Tyga – Well Done 4
If you’ve been paying attention, you might be surprised that Tyga has transformed from a goofy YMCMB also-ran to one of the key players in the L.A. party-rap scene. If you have been paying attention, you already know that Tyga is the best. He picks great beats, is savvy enough to not say anything embarrassing over them, and his adlib (“RAARF!”) is god-tier. Well Done 4 finds him staying in his lane by re-doing “Rack City” over and over again, throwing in some quality brawl music, and making a forgettable song with Chris Brown. He also raps over Pusha T’s “Numbers on the Board” and Migos’ “Versace.” If you’re DJing a turn-up function, a fun trick is playing his “Versace” freestyle and then watch people not realize it’s not the Migos version. If you do it right, everyone will rap Migos and not realize it’s Tyga. The best songs are “Wake Up in It,” which, because of the sheer randomness of its guests (French Montana, Mally Mal, Pusha T, and Sean Kingston of all fucking people), becomes a short-form ratchet riddim, and “Jordan,” which unlike “Versace,” actually features Migos.
Tink – Winter’s Diary 2
Of all of the hip-hop talent from Chicago that’s made their mark in the past couple of years (Chief Keef, King Louie, Chance the Rapper, DJ Nate, Katie Got Bandz, Sasha Go Hard, Young Chop, Lil Durk, the list goes on), the most impressive of them all is Tink, a young artist from Chicago who sings like an angel and can rap like hell when she wants to. Unlike September's Boss Up tape, she mainly sticks to singing here, although she takes the time to spit circles around the Lil Herb on “Talkin’ About,” flipping the typical “Oh my boyfriend’s a shithead but I love him” trope by putting dude in his place. Every time Tink drops a tape it feels like a gift, and if you know what’s good for you you’ll start paying attention to her every move.
Test – Crabs & Blow
Test is a rapper from Maryland who has apparently seen Wedding Crashers at least once. He’s affiliated with Future, and as is the custom of the Free Bandz Gang, makes menacing, cacophonous fight-rap that sounds like it’s from outer space. It’s really long and some of it sucks, but that’s why Jesus gave us the ability to delete songs from iTunes. The weird thing about rap from the DMV (D.C./Maryland/Virginia) is it doesn’t really have a 100% distinct sound, but that’s less Test’s fault and more of a problem the area as a whole is going to have to face sooner or later. This mixtape is perfect for when you’re pregaming to go out and want to impress your friends with some rap music that sounds like the rap music they already listen to but don’t know about yet.
Emmanuel & Phillip Hudson – Ratchet du Soleil
Hip-hop has a rich history of novelty songs. Key entries in the rap novelty song canon include Nas’ “Who Killed It” in which he pretends to be a gumshoe detective and solves a mystery, Lil Wayne’s “Dr. Carter” in which he plays a doctor trying to save hip-hop, and Jay Z’s “22 2’s” where he raps the word “to” 22 times in each verse. Emmanuel & Phillip Hudson continue in this grand tradition with Cirque du Ratchet, one of the funniest mixtapes you’re going to find. Some of the best songs include “Somebody Musty,” a song about smelling weird, “Take One for the Team,” a song about bagging an ugly girl so your friend can take home that 9, and “Side Chick,” a song about, well, side chicks. Perhaps the finest song ever committed to wax is “In Her DM,” which is about shamelessly hitting on girls via social media. You cannot not smile at the hook, which goes, “I’m about to sliiiiiiiiide in them DMs like” over and over again.
Scotty – In the Meantime 2
Scotty is part of a wave of southern rappers who take to soulful, countrified beats like water. It's something of a Southern corrective to New York dudes who are convinced that all rap should sound like it came from a basement in 1995. Unlike those guys, Scotty isn’t afraid of sounding modern too, as evidenced by the Yo Gotti-esque “Reup,” the exact sort of song that can extemporaneously make any room full of dudes start pushing each other around while pretending to do pull-ups. Play this for the obstinate rap fan in your life who thinks that rap should only sound one way, and perhaps it will change their mind.