With so many new rap albums, mixtapes, EPs and songs dropping every week; knowing which ones are worth your time can be a challenge. But no worries, we’ll help smooth out the process with “Now N’ Laters,” a column that highlights the hottest new releases of the week and the songs you’ll want to listen to now — and later.
This week’s round-up includes the latest installment in one of the acclaimed mixtape series in recent memory, the major label debut of one of the most respected and buzz-worthy collectives in rap, and what could possibly be the last studio album from one of the most successful rappers of this generation. While we may be far removed from the warmer months of the year, Fabolous liberates Summertime Shootout 3: The Coldest Summer Ever, which finds the Brooklyn legend collaborating with some of the biggest acts in the industry. Having spent the past few years turning Buffalo into one of the more intriguing locales in hip hop, Westside Gunn, Conway the Machine and BENNY THE BUTCHER team up for W.W.C.D.; the Griselda squad’s Shady Records debut and one that looks to bolster the trio’s profile even further. And last, but not least, The Game, who has billed this album as his last, drops off Born 2 Rap, a robust offering that serves as a reminder of the Compton rep’s ability to rap circles around many of your favorite emcees, while simultaneously producing hit records and testing his limits conceptually.
With all three releases getting airplay and dominating the conversation, REVOLT shares our critics’ picks for the three songs from each project that stand a cut above the rest and should be in your heavy rotation now -- and later. Be sure to let us know what your favorites are.
Fabolous: Summertime Shootout 3: The Coldest Summer Ever
Fabolous hones in on his ladies-man tendencies on this infectious ditty, which samples R&B singer Case’s popular 2000 ballad “Missing You.” Produced by Paul Cabbin, Tariq Beats and Hitmaka, with Jacquees lending his vocal prowess to the proceedings, this selection is a potent one and a welcome addition to the Brooklyn vet’s collection of syrupy jams.
Hitmaka rounds up Rob Holladay, OG Parker and Smash David to create the backdrop for this star-studded inclusion on the latest edition of Fabolous’ acclaimed mixtape series. Costarring 2 Chainz, Gucci Mane and PnB Rock, this radio-friendly heater is sonically plush, and finds Fab and company turning in one of the more enticing collaborations on the album.
“Us vs. Them”
Atlanta rap crew Trillville’s 2004 hit “Some Cut” finds new life as Leer Luciano incorporates wrinkles lifted from the original in the instrumental for this sensuous offering. Featuring Chris Brown and Teyana Taylor, who matches Loso’s energy with a feisty lyrical performance of her own, this track is an undeniable banger that’s a safe bet to rack up spins at a constant clip.
Volleying clever couplets over ghastly synths and a sturdy drum loop, Buffalo’s lyrical big three waste no time serving up a heavy dosage of reality rap with this frantic selection. Powered by production from Daringer and Beat Butcha, this offering opens up Griselda’s major label effort on a explosive note, as the rhyme pugilists each shine with lengthy stanzas that are sure to keep your rewind-buttons working overtime.
“Cruiser Weight Coke”
Conway, Benny and Gunn leave the grappling to the amateurs on their latest wrestling-inspired salvo. Produced by Beat Butcha and Daringer, this rock-tinged backdrop sets the stage for a trio of bruising rhyme spills from the Griselda faction and is the equivalent of audio dope.
After linking up with Eminem for the original, Conway the Machine summons Westside Gunn and Benny for additional muscle on the remix, which finds the upstate New Yorkers in concert with their Motor City counterpart. Produced by Beat Butcha and Daringer — who cook up a brooding soundscape littered with grungy piano keys, drums, and synths — this standout closes out the proceedings on a high note and captures the Griselda bunch at the height of their powers.
The Game: Born 2 Rap
D’Angelo’s classic Belly soundtrack contribution “Devil’s Pie” gets dusted off by Game, who samples the O.G. version for this slapper titled in honor of notorious hottie Carmen Electra. Featuring TOBi, Osbe Chill, and Mozzy, with production by TEC BEATZ, this upbeat number arrests the listener’s ear instantly and is among the more enjoyable selections on the tracklist.
Producer Bongo reworks a sample of “Shine” by Lamont Dozier for this menacing composition from Game’s latest long player. Boasting a posthumous appearance by Nipsey Hussle, this song, which also includes nods to other slain rap legends, precludes a dedicatory track to Crenshaw & Slauson’s finest and channels the spirit of the late enterprising hustler.
Shades of 2Pac are embedded in this mellow groove, which includes elements of the rap icon’s All Eyez on Me cut “Picture Me Rollin’.” Produced by DONTMINDIFIDUKE, with guest vocals courtesy of fellow Cali kid Anderson .Paak, this tune exudes the languid vibe of an L.A. kickback during the thick of summer.