With artists still a bit hesitant to release new music due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it feels like the number of new releases has continued to slow in 2021. With live shows not really looking like they will return to full strength until 2022, I think we can expect this unfortunate trend to continue well into the rest of this year. This is a great time for smaller and emerging artist to grab some of the spotlight. While I am still featuring some of the biggest names in hip-hop on this months chart, I am really starting to enjoy a variety of underground and and independent artists who are making the most of a situation that none of us ever expected to deal with. I am happy to kick off another year with Magnetic and I hope you enjoy my picks from last month.
1. “Let It Breathe” – Joey Bada$$
Kicking off things for the chart this year, Joey Bada$$ celebrated his 26th birthday by dropping a “Let It Breathe” The song is his first release sine The Light Pack EP from last year and is basically a celebration of the many accolades that the Beast Mode rapper has received during his career. While Joey’s swag has evolved quite a bit since he bursted on to the scene back in 2012, he continues to make rap look incredibly easy and there is now a sense a maturity in his music that I really appreciate, even if the subject matter isn’t quite as rebellious as it once was.
2. “Gimee the Loot” – The Colleagues feat. Freddie Gibbs [The Colleagues Music LLC]
Production crew The Colleagues who have made tracks for such artists as Gucci Mane and 2 Chainz have tapped Freddie Gibbs to jump on their latest track “Gimee the Loot.” This is the second time that these guys have teamed up, previously hitting a home run with the song “Red Vans” back in 2020. I really don’t think Freddie can do much wrong these days and I honestly enjoy his music more and more as he continues to rap over a variety of different styles of production. If you were in need of a Freddie Fix then this does the trick for sure.
3. “FIX URSELF!” – JPEGMAFIA [EQT Recordings / Republic Records]
With his latest project EP2 dropping just last week, “FIX URSELF!” served as the lead up single to help build some buzz around the release. The entire song (and all of EP2) was crafted by JPEGMAFIA himself, which is something I can always appreciate.
4. “Road To The Lonely Ones” – Madlib [Madlib Invazion]
This is probably my favorite song to drop last month and it has a lot to do with the fact that two of my favorite producers (Madlib and Four Tet) joined forces for a project Sound Ancestors that was several years in the making. Madlib is a genius in his own right and when you have Kieran Hebden arranging, mixing and mastering everything, you have to expect something really special. “Road To The Lonely Ones” was the first single to drop and I believe it is the strongest track on the album.
5. “Gucci Ninja Assassins 2: In the Metal Garden of Fire – Mr. Green feat. Gucci Mane [fatbeats]
We got our first taste of Mr. Green and Gucci Mane together on a track last June with the original “Gucci Ninja Assassins.” This time the sequel is part of the Ultimate Supreme Ninja Champion series which drew inspiration from bootleg martial arts films from the 1980s. This heavy metal inspired beat is produced by Mr. Green and features the band Garden of Fire and of course Gucci Mane.
6. “Joe Exotic Freestyle” – Westside Boogie
While fans wait patiently for Boogie’s next album to be announced, the talented Compton MC decided to bless us all with this little freestyle & video themed around everybody’s favorite incarcerated wild animal trainer (if we can even call him that). We have been riding with Westside Boogie long before Shady Records got a hold of him and after the success of his first album on the label, I am excited to see what he has in store for us next.
7. “Fellowship” – serpentwithfeet [Secretly Canadian]
Switching the vibe up here with a little R&B, in January serpentwithfeet announced his sophomore album DECON was on the way. This song has a much softer feel compared to his previous works, giving the listener a more pop experience that is easy to grab a hold of and ride all the way to the end.
8. “Bad Day” – Nyck Caution feat. Denzel Curry [Pro Era]
You gotta love it when a feature perfectly compliments an artist’s track and that’s exactly what happened here with Nyck and Denzel. “Bad Day” was featured on Nyck Caution’s debut album Anywhere But Here and has the two rappers going back and forth over a gritty beat that fits perfectly on both artists. The Pro Era rapper has a great style that has definitely caught my attention and for the most part I enjoyed the whole project.
9. “MLK Dr” – Smino [Zero Fatigue]
Ninety seconds is all Smino needed for his latest release, which depicts the St. Louis artists meeting a being from outer-space on Martin Luther King Drive. I would have loved to hear another verse on this one but the song was made even better by the crazy video that Smino released along with it.
10. “Mazza” – slowthai, feat. A$AP Rocky [A Method Records / Interscope]
The hype behind slowthai is at an all time high right now and it looks like A$AP Rocky is getting in on the fun. I’m still waiting for Rocky to redeem himself after his last album but his verse on “Mazza” gives me hope as he does a good job matching slowthai’s energy on this song.
11. “The Hurt Business” – Westside Gunn, Smoke DZA & Wale [Griselda Records]
The boys from Buffalo continue to impress as Griselda and BSF bring a variety of top talent together for the soundtrack for the new motion picture The Hurt Business, which came out in the middle of January. While the project features several tracks with Benny The Butcher, Westside Gunn, you can also find great verses from the likes of Boldy James, Lloyd Banks, Dave East, Armani Caesar, Heem, Flee Lord, Smoke DZA and Wale just to name a few!
12. “Jungle Mantra” – Divine feat Vince Staples & Pusha T [Mass Appeal India]
Yet another track from a movie soundtrack, this time we get Vince Staples and Pusha-T who team up with Indian rapper Divine on “Jungle Mantra,” which is featured on the Netflix film The White Tiger. I was pretty thrown off at first since I had not heard much about this film before listening to this song but if Divine is getting King Push and Vince Staples on a track then he must be a pretty big deal. This one is a little weird, but that’s also what makes it stand out.
13. “Smoke From Fire” – Bas & The Hics [Dreamville / Interscope]
One of my favorite rappers from the Dreamville family, Bas teams up with The Hics on “Smoke From Fire.” The song was made for Bas’ new Spotify podcast The Messenger, which premiered during the first week of January. The bouncy track is easy listening but still sharp enough to keep you interested which is exactly the kind of style that Bas is known for.
14. “Ask Anyone” – Lice (Aesop Rock & Homeboy Sandman) (MF Doom Tribute) [rhymesayers]
While I’m still torn about the loss of MF DOOM, it was comforting to see the hip-hop community speak out on the pure dope that was Viktor Vaughn aka Metal Fingers aka Zev Love X aka The Mad Villian etc.. etc.. . On “Ask Anyone” Aesop Rock and Homeboy Sandman each pay their respects to the late metal masked rapper the best way they know how with colorful verses that remind us how special DOOM really was. The boys chose the instrumental from “Datura Stramonium,” which MF DOOM originally produced for his project Special Herbs 9 & 0.
15. “Waterbed” – Alchemist & Born x Raised [ALC]
While this track feels much more like a score vs an actual song, I have to show some love to the incredibly cool collaboration between The Alchemist and Los Angeles based brand Born X Raised. For this project, Alchemist crafted 8 instrumentals for “Carry The Fire” which was released with a special and very limited capsule collection. The project also included a slick video from Jason Goldwatch which you can check out below.