I know I say this every week, but this really is our best playlist yet. Read about our five highlights below… Raleigh rapper Cloudy Nueve’s greatness lives on (R.I.P🙏), Thouxanbanfauni gives us 16 new tracks showcasing his experimental hip hop sound, Brooklyn’s own Sheff G shows us his melodic take on the subgenre he helped establish, Saint Lyor’s tenacity is set to put Brockton on the map, and UK Drake is back. Check out the full playlist here and look out for a new 25-song playlist every Friday.
“Stranger to Love” by Cloudy Nueve
On Christmas Day 2019, Cloudy Nueve tragically passed away at the young age of 26. Since his passing, we’ve received three posthumous projects in 2020 alone, the latest of which dropped just shy of a month ago. Cloudy Nueve, the Raleigh, NC rapper’s self-titled album, beautifully showcases his creative re-imagination of trap, his unique vocal character, his ear for melody, and his prowess as a rapper. On “Stranger to Love,” Coudy Nueve croons vigorously, his voice doused in just enough autotune, over an almost melancholy piano.
“ULTRA VIOLET” by Thouxanbanfauni
Thouxanbanfauni, a close-knit collaborator of UnoTheActivist, first earned his highly devoted, continuously expanding following when he brought his experimental hip hop sound to SoundCloud. As it turns out, the Chattanooga-born, Atlanta-raised rapper is prolific as he is creative: earlier this week, he brought us 16 new tracks on CLAIRVOYANCE, his 8th complete project on streaming platforms since 2017. Thouxanbanfauni’s gravelly, choppy flows traverse a characteristic ultradigital sonic landscape, wherein a symphony of synths surround a warped, high-density bass.
“MELODY” by Sheff G
On his latest 5-track EP, Just 4 Y’all, Brooklyn drill trailblazer Sheff G brings his characteristic baritone flows and his extraordinary gift for lyricism to straightforward, bass-heavy production with some instrumental flair. The EP’s star-studded lineup of features include Sheff’s longtime collaborator Sleepy Hallow, as well as Lil Tjay, King Von, Jay Critch, Eli Fross, and even Rich The Kid. This project continues the trend established by One and Only, Sheff’s latest full album from earlier this year, breaking somewhat from the traditional Brooklyn drill sound which he indisputably pioneered in favor of a more melodic, laid-back sound.
“Only You Freestyle” by Headie One & Drake
At this point, we’re all accustomed to Drake’s penchant for culture hopscotch. On “Only You Freestyle,” his latest collab with North London rapper Headie One, he’s landed with two feet firmly planted in the UK (and he also ends rapping several bars in Arabic?!). With a tight, calculated flow and lyrics riddled with precise references, Drake leaves no loose ends—he may be a guest, but he’s truly taken the deep dive into UK drill. The two rappers essentially split the 4 minutes right down the middle, and Headie One, who Drake has referred to as “the best drill artist in the world,” also shows out strong. My personal highlight of the song is Headie’s 10-second melodic switch-up towards the end of his verse (~3:38), which he reals in just in time for his final few bars.
“GOSSIP” by Saint Lyor
For Saint Lyor, some well deserved recognition first materialized with the release of “GOSSIP,” the single accompanied by a video that preceded his debut album, IF MY SINS CAN TALK. Much of the video is set at Brockton High School, his alma mater—a way of paying homage to the place where it all began. While running, dancing, and even swinging alongside longtime friends and collaborators, he raps over playful piano loop. Saint Lyor is animated, spontaneous, and full of life. His flow, just like his movement, is bursting with energy.
Read the full artist profile here: