The best new hip-hop this week includes albums, videos, and songs from Benny The Butcher, Guapdad 4000, and more. The Buffalo bar bruiser and the West Oakland scam rapper have been teasing their respective projects for several weeks in the lead-up to their releases; meanwhile, Brooklyn real-life rhymer Kota The Friend pushed up his own release with respected producer Statik Selektah.
On the singles side of things, this week saw releases from the likes of Lil Durk, whose OTF crew shared their “Jump” video; Mick Jenkins, who linked up with dance Grammy winner Kaytranada for the groovy “Designer Frames“; and Rich Brian, who reflected on his artistic growth over the last few years with “Sydney.”
Here is the best of hip-hop this week ending March 19, 2021.
Benny The Butcher & Harry Fraud — Plugs I Met
On his last full-length project, released a bare five months ago, Benny worked extensively with aptly-named California hitmaker Hit-Boy. On his latest, he sticks to the one producer principle but changes gears with fellow soulful East Coaster Harry Fraud. With both, he delivers stripped-down, bar-heavy kingpin narratives, making sure to share all the dirty details that make his rags-to-riches raps less glamorous than grimy.
El Prez — Angels With Dirty Faces
LA underground veteran El Prez is nearly four years removed from his last project, 2017’s LabTrappinCalifornia. He wears the years on his earnest, straightforward, community-focused raps, including features from fellow fixtures of the West Coast scene Blu and Thurz.
Guapdad 4000 & Illmind — 1176
On the West Oakland native’s last album 2018’s Dior Deposits, he was an ostentatious adherent to the philosophy of “scam or die.” But on his newest release, he looks his demons in the eye on one of the most heartfelt, vulnerable coming-of-age albums in hip-hop history.
Kota The Friend & Statik Selektah — To Kill A Sunrise
Brooklyn indie rap hero couldn’t wait to release his latest and it’s easy to hear why. When you’ve got songs this sincere, they just beg to be heard. While Kota’s penmanship is as crisp as ever, credit must given to Statik Selektah, whose traditionalist rhythms bring out the best in his collaborator — Kota is just spitting on this album, he’s spitting some of the best bars of his career to date.
Tokyo Jetz — Cancel Culture
I’m having a hard time remembering when Tokyo Jetz was ever “canceled,” such as anyone ever can be. But rather than rehashing the debate about whether “cancel culture” is really a thing (it isn’t), I’ll just recommend her album Cancel Culture, which is better than its title might imply (a similar thing happened with Belly and Mumble Rap). The Floridian T.I. protege remains uncowed in the face of whatever misstep led to her album’s title, snapping with all the audacity of her peers — and a lot more finesse.
Benny The Butcher — “Thanksgiving”
With a video that directly touches on his 2020 shooting, Benny reels off a string of paranoid raps detailing the devastation the drug game can wreak in its wake.
Courtney Bell — “Deebo” Feat. Icewear Vezzo
Detroit’s grimy underground has received plenty of spotlight in recent months, but Courtney Bell stands out by having one foot in that scene and the other firmly in the progressive styles of predecessors like the rappers on Dreamville and TDE. It makes for an interesting blend.
E-40 — “I Stand On That” Feat T.I & Joyner Lucas”
Over a flute-driven, trappish beat, the two veterans trade rapid-fire, multisyllabic bars with the younger artist, bragging about their accomplishments, hood certifications, and principles.
TheHxliday — “Opps”
The Motown Records rap product takes a respectable swing at reviving the cloud rap style. It’s not a clean hit, but it’s a solid double.
J.I. — “Calling Out 2 You (Intro)”
The melodic rap style that has come to define New York’s biggest standouts in recent years is the foundation of J.I.’s style, and here, he uses it to great effect over some slow-building, regal-sounding triumph music.
L’Orange & Namir Blade — “Corner Store Scandal”
The art rap adherents have been working on a joint project titled Imaginary Everything and inspired by 1970s Blaxploitation movies. That aesthetic is evident in the woozy electric guitars and swanky brass work that buttresses Blade’s sinuous rhymes
Mother Nature — “Cloudz” Feat. Sir Michael Rocks
Chicago rhymes-and-beats traditionalists Mother Nature recruit one of the Windy City’s most well-respected vets for an elevated display of muscular rap over a spacey, futuristic beat that invokes some 5th-dimensional drill.
White Dave — “Appraise”
One of the standout tracks from the Judas And The Black Messiah soundtrack, “Appraise” features a simple, black-and-white video following the South Central native as he explains his worldview, as informed by police violence, Black business ownership, and a community-centered outlook on liberation.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.