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.
OG Maco – Children of the Rage
A month removed from The Lord of the Rage, OG Maco is back with another mixtape. Now into his third season on the rap circuit, 2017 looks as a break or bust year for the Atlanta rapper. He caught lightning in a bottle on U Guessed It and has replicated that few times in a lot of efforts since.
The title track of Children of the Rage teases what may be next. Recorded years ago, Children of the Rage falls in well with the rising wave of rock-rap crossover that has fallen into fashion behind the Goth Boi Clique and, yes, twenty one pilots.
Maco may have missed his opportunity at stardom in 2014, but Children of the Rage suggests he won’t fade entirely for a fairly long time.
Dave East & A$AP Ferg – Paper Chasin’
Between Dave, Dave B. and Dave East, there’s a lot of Daving going on in hip-hop at the moment, but they’re all good so we’re not exactly complaining. This particular Dave comes by way of Harlem and is Def Jam’s latest star on the rise.
Pullied from an upcoming label compilation, Paper Chasin’ comes off as a by-the-numbers cashing out anthem but grows into something much harder. The reliable A$AP Ferg forges great chemistry with Dave East, who bends into his verses with some real heat.
The song doesn’t overstay its welcome and flourishes where many others would fail. It has been a while now since Dave East started making waves, but his success won’t be overnight. Instead, East is steadily building up a compelling portfolio that is making him more and more fans as he continues to grind. Now, it’s starting to pay dividends.
Pell – Patience / Late At Night
There has never been a better time to be an upbeat rapper who can sing, just ask Pell. Two years after his debut album LIMBO woke up the world to the New Orleans rapper’s energetic sound, he’s back teasing his next big project.
Compiled by Red Bull this week, Patience and Late At Night are two really different tracks, that both shine in their own way. Patience launches right into its instantly lovable chorus and bounces all the way through. There’s some delicately handled jokes in there and slides right into the lane of contemporaries GoldLink and Chaz French than anything else.
Late Night, on the other hand, operates strongly as a pop song. That is largely thanks to MNEK, the guy who’s easily the new ‘best British man yet to release an yet’ since Sampha vacated that throne. With two new songs that belong in any rotation, Pell has walked through straight into the game on a hot streak.
Ravyn Lenae – Spice
Okay, this isn’t strictly hip-hop but honestly, this column seriously needs some female representation. In lieu of an extended discussion about why females are so underrepresented in rap, refer to Erik Nielson’s wonderful piece on the issue.
Ravyn Lenae is a Chicago singer making a name for herself on tour with Noname. Spice is a Latin-tinged slow jam that highlights Lenae’s sweeping falsetto. It’s the perfect easy listening Sunday morning song, but it’s also perky enough to fit in just about anywhere.
This track features production from Monte Booker, who’s having himself quite the week. After building a profile producing from Smino, Booker came this week on Pressed for Time with Mick Jenkins and GoldLink.
With RAY BLK, RAYE and Allan Rayman all breaking out this year, Ravyn Lenae is a name that could easily get lost in the shuffle. With tracks as strong as Spice, she’s fending off that threat and doing so with more potency than you’d expect from the Chicago singer.
Boilermarkers – Jesus Age
After years of his comedy songs with Alex Dyson on Triple J, it’s still really weird listening to Matt Okine be serious on a rap song but here we are. Matt Okine isn’t the most polished rapper and is battling the stigma of comedians taking up hip-hop, but it’s legitimately impressive the growth he’s showing between songs.
Jesus Age features production from Fossa Beats and C1, who helped Allday get his big break. Okine’s flow is pacey and generally, whilst his lyrics are deceptively good. There’s still some work to go, but Boilermakers are incredibly ahead of the curve as they catch up to artists who have done this all of their lives.
It’s tempting to make fun of Boilermakers or lump them in with The Lonely Island and Lil Dicky, two comedy acts that transitioned to do comedy through their raps. A better comparison would be Das Racist, a the short-lived, beloved duo of Heems and Kool A.D. Das Racist were hilarious, but they could rap circles around anyone and when they meant business, it was serious. Boilermakers have a long, long way to go to reach Das Racist (most rappers do), but they’re not a joke by any stretch anymore.