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.
Friday has finally arrived and the work week is all but over. So, that means it’s time for Now N’ Laters, REVOLT’s weekly roundup that highlights the best songs from the hottest new releases that should be added to you playlist.
This week includes a number of high-profile releases with a mix of legends and rising stars all crashing the party with new albums that have captured the full attention of the culture. Skins, the first posthumous album from late rapper XXXTentacion, touches down this week and consists of ten tracks that serve as a bittersweet reminder of the potential greatness that had yet to be fully realized at the time of his death. After a relatively quiet year for Gucci Mane, the reformed trap star crashes the party with Evil Genius, his first full-length release of the year and a continuation of his dominant run, since his release from the penitentiary. And rounding out this week’s list is rap legend and entertainment mogul Ice Cube, who returns with Everythangs Corrupt, his first album in nearly a decade and one that finds him giving the middle finger to the powers that be.
With all three releases getting airplay and dominating the conversation, REVOLT shares our critics’ picks for the three songs from each album 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.
1. “Staring At The Sky”
XXXTentacion gives an impassioned performance on this selection from his posthumous album, which captures the late rapper and musician in a state of rage. Produced by John Cunningham, who infuses the track with acoustic and electric guitar riffs — as well as crashing cymbals — he creates a composition that brings out XXXtentacion’s rock-ish tendencies and balances his vulnerability with aggression.
Initially posted on his Instagram account as a snippet before being deleted prior to his death, this song has since been liberated as the lead single to XXXTentacion’s latest body of work. Produced by Robert Soukiasyan and Cunningham, this number finds the Floridian in a lovelorn state, professing his affections for an attractive woman. It’s by far the most radio-friendly offering out of the ten tracks included on the album.
3. “One Minute”
On what is one of the more anticipated pairings of the year, Kanye West joins XXXTentacion on this highlight, which finds Mr. West handling the bulk of the vocal duties, while X contributes a hook and a brief interlude. Dropping a lengthy rhyme spill that ranges from braggadocios to analytical, West serves up a healthy heap of food for thought within forty bars worth of airtime, turning in what may be his strongest verse in recent memory. Produced by Cunningham, and including additional live instrumentation provided by Travis Barker, this tune manages to live up to the hype. It stands as the most riveting song on this posthumous release.
Gucci Mane: Evil Genius
On this banger from Guwop’s latest release, he and Quavo extend their streak of hard-hitting collaborative efforts, reminding listeners of their standing as one of the more electric tandems in the game. With production helmed by Deko, Smash David & OG Parker; Gucci and Quavo split airtime on this outing with both contributing a verse apiece, as they bounced off of one another on the hook.
2. “Cold Shoulder”
Producer EarlThePearll serves up a menacing sound-bed with this offering from Evil Genius, which includes a guest spot from YoungBoy Never Broke Again, who steals the show with a stellar opening verse. “Young and reckless, patiently waiting on you to test this,” the Louisiana native drawls, while Gucci employs a lazy drawl on the hook and tacks on a sixteen bar verse of his own to anchor the proceedings.
Gucci basks in his wealth and ubiquity while reminiscing on his prison-stint on this high-powered collaboration, which doubles as the first single released from Guwop’s latest project. Produced by TheLabCook, DJ Durel, Quavo and Da Honorable C.N.O.T.E.; the various hands in the kitchen manage to cook up an 808 and synth-heavy composition over which Gucci Mane, Lil Yachty, and Migos members Takeoff and Quavo take turns styling over.
Ice Cube: Everythangs Corrupt
1. “Arrest the President”
Taking a break from the silver screen and running professional sporting leagues to deliver some unbridled commentary, Ice Cube returns to the music scene with this politically charged takedown of President Trump. “Arrest the President” doubles as one of the lead singles from the veteran’s new album. Produced by ShawnSki, who delivers a percussion-driven backdrop for Cube to spew his musings over, this salvo brings to mind other abrasive takes on the government and the powers that be. The track shows that in spite of his mainstream success, Cube can still revert back to that nigga they love to hate.
2. “That New Funkadelic”
Cube turns the clock back on this party-starter, which finds the rapper’s scowl turning upside down as he delivers a selection for the gangsters to boogie to. Giving the track a modern twist by featuring fellow South Central native Dom Kennedy on the bridge, Cube takes center stage on this T-Mix production with a few backing vocalists contributing to the affair. Paying homage to the likes of Zapp and Funk Parliament, Cube stays true to his west coast roots on this slapper, which rates high on the list of quality tunes from the rapper’s latest collection.
3. “Ain’t Got No Haters”
Two of the greatest OGs from the west coast collide in the booth when Cube phones in Bay Area pioneer Too $hort to costar on this laid-back groove. Rhyming over production by Drew Dixon, Russell Simmons and Warren G; Cube and Short Dawg flex on the naysayers while giving listeners a glimpse of their leisurely lifestyle. This results in an infectious collaboration from Da Lench Mob CEO’s 10th solo studio album to date.
More by Preezy Brown: