November 2022 (Week 4)
Starting of another week with another horrible tragedy. Pictured on this week’s cover is beloved NYC hip hop manager, A&R, and cultural powerhouse Hovain Hylton who tragically passed away over the weekend.
Best known for his work as a Cinematic Music Group executive alongside Jonny Shipes, managing legendary NYC artists like Cam’ron, Styles P, Lloyd Banks, Troy Ave (and more recently emerging west coast powerhouses LaRusell and Symba), and consistently being recognized as a national hip hop power player – Hovain is a truly singular figure that embodies the independent A&R hustle of a bygone era.
On a personal note, I took part in Hovain’s ‘Business of Music’ class at Kingsborough College in 2021 – where I got a tiny firsthand glimpse at his inspiring independent mindset and how well respected he is amongst his peers. If somehow you are not familiar I would encourage everyone to go read about Hovain’s contributions to the culture.
His absence will be felt throughout the industry and especially in the city he repped so proudly, and his legacy as one of NYC’s most important A&Rs will always be remembered. Long Live Hovain Hylton
This week, Money Man dropped what is essentially a Deluxe for his latest release, Blackout: The Sequel. On the fresh batch of 10 songs, the enigmatic internet hustler sounds as hungry and financially focused as ever, experimenting with some different sounds on songs like “Spin for You and “Adrenaline” – once again setting a high bar for independent hustlers and scam rappers nationwide.
Homixide Gang dropped Homixide Lifestyle this week, their major label debut and first project since officially joining the Playboi Carti’s Opium roster alongside Ken Carson and Destroy Lonely. An Atlanta-bred duo made up of Homixide Meechie and Homixide Beno! (who apparently was one of Carti’s early managers), Homixide Gang is proving to be the perfect addition to continue building out the rage-filled, punk-rock infused Opium universe.
Fan favorite veteran of the OG Soundcloud era, Warhol.ss, dropped a killer remix Kodak’s “Walk” this week. The perfect mix of Soundcloud and the streets, Warhol is a unique figure in the culture with a lot left to give – as evidenced by his captivating “Walk Remix” and the intensely good 3-pack he dropped in August including “I Hate N*****”, his drill-flipped version of “Devil in A Dress,” and what may very well be my personal favorite song of the year, “Deuce & Fanta” with Babyface Ray. Just this past week, Warhol has helped shine a light on his younger brother, EBK Clo – who dropped his debut tape Black Sheep earlier this year and appear to be gearing up for new music coming soon.
Between his charismatic, idiosyncratic cadence and uniquely worded irreverent bars, CEO Trayle is one of the most unique and compelling artists rising out of Atlanta, as evidenced by his recent From the Block performance of “Song Cry”. While his trajectory has been a bit unclear since first exploding with his hit breakout single “OK Cool,” his distinctly compelling sound and prolific output have remained consistent. It’s only a matter of time before Trayle has another “OK Cool” level hit on his hands.
From Newark, New Jersey, underappreciated lyricist and rare battle rap legend with actual good music, Tsu Surf dropped his new project this week, DISPARU. While he unfortunately made nationwide news in October after being arrested on RICO charges, he still managed to drop a great project this week showcasing his signature gritty lyricism, vivid storytelling, and killer features from the likes of Jim Jones, Remy Ma, and his right-hand man Bby Hndrxx. While it seems he may be taking the “Evil Drake” nickname a little too seriously, Surf’s pen is just as sharp as ever. In all seriousness, best wishes to Newark’s finest and hope to see more music, flowers and freedom coming your way.
From Compton, CA, Westside Boogie dropped an impressive project titled More Black Superheroes earlier this year that, not unlike Tsu Surf on the east coast, threads the needle of lyrical acumen, compelling arrangements, and vivid storytelling on the trials and tribulations of the streets and gang life. One of the most standout moments from the project was “Can’t Even Lie,” a powerfully understated track which included an objectively good verse from Soulja Boy and one of his best on-wax moments in recent memory. Boogie revisited the track on the new Deluxe, this time including a solo live version that may hit even harder than the original.
Also from the West Coast, Moreno Valley’s R3 da Chilliman and S5 (aka stoneda5th) revisited “Rock & Roll” their tag-team banger from earlier in the year. This time, they tapped Peezy for the remix, whose gritty Detroit veteran bars and wordy flow sound perfectly at home on the bouncy west coast production.
Texas native Guapo, aka the original “Mr. Put It On,” dropped a new single this week titled “Glitch”. While he’s been relatively quiet since first exploding out of the gate in 2021, there is an undeniable starpower in the raspy cadence and gritty southern swag of Guapo that has yet to be fully realized. His viral breakout single was deceptively forward thinking, and definitely one of the first moments where an artist from a different part of the country had a proper viral hit making full use of the now red-hot Detroit sound. The new single “Glitch” is definitely one of his most successful singles at recapturing that feel, and his recent release “New Drank Flow” suggests there is plenty left to see from Guapo.
Another rising southern star with a distinctly raspy flow and penchant for Detroit-style production is Goldenboy Countup. Out of Deland, Florida, Goldenboy has been gaining steam with his own energetic take on the gritty, Detroit-inspired sound infused with his unmistakable Florida swag. His high-energy matches his prolific output, dropping 4 projects this year – his latest appropriately titled The Rawest – and a nonstop slew of new singles including, “10pm in ATL.”
Kevin Gates continues to march to the beat of his own drum. Hopefully the odd release of this FYP 6-track project containing 5 of his biggest previous hits is a sign that the underappreciated superstar is finally being managed properly, and the behind-the-scenes levers are being pulled to ensure he reaches the height he deserves.
The UK Drill scene has long gone back and forth with New York over their co-opting of the drill sound. Having pulled a double reverse card, English artists like Abra Cadabra (you get used to the name) and Headie One seem to have found a sweet spot by attacking their native UK Drill with a hard-edged American appeal. It’s hard to put your finger on, but once you’ve adjusted to their captivating Tottenham road accents and completely new vocabulary of street slang, there’s something about their gritty approach and raw feel that feels distinctly American – boding well for their long term outlook given the notorious difficulty of UK artists finding fans across the pond. Abra Cadabra, affectionately known as Abz, recently appeared on the UK PressPlay’s Lightwork freestyle series, a good example of what Tottenham’s rising star is capable of.
And speaking of NYC, Sexy Drill season is still upon us. The light, dance-friendly alternative to the harsh sounds of Brooklyn and Bronx drill continues to gain steam as cool kids from around the city (and now well beyond). This week, Cash Cobain and Chow Lee reached across the aisle to tap one of the city’s original drill artists that helped spark the wave, Bizzy Banks for a super fun remix of “Just Blick It” off their recent joint album 2 Slizzy 2 Sexy – which was just included on the New York Times Best Albums of 2022 list. The new remix has yet to be released on DSPs, but Chow Lee did drop off a 3-pack last week with a very Slizzy title, sex synonyms, which included “dui” (prod by Chubbyelhefe).
Moving on to the new wave. Tia Corine has been making waves with “FreakyT,” the clear standout from her most recent project I Can’t Wait. Between the song’s ultra crisp plugg production (prod by Honorable C.N.O.T.E.) and Tia’s hugely confident, punchy rap flow contrasted by her girly boss-bitch chorus, “FreakyT” is refreshing, original and hard-hitting. Not only that, its bouncy production and hypnotic flow is perfect fodder for a viral audio, sparking thousands of TikToks utilizing the uniquely catchy sound. Not only is it good for TikToks, it’s perfect for Duke Deuce’s surprisingly light (and crunk) footwork, who appears alongside Tia in the video to put on another jooking masterclass – and apparently is also set to appear on the remix.
Atlanta’s ATL Smook returned with a new project last week, Permanently Scarred. Across its 18 tightly produced tracks he shows a strong command over a wide range of new wave sounds, from rage to plugg to vibey ATL trap. Some of the best looks at his familiar yet fresh sound come on tracks like “Vibes,” “Take Risk” and “1 in the Head.”
The always infectious Cochise returned last week to drop “Creme Brulee,” his first single since releasing his long awaited album The Inspection in June. While he experimented with some new sounds on the project, it was songs like “Do It Again” and “Turn It Up’ that really scratched the itch for that lovable frenetic energy and borderline hypnotic flow fans first fell in love with on his early hits like “Pocket Rocket” and “Tell Em.” The new single feels like a double-down on his unique vocal and production style, one of the most different and well-defined signature sounds to rise out of the new wave.
And lastly, two artists who have emerged from the eclectic world of the east coast producer collective, Surf Gang. Home to prominent underground producers like EvilGiane, tommytohotty and Harrison, Surf Gang is known for its raw, boundary-pushing approach that can be felt in the distinct signature styles of two of its most notable alumni in RealYungPhil and Polo Perks. Just a few weeks after appearing on Surf Gang’s latest collective project At Least We Tried, both dropped projects of their own. Polo Perks released More To Life Than This Pt 2, a new album showcasing his unorthodox, monotone style and penchant for nostalgic genre-spanning samples like on “Htmlrulezdude” (also the title of a popular song from the band Devil Wears Prada). Phil dropped his own project this month, Mr. Make It Look Simple, flexing his calm flow and effortless plugg-infused style over best-in-class production from the likes of Cash Cache, Dylvinci and even a special treat in the form Cash Cobain’s uniquely saucy production on “All My Life” with Slimesito.
While it was a bit of a quiet week with the Thanksgiving holiday, there are some exciting things coming during the end-of-year push. This week Babyface Ray is gearing up to drop his new album, Metro Boomin is in the process of rolling out a whole movie of an album, and the End of Year lists are beginning to circulate as Spotify Wrapped exposes everyone for who they actually listen to. (Looking at you A&Rs).
And once again, Rest in Peace to Hovain Hylton.
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