that single with “Adios,” a song with maddening guitar strums and thumping bass that lay the foundation for Tmc to sing-rap some slightly autobiographical bars. He mentions Hellcats in this one, too. So I fully expect to see him actually driving one soon.

"Pricetag" — Mozzy f. Polo G & Lil Poppa

Mozzy and Polo G are two of rap’s most effective and cathartic storytellers, regularly pulling back all the layers of life in the street and making you visualize everything they touch on. So it’d make perfect sense that when they come together for Mozzy’s new track “Pricetag” (which also features Jacksonville’s Lil Poppa), some magic happens. Sounds of Spanish guitar weave through some beautifully harmonized bars about putting a hit out on enemies. The three artists mesh together so smoothly and seamlessly that you may forget that the song is about getting people whacked.

"we need mo color" — Pink Siifu
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The music that Pink Siifu has made in recent years — soulful, cerebral, jazzy — has made him a standout in the lo-fi rap universe of Earl Sweatshirt, MIKE, Mavi, and others. Which is why his newest project NEGRO is such a delightfully surprisingly pivot sonically. It isn’t really rap music at all, though it’d likely be categorized as such because of his previous releases. The album is Siifu trying his hand at punk, allowing himself to express rage in a more unhinged way than rap’s parameters might allow. The album is truly best experienced as one cohesive piece, but if I had to isolate a track to highlight it’d be “we need mo color.” The song features ominous chords, light drum play, and vocalizations from Siifu that sound P-Funk-esque in delivery. It’s an exciting change of direction from an artist who’s never been hesitant about shapeshifting.

"No Coronaaa" — Project Pat

Not many are checking for new Project Pat music in 2020. The Memphis icon’s old material is still doing the trick, and serving as the backbone for a number of contemporary hits in the past few years. He could very well rest on his laurels if he felt like it, but that’s not how true creatives typically move. The need to express and entertain never truly escapes you. Keeping that in mind still wouldn’t have helped anticipate the most recent thing that Pat dropped, though. Earlier this week he uploaded a video titled “No Coronaaa” that at first seems like it’s gonna be his plea to fans to take COVID-19 seriously, but it quickly turns into a very Memphis edit of that message. And once you hear it, you realize just how perfect the word “Coronaaaa” fits into Pat’s deep history of extended the hell out of vowel sounds at the end of words.

The 10 best new rap songs right now