MIDDIES is a 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.
Skepta – No Security
Here’s a secret most of us are just learning: Skepta is a good, not great grime rapper. He doesn’t carry the same magnetism as his BBK brethren, he doesn’t have the pedigree of Wiley and he’s yet to produce anything as explosive as Stormzy’s debut album.
In spite of that, he remains one of the genre’s biggest international stars and that’s truly a credit to the well-rounded nature of Tottenham native. He rides the line between relatable goof and ice-cold lord of cool better than any artist in music. Skepta has the aura that Drake wishes he had. That’s been on show since he broke out, but No Security is a charming reminder.
Largely passed over upon release last October, No Security is on everyone’s radar thanks to Skepta’s dad dancing. As he growls “If I survive, then I’m coming for you personally”, Skepta dances with an umbrella. Who else in the game could do this? No one, and that’s exactly why Skepta is rightfully still at the fore of the grime revolution.
Taylor Bennett – Grown Up Fairy Tales (feat. Chance the Rapper)
The blunt truth is that Taylor Bennett will never escape his brother Chance the Rapper’s shadow. For better or worse, Taylor sounds just like Chance, he has a similar ear for beats and even looks like a spitting image of his Grammy-winning big bro.
With that in mind, it’s kind of nice seeing him embrace that on Restoration Of An American Idol, his just-released third mixtape. As you’d expect, the brothers have a natural chemistry and lace over one another in nice harmony. Mike Will MadeIt, a man whose name is consistently spelled differently, is on hand for a lax beat that gives both artists ample room to move and the result is a memorably easy listen.
It’s unsurprising that this is the song from the mixtape that garnered the most attention, given Chance’s feature. Consequently, you can really hear Taylor elevating his game to make the most of the attention. This isn’t the first time the brothers have collaborated, but it’s certainly the most important: Chance is hotter than ever and Taylor just publicly opened up about his sexuality. This should be the Bennett family’s time in the sun and they’re making the most of the opportunity.
Gamirez – Tuesday
Out of Western Australia, Gamirez has been quietly grinding each year of his young career. It started with his first track in 2012, then back-to-back-to-back tapes between 2012 and 2015 and culminated with his debut EP in 2016.
Now he’s back with Tuesday, an incredibly polished effort produced by IAmKBeatZ. Not only is Gamirez making music at a superbly high level, he’s making huge strides between releases. Tuesday staggers into life with a froing beat and pops as soon as Gamirez hits the track. It’s instantly impressively as well as resilient.
Perth hasn’t really had a breakout hip-hop star since Coin Banks made it big nationally but if the opportunity presents itself, expect Gamirez to book a spot at the front of the line.
Lil Uzi Vert – 1.5-XO TOUR Llif3
If Lil Uzi Vert is still just ‘the guy from Bad and Boujee’ to you, this is your last chance to get educated before you’re officially missing the boat. Uzi unleashed a swag of loose tracks this week ahead of the sequel to his Luv Is Rage mixtape and this might be the best of the lot.
Produced by TM88, XO TOUR showcases Uzi’s full range: his staccato-evoking flow, the fashionable off-key melodies and enrapturing charisma. The song is also exceptionally rich with character, particularly for someone often dismissed as a vacuous mumble rap. XO TOUR sounds like a trap-scented boast on the surface, it actually drops one of the more heartbreaking choruses of the year.
After telling his partner “I don’t really care if you cry/On the real, you shoulda never lied”, she tells him “I am not afraid to die/Push me to the edge/All my friends are dead”. This isn’t the kind of depth you’d expect to find in a Lil Uzi Vert song, but he’s a man full of surprises as of late.
Jay IDK – Blame My Friends (The Gang)
This week Fête Records released DMV, a must-watch documentary detailing the rising scene across the DMV region and examining some of the existential issues facing local rappers penning violent songs mirroring their upbringing. One of the stars of the documentary is Jay IDK, an up-and-comer from Maryland.
Many of the voices in the film spoke about their optimism towards the DMV producing a megastar. Wale innovated more than people realise, but he hasn’t sniffed the stardom Kanye brings to Chicago, Jay to New York, Drake to Toronto.
Putting that weight on Jay IDK’s shoulders is way too premature and lofty, but Blame My Friends indicates he’s the blue chip prospect to be watching for now. Fans of ScHoolboy Q should gravitate towards this joint, which highlights Jay’s whole array of talents. It’s melodic at points, savage at others. Catchy, but rich and engaging without being heavy, Blame My Friends just has the feel of a song more people should be listening to.