Every Friday, our new music feature Rap Song of the Week breaks down the essential hip-hop tracks you need to hear. Check out the full playlist here. This week, J.I.D recruits 21 Savage and Baby Tate for “Surround Sound.”
For the past several years, it’s felt like Dreamville’s J.I.D has been on the precipice of stardom. His last album, 2018’s DiCaprio 2, spawned a pair of Gold singles, and his performances on “Down Bad” and “Costa Rica” (from the compilation Revenge of the Dreamers III) exhibited his knack for crafting a catchy hook while still being an explosive, technically gifted rapper. Among a stacked roster of MCs, J.I.D stands tall.
2022 is shaping up to be the kind of year that will bring the Atlanta spitter to the next level. J.I.D’s on the easily visible third line of the poster for his Coachella debut, and has scored a crossover hit thanks to his Imagine Dragons collaboration, “Enemy,” which doesn’t water down his rhymes. That brings us to “Surround Sound” featuring 21 Savage, his biggest collaboration to date besides Dreamville honcho J. Cole. After dropping the Yung from her name, Baby Tate comes along for the ride, too, contributing the bridge.
Expectations for the track are set high from the very beginning with an Aretha Franklin sample (“One Step Ahead,” previously flipped on Mos Def’s “Ms. Fat Booty”). Like his labelmates EARTHGANG, J.I.D welcomes the challenge with a chorus in which he boasts, “Putting rap on my back and I’m Black and snatching crowns.” He proceeds to lay down a verse with double entendres and multisyllabic lines before passing the mic to 21 Savage, whose lyricism would typically be overlooked by Dreamville fans.
Not too many of his peers would be comfortable mixing gun talk with making sound financial decisions, but 21 makes it sound easy. “Back in the day, I invest in the block,” he raps. “Fast forward, now I’m investing in stocks/ I put a drum on the Heckler and Koch/ Don’t play ’cause I’m very invested in shots.”
Just when you think “Surround Sound” is over, the beat switches up and J.I.D lets loose with a chest-thumping verse. “Give me a joke, heard the n**** say you the next? No, no, no,” he scoffs. “I’m the best, tell them bitches stop the motherfuckin’ press/ Press stop, fuck a Top 5 list.”
J.I.D’s long-awaited The Forever Story is expected to drop sometime this year, and we can hardly wait.
Earl Sweatshirt – “Fire in the Hole”
Back with his masterful fourth album, SICK!, Earl Sweatshirt opted to recruit outside producers this time around like Black Noi$e, who handled nearly half of the LP. This includes “Fire in the Hole,” which finds Earl more clear-headed than ever as he reminisces and reflects upon what’s truly important.
EARTHGANG – “All Eyes on Me”
With the much-anticipated album GHETTO GODS dropping next month, EARTHGANG’s new single “All Eyes on Me” is a welcome preview. Producer jetsonmade adds an extra bounce to the track, as the duo tackle weighty topics like systemic racism and surviving another year in this fucking pandemic.
Babyface Ray feat. Pusha T and Landstrip Chip – “Dancing with the Devil”
Detroit veteran Babyface Ray broke out last year with his EP, Unfuckwitable, receiving co-signs from Tyler, the Creator, Future, and Big Sean. Now, he’s teamed up with another heavyweight in Pusha T for a track in which the rappers trade bars about the problems that come with finally making it.
Murda Beatz feat. Blxst and Wale – “One Shot”
Stepping out on his own after creating hits for Drake, Migos, and Travis Scott, shaggy-haired Canadian producer Murda Beatz recruits Wale and rising LA native Blxst for “One Shot.” As the title suggests, both rappers make their case for why their love interests should take the leap with them.
Sledgren feat. Wiz Khalifa and Larry June – “Chill with Me”
“Chill with Me” is the perfect name for this new track, as Sledgren crafts a woozy beat for longtime collaborator Wiz Khalifa and Bay Area standout Larry June to vibe out to. The lyrics don’t go beyond partying and having a good time, but who wants to hear anything profound in a song that’s made for kicking back after a long day?
Best Rap Songs Playlist: