Drake – "Pound Cake" (feat. Jay-Z)
Drake’s melancholic “Wu Tang Forever” might actually be better than "Pound Cake", but this track sets the tone for Nothing Was The Same, what could be the Canadian boy’s best work to date. Well, nothing was the same since Comeback Season – the mixtape he released way back in 2007 – even more so since So Far Gone, but this woe-is-me record harks back to his apprehensive journey to the top heard on “Light Up”, with Hov playing the same big brother role as he did back then. And remember the video girl Paris Morton? Apparently, he’s still thinking about her, too.
Deniro Farrar – "Everything Is OK"
Reppin’ Charlotte, North Carolina, this southern spitter’s been tearing through hip-hop tracks since 2010, but it’s only recently that he’s been getting any real shine (check this year's brilliant The Patriarch II, from which the above track is lifted). That's okay though: he’s dropping the kind of lyrics that tortured souls can feel, and electro-heads Flosstradamus and Grimes love the kid, which means even if he doesn’t get the recognition he deserves from the underground he’ll still bring in that paper.
Fat Trel - "Willie Dynamite" (feat. Smoke DZA & Danny Brown)
Fat Trel’s SDMG (Sex, Drugs, Money, Guns) mixtape has been making its way up the ranks, and had his S.O.B set in NYC not been shot-up – leaving four people wounded – he probably would have gained a massive new clutter of fans. But that’s a day in the life for young rappers reppin’ the MVP (B-More and Washington, respectively). Smoke DZA and Danny Brown breath life into Trel’s Willie Dynamite track, but the real King is producer on the come-up, Harry Fraud.
Loaded Lux – "Rite" (feat. Method Man & Redman)
This track has been out for a while now, but hip hop of the moment isn’t complete without Lux – it really isn’t. One of the hardest working battle rappers in the game, Loaded Lux brings the realness on the hard-hitting "Rite". With verses from Red and Meth, the Harlem rapper proves why he’s owned his much-deserved title.
Cam'ron – "Let Me Work" (feat. Loaded Lux, Ms. Hustle & Chris Miles)
For those of you that have been waiting for Cam’s return (we certainly are), here it is, the Don’s mixtape, Ghetto Heaven Vol. 1, proves to his fans that he’s still as cold as ever. To back the momentum, check out the trailer for his new movie 1st Of The Month.
Lil Wayne – "You Song" (feat. Chance The Rapper)
If it isn’t apparent that Chance the Rapper is about to blow the lid off hip hop, then listen to his crafty verse on Lil’ Wayne’s "You Song" from his Dedication 5 mixtape. After listening to Chance, you don’t even wanna hear what Tunechi has to say, it’s already a wrap. Read our August cover feature with Chance here.
Juvenile – LL Cool
Yeah, Juvenile does drop a dodgy line at the beginning ("nigga open his ass for me, Ima open his hole"), but, hate it or love, the former Cash Money rapper still has that hypnotic, head-bobbin’ appeal that will make you wanna get turnt.
Earl Sweatshirt – "Centurion" (feat. Vince Staples)
The 19-year-old prodigy’s debut album Doris has been met with mixed reviews, but the thing about OFWGKA is that you’re not really supposed to get them. Really, are you really going to fully understand a kid who got shipped to Africa by his mom? The creepy production on "Centurion" (thanks to producer/DJ duo Christian Rich) works with this completely off-kilter, nonsensical mess that’s just infectious.
Lupe Fiasco – "Peace Of Paper/Cup Of Jayzus"
Lupe has finally mastered how to manipulate the masses. With club-worthy production and clever lyrics, his consciousness hasn’t gone anywhere, though he does play it like a smarter version of Chief Keef. He says this is not a diss song, but he's dropping big hints.
Troy Ave – "New York City" (feat. Raekwon, N.O.R.E. & Prodigy)
Everyone’s been salivating for this so-called rebirth of the Golden Era, but the veterans haven’t fell off yet. Laced with verses from Raekwon, N.O.R.E. & Mobb Deep’s Prodigy, this boom bap track goes deep for the East Coast. While it’s apparent that they took offense to Kendrick Lamar’s Control verse, it’s tracks like this that make you realise why you fell in love with New York hip hop in the first place.
Follow Safra Ducreay on Twitter here @SafraD