The ladies going the hardest, from Nicki's 'yung Oprah' flow to Princess Nokia and M.I.A
Lauryn Hill – "Consumerism"
Lauryn Hill’s "Consumerism" could be the best of the month. Brilliantly incoherent and strangely mellifluous, Hill vehemently intellectualises what it means to be a living and breathing mechanism in any part of the world, let alone America. Sure, she was sentenced to a prison term for tax evasion earlier this year, and was subsequently subject to home detention thereafter, but when it comes to content, the icon cannot be stopped. Judging from this track and the recent "Neurotic Society", her long-awaited second album Letters From Exile is more than likely to be an ironic dose of medicine for a poppin', trappin' rap world, but we welcome her back. It certainly has been a long time coming.
Princess Nokia – "Versace Hottie"
The new alterego of Wavy Spice, Princess Nokia goes in with the East Coast cadence of Azealia, Hard Core-era Lil' Kim and even the legendary Roxanne Shante. Declaring she "don't like nobody", consider Princess Nokia a saving grace for those of us cut from a similar cloth – sometimes you need a spokesperson who’s not afraid to spit that raw ish.
Angel Haze – "Shabba Freestyle"
Freestyles have probably always been Haze's forte (she took on "Black Skinhead" earlier this year), but right now her positioning isn't quite clear, as she flits from hanging with Brooke Candy in the synth-backed "Echelon (It's My Way)" to raw improvs which affirm her firey ability to let rip behind the mic. Mind you, this is still a hot track.
Lola Monroe – "Gimme My Money" (featt. Wiz Khalifa)
D.C. Rapper Lola Monroe parted ways with Wiz Khalifa and his Taylor Gang imprint last month, but in this tough-talking, dollar-grabbing new cut she reunites with her former mentor as if to put any beef to rest. As to what’s in store for her future career without the support of one of the biggest rap names right now, we’ll have to see, but her fifth mixtape, Lipsticks & Pistols, is a promising delivery.
Meek Mill - "Dope Dealer" (feat. Rick Ross & Nicki Minaj)
These days Nicki Minaj often goes harder on a guest hook than her own songs. Then again, it depends on the type of Nicki that you’re into. Fans who crave the old Nicki find comfort in her more gutter side, as heard on Meek Mill’s "Dope Dealer, lifted from his recent Dreamcatchers 3 tape. Minaj purrs her intro, declares herself "yung Oprah" and – naturally – shouts out her booze brand. She outdid the heavyweights on this track, and it seems Nicki’s never leaving the streets, no matter how Hollywood she gets.
Rapsody – "Mass Hysteria (prod. 9th Wonder)"
Hip hop isn’t complete without a bit of boom bap rap and jazz, and on this track NY rapper with a lisp Rapsody teams up with producer extraordinaire 9th Wonder (Destiny's Child, Drake) to whip up the melodic "Miss Hysteria". Some might classify it as “conscious”, and maybe it is, but sometimes ambient feel-good hip hop is the perfect rejuvenator.
Kosha Dillz – "Where My Homies Be" (feat. Gangsta Boo & Murs)
You may not know the Israeli-Sephardic-American Jewish MC Kosha Dillz, but you sure will know former Three 6 Mafia queen Gangsta Boo. The 34-year-old MC virtually kills the record, leaving everyone who drops bars before and after in the dust. She’s still got it down – here’s hoping that her forthcoming EP secures her place back in the limelight where she belongs.
Raven Sorvino – "In my mind" (feat. A$ton Matthews, Mike G & Maxo Kream)
Houston queen Raven Sorvino’s southern drawl sounds twisted yet slick next to Odd Future’s Mike G and fellow rappers A$ton Matthews and Maxo Cream. It's been a while since she put out her debut Inspired EP (2011), a tribute to Aaliyah, and since has been making noise by teaming up with Casey Veggies and prepping her second EP Queen of HeArtz.
Azealia Banks – "Work Bitch (Remix)"
What’s a young Harlem rapper to do when she gets on a Britney Spears track? Work it, obviously. Azealia Banks' riff may not touch Nicki Minaj's delirious ("I ain't talking poultry when I say this chicken's fried") verse on Britney's "Till The World Ends (Remix)", but her bouncy flow is unmistakable, even if her 'next big thing' reputation is now almost tarnished.
M.I.A – "Y.A.L.A."
Maya “M.I.A”: Arulpragasam makes the kind of songs you can’t listen to just once – you have to let the effect marinate. These days the rapper/singer/songwriter/activist often seems more fascinated with sounds, ideas and how they come together rather than a didactic message. She recently stated how her fourth album Matangi (due Nov 5), named after the Hindu goddess of music, was her space to "chill a little bit". But you can't help feeling that what will really do this track justice is a music video laced with hieroglyphics and psychedelic imagery – with M.I.A’s music, you need the full experience.