Friday, January 13, 2017

Top 10 Rap EPs of 2016

10. Wriggle by clipping.

I'd somehow never actually listened to clipping. prior to this EP, and as far as introductions go it's not a bad one. It makes sense that they'd get grouped with folks like Death Grips and Run the Jewels, and even with an EP that I'm not over the moon about I think they're likely better than both (excepting "Guillotine" from Death Grips, which is the only song from this new noise rap shit that I'm really about, despite noise rap being Kind Of Exactly What I Want All The Time).

9. Maiden Voyage by Signor Benedick the Moor

A long, intricate track about life and anger and saying goodbye on a maiden voyage, followed by an aggressive four minutes of sparring with Jonathan Snipes & Daveed Diggs makes a pretty solid EP.

8. Double Ecstasy by Antwon

Antwon's been good for a minute now, and he stays good. More than anything this EP is a wrapper around some really fucking nasty kicks. The goofy joke of beeping out the titular word of "Luv" like it was a swear is a pretty good encapsulation, especially given how unforgiving the song itself is.

7. Cam & China by Cam & China

That beautifully thick bass holds together this really solid effort from these two MCs. From trap drums to Wu-Tang piano loops to drill church bells, Cam & China's self-titled's in theory a mess of styles that doesn't stumble. "That B" and "Playets" especially hit.

6. Untitled by Prodigy

I haven't exactly been following Prodigy's career closely, so apologies if you have and this is not a surprise but: holy fuck this Dubstep Ass EP from Mobb Deep's own. Full on moody depths and screaming highs and Prodigy just putting down exactly what he needs to and no more.

5. Solid by Z-Ro

Z-Ro dropped two real solid records this year, but his EP is easily his best release. It's got "Legendary," which is definitely his best single from this year, and "Thru the Roof" is a fucking wild collaboration with B.G. It's seven songs of the Houston legend shining and it's delightful.

4. Mongo by Abdu Ali

There isn't a lot to say about Mongo other than that it fucking bangs. And it's the kind of shit you listen to to have your faith renewed. And that it's near perfect. And how the fuck is "Did Dat" even real, that's how good it is.

3. There's Alot Going On by Vic Mensa

There's Alot Going On isn't the tightest record on this list, but it has the hardest hitter. "16 Shots" is a wild fucking song that deserves all the superlatives. Mensa keeps fire in his voice on "Danger," and has a good time fucking around on tracks like "Liquor Locker," and that range is crucial and fun.

2. Prima Donna by Vince Staples

Prima Donna mixes Staples' more experimentally-inclined raps with low fi recordings of him singing, but the possibility of that being peaceful is shattered (with a very loud gunshot) at the end of the first track.

Screwed up Andre 3000 verses and thick sine waves and overdriven guitar samples wrap around Staples' lazy tight rhymes when he isn't singing. It's the kind of record that boils furiously just under its placid surface.

1. Us or Else by T.I.

T.I. in full on 'fuck a platinum plaque' mode is inspiring as fuck. There's so much about this EP to love. More than anything is its refusal to make peace with white listeners: from T.I.'s flow and pronunciation to the way he treats his subjects -- primarily topics around and including Black Lives Matter -- it's a tight collection of songs that gives no quarter to anyone who would quibble on semantics or refuse the movements basic premise.

"Warzone" is the obvious standout, with its chorus of "hands up can't breathe," but there isn't a single track here that doesn't go. Whether he's calling for justice or calling in folks who aren't down to ride against cops, it's everything.