Michael Quattlebaum Jr., better known as Mykki Blanco, is a singular presence in hip-hop, not just because he’s part of the first wave of openly queer rappers to gain traction with an audience outside the queer community but simply because there’s no other hip-hop artists who look, sound, or act like him. On his new mixtape Gay Dog Food he shows off some of the blunt-instrument flow that he built his reputation on, but spends far more time channeling Iggy Pop with an elastic sprechgesang that he uses to deliver hallucinatory lyrics about freaks, drugs, and kinky sex, wallowing in transgressive behavior with manic glee over beats engineered for maximum sonic filth. It’s one of the year’s most bracing rap records, and signals Mykki Blanco’s elevation from a new artist to keep an eye out for to an icon who demands attention. A few days before Gay Dog Food‘s release EW spoke to him by phone about where’s he’s been and where’ he’s heading.
Hackers have had a lot of negative press recently, and for good reason, but they’re not all bad. Sometimes they can even be a force for good, like when they help push new Drake songs into the world.
Over the weekend Drizzy posted three new tracks on his SoundCloud with the explanation that he knew “hackers” had already got their hands on them. Produced by his go-to beat makers Boi-1da and Noah “40” Shebib, “How About Now” and “Heat of the Moment” both put the rapper’s notoriously intense feelings front and center, but “6 God” channels his wild-out, getting-into-shit-at-the-strip-club side.
Guest verses have always been a part of hip-hop, but they’ve grown in popularity over the years for a number of reasons: they put new talent in people’s ears, they keep established rappers sharp, and they keep the slightly gladiatorial element of competition between performers alive in an era when freestyle battle raps are seen as slightly antiquated. The right featured guest can turn a single into a smash—but it can also backfire if that rapper outshines the song’s main artist. But when that does happen, the results can be pretty magical. Here are 10 notable examples of guest rappers appearing on other rappers’ songs—and completely blowing them away. READ FULL STORY
In the two years since his single “MLLN DLLR” put him on the map Brooklyn beat maker Antonio Cuna, a.k.a. Sweater Beats, has accumulated an enviable list of co-signs from important figures in EDM and hip-hop, the two genres that he blends in his music to giddy, effervescent effect. He’s been big-upped by Diplo, performed for Boiler Room, and toured with Chet Faker, Flume, and Chicago star-in-the-making Chance the Rapper, who he’s on the road with right now.
Next Tuesday, Oct. 28, the Huh What & Where label will release a free-to-download EP entitled Cloud City that whips together club rap, trap music, a little electropop, and a touch of ambient atmosphere into four frothy tracks that bang hard but stay airy and light. Until then, you can stream it here.
ILoveMakonnen’s “Club Going Up On a Tuesday” is an odd example of a viral hit. It doesn’t come with its own dance or a hook that references a pop-culture property or a bass drop conducive to making Vine videos, and while it does have a lot of hooks in its deceptively complex melody, the Atlanta singer/rapper/whatever-he-is delivers them in a sleepy flow that soft-sells them in the most extreme way. Still, the song is massively infectious, and with little more than a co-sign from Drake, it’s become a global phenomenon with a fervent cult that spans all distinctions of pop music fandom.
The obvious next step would be for iLoveMakonnen to attempt to engage with the mainstream, and convert his memetic popularity into a more traditional type of success. The new video for the Drake-assisted version of the song, simply entitled “Tuesday,” would seem to be the first step in that direction. In keeping with the song’s title and subject matter there are a lot of shots of people going up in a club, albeit a club steeped in Makonnen’s eccentricities, where mannequin heads done up with Ziggy Stardust makeup get tossed around like crowd surfers. The other half of the video is made up of all sorts of people from all sorts of places singing along to “Tuesday” and smiling, reflecting and emphasizing the song’s idiosyncratically universal appeal.
At the moment, the rap duo Moors is best known for being the musical project of actor Keith Stanfield, who appeared in last year’s critically acclaimed Short Term 12 and will play a young Snoop Dogg in the upcoming N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton. But the spaced-out, slow-motion hip-hop that he makes with producer HH, which finds a rich groove somewhere in between Tricky-style trip-hop and Common-style bohemian rap, is easily strong enough to stand on its own.
Moors drop their self-titled debut EP (which features remixes by Postal Service member Dntel and avant-hip-hop producer Daedelus) on Oct. 28 on the Haven Sounds label, and the pair will spend most of November on the road. For now, enjoy an early look at the single “Smoke.”
Wiz Khalifa and Future have a lot in common. Both are young rappers who’ve made the transition from mixtapes to the pop charts and are still rising, and both have recently had romantic relationships flame out in a very public fashion not long after having babies with their partners. (Wiz and Amber Rose filed for divorce back in September, just over a month after Future and Ciara broke off their engagement.)
Wiz has kept mostly quiet about his split with Rose, seemingly to keep attention on his recently released Blacc Hollywood. While on his new street single “Monster” (from his upcoming mixtape of the same name), Future talks a lot about his predilection for groupies and not at all about his recent relationship problems. But now, both have turned up on a track by Mike Will Made It called “Pussy Overrated,” and despite the fact that neither Rose nor Ciara’s names come up in the lyrics (both seem to deal with groupies), with that title and that timing it’s hard to see the song as anything but a shared breakup track and an epic subtweet aimed at their exes.
As the title suggests, the song paints a dismal picture of women, who are blamed alternately for being both too clingy and insufficiently attentive, too prudish and too blatantly sexual. Unlike the many, many rap songs with retrograde attitudes toward sexual equality, the song doesn’t even try to charm its way into the hearts of skeptical listeners–the refrain “Your pussy overrated” bluntly, explicitly reduces the women in question to the status of sex toys, and disposable ones at that.
Seeing Future taking the low road this way is especially disheartening. Throughout his relationship with Ciara, he’s been openly, almost cornily swoony over her on a level that few rappers have ever let themselves show in public before. Back in early 2013, they essentially inaugurated their relationship with the collaborative single “Body Party” with a video where Future follows Ciara around like a crushed-out teenager, an unguarded portrayal of naive romanticism that helped to establish Future’s reputation for being not like other rappers, at least when it came to dealing with women. Now he’s turned 180 degrees and become the living embodiment of #petty, and on social media the judgement from his fans, especially female ones, has been harsh.
Twitter’s been rallying for a response to “Pussy Overrated,” with Nicki Minaj being the obvious popular choice for recording it, although any hypothetical “Dick Overrated” would be incomplete without a Ciara hook. Meanwhile, Rose has shot back in very Rose-ish fashion by posting a butt selfie to Instagram.
L.A. rapper Busdriver has spent the past decade-plus navigating the outer fringes of hip-hop, and his trailblazing efforts have helped to push rap music away from traditional structures and into its current phase of wild sonic experimentation. His latest album, Perfect Hair (out now on Big Dada) features guest appearances by Danny Brown, Aesop Rock, and Open Mike Eagle (as well as cover art by counterculture superhero and former Fishing With John host John Lurie).
But the real star is Busdriver’s inimitable elastic flow, which he twists and stretches to fit beats that refuse to conform to a steady boom-bap. The video for his latest single “Motion Lines” launches the rapper into a kaleidoscopic light show that compliments the song’s jazzily improvised vibe.
LA-based collective IHEARTCOMIX dabble in a little bit of everything youth culture-related, but they’re best known for putting out records and throwing parties. Their label, previously home to dance-party-friendly acts like Matt & Kim and Juiceboxxx, has been defunct since 2009, but they’re getting back to it with a new singles-focused label called IHC 1NFINITY. They’re describing it as “IHC’s attempt to create their own Marvel Cinematic Universe”—founder Franki Chan remains a devoted comics geek—and on top of sharing the clubby countercultural vibe that defines IHC’s identity, the releases will be loosely tied together through visual elements like cover art and videos.
IHC 1NFINITY will kick off with a promising trio of artists. They’ll start by making a new track called “Handful of Gold” by rising Australian-born alt-pop singer Chela, available for streaming on Oct. 21 and for purchase on Nov. 11. It’ll be followed by new releases from rapper Antwon–whose affinity for smashing together surreal imagery and emotional realness has made him the object of cultish adoration–in November and DIY dance music hero Pictureplane in January. All releases will also have remix packages available.
It’s hard to believe that just a short couple years ago people were talking about Pharrell in the past tense—especially when his post-“Get Lucky” comeback is threatening to actually overshadow the first half of his career. This morning, he added a boost of momentum to the unbelievable roll he’s been on with the release of a video for “Gust of Wind,” the Daft Punk-featuring latest single from his G I R L album. Directed by Edgar Wright, the visual complements the song’s airy, string-laden arrangement with choreography and costumes that nod heavily toward wuxia kung fu films and a pair of giant stone Daft Punk helmets floating around the autumnal scenery like it’s no big thing.