Young Buck – 10 Bodies
50 Cent is arguably the biggest name associated with G-Unit (The Game doesn’t count as his affiliation was brief), but it’s Southern MC Young Buck who’s my pick for the best lyricist of the group. There’s a gritty realism to his lyrics, and combined with his Southern twang and colourful wordplay, I’ve always had a soft spot for Buck. Since re-joining G-Unit and making amends with 50, Buck has been slowly releasing new material over the past 12 months, most notably his 10 series of mixtapes. The latest instalment, 10 Bodies, follows the same formula as previous releases, featuring 10 tracks (plus one bonus tune) crafted by a variety of producers coupled with Buck’s introspective and gangster tales.
The majority of beats come courtesy of Buck’s friend and frequent collaborator Bandplay. Buss It Down, Andele and Hit Da Floor are typical trap bangers with Buck rapping about women, gangsters and street violence. It’s the same type of raps Buck’s been peddling his entire career, but there’s a certain familiarity to his delivery that had me nodding along after only a few tracks. Cuts like the Boss Devito produced Empty Mail Box – where Buck dissects the struggles of everyday life – and Back To The Old Me – Buck rapping about turning back to his old gangster lifestyle to survive – showcase Buck’s storytelling credentials that make him one of my favourites. While 50 and Lloyd Banks might be the more popular members of G-Unit, 10 Bodies is another great example of why Buck continues to reign over the two as the Unit’s best MC.
Verdict: Buck comes through with another quality release.
Lil Debbie – Debbie
Females in hip-hop have never been in a better place than in 2016. While Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea have been positioned as the commercial darlings, there’s a wealth of young up and coming artists deserving of your attention. Lil Debbie is one such artist. The Californian first found fame as one third of now-defunct group The White Girl Mob, along with Kreayshawn and V-Nasty. She went on to release a number of singles with V-Nasty and Riff Raff before focusing on her solo career. Having released a string of EPs and mixtapes over the past few years, Debbie is her long awaited debut.
The 13 track album is stamped with Debbie’s signature rapping style over West Coast ratchet beats that make up the familiar sound. Braggadocios and aggressive, Debbie spits with authority and venom as she declares herself the “Queen” on the track of the same name. Elsewhere she tells the haters to back off on Can’t Sit Wit Us (a track that samples Mark Morrison‘s Return Of The Mack), big notes herself on Damn and gets down and dirty on Turn Em Out. Debbie keeps the guest to a minimum, with Starrah‘s auto-tuned raps joining her on Whoop and Njomza providing the lush hook on the playful Tell Me. It would have been nice to hear Debbie and Riff Raff on a track together again, but overall, this is a big step forward in Debbies growth as an artist.
Verdict: Lil Debbie delivers on all fronts with her debut.
21 Savage & Metro Boomin – Savage Mode
The pairing of Atlanta rapper 21 Savage and producer Metro Boomin might have come out of left field, but it makes perfect sense. Both are rising stars in the rap world who have latched onto the trap inspired Southern sound that continues to be all the rage. Savage Mode, the two’s joint release, is the perfect platform for both artists to show the world why they are so hyped by the hip-hop press.
Metro’s skill at adapting his production style to the artist he’s working with is key to this EPs success. Savage’s flow can be aggressive, but he usually spits at a leisurely pace, and to illuminate this, Metro has built sparse, 808-tempered walls of sound that allow Savage to paint vibrant pictures with his words. Not only does Metro play to Savage’s strength with his production, but he demonstrates his ability to work with anyone, be they low-key like Savage, bombastic like Kanye West or auto-tuned mumblers in the case of Future.
Savage spends most of the EP rapping about his new found fame and all the wealth and women he now has. Pretty standard stuff, but when you’ve got Metro’s downtempo beats on tracks Savage Mode, Real Nigga, and the slinky piano line of Feel It, it’s hard not to like what you hear. Regular Metro collaborator Future is the only feature, dropping his scattered fire flow alongside Savage for one of the projects best tracks X Bitch. Both Savage and Metro drop their well known catchphrases throughout (Savage’s constant refrain of “21, 21, 21, 21,” and Metro’s “If young Metro don’t trust you I’m gonna shoot you.“), which is always welcoming to hear, particular Metro’s.
While still awaiting Savage’s debut, this is a good indication that he’s on the right track to stardom, while only enhancing Metro’s status as one of raps premier beat makers.
Verdict: Two of the best young guns getting it done.
REBEL YELL – Mother Of Millions
REBEL YELL is the new solo project from Brisbane upstart Grace Stevenson. If her name sounds familiar, it’s because she’s also a member of all-girl 80s influenced electronic trio 100%. While Stevenson has kept things electric with REBEL YELL, it’s a completely different road she’s traveling down.
Mother of Millions delves into the dark, heavy-hitting world of industrial music. Ghostly synths, fractured drum beats and Stevenson’s distorted, often unintelligible vocals, are all part of the REBEL YELL experience. Take Away is a moody dose of 80’s synths, Ideal Fitness a disturbing Nine Inch Nails meets Apex Twin concoction, and closer Delay a somewhat euphoric techno banger I can imagine playing at 4AM in some illegal warehouse rave. The crowing glory of the four track EP is single Never Perfection. It’s four and a half minutes of almost inhuman sonics that chills to the bone while also providing a feeling of warmth and security. The glitchy synths and pummelling percussion will leave you with an eerie feeling you soon won’t forget.
Verdict: Simply stunning.