A$AP Rocky, NEMS, Kota the Friend, Gloss Up, Desiigner, and AllStar JR also dropped new tunes.
By Preezy Brown
Today is Friday, which means there are a ton of new releases to look forward to from some of your favorite Hip-Hop artists. To help you unwind and enjoy the weekend, check out VIBE’s picks of songs and albums you should hear and add to your weekend soundtrack.
Ice Spice surprised the world with her six-song EP Like..?, and the timing couldn’t have been better. After a major 2022 with “Munch (Feelin’ U),” “Bikini Bottom,” and the Christmas release “In Ha Mood,” fans had been calling for a project and she delivered. From the hilarious title, coming from her popular ad-lib, to the sensual cover art, she’s leaned into every narrative that people try to use against her.
While half of the EP is songs listeners have already heard plus some leaks that circulated the internet, that is not a novel concept in this current music climate. Regardless, she delivers with nimble flows, memorable lines, and head-knocking beats. Lil Tjay is the sole feature, adding his crooning to the “I Need A Girl Pt. 2”-sampling “Gangsta Boo.” Spice has been a breath of fresh air for New York and the rap landscape as a whole, and this EP is a lot of fun. It also shows she’s got potential to become even greater with refinement, but Like..? is more than satisfactory. — Armon Sadler
A$AP Rocky – “Same Problems?”
A$AP Rocky is a flashy individual, but “Same Problems?” shows off a different side of the Harlem rapper. He reflects on the hardships his peers and people as a whole have faced, especially in the wake of several rappers dying over the years. He emotes over the somber, downtempo record about how things will not change if the people with influence do not change them, namely gun violence and drug-related deaths. “Ni**as dyin’ every other night/ Ni**as cryin*, that’s a part of life, Lyin’ to my face, tryna say that it’s all good/ No, it’s nothin’ right.” “Same Problems?” arrives on the eighth anniversary of his close friend A$AP Yams’ death, thus this record is especially meaningful for Rocky. Miguel and Lil Yachty contribute vocals to this record, adding a layer of soulful melody that makes it hit both the mind and the heart. – AS
Trippie Redd – Mansion Musik
Trippie Redd leans even further into his alternative rock-rap hybrid archetype on his latest album Mansion Muzik. Electric synths and screamo bars coupled with thumping drum patterns and 808s make this the type of music that can unite multiple cultures at a concert or festival. The admirable effort on this project is the artists he brings into his rockstar universe, namely Future, Lil Baby, Lil Durk, and Kodak Black. “Psycho” and “Fully Loaded” are the clear standouts on the 25-song effort. Though a bit long in the tooth, there are definitely some gems in the 23-year-old’s most daring effort thus far into his career. – AS
NEMS Feat. Ghostface Killa, Scram Jones – “DON’T EVER DISRESPECT ME”
“Ask around the boroughs, they’ll tell you I’m really like that,” NEMS barks on “DON’T EVER DISRESPECT ME,” the Coney Island rep’s latest salvo, which is sure to continue his upward trajectory not only within NYC but on a national level. Boasting all of the attributes fans loved about emcees from the city’s golden eras of the mid-late ’90s and early ’00s, the self-professed Gorilla is true-school without being gimmicky or a retread. Boasting a brute, yet disarming personality and impressive skills as a lyricist, NEMS shines on this Scram Jones-produced heater, which is a bonafide head-bob-inducing banger. And when you up the ante with a stanza from the equally captivating Ghostface Killah, what you’ve got is the hardest record to come out of New York in 2023 thus far. – Preezy Brown
Oddisee – To What End
Aside from the occasional one-off release, Oddisee has been oddly silent over the past few years, with his last studio album being his 2017 effort The Iceberg. Nearly six years later, the Washington D.C. rep emerges from hibernation with his latest long-player To What End, which finds him mixing in contemplative solo outings with a string of collaborative efforts. “Started off for the love of things/But to remain, my heart charged by other things,” Oddisee spouts on “The Start of Something,” which runs the gamut from peaceful to rollicking and effectively sets the bar for what’s yet to come.
Funky grooves are presented via standouts like “Many Hats,” which boasts an infectious, carefree hook prompting the listener to get their body moving. The guestlist on the album includes Philly natives Freeway (“Ghetto to Meadow) and Bilal (“Work to Do”), as well as Phonte, BemyFiasco, Kay Young, all of whom lend their talents to smoothed-out rhyme-fest “Choices.” C.S. Armstrong, Noochie, Olivier St.Louis, Toine Jameson, Haile Supreme, and Saint Ezekiel also make key contributions to the latter half of the tracklist, the portion where the proceedings truly hits its crescendo. Rounded out by the highlights “People Watching,” “Hard to Tell” and “The Way,” To What End is a welcome edition to Oddisee’s acclaimed discography and serves as more of a reminder than a comeback. – PB
Kota the Friend – Lyrics to GO, Vol. 4
Brooklyn rhymer Kota the Friend drops off the fourth volume in his Lyrics to GO series, a 10-track offering that finds its hosts serving up the brand of everyman raps that have made him one of the genre’s more endearing poets. Kicking off the proceedings with the gospel-esque intro cut “WALES,” Kota doles words of advice to those striving for survival in hopes of better days. The “LIFE LESSONS” continue to be imparted on a pulsating inclusion on which the wordsmith reflects on his deflection of carnal pursuits amid the balance of staying true to self, lamenting frivolous purchases made along his past excursions. Additional highlights on Lyrics to GO, Vol. 4 sure to pique you’re listening interest include “VULTURES,” the guitar-laden “SHE Pt. 2” guitar-laden, and “FIDDLE LEAF.” – PB
Gloss Up – Before The Gloss Up
Gloss up told VIBE that she got her name from the days when her face would be shiny after using Vaseline. Her latest effort Before The Gloss Up shows that the Memphis rapper is ready to add some brightness to the rap game. The 13-song effort is highlighted by the catchy “Head, Shoulders, Knees, Toes” and aptly named “Bestfrenn” featuring her real-life best friend, GloRilla. Gloss raps with fury and conviction, and especially impresses in going head up with Icewear Vezzo on “From Cross The Way.” While people may think of CMG when discussing Memphis, much like the final track on this album, Gloss Up is here to show that she has a “Point To Prove” and there’s plenty of room at the table for another act in Memphis. – AS
Desiigner – “Bigger” and Bigger”
Desiigner’s talk of retirement from rap following the murder of Takeoff has proved to be more of an emotional outburst than a lack of love for the game, as he’s since doubled back on those comments and made a strong return on the musical front. Following its initial release last month, the Brooklyn native unveils the visual to his single “Bigger and Bigger,” which finds him looming among his hometown’s skyscrapers and mobbing with his crew. Delivering his lyrics over a bombastic backdrop, Desiigner makes his intent of world domination clear on this anthemic cut, which is more than worthy of real estate within your playlist. – PB
AllStar JR – Organized Crime 2
Allstar JR’s raps are lethal weapons, yet so calculated and intentional that Organized Crime 2 is a fitting title for his latest 18-song project. The Detroit wordsmith enlists the help of BabyTron on “MMA,” Babyface Ray on “Empty,”, Icewear Vezzo on “Hoe A**” and more to tell his story. Beyond the raps, he adds introspective layers to the project with three interludes titled “Get A Bag Radio Interview” featuring accredited journalist Ahmad Davis. In these interviews, JR addresses being shot, his rabid women fanbase, how he is in a “hybrid” situation in being single, dating, and being with his baby mother, and simply moving smarter in life and his relationships. Allstar JR continues to peel back layers and provide good music along the way, further showing Detroit is a hotbed for talent and he is a name you cannot leave out of the discussion. – AS
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