Deem Spencer – “wife wife (feat. okay kaya)”
Deem Spencer is a bit of a hopeful romantic. Listening to his music is like stumbling into a poetry reading; you immediately become encapsulated by the dramatism of his brief pauses and how arresting his soft croons are. Like much of his music, “wife wife” is a fuzzy daydream spent riding bikes, taking pictures and sharing quiet moments together with your lover in the park. “I’m talking big future, big future/Hope I live to see it,” okay kaya sweetly sings. It’s this kind of wide-eyed optimism that made 2019’s Pretty Face so heartbreaking as you heard his tender songwriting about an ex falling out of love with him. As Spencer explains it, “wife wife” is the start of a new chapter he’s ready to share. It’s a glimmer of hope from an artist who’s been so open about their hurt.
Ot7 Quanny – “Uhhhhhhh Freestyle” / Ot7 Quanny x NR Boor – “The Code”
Ot7 Quanny is the human shrug emoji. The Philadelphia rapper might as well be fanning you away whenever he spits out a punchline. “Uhhhhhhh Freestyle” is broken up into two parts: the first is completely drowned out, with pounding bass and blaring sirens disorienting you on all sides, and the second’s slithery, haunting beat keeps your toes curled up. He slowrolls the kickers to all his jokes. “She like, ‘why your pockets look like that?” briefly pausing before snapping back, “It’s cheese in it.” That slow rolling lets him light you up with a flurry of jabs before he eventually knocks you on your ass with a haymaker. “They ask me what I like to and I just say ‘get money’/Why you keep on flexing with it, we know that’s his money,” he taunts.
“The Code” is the exact opposite—Ot7 Quanny and NR Boor trade fiery voices over the dreary vocal loop. Even though the energy’s up a considerable amount here, their punchlines don’t lose any of the sharpness. “And I have them killers outside of your spot, they jump out the trash can, Oscar the Grouch,” Quanny raps. No city loves battle rap-style punchlines as much as Philly.
EST Gee – “Bigger Than Life or Death”
After a year without touring, festivals, or seeing those bottles with the sparklers get walked across the club, it’s wild to see how EST Gee has gone from being relatively unknown to becoming one of the most talked about new rappers out today. It’s partly due to the Yo Gotti star-making stimulus package (I briefly mentioned it a few months ago in this column), but attributing it to just that undersells EST Gee immensely. Just like 42 Dugg, who is also signed to Gotti, EST Gee seamlessly switches into so many different modes without giving up his brooding affect. “In another nigga hood icy, I ain’t got nothin’ tucked,” he sneers on “Bigger than Life or Death.”
One day you might find him with Sada Baby rapping about how he’s touched more pounds than the scales that weigh semi-trucks, on others, he might be posted with The Hero (fka Lil Baby) in front of a bunch of foreign cars, but you could even find him on an (slightly awkward) episode of Funk Flex dropping a freestyle without sounding out of place. It’s obvious that EST Gee is from the Midwest when you hear the claustrophobic, key-heavy production he loves to rap on, but when you hear how he slides into the pocket you’d have a hard time guessing where he was from. The way that his flow slots into so many different styles gives him the ability to branch out and plant flags in camps all across the country. It wouldn’t be surprising if EST Gee ended up carrying this summer the same way Dugg did last year with a show-stealing feature.
Radamiz – “Aromatherapy // Make Time”
Radamiz is always thinking of the past. From his music, you can tell he’s in constant pursuit of self-improvement—not for himself, but for the women in his life and for those coming after him, in hopes that they don’t make the same mistakes he has. The two pack of “Aromatherapy” and “make time” finds him rapping on some of his most lush production yet. “You need to do some dumb sometimes to get the wisdom/My past on re-run sometimes to peep the slip ups,” he spits over the hazy saxophone of “Aromatherapy.” On earth-toned, nostalgic “make time,” is an ode to sacrifice. “They don’t make trophies for your type of story/No rings for your type of plays,” he raps with a heavy sigh. Radamiz’s pensive, everyman raps are meant to guide you along the path to better yourself.
Raised Round Bosses – “Like Mike”
Raised Round Bosses’ “Like Mike” is the kind of group cut that ends up slipping beneath the radar. It’s not as explosive, or outlandish, nor does it have a superstar leading the pack—everyone’s contribution is solid, and their relaxed delivery understates their lyricism. “Got me lookin’ out the blinds if the cops comin’/Ran out to catch the play and left the pot runnin’,” RRB Lamar raps on the middle verse. Duck’s verse to close out the song is the one that’ll make you run the song back, with the way his charisma bleeds through. “Like Bob Barker, bitch, yeah, the price right,” he raps before ad-libbing, “come on down!” Raised Round Bosses’ laid-back, paper-stacking anthems are making them a group to know in the midwest.
SOS B4L – “Beeper”
Bonus Track: I know there’s a certain rapper from Queens who is sick that he didn’t think to sample this banger first.