Favorite Mixtapes of June 2015 Fractal puddles, VST start-up screens, and general mayhem

BeatKing - Houston 3AM

Club Godzilla knows how to break the track, get a flow going, mash it up, whirr it backwards, cut it forward into double time, like he could give a 100% fuck throughout multiple moments in multiple lives, but “then stopped.” This is ice cold trap, the goosebumpy kind with streaks of evil that could freak out an X-Files plot. Shit’s spooky when doberman nonchalantly drops cult wisdom like “Bitch I’m your conscious/ Bitch listen to yourself.” The instrumentals have a slick, blue streetglow reminiscent of VST start-up screens with gun metal trim and aqua interfaces. Still, BeatKing might be right in saying something’s “not right,” like the nauseating echo on “Chasing Dat Check,” where his whisper evolves into a low echo over the tape’s crystalline palette: “I lost all my friennnnds… I just want the monnnney.” After all, he puts his vote in right next to Rraro for what 3AM should feel like, with an image-swap of burning Volkswagens for a prepared piano filled with Vine twerk loops.

KiD - New King

KiD is the New King, and on his latest mixtape, we’re never in any doubt about the grind it took to scale the heights of rap royalty. Fostering a connection between Chicago and Atlanta as a member of Drumma Boy’s Drum Squad, he raps urgently over a set of beats that lurch between menacing and exuberant in mood. Drake comparisons aren’t entirely inaccurate — at times, the instrumentals recall the skittering 808s of If You’re Reading This, and both are adept at writing hooks — but what sets KiD apart is his deeply uncontrived method of storytelling. While the 6 God might have purportedly started from the bottom, KiD started from nothing, and when he’s flexin’ everyday on the deliberately-paced “Intro” and bending reality on “New Truth,” there’s an irresistible air of authenticity about him. The rags-to-riches story is hardly untraversed territory, but KiD tells it so compellingly and so succinctly on New King that it’s impossible not to believe his every word.

Young Scooter x Zaytoven - Juggathon

Juggathon is spread thicker than February’s sprawling Jug Season mixtape. The quality is more even, too, with trap pioneer Zaytoven taking equal billing for his work on all 11 tracks. Scooter can be Leslie Nielsen-weird, playing it arrow straight even when he’s clowning: “All you rappers sound alike/ That’s why I make Count Music/ I don’t stop at red lights/ Real talk, that’s irrelevant.”Taking the stream-of-consciousness methodology of Count Music at face value, Scooter raps about everything passing through his mind at the time. His lyrics can blur — his themes overlap, his cadence relies on short spikes and troughs within the same middle register — and it’s no coincidence that the most memorable stuff on here features Scooter’s voice Auto-Tune’d into a state of relative frenzy. Future shows up on “Hit It Raw” and “Play With Them Keys,” and I swear Scooter at least smiles; on the solo joint “Melrose,” he count-raps about riding his bitches, his whips, and the motherfucker sounds wistful. Zaytoven’s loading-screen beats seem filled with detail by comparison, and it’s Zay, not Scooter, who is really at the wheel here: the emcee is nodding in the back, his directions a little hazy.


Oddly, I was not feeling ROSE soon after signing up to blurb the Awful-affiliate ABRA’s mixtape, but I wasn’t ridden with stress at the time (I heard it a week or two back and remembered it helping melt anxiety). While last week was a downpour of shitty situations at work, I’m over it now. So when I hear ROSE, my mentality doesn’t quite relate to her lyrically. But vocally? I totally feel you, girl. Like, I understand dark R&B (as she labels herself) more so as a night-time thing, because the lyrics and melodies are way less heavy than they could be. Yet, I’ve no need for heavy content these days. The “dark” I feel through ABRA is a night-core vibe that’s as bouncy as her fluttering voice intonations. ROSE pushes a boundary akin to ABBI PRESS in terms of Diva vs. Songstress, an interesting mode to try and figure out personally rather than to let the artist impose on us. Feel the freedom of ABRA and roam her newest mixtape ROSE ASAP.

Jared Evan - The art form of whatever

Will this be the summer of the producer-showcase album? Unlike the two big budget flops we’ve endured so far, Jared Evans offers us a work deftly attuned to mainstream pop and contemporary rap, strengthened by the lack of expectations. The young producer’s blueprint could be last year’s Run The Jewels/Boots collaboration “Early,” with the album’s tracks built around appealing choruses and fast-paced rhyming. “The art form” sets the mood with nods to G-funk’s holy scriptures, TMNT references, and FM-ready melodies. It’s a path several cuts follow (“Karate,” “Sadie,” “Signals,” “Etch a Sketch,” “Me vs Me”), adding smooth synths, robust beats, and plenty of sung verses to further push the pop potential. But The art form of whatever — a surprise release conceived during a transatlantic flight and recorded over four days — was not made to last. The production is sometimes clunky, more than a few rhymes sub par, and a couple of cuts forgettable. Yet, the tape manages to call attention to Evan’s imminent full-length debut, boasting the New York producer’s fortes and pregnant with ambition. It may not best Action Bronson’s or Donnie Trumpet’s (spotty) 2015 releases when it comes to pop-leaning rap efforts, but The art form of whatever serves as both fine background music for a summer evening and the flare to announce a career set to turn heads.

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