JOSEN – JOSEN & FRIENDS
PROD: HOODWTCH, DECEASED, 1CHAI, ENDOHBEATS, LUKRATIVE, 4AM, FRXSTBITE, GHOSTIE, SNOOZED, RICAN HAVOC, GEEOHS, DONTSLEEP, CASHCACHE, FALSECUT, NINETHLUKE, MOZIATL, BRWNWRLD. FEATURING: BILL$, YUNG TUDA, TOMMY ICE, ENDOH, YUNGSTER JACK, SOLJAY, YEAT, HELLFIGER, GHOSTIE, LUVELOVESYOU, KANKAN, JVLES, TEXAKO, GOJIBEANBRYANT, LIL TURBO.
The focus of Josen & Friends, the first, collaboratively-focused mixtape from the New York rapper is undoubtedly on the chemistry between he and his guests, and due to the sheer number of featured artists here this was going to be a make or break scenario. Luckily, Josen chose his partnerships expertly and the vast majority of the time the music here is of very high-quality. Almost all of the hooks (which are arguably this project’s biggest strength) are handled solely by the man himself, a technique that ensures that, even when guests do appear, it’s impossible to forgot that the mastermind behind these tracks is always the most interesting rapper in the room. On tracks like opener ‘Right Now‘ and the equally impressive ‘Bleedin‘ his voice sounds the best that it ever has, so definitely sample those first if this is your first time listening to the rapper.
YEOJ – YEOJ WORLD 3
CO-PROD: FUCMARTY, LOUCH, EVN, NEVERNOTBETTER, DRAKO BILL$, TEDDY C. FEATURING: 10CELLPHONES, 30ROCK, JOSEN, DIEPLUG, SARIBIGMAD, LOUDPACK KAP, 10.4CHAUNCEY, J4YDIZZ1E, LUVWAV, TYLER FONTAINE, SIAH GRAHAM, CARTIER SHAMAR, MOCHILA, DAWSZN, DRAKO BILL$, MATTER4K, FLACKO444, YNB 201, JULY FRVR, BOYWNDR.
I’m a big fan of producer-led projects, and even in a year chock-ful of quality products in this vein the third (and fortunately not last, it seems) Yeoj World still shined the brightest. I spoke about this tape’s many strengths in depth here, but it would be extremely remiss of me to summarise 2019 without mentioning it at least one more time. Make no mistake: this is one of the most sonically diverse trap projects of the year.
TETHRA64 – JTSC (JOURNEY TO SANZAKU CASTLE)
PROD: TETHRA64. FEATURING: COWBOYKILLERR, RVPSO, COOLAIDHIPPY.
Blast pioneer Tethra has had one hell of a year, bringing his jungle/trap fusion to the masses and in the process making many statements as to his incredible skills both as a producer and a rapper. Generally the R1 member’s output focuses primarily on his production and includes only minor vocal parts, but on JTSC rapping from Teth and other members of the collective can be found on each of its six songs. Occasionally the raps even manage to stand out over the cinematic, ethereal production, a significant achievement considering the love that the Philadelphia artist so obviously pours into each of his meticulously crafted beats.
Also worth checking out: EXE 2.0.
COOLAIDHIPPY – DA DESERT PUNK
PROD: NEVERDENDER, TETHRA64, MARREROMP5K, LIL TRVSH, RVPSO, VUPRE, TYLOR COPMAN, DRETTI FRANKS, KRXXK. FEATURING: COWBOYKILLERR, TETHRA64.
Nine tracks, seventeen minutes of pure chaos. The R1 collective is home to a multitude of amazingly talented artists, and CoolaidHippy’s sole project of 2019 best exemplifies the fire and fury that the group’s monopoly of intense, aggressive rap music has been delivering all year. Working with a different producer on each cut, Coolaid consistently delivers flawless hooks and verses in his chanted cadence. My sole criticism of this project is that I wish some of the songs were longer, I’d gladly listen to a twenty-thirty song collection of music as scorching as this.
SXBERBLU – SKIZA
Of any of the projects that I’ve covered in my honourable mentions, SKiZa might just be the most soothing and melodic. This might not be the impression that the opener ‘5am‘ provides given its thumping production and battle cry lyrics (‘fuck that bitch, it’s a party right?’), but the following five tracks are as subdued and melancholic as the aforementioned is high-octane and pulverising. Sxber is extraordinarily good at building on an existing atmosphere with their nasally, passionate tones, laying down tasteful backing vocals amidst the autotune frenzy. Highly recommended if you’re searching for emo-inspired rap that frequently incorporates elements of modern pop and R&B.