With this new roundup, we’re highlighting the can’t-miss rap projects every month. Check out the inaugural edition below, featuring the best hip-hop releases of January 2023.
To hear Ice Spice tell it, “Munch (Feelin U)” was a happy accident. Just one year ago, the fast-rising artist was in the studio looking for a word to rhyme with “lunch,” and accidentally coined one of the most popular slang words of 2022. Thinking it was a throwaway track, the Bronx baddie didn’t know she had a hit until a snippet went viral.
That’s really the 23-year-old rapper’s appeal in a nutshell. With a relatable, down-to-earth persona, Ice Spice doesn’t have to try for her music to resonate with others. While her lyrics don’t lack any bite — after all, a munch is basically a cornball or a loser — there’s no posturing necessary to get her point across. Plus, she has a knack for Instagram caption rhymes like “How can I lose if I’m already chose?” on songs like “Bikini Bottom.”
Ice Spice’s debut EP, Like…?, is meant to tide fans over while she works on her first LP. Besides the aforementioned songs and her recent single “In Ha Mood,” it only introduces three new tracks. Of those three, “Gangsta Boo” and “Actin a Smoochie” stay in the confines of New York drill, but the second track “Princess Diana” has more to offer.
Embracing a popular meme that she’s this generation’s Princess Diana, Ice Spice raps over a blowed-out bassline while keeping haters in check with some cheeky wordplay. In a single line alone (“And I’m young, still gettin’ money, my pockets is chubby, nothin’ was the same”), she crams in references to Drake’s former label Young Money, his bodyguard Chubbs, and his 2013 album Nothing Was the Same.
Though Ice Spice would likely deny it, those lyrics are a clever follow-up to her “at least ima 10” response to Drake’s rumored diss (“She a 10 tryna rap, it’s good on mute”) on “BackOutsideBoyz.” Even if Drake really has cleared the air about the line not being about her, it fits right into her style of shrugging things off while letting you know she’s not a pushover.
Having demonstrated ambitions beyond drill and a strong sense of what she brings to the table as an artist, Ice Spice is well-positioned to avoid label pressures that could trip up her first full-length project. Until then, Like…? has done more than enough to keep her in rotation.