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 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. Kodak Black, whose been the center of controversy this week after walking out on an interview gone awry, returns with his sophomore album, Dying To Live, his anticipated follow-up to 2017 major label debut, Painting Pictures. The album, which balances moments of aggression with introspect, finds Kodak attempting to further establish himself as one of the torchbearers for modern day street rap. Speaking of lightening rods and polarizing figures, Vic Mensa has also ruffled more than a few feathers, and drawn the ire of fans and peers alike, with his abrasive commentary. The Roc Nation artist caps off his 2018 with Hooligans, an eight-song EP that looks to expand his reach, while holding over his legion of supporters until his next studio album touches down. And in a year in which rap vets refuse to be ignored or left out of the conversation, Method Man builds on his impressive showing on last year’s Wu-Tang compilation, The Saga Continues, with Meth Lab Season 2: The Lithium, an album that’s overflowing with bars and is evidence that the tenured rhyme animal has yet to lose a step.

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.

Kodak Black: Dying To Live

1. “This Forever”

Kodak Black vows to never revert from his lifestyle of thuggery on this early highlight from the embattled spitter’s new album, which finds him as defiant as ever. “They wanna see the day that I go polyester,” young Kodak muses on the hook before reeling off a pair of verses, the first of which is biographical and followed up by one listing off his street credentials. Conveying his disdain for snitches and his allegiance to the streets, Kodak Black sets the tone effectively, delivering one of the more memorable cuts on his sophomore set.

2. “Identity Theft”

After boasting about his history of committing fraud on his hit single “Zeze,” Kodak Black doubles down on his affinity for white collar crime with this upbeat slapper. Produced by Rippa On The Beat, this salvo captures Kodak celebrating his freedom from prison and having the financial backing of his record label, Atlantic Records. But, it’s not at all deterred from a life of crime, warning “If rap don’t pop, I’m back to stealing identity.” Brief in length, this tune leaves listeners craving for more and casts Kodak Black in an exuberant light.

3. “Take One”

Producer Ben Billions supplies the beat on this deep cut that finds him splitting his attention between lavishing gifts and playing the merchant of death. Denouncing tough talk via social media, the Sniper Gang representative lets it be known that he’s down for all of the smoke with this heater, which thrives due in large part to Kodak’s indelible refrain on the hook and menacing demeanor.

Vic Mensa: Hooligans

1. “Dark Things”

Vic Mensa finds himself spiraling out of control while battling his demons on this 808-driven composition. Touching on drug abuse, depression and sexual addiction; Mensa addresses these afflictions within himself, tapping into his vocal ability for a promising inclusion on the Chicagoan’s latest long player.

2. “In Some Trouble”

“Girl, them niggas can’t love you like I love you,” Ty Dolla $ign croons on this subdued selection from Vic Mensa’s new EP, which captures the Chicagoan shooting his best shot and appraising a curvaceous hottie. Blending their vocals atop piano keys and 808s, Vic Mensa and Ty Dolla $ign combine their talents to craft a song that exudes commercial appeal and deserves real estate on your cuffing season playlist.

3. “Deserve It”

Vic Mensa closes out the proceedings with this triumphant selection, which captures the Roc Nation spitter rhyming with a purpose and basking in his spiritual wealth. Produced by Keyon Christ and featuring a guest appearance from Mr. Hudson, this motivational anthem has a feel-good vibe with a message that is sure to resonate with the dreamer in you.

Method Man: Meth Lab Season 2: The Lithium

1. “Drunk Tunes”

Method Man links with the Drink Champ N.O.R.E. and Joe Young for this frantic number from Meth’s latest conceptual effort, on which the trio of spitters drop enough booze references to leave listeners hungover by song’s end. Featuring additional vocal contributions from Deanna Hunt and Jessica Lee Lamberti, and ad-libs by Mall G, this tune, which is built around a vintage drum loop and bells, is an enthralling collaborative effort with a hook that will coax you into humming along. It’s lyrics will also keep your hands away from the skip button.

2. “Bridge Boys”

The Wu and Boot Camp Clik break bread as Method Man and Rock (of Heltah Skeltah) put on a rhyming clinic atop kicks, keys and snares on this thumping Ron Browz produced backdrop. Raising the bar lyrically, the two ’90s luminaries trade verses that are surgically precise, while Kash Verrazano leaves his imprint on the hook. Repping for their New York City stomping grounds, Meth, Rock and Kash form like Voltron on this standout offering.

3. “Ronin’s”

Opening the track with a string of couplets and a rhyme scheme that are simply bananas, Method Man is in kamikaze mode on this outing, doing his bidding over live instrumentation, including crashing percussion and grungy guitar riffs. Featuring guest spots from Masta Killa, Cappadonna, and Hanz On; each MC grabs the baton and passes it to another with all four spitters running a lyrical relay that’s a marvel to behold and serves as one of the main events from the legend’s sixth solo album.

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