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 collection boasts a mix of new fire, as one of the most respected spitters from the U.K., one of Brooklyn’s finest, and a favorite of the Detroit streets each drop new projects for our listening pleasure. Having established himself as an elite lyricist with the ability to make waves stateside, J Hus delivers Big Conspiracy, the Brit’s latest offering, which sees him teaming up with producer JAE5 and a slate of other talented boardsmen. After wowing listeners with his 2019 project FOTO, Clinton Hill’s own Kota the Friend returns with Lyrics to Go, Vol. 1, a collection of quick-strike freestyles over jazzy production. And to round out the lineup, Icewear Vezzo continues to establish himself as one of the hottest orators out of the Motor City with Drank Baby, a 13-track project that includes features from Mozzy, Yo Gotti, Dej Loaf, and 42 Dugg.
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.
J Hus: Big Conspiracy
J Hus employs his charm and guile on this mid-tempo ditty that finds him hunting for a companion, who compliments his fly and suits his desires. Joined by Burna Boy, who lends his vocals via a standout performance on the hook, J Hus lays his mack down over production by JAE5, Scribz Riley and Nana Rogues, which envelopes the Black Butter Limited rep’s sinewy flow like a hand in glove.
On this selection, the rapper takes a backseat to Grammy nominee Koffee, as the reggae singer/rapper steals the show with a pair of melodic stanzas. Blending their vocals on the hook, the duo accounts for one of the more enticing efforts on the album’s tracklist.
“Deeper Than Rap”
J Hus bares his emotional scars on this autobiographical salvo, which sees the British star reflecting on the road endured along his journey to success. Spilling his thoughts atop classical piano keys, violins and synths, he takes inventory of his past while analyzing the world around him on this offering that closes out his latest body of work on a heartfelt note.
Kota the Friend: Lyrics to Go, Vol. 1
“Can’t Please Everybody”
Kota the Friend shines on this keyboard-driven opener, as the gifted lyricist promotes forward and independent thinking while walking to the beat of our own drum. From shout-outs to Nipsey Hussle’s marathon mindset to recollections of freestyle ciphers from yesteryear, this offering is driven by a worthwhile message that the artist conveys in effective fashion from beginning to end.
On this cut, Kota appraises a woman with complimentary features while sitting in a cafe, giving a detailed description of her wardrobe, social media and reading habits. Observational in nature, this sublime number captures the Brooklynite’s knack for storytelling and makes for a compelling, albeit brief, listen that will keep you coming back for more.
Crackling vinyl and strings are bolstered by sparse percussion on this serene offering, which finds its author musing about the possibility of a love that’s unconditional. Struggling to balance his vulnerability with the transparency necessary for a healthy union with a woman, Kota’s seesaw of emotions comes across as refreshing and showcases the spitter’s ability to strike a chord with the average Joe.
Icewear Vezzo: Drank Baby
Ominous keys and 808s set the stage for this epic collab, as Icewear Vezzo links up with Sac-Town rep Mozzy to pledge their allegiance to their respective sets. Produced by Antt Beatz, this menacing number finds the pair doling out threats and rhyming with reckless abandon, as they wax poetic about the criminal element of their environment.
IllWill Beats cooks up an intense backdrop for Vezzo to run roughshod over on this solo offering that sees the unabashed rebel reaffirming his status as a boss. Laying down his own code of conduct and passing down jewels learned from his days in the trap, the Detroit firebrand turns in a boisterous number that promotes loyalty over dishonor.
“Run It Up”
Money machines and bankrolls are brandished on this uptempo cut, as Vezzy runs up a check alongside Memphis titan Yo Gotti, who contributes an aspirational hook for the go-getter in you. Produced by Dupri, this track showcases the Detroit rep’s more carefree side, as he puts the weaponry to the side while securing the bag.