Speakerblogggs is Chart Attack's weekly round-up of great hip-hop that we think deserves more play.
This week, a new mixtape from The Weeknd producer Illangelo, Starlito takes on a college basketball scandal, and Chicago shows its colours.
Lil Durk, "More Bars (52 Bars Part 4")"
Amazing what a little Twitter beef can spark in an artist - after a decent entry in his "52 Bars" series last December, Durk finally matches the fury of "Part 2." Dree The Drummer, producer behind "Can't Go Like That" (a stand-out from Durk's recent Signed To The Streets tape) keeps it simple: creepy, loud and with plenty of declarative pauses for Durk to spit his paranoid and aggrieved verses.
Black Milk, "Cold Day"
Black Milk's "Cold Day" matches grim inner city images with their political and social linchpins, over an improbably soulful beat. As ever, the influence of Dilla on the Detroit rapper/producer can be heard on his sunny and soulful beat - no clearer than on the abrupt, Donuts-style drop-out of the outro.
Roney, "Get Back"
"My mayor turned my city into New Jack/Imma turn it to the Middle East" Roney is a Toronto rapper apparently looking to top Rob Ford's criminality, and on "Get Back" he offers up plenty of dire scenarios that go way past smoking crack, over an operatic beat perfect for some villain crashing the party. Now let's see if we can get nearly half of the city to support him.
Fredo Santana, "It's Only Right"
Fredo Santana is easily identifiable in Chicago rap - he's the guy who, on sight, seems to turn to classic monster movies for role models rather than Scarface. Drake rented that lurking demeanour for a role in "Hold On We're Going Home," and on "Jealous," he merged Kendrick Lamar's dense lyricism with two personalities: world-weary thug and Chiraq heavy, auto-tuned to demonic levels. "It's Only Right" keeps its title close to every line, ensuring everyone in the car or the club can sing along for the duration. Whether your entitlement's well-earned or not, Fredo and producer DJ Kenn make it an easy sentiment to follow.
"Koolin" is anything but relaxed. The Chicago rapper - owner of the best "Versace remix" and a new alias - says his debut mixtape Welcome To Fazoland is on the way, and you can tell he's anxious to release the thing that might save him from Chiraq's violence. "I'm just coolin' in this hell hole" he raps, sounding increasingly cornered by the jack-booted beat as it progresses. It's as though the violent and mercenary raps are G Herbo's way of speaking a defence into existence, against a city threatening to consume him with every delay of his tape. He knows he'll never forget his city, but is more than ready for the chance to experience something different.
Starlito, "Mark Us Smart"
Marcus Smart plays college basketball for Oklahoma State, and was recently suspended for three games after shoving a disrespectful fan. This incident was a wellspring of all kinds of painful issues for Starlito - one half of perhaps one of the best hip-hop duos today, Step Brothers. For Lito, it's a reflection of poisoned and unfair relations between black profit machines and their white sponsors, in both hip-hop and everyday American life. He's direct and he's weary, and the bluntness of his verses give him reason to be.
Illangelo, The_demos : '10
While Illangelo plots his next move following the overlooked History of Man, enjoy this quietly leaked compilation of demos and ideas. Some liner notes hint that they were all composed in 2010, but some of the tracks saw release in later years, like Talwst's "Mercy Me." They may be sketches (most are exactly a minute and fifty seconds long, which is probably a thing) but each track has diamond-solid mastering.