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 roundup presents a varied mix of new heat that includes a pair of collaborative projects from some of the game’s most respected rappers and producers, and a debut from one of NYC’s highly touted prospects. Known for never letting his foot off the pedal, Boosie Badazz joins forces with Zaytoven for Bad Azz Zay, a self-contained project that finds the southern stalwarts hitting on all cylinders. Skyzoo becomes the latest New York-bred lyricist to lock in with legendary beat-smith Pete Rock, as the pair deliver Retropolitan, an effort rife with intricate rhyme spills over vintage boom bap. And last, but not least, Kemba looks to exceed expectations with Gilda, the BX native’s long-awaited debut album and one that should place him at the forefront of rap’s current youth movement.
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.
Boosie Badazz & Zaytoven: Bad Azz Zay
Boosie touches on the hazards of his occupation with this rollicking number. Drawing inspiration from the death of Nipsey Hussle and other tragedies in the hip hop community, the Badazz taps into the paranoia and pitfalls that are byproducts of life in the limelight.
The energy gets ratcheted up on this lively number, which finds Boosie turning up. Featuring an appearance from Tokyo Vanity, this offering ranks among the more infectious tracks on the album and has the makings of a certified party starter.
Boosie separates himself from the pack with this offering, which finds the Louisiana native spouting off his list of accolades. Cashing out over a jittery composition crafted by Zaytoven, Boosie displays his passion for the greenbacks and blue notes in unabashed fashion.
Skyzoo & Pete Rock: Retropolitan
”Carry the Tradition”
Tradition continues when Styles P joins Skyzoo over production by Pete Rock on this treat from Retropolitan. Trading verses over a dusty crackling backdrop, the two New York-bred rhyme animals go for broke and turn in one of the project’s finer offerings.
The horns get unleashed on this jazzy salvo. Featuring guest vocals from Raheem DeVaughn, this soulful number instantly jumps out at listeners and captures Skyzoo at his lyrical apex.
”Eastern Conference All-Stars”
Pete Rock and Skyzoo round up some of the hardest spitters out of the east coast for this standout offering from the duo’s collaborative long player. Setting the stage with his opening verse, Skyzoo catches wreck alongside Westside Gunn, Conway, Benny the Butcher and Elzhi — all of whom come equipped with rewind-worthy stanzas.
”Work In Progress”
Kemba kicks off his major label debut with this uplifting number, which finds the Bronx bomber reeling couplets over production by Ivan Jackson and Cole King. Joined by Jagged Edge, RL, and Chris Scholar, Kemba takes listeners to church while reflecting on his personal progression.
Piano keys and guitar licks draws listeners in on this laid-back ditty, as Kemba and Smino match wits over production from Brasstracks and Frank Drake. One of the more sublime moments on this album, this selection finds both artists in a state of introspect and provides a breath of fresh air.
Kemba closes the curtains in grand fashion with this glorious exit, as he basks in the beauty of life over a backdrop provided by Ivan Jackson. Complimented by guest vocals from Eric Bellinger, this feel-good track captures the essence of the rapper, as the thoughtful lyricist delivers another inspiring performance that borders on poetic.