To a wide swath of rap listeners, Drake is the only rapper who matters. Thirty seconds of his misanthropic bellyaching on the front end of a single can be enough to bring an underground artist to mainstream prominence (see Makonnen, Migos, Future, et al.). It’s an odd phenomenon, because at his core he’s a bland solopsist. His latest surprise pseudo-mixtape is DatPiff-grade jetsam, but enough people parted ways with perfectly good currency for it to top the charts. The sonic textures are fit for a king, but the vocals are a prince’s boilerplate grumbles. His sour demeanor is understandable—if the allegations about his label not paying royalties to its artists are true—so in a way it’s a reflection on how capitalism screws everyone, but who wants to pay to hear that from a dude with $30 million in mortgages, y’know? There’s one really good hook, “Running through the 6 with my woes, yeah, you know how that shit go,” on “Know Yourself,” and “6PM in New York” continues the hilarious tradition of Drake talking shit at a specific time and place, but if you’ve already paid for the album, well, it is too late.
A couple months ago, Interscope dropped Chief Keef from its roster. Apparently, the label had gotten all the commercial mileage it could muster from Keef’s 2013 minor hits “Love Sosa” and “I Don’t Like.” Keith Cozart—who was a teenager on house arrest when he became the rap world’s newest fascination and sparked brief, feigned media interest in/hand-wringing at the society of Chicago’s South Side—seems to have responded by not giving a fuck. Last Halloween’s release, Back From the Dead 2, featured a bespoke production hellscape by the rapper himself. This week’s Sorry 4 the Weight is another consistent chapter in the rapper’s singular Midwestern gothic repertoire, and if “What Up” is any indication, he’s made serious progress as a beat-maker too. This tape is hard as hell and by no means an easy listen, but paranoia, violence and tenderness sometimes come together in the delivery of a line like “They don’t want me to feed my baby now,” and the effect is felt in the heart.
Fetty Wap, “Trap Queen”—An egalitarian banger dedicated to his partner in crime. I’m not sure how to request this on the radio, because I don’t feel comfortable saying the dude’s name.
Nicki Minaj, “Truffle Butter” feat. Drake, Lil Wayne—The deep house beat is straight fire. The raps highlight how far Minaj has surpassed her labelmates.
The Dream, “That’s My Shit” feat. T.I.—The “Make Up Bag” duo comes back to teach another lesson about relationships. If you’ve ever wondered what the Dark Traveler does at an orgy, watch the video for this one.
B.o.B., “Graduation Camp” feat. T.I., JaqueBeatz—Forget for a moment that he picked a variant of Bob for his stage name. B.o.B. reprises “Back That Azz Up” and pairs it with one hell of a hook to create the first summer jam of 2015.
Rae Sremmurd, “This Could Be Us"—The brothers who made surprise summer jams and now hang with the Jenner sisters fleshed out a meme over a Mike Will Made-It beat.