MIDDIES is a new series by the interns dedicated to highlighting the best up-and-coming hip-hop of the week gone by. It’s a midweek pick-me-up, a shortlist of the essentials and a chance to peep who’s next.
Future – Draco
There’s no one lonelier than Future on his latest album. On desolate production with his trademark icy, distant vocals the Atlanta rapper is truly alone: no features, an album self-titled and in the end, no competition.
Draco is Future at his most confident and daring, tautly scooting over the beat rather than growling behind it. Whilst he’s incredibly adept at the latter, there’s something so electric about the Atlanta rapper when he springs up on his heels and goes in.
As the industry buzzed about the zanier (Yachty), the more dangerous (Kodak, Savage) and the carbon copies (Desiigner), Future sat quietly brooding. Draco is the album’s quintessential moment when, like the titular gun, Future explodes into a flurry. He sets out to make the best song about guns, reclaim ‘the Six’ as a Georgian call-sign and cram four sports analogies into four minutes. For some, that’s a challenge to achieve on an entire album. For Future, that’s his lazy Sunday.
Oddisee – NNGE (feat. Toine)
NNGE opens with a biting verse, leading with “I’m from black America, this is just another year”. Before it lurches into an aggressive disparate anthem, Washington rapper Oddisee hits the brakes and spins it back to something uplifting.
“I ain’t leaving, I’m posted” Oddisee pledges on the hook of NNGE, the last single before The Iceberg releases this week. Rapping over a soft patter of clicking drums, NNGE is an eclectic insight into the complicated political wrestle going on in Oddisee’s mind, articulate in his signature elaborate touch.
Nearly a decade in his high-output career, there’s still no one who’s quite like Oddisee – every time the crowd starts to catch up with his dexterous sound, Oddisee shifts the goal posts with something new.
Lil Tracy – I’m Rude
No one would blame you if you struggled to spot the musical lineage of Goth Boi Clique rapper Lil Tracy. Born Jazz Ishmael Butler, the Birmingham rapper is the son of musicians Coko Clemens of Sisters With Voices and Ishmael Butler, the hip-hop pioneer behind Digable Planets and Shabazz Palaces.
That isn’t a natural influence on I’m Rude, a playful loose single produced by regular collaborator Big Head. Released only weeks after the Tracy’s Manga mixtape, I’m Rude is a perfect microsm of everything Tracy is loved for: remarkably catchy melodies, subtle humour and natural charisma.
With the Goth Boi Clique growing by the day, Lil Tracy is rising to meet the challenge of leading the group. As his output and quality rapidly increases, there doesn’t seem to be any stopping Tracy. If everything else stays this good, you’d be rude to try to stop him.
Aldae Long – Words
R&B is in an exciting place as new artists are springing up on the daily. THEY., dvsn, Post Malone and Kehlani are just a few of the names bubbling on the cusp while Drake, The Weekend, Frank Ocean and Future are all enjoying their streak as untouchable voices of the genre.
Enter another contender for the rising star: Aldae Long. There’s not much out there on the Texas born resident of Los Angeles but Words is the kind of song that speaks for itself. With an interplanetary, sparse production and assertive vocals, Aldae makes an immediate impression that jumps through the headphones.
Whilst each new R&B darling seems to have a fatal flaw undermining their music, Words doesn’t immediately expose anything off-putting about Aldae. Words doesn’t leap out as overly innovative, but does a nice job of welding together some successful pieces of a vast range of songs. If you thought Allday was white boy gritty on Sides, prepare for a filthy surprise on this one.
Kirklandd – The RISE Film
What’s the only thing that feels more epic than Kirklandd’s RISE? Kirlandd’s RISE short film. Released this week, the clip accompanying the song adds volumes to the already impactful single from Canberra’s rising star.
Produced by Nic Vevers, the man behind Citizen’s Kay Wax On, Wax Off, the RISE film is a moody, dark piece that emanates danger. There are some gorgeous visuals and it feeds wonderfully into Cam Bluff’s atmospherically rich backdrop.
After touring nationally on the back of last year, 2017 could be the year Kirklandd shoots onto everyone’s radar as Australian hip-hop’s next mainstay. Showcasing a creative flair in more fields than just his music won’t hurt his chances in the slightest, especially if we get more on the grand scale of RISE.