A handful of up-and-comers have all released mixtapes.
Maybach Music/Def Jam rapper Gunplay continues his breakthrough year with another mixtape of full-throttled insanity. 601 & Snort is a throwback of sorts, as Gunplay freestyles over familiar beats, whether classics like Dre and Snoop’s ‘Deep Cover’ and Trick Daddy’s ‘Naan Nigga’ or contemporary hits from Future and Yo Gotti. The only rapper with a swastika neck tattoo (yes, really) is raw and unrelenting, turning Waka-ish ad-lib into frightful nightmares.
Fellow Def Jam signee Big Sean is the polar opposite of Gunplay, following in the footsteps of similarly non-threatening rapper-singers like Drake and Kid Cudi. In the lead-up to Cruel Summer, the rubber-tongued G.O.O.D. Music crew member dedicates a tape to his hometown Detroit. Building on last year’s repetitive hit ‘Dance (A$$)’ and his verse on G.O.O.D.’s ‘Mercy,’ Detroit features production and appearances by J. Cole, Hit Boy, Lex Luger, Chris Brown, Kendrick Lamar, and Juicy J.
Kirko Bangz (whose name is not some Kurt Cobain wordplay, unfortunately) is a Houston MC best known for his stellar slow jam ‘Drank in My Cup’. His sixth mixtape in three years, Procrastination Kills 4 is a similarly Southern and slowed, with features from Tyga, Young Jeezy, Z-ro, and Paul Wall. Lead single ‘Walk On Green’ apes the synths and Autotune of ‘Same Damn Time’ as Kirko attempts to recapture the magic of ‘Drank in My Cup.’
Of these four, 17-year-old Joey Bada$$ is the outlier. The youthful Brooklyn MC turned heads earlier this year with 1999 mixtape, a Golden Era tribute that utilized classic beats from the likes of J Dilla and MF Doom. Bada$$ has the smooth, lyrical flow of rappers that hit his stride before he was born, but hasn’t proven that he can write a hook. That probably won’t change with Rejex, a compilation of tracks that didn’t make the cut for 1999, but this is a developing talent to watch.