Our recurring new music feature Rap Song of the Week breaks down the hip-hop tracks you need to hear at the end of every week. Check out the full playlist here. This week, Freddie Gibbs reunites with Jadakiss on “Black Illuminati.”
When Freddie Gibbs and Jadakiss last collaborated on Gibbs’ star-studded Baby Face Killa mixtape nine years ago, the Gary, Indiana rapper was about to exit his ill-fated deal with Young Jeezy’s CTE label. Given all the talent he’d displayed up to that point, it’s no surprise that Gibbs went on to become one of the most successful independent artists in the game, earning enough gravitas to ink his own partnership deals with major labels.
After notching a Grammy nomination for Alfredo, Gibbs is mashing the gas pedal even harder for his follow-up, which he’s pumped up as the best-produced album of his career — bold words after recording entire projects with Madlib and The Alchemist. The quiet storm beat for “Black Illuminati” isn’t flashy by any means, but gives the pair of rappers plenty of space to dole out advice from their decades of experience.
Gibbs also lets it be known he hasn’t forgotten how people once wanted to count him out: “Shame how they blackball Kane, they scratched my name out/ I pushed it longer than I expected to get my name hot.” For most of his verse, Jada is content to brag about being in the position to serve as a mentor, but he also has a reminder for people who have short memories after his Verzuz performance this summer. “Call him the god MC just like Rakim,” he raps, “and he done took some L’s, but yeah, he got wins.”
Whereas Jadakiss has settled into a role as an established veteran who sometimes has to remind fans of why he’s one of the best to ever do it, Gibbs keeps leveling up. Hopefully, it won’t be nine years until they step into the booth with each other again.
Rico Nasty feat. Flo Milli – “Money”
After performing “Money” for fans throughout the festival season, Rico Nasty has officially dropped the track, which flips 2 Live Crew’s classic “We Want Some Pussy” on its head. Rising Alabama MC Flo Mill is the perfect partner for the guitar-propelled party starter, matching Rico’s punk rap energy with no-nonsense rhymes. “Why the fuck you flexin’ if you going through a drought?” she sneers. “Ain’t no second-guessing, bitch, I’m kicking you out.”
Kipp Stone – “2 Weeks Notice”
On “2 Weeks Notice,” Cleveland rapper Kipp Stone confronts trauma head-on, processing his past and future while still bearing the weight of the present. While the primary thing on his mind is never being recognized for his greatness (“Could be the best-kept secret took to the grave”), Stone isn’t lacking self-awareness, as he also pokes fun at himself for being “another rapper feelin’ omitted.”
The Cool Kids feat. Larry June – “All or Nothing”
Blog era innovators The Cool Kids and Bay area veteran Larry June display natural chemistry on “All or Nothing,” which features a booming G-funk instrumental from Chuck Inglish. While kicking off the track, June takes a cue from his collaborators by effortlessly picking up the pace from his normal delivery, seamlessly blending his braggadocious rhymes with those of the Chicago duo.
Nana feat. Kent Jamz – “Real Real”
Hailing from the Crenshaw neighborhood of Los Angeles, Nana details his come-up from minimum wage jobs and chasing his dreams of success over a soulful beat. “Feet to the pavement/ I’m on my second shift/ Slaving and bathing in my sweat,” he raps. “It’s Friday and I’m patiently waiting/ For my payment.” With vivid bars and an authoritative tone, he’s well on his way to taking it to the next level.
Eli Fross – “Growing Up Gangsta”
Crown Heights native Eli Fross has been positioned as an up-and-comer in the New York drill scene, but “Growing Up Gangsta” gives the 20-year-old rapper an opportunity to rhyme over a less ominous beat. Over a catchy guitar loop, Fross playfully delivers rhymes about running the streets while his rivals were going to school.
Best Rap Songs Playlist: