Favorite Rap Mixtapes of September 2017 From Peewee Longway & Kodie Shane to UnoTheActivist & Chief Keef

UnoTheActivist

With a 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.)



Kodie Shane - Back From the Future

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Though Back From the Future’s artwork might imply the vast, dystopian cityscapes of Blade Runner or Neo Tokyo, Kodie Shane’s newest tape administers the same amount of concise introspection as past standout offerings like “Hands Up” and “Losing Service.” The most visible member of Lil Yachty’s Sailing Team clique dabbles in her own Soundcloud-influenced riff on the New Jack Swing sound of the mid-80s, spitting hypnotic hooks atop jazzy guitar chords on opener “Get Right” and later belting out a vaguely gothic synth-pop banger in the form of “Normal.” Shane also returns from the future with a few tracks that feel ahead of their time: “Runway” milly-rocks its way through a hyper-melodic revamp of Playboi Carti’s current brand of sauce while “Level Up” trims Popcaan-esque rhythms with garlands of twee-pop keyboard. Though a quick seven-track listen, Back From the Future shines brilliantly in its ability to channel the zeitgeist while looking a few steps beyond. Whatever forthcoming time Kodie Shane’s returned from, it looks bright for her.


Young Nudy - Nudy Land

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Young Nudy’s capable enough, but there’s some major right-place-right-time going on here. In addition to being 21 Savage’s cousin, he’s a friend, or at least frequent patron, of producer Pi’erre Bourne, a one-two punch of guaranteed rap success in 2017. At times, it feels as though this would be better (or at least as good) without Young Nudy — he hasn’t yet ascended to Carti-level mastery of riding Bourne’s year-defining beats. Yet there’s something to be said for curation - in fact, for mixtapes, it’s the very genesis of the form. Without Young Nudy, there’s no Nudy Land — without Nudy Land, there’s no next step to take. There’s enough here to keep you checking for the next one.


Standing On the Corner - Red Burns

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Red Burns, most likely a reference to the way white people get cancer and die from the sun, is an audio book in the Prince Paul tradition, which is to say it’s sardonically funny and delineated by turn-the-page tones. It’s probably more definitively free than it is rap or a mixtape, and though they say it’s about not being able to breathe, it moves with ease. You might remember the name Standing On the Corner from our September 2016 mixtape column. This is the same group, but with a whole new vitality. And between this and Poor Boy, my man Slauson Malone’s making a strong bid for beats of the year. Last weekend, it was 90 degrees in New York City and 40 degrees in Reno, Nevada. Something’s cooking.


Fredo Santana - Fredo Kruger 2

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The best 300 (and family) mixtapes always drop in the fall, when that weird glow comes over the city as evening falls: Keef’s Back From the Dead 2, Durk’s Signed to the Streets, Reese’s Supa Savage, and of course, Fredo Santana’s It’s a Scary Sight. Fredo Kruger 2, Santana’s second mixtape of 2017, is both a reprise and a refinement in the oeuvre of the 300/OTF/SSR family’s wildest member. (Mostly) gone are both the one-take autotune rambles of mid-period Fredo and the maximal grind of Scary Sight. Instead, we find ourselves in eerie, echo-filled horrorscapes, where Fredo finds plenty of headroom to talk his shit, count his money, and mourn his losses. All the old collaborators found here have undergone stylistic changes since 2013 (when the first Fredo Kruger dropped), but the most refreshing thing about FK2 is that the whole crew is still doing their thing in unexpected ways, sometimes all on the same track: on mid-album banger “Go Live,” Sosa, Fredo, Ballout, Tadoe, and even the late Capo’s younger brother DooWop trade verses over a twisted Southside beat. Just in time for Halloween.


Chief Keef - The W

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A chief beneficiary of the Chicago drill fascination of a few years back, Keith Cozart hasn’t gotten quite enough love since rap fans moved on briefly to “bop” and then into the de-territorialized fog of SoundCloud rap. After all, he was pumping out hooks whose melodies could have been ripped from pop punk songs and half-snarling verses in breathy staccato long before these became commonplace on the radio. Fresh off the largely self-produced career highlights Thot Breaker and Two Zero One Seven, he’s reconvened with mixtape authorities like Zaytoven and 808 Mafia and returned to the basic palette that launched his career. Less adventurous and downright weird than his self-produced releases, The W is also more concise and aggressive. Where recent mixtapes derived a loose, homespun character from sparse instrumentals and inconsistent mastering, the focus here is solely on Keef’s wordplay, in something closer to the fashion of the Bang series. Here, he’s best captured running playfully through insults on “Germs” and trading bars with Lil Bibby and Ballout on “Musty,” though the more essential image might be the one on the cover of him hotboxing the glossy plastic interior of an action figure box — The W continues Cozart’s creative practicing of capturing himself, and all of his adaptability and cartoonish humor, in miniature.


UnoTheActivist - Sorry For The Wait (Brooke’s Interlude)

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Acting as a de facto prologue to his recently-released LiveShyneDie mixtape, Sorry For The Wait isn’t the pregnant pause its title suggests. It’s more of an inhale that precedes a more polished sigh, finding Uno slurping up buzz-worthy Soundcloud motifs like a traphouse Kirby, minus the bulbous pink exterior. In 4 short bursts, the Atlanta-based trapstar spends the duration of the tape regurgitating a sometimes-sickly amalgam of Trippie Redd’s pop-punk brattiness, Young Thug’s penchant for breathless triplet flows, and those purring synth textures that stand in for power chords on Playboi Carti’s “wokeuplikethis”. What’s left spattered across the floor is a eyeliner-tear-stained tribute to the sweeping hooks of mid-00s pop rock, sneaking shades of Paramore or Avril Lavigne into dreamy production that combines driving beats and wailing melodies like an old Rites of Spring CD. “You’re Back” is the cream of the crop here, hustling at a sprinter’s pace to the screech of a Pokemon Red & Blue sample. I sip with tension, Uno sputters, clammy hands shaking neurotically as they’re wrapped around a double cup. “I write like a pencil.”


Peewee Longway - The Blue M&M 3

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Peewee Longway had a very good summer. Despite a bizarre, ongoing cycle of retirement and return, his career is in great health — the videos for Blue M&M 3 singles “Rerocc” and “Stepped On” both have view counts in the millions, and his appearance on NBA YoungBoy’s “Wat Chu Gone Do” made the track a highlight of the AI YoungBoy tape. Combine that with by far the best nickname in the game (marrying his Crip affiliation and impossibly rotund figure), and it’s a bit of a mystery as to why Longway hasn’t blown up. No matter; fame or not, Longway’s output has been consistently outstanding since his breakout in the heady Lobby Runners days of early 2014. The Blue M&M 3 is no exception.

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