Every week, The FADER’s Brandon Callender shares his highlights from across the rap world, from megastar artists to the deep underground.
Tae Dawg – “Imaginary Friend”
I never know what to expect when I press play on a Tae Dawg song for the first time. The video description of the Sparkheem-produced “Imaginary Friend” says that it’s a “hyper pop beat,” but it doesn’t sound like Charli XCX or anything that could come off SoundCloud these last few years like it usually suggests. Instead, it sounds most like the panic-inducing alien invasion beats Uzi rapped over on Eternal Atake. The PG County, Maryland rapper is still punching in bars so close they start to pile up on each other, but the inner demon voice he uses on here feels like it’s calling him to cause more chaos. “We make opps disappear, it’s magical,” he raps. It sounds like he’s trying to sell ACME traps to Wile E. Coyote.
454 – “ICE AGE + TALES OF THE HOOD”
For the last few weeks, I’ve been getting random parts of 454’s Fast Trax 3 stuck in my head. Mainly it’s been “Passports sittin’ here like Rice Krispies” from the PigTheGemini-assisted “Love Me,” which I’m still trying to decipher the meaning of, and “Wonderrr,” which pitches up “No Letting Go” until it sounds like K.K. Slider recorded a cover to sample. 454’s new two-part video stitches together “Ice Age” and “Tales Of The Hood,” my personal favorite from the project. On the former, he sounds entirely unbothered as he swaggers on a frosted-over beat. The mood takes a turn on the somber ”Tales Of The Hood,” with his voice buoyed by warm electronic purrs and rattly drums. “Gotta take care of the block when the ancestors gone / Who gone take care of the block when they gone?,” he asks.
Mula Mar – “Striker”
The members of Travis Porter would cry tears of joy if they heard what rappers in Milwaukee were doing with Auto-Tune. Just listen to a few seconds of Mula Mar’s “Striker,” where he sounds like he’s singing through a fan. The Auto-Tune makes everything he says seem ridiculous. Someone hiding in a bush with a Draco should be terrifying, but Mula Mar sounds like he’s having so much fun it’s hard not to sing along. “Ooh, her ass fat and she got stripes like a tiger,” he croons like the horniest android ever. You can’t tell me it’s not a little bit funny.
Loe Shimmy – “On The Run”
Loe Shimmy unlocks a different voice or flow on every song. The Pompano Beach rapper strained his vocal cords to the point of wheezing on “Not the Same,” spoke with a smoker’s croak on “Switching Flowz,” and sounded like your laidback older cousin on “Clock.” His new song “On The Run” taps into the kind of creeping conversational sing-song that you’d expect to hear from Kodak Black. Twinkling keys and wah-wahs echo in the beat’s emptiness, only adding to the song’s moody atmosphere. Near the two minute mark, he switches to a flame spitting double time flow. “Got this shit from the dirt, I blow racks when I’m hurt. Why you think I keep stacking them?” he sighs. “On The Run” feels like a humid summer night where the only thing to do is get lost in your thoughts.
Kenzo B – “Sanctioned”
Kenzo B is the kind of rapper you want to hear tear up radio freestyles. In simpler words: She can really rap, man. Peep her On the Radar freestyle, where she makes “City of Gods” bearable for a moment, or her breakout song “Bump It,” to see her talents. The Bronx drill rapper’s thousand-words-a-minute flow would be stressful in the hands of other rappers, but she makes this pace sound relaxing. She turns it down on “Sanctioned,” but you can tell that she’s trying her hardest to not take off like an Olympic sprinter. She sounds so restrained enough on here it just makes me want to hear her with the training weights off.