Favorite Rap Mixtapes of July 2017 From Yung Lean & Scallops Hotel to DJ Escrow & Dizzy SenZe

Scallops Hotel, your family-friendly rapper

Knxwledge - HEX.10.8_


The L.A. producer Knxwledge slips a new set of beats onto his bandcamp page on a rigorous schedule (just in time for our Monthly Mixtape Roundup, it would seem). Each of these tapes — about 15-20 minutes in length — sells for $10.88, so artists claiming there’s no money in purchasing music should hit this dude up for some tips, because his beats are hotter and come in more flavors than LaCroix nice-smelling carbonated water. They are not, however, simply nice-smelling water. There’s a delightful crate-digging, compilation quality to them. Knxwledge sorts his beats into different series, the names of which often change (HEX used to be “Hexual_Sealing”). Some songs on HEX.10.8_ end abruptly, others, like “dordie_” and “issaparty_,” are simply heavily side-chained early Millennium R&B. It’s usual Knxwledge fair, the sort that has made him a superstar in the lofi beats scene. When Soundcloud goes to the great silicon server in the sky, taking all its 2-cent producers running circles around “Blue in Green,” at least we can safely hold onto the knowledge that this Stones Throw schxlar will keep us supplied with the essentials.

MIKE - May God Bless Your Hustle


I hesitate to even include May God Bless Your Hustle in this column, because although we should be well beyond that whole album vs. mixtape / high vs. low art bullshit, I fear it remains embedded in the back of our minds, but since I’m going in hard this month anyway, let’s get it. MIKE’s is a young voice and an old soul helping each other make the most of each day and night. May God Bless Your Hustle, easily his most complete, cohesive, coalescing project to date by my summation, might well be called a new kind of hustle altogether if it didn’t feel so damn familiar. Not derivative nor redundant, but well-informed and engaged, it’s like natural syndicalism. It just makes sense.

Ski Mask the Slump God - YouWillRegret


“I’m not lyrical, but I’m lyrical,” said Ski Mask the Slump God in an interview with Power 105.1’s DJ Self. “I just like saying stuff to make people say ‘wow.’” You’d be hard pressed to find a better quote that could serve as the Broward County emcee’s artist’s statement — like Lil Uzi Vert admitted to his fellow XXL Freshman Class panelists in 2016, he eschews narrative to focus entirely on “getting in the booth and making it sound good.” On his official debut LP, Ski Mask trades in his usual samples of cartoon theme songs for gothic compositions trimmed with church organ and detuned synths. Despite sharing a blown-out bass tone with fellow members of Florida’s Soundcloud scene, he bears more of a resemblance to early-80s minimal wave acts like Oppenheimer Analysis and Solid Space than his geographical neighbors. The drastic timbral shift pays off: with more room to breathe, Ski Mask’s zig-zagging, triple-knotted flows are clearly on display from all angles. The long-awaited “Bird Is The Word” is queasily dissonant, pairing a heaved delivery with creeping chords. “Gone” is ethereal enough to fit next to BeeDeeGee and Holly Herndon on a 4AD compilation. “Adventure Time” still sounds as ahead of its time as it did when dropped on Boxing Day, seven months ago. Even at his least gimmicky, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who sounds as fresh as Ski Mask the Slump God does on YouWillRegret. Don’t sleep.

Dizzy SenZe - Hueman Vertigo


The problem with nostalgia and novelties is that they can get old quick. I’m not naming names, but maybe, just maybe, there are more than a few throwback rappers du jure who wouldn’t have been given the time du jure when their style was actually hot. Plus, this being New York, I could literally walk down the street, point to a person, and get a verse doper than most of what’s sent my way by the PR goons who flood my inbox daily, but I digress. To America, Dizzy SenZe may be New York to a fault, but it’s no fault of her own. When you’re this good at what you do, it’d be foolish to do otherwise. Dizzy does the Bronx justice simply by doing herself. This is how it’s done.

Trouble - 16


Like a thief in the night, Trouble has seized the next spot in line. Finally. Since 2011, he’s been perpetually on the verge of a breakthrough, a walking renegade whose show-stealing features simply couldn’t translate to sustained popularity when it came time to drop his own shit. Starting with last year’s Skoobzilla, that might finally be changing. Trouble’s greatest strength is his versatility, and he’s wasted no time adapting his style to the ever-evolving rap zeitgeist. Remarkably, 16 is just a teaser, collecting a handful of tracks that evidently won’t make Trouble’s forthcoming album EdgeWood. Given the quality of 16, that’s a very good sign. EdgeWood will be entirely produced by Mike WiLL Made-It, with Drake and The Weeknd headlining an already impressive list of features. Fool me once, etc., but if 16 is any indication, then Trouble’s coming for real this time.

Warhol.SS - 3200


Warhol.SS arrived at his namesake through Basquiat, the genius artist/celebrity who practically invented the nature of hype, rising in the public eye at a Migos pace, before dying from a heroin overdose with Cobain expediency. His paintings now sell for eye-watering suitcases of money. We’re talking over 550 lbs in $100 bills. Basquiat was admittedly with Andy, or maybe, like many of the King of Pop-Art’s hangers on, he sees the association as a conduit to success. 3200 is compiled of Soundcloud tracks (probably a smart move, considering the platform’s uncertain future). Warhol’s flow is amusing off-kilter on “Mac Up” and “In The Field,” as if the dude is jumping around in the booth while he records. He sounds like a less nihilistic Chief Keef, riding explosive sub bass like he held the engineer at gun point and made him turn it the fuck up, levels be damned. “Bag it 2” pairs this King Kong kick to some bouncy 8-bit synths — it’s by far the standout on a tape that shows progress.

Secret Museum of Mankind - The Masculine Dignity of Mountain Tribesmen


Das Racist was a delusion of grandeur turned actually grandiose. Kool AD’s solo work, on the other hand, is more like a grand delusion. Dude is rapping so much and recording so many of those raps, his catalog basically amounts to a transient’s travelogue, if that travelogue was the direct transcript of an inner-monologue. Long story short, the man is logging some serious time in booths. Secret Museum of Mankind finds that wanderer work ethic in a kind of supergroup setting, with freestyles so hifalutin they ought to be engraved in metal slabs and stuck on walls for future passersby. Kool AD + Quelle Chris + these other dudes x Steel Tipped Dove = historic bruh.

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