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The 10 best new rap songs right now

Featuring J Hus, Don Toliver, Jay Electronica, Kari Faux, Goonew, Lil Dude, and more.

Photographer Dan Wilton
March 26, 2020
The 10 best new rap songs right now

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"Spang Freestyle DVD EP 01" — J Hus

As if it weren't enough that he's already given us one of the best rap albums of 2020 with Big Conspiracy, London's J Hus dropped off what seems to be the first installment of a new video series earlier this week. In conjunction with his new apparel brand The Ugliest, Hus hopped on 2007 dancehall riddim "Dark Again," and went in — grime style — about the ways in which the competition is not fucking with him: "Dem man are not the same as us / Always wanna be blame on us / There's no such thing as tamin' us / Now everybody start claimin' us." I pray that this is a weekly series — Lawrence Burney

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"Company" — Don Toliver

There aren't too many voices more distinct (or soothing) in rap than that of Don Toliver's right now. "Company," from his new album Heaven or Hell, is part of a long line of tracks that serve as proof of this. — Lawrence Burney

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"Go High Go Low" — Dope Saint Jude

The other week South African rapper and activist, Dope Saint Jude, dropped a cinematic ode to her hometown of Cape Flats with “Go High Go Low.” The video features about four wardrobe changes, choreographed dancing, and some drag racing. On the track itself she talks about unrelenting perseverance with the bravado of someone igniting a pep rally. — Will Gendron

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"Act Up" — Hook and 645AR

If getting roasted to the point that an entire class is laughing at your expense was a purely auditory experience it would sound like “Act Up.” Hook’s verse is relentless and assaults your eardrums even while she ad-libs. Meanwhile AR begins his own verse in one of the most disrespectful ways possible: An extended lip-fart, followed by a coy “yeaaahhh.” There’s a self-awareness to it that seems to acknowledge he has broken rap. — Will Gendron

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"Cook'n Up" — Goonew & Lil Dude

For the past three years, PG County, Maryland natives Goonew and Lil Dude have been the DMV's most reliable duo, all while individually putting out a boat load of content during that same time span. Their music — which is largely responsible for the current wave of horror-inducing punch-in raps of their home area — is impressive in that it lives in abstraction, with most of their output being more about how they engage with imaginative production more than what they are actually saying. Earlier this month, the two dropped their long-awaited Homicide Boyz 2 mixtape and one of the standouts is "Cook'n Up," a chaotically produced track with Dude and Goon going on about inflicting harm on enemies. — Lawrence Burney

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"While God Was Sleepin'..." — Kari Faux

Arkansas native Kari Faux dropped one of last year's most vulnerable rap projects with her Cry 4 Help EP, which chronicled a depressive state she found herself in, mostly confined to her bedroom. This week she returned with "Whole God Was Sleepin'...," a track that seems to get at the feeling of knowing what's best for yourself, regardless of outside counsel. Looking forward to whatever larger project will be apart of. — Lawrence Burney

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"Number 9" — BOOTYCHAAAIN and Sickboyrari

Bright, the collaborative mixtape from BOOTYCHAAAIN and Sickboyrari released at the beginning of last week is essential listening. There’s something about both artists’ approach to hazy, sludged production from the likes of Jaguarclaw, Evilgiane, and Skrap among others, that manages to capture the moment right before you fall asleep. On “Number 9,” Sickboyrari flows like James Harden: constantly accelerating and decelerating, while BOOTYCHAAAIN adds a level of glamor to each track with hypnotizing vocals: “I’m so lemon lime and these bitches sweet.” Together they float between reality and their own fantasies, touching on memories of former flames to blowing money with hypothetical partners. — Will Gendron

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"Fruits of the Spirit" — Jay Electronica

Since he dropped the album that many thought would never come out in A Written Testimony, Jay Electronica has been a constant source of debate on Rap Twitter, with some claiming that JAY-Z's contributions overshadowed Elect's. One song that is exempt from that argument is "Fruits of the Labor," which, in under two minutes, gives Electronica the space to center himself and look at the world around him: plagues, wars, border control, and so on. It's one of those tracks that's so perfectly beautiful and short that you wish lasted a bit longer, but you know deep down that it wouldn't be so sweet if it was extended. — Lawrence Burney

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"Let's Go" — Key!

Another week, another song from Key! who is gearing up to release a new project called I LOVE YOU, SAY IT BACK. “Let’s Go,” is easily the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard. Is it the flutes? The soft keys? A rising and falling ballad of a hook? The painful “oohs,”? I could go on but instead I’ll just drop my favorite line: “Sorry that I played you baby, Nintendo Wii.” — Will Gendron

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"Covered In Money!" — JPEGMAFIA

One of the latest from a string of new loose tracks and video content, JPEGMAFIA's "Covered In Money!" is bolstered by beautifully chaotic production (at one point, I think I hear him chewing) and an endless source of quotables. Throughout the four minute track, he references Drake and Future's "Digital Dash," compares himself to Mandy Moore, and shows love to Bernie Mac. But the funniest line? "When I bust it cancel my fears." We appreciate honesty on this side. — Lawrence Burney

The 10 best new rap songs right now