Favorite Mixtapes of May 2016 From IZY and Nessly to Burberry Perry and SpaceGhostPurrp

Burberry Perry

With a daunting cascade of releases spewing from the likes of DatPiff, LiveMixtapes, Bandcamp, and SoundCloud, it can be difficult to keep up with the overbearing yet increasingly vital mixtape game. In this column, we aim to immerse ourselves in this hyper-prolific world and share our favorite releases each month. The focus will primarily be on rap mixtapes — loosely defined here as free (or sometimes free-to-stream) digital releases — but we’ll keep things loose enough to branch out if/when we feel it necessary. (Check out last month’s installment here.)

The Underachievers - It Happened in Flatbush

The Underachievers, a New York hip-hop duo best known for signing to Brainfeeder and beefing Troy Ave, hit a miraculous triple (if not the home run fans have been waiting for) on their third mixtape and fifth overall release, It Happened in Flatbush. Borrowing Flatbush Zombies’ psychonautic mysticism (but thankfully not as much of it as they snatched on last year’s Evermore: The Art of Duality), Pro Era’s critical attention to rap’s formal roots, and Schoolboy Q’s flow (lol), AK and Issa Gold finally seem to be interested in and capable of transcending their touchstones and nudging New York rap beyond its monomaniacal crisis of “authenticity.” Sure, It Happened is, much like its Pen & Pixel-tier artwork, rough around the edges and peppered with artifacts that should have perhaps been excluded. Like their influences and collaborators, these guys rely on the contrast between catchy hooks (see “Never Win” and “Gangland” for starters) and spacious bridges to a general fault. Still, instead of the muddy maximalism one might expect from another FlyLo-approved hip-hop act, The Underachievers’ aesthetic is built carefully from simple elements that they seem increasingly capable of manipulating. Now about switching up that flow…

600Breezy - George Gervin: Ice Man Edition

600Breezy, representing the same 300-affiliated Chicago crew that spawned the late, great L’A Capone as well as the currently incarcerated RondoNumbaNine, is the drill scene’s latest buzzing rapper with bonafide bars. While his newest offering George Gervin: Ice Man Edition is more of a street tape than a crossover effort, it nevertheless showcases Breezo’s ability to switch flows on pivot during freestyles yet still sound comfy as fuck on a loked-out, Gucci-style ramble. With his name on the tip of the industry’s tongue, watch for 600Breezy on the come-up in 2016.

Nessly - Still Finessin

Nessly has yet to demand the level of visible buzz contemporaries à la Lil Yachty and Lil Uzi Vert have experienced, but the Atlanta rapper makes a damn good case for why he’s recently received looks from OVO Sound and GOOD Music on his first project of 2016: Still Finessin. The mixtape condenses the potential from an infinite expanse of SoundCloud loosies into a nine-track burst of autotune bravado via ultra-smooth cadences and a diverse selection of 808-laden productions to match (think Travis Scott circa “Uber Everywhere” remix without all the baggage). While outright bangers in the vein of “Senorita” stop and stutter at a breakneck pace like someone topped off their lean with a pinch of Adderall, album closer and perennial highlight “Parade” is a clear headed, horn-driven anthem where Nessly cries, “We just want them bands/ Macy they parade.” It’s a major statement that encapsulates an equally major takeaway from Still Finessin: in both confidence and quality, he’s ready for the next step.


Realism is an artistic illusion. Why? Because all art is an illusion. Sometimes a new way of making art comes along that has such a convincing illusion we call it raw. We call it real. Meanwhile, slews of artists are being dismissed for simply sucking… but is shitty art the real raw? The real “real”? So inept that it lacks all artifice and allows the truth to be communicated? Is this why some acts get praised for being lo-fi, because they have walked the fine line between showing the cards of their medium and instrumentation while still having just enough control and artifice to not be so real that it simply sucks? Even compared to SPACEGHOSTPURRP’s early work, his latest mixtape is shockingly raw, both in terms of production and composition. Yet, it would be an insult to doubt his ability to control. There is a thrilling sense of danger here though, a questioning of that delicate balance between real and too real. This is SPACEGHOSTPURRP’s most ballsy move in ages, a real artist simply being awesome.

Chance the Rapper - Coloring Book

We’ve reached semantic satiation of the mixtape (except for tiny ones, of course), yet Chance transcends declaration with his spirited delivery that makes listeners root harder for the underdog. Opening with mentor Kanye West, to “Music is all we’ve got,” to the backing of the Chicago Children’s Choir, Chance brands hip-hop gospel cliché less cheesy, more direct, and more digestible. The growth and game-changing elements are all here (“Same Drugs”), but the unpolished feel of mixtapes past and present is, for Coloring Book, more of a charm than curse. That unabashed spirit and charisma of Chance is contagious, earning him the discretion of purposefully bashing labels (“No Problem”) while sharing independent production love (“Mixtape”).

Burberry Perry - Burberry Perry

Sitting on the right side of Captain Lil Yachty in the Lil Boat Helm is Lieutenant Producer Burberry Perry. His debut self-titled mixtape is short, genuine, and bizarre. Only six songs long, all produced and featuring Perry vox, the soft keys and unabashed autotune deeply involved in Yachty’s music is fitted to Perry like a 5th Ave tailor. Perry holds his own, too. At the end of the first four songs, all solo performances, “Happy” is a grounded easy read for Perry to look back at and know where he was and the mindset he needs. Of course, the most talked-about song is the feature debut of Kylie Jenner & co. — a totally bizarre power lunch of two kids from Atlanta and three friends from L.A. with heavy buying power. Burberry Perry didn’t need to happen, but I’d be lying for the scene if I said I wasn’t happy about it.

IZY - Who the Hell is Me

When I asked AceMo about who said, “Put my money where my mouth is…” on IZY’s latest release, Who the Hell is Me, he replied, “Someone smoking outside Trans Pecos or Palisades.” Shit, maybe it was elsewhere. But it’s all completely maximum, I’m talking 100. This that oozy Gucci. It’s Picasso ego. There’s broken soul. A complete rattling personality. Complete molly-shroom lingo. Production that bass-lines hearts into future-club movements that cartilage at all angles. Fire is meant to be danced upon. IZY is Who the Hell is Me. Find it right now on Bootleg Tapes.

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