Halfway through the month of August it has become apparent that summer is almost over. People prepare to go back to school, back to work, back home after the sunny days and starry nights are behind them. As you prepare for what Autumn has in store, take a minute to check out these easily overlooked mixtapes from the past few months.
8. Alex Wiley – Village Party
Action Bronson may be the premiere fat white bearded rapper of our time, but Alex Wiley is ready to take his place should Bronson expire climbing a staircase. The Chicago mic-smith released Village Party earlier this summer to small acclaim but his voice and rhymes suggest a bigger future for the Big Mac juker. Standouts like “Ideas (Adderall)” and “Ova” showcase Wiley’s style and suggest a depth beyond his ponderance. Download it here.
7. Young Scooter – 80s Baby
Young Scooter is not a smart man. He seems to be a rapper resigned to his fate, tired of the industry but reluctant to get out. He knows his music will never be considered amazing, and he makes it anyway. His verse on Gucci Mane’s “Jugg House” (from Trap House 4) sees him use the word “jugg” ten times in his thirty second verse (additionally, Scooter’s upcoming debut album is tentatively titled Jugg House). For this lyrical jugg-ler, the simple things in life are the most important. 80s Baby is a stupid, ignorant mixtape devoid of life and liveliness, but Scooter knows this. He laughs at himself, and you should laugh at him too. Download it here.
6. 2 Chainz – Freebase EP
Why it’s good: the production is excellent (“Trap Back“), the rhymes are funny (“you know that I’m rocking Buscemis / And I’m as raw as sashimi”), the guest spots are decent (Rick Ross, Ty $, Cap 1, A$AP Rocky and the recently unincarcerated Lil Boosie) and the EP format keeps things interesting by restricting the songs to critical essentials only. I wasn’t a fan of 2 Chainz until I heard this release, and it expanded my perspective greatly. Download it here.
5. Ugly Frank – Bobby Hill EP
ILLFIGHTYOU has become Tacoma’s most popular indie hip-hop group as a result of last year’s impeccable self-titled mixtape. A few months back, group member Ugly Frank saw fit to release his debut solo project, the seven song Bobby Hill EP. Drawing from a wide range of influences, Bobby Hill is not exactly party music and not quite conscious listening. Yet, the quirky wordplay and charming humor that Ugly Frank utilizes makes each song bounce and tumble along, even when his subject matter tends towards the dark and disturbing. Download it here.
4. Spooky Black – Leaving EP
Saint Paul’s hip-hop/R&B scene might not receive as much attention as those in cities like Atlanta and Memphis but that hasn’t stopped one resident from becoming a powerful force in modern music. He is an “R&B sensation” that has “the voice of an angel,” a du-rag wearing teenager that makes music as Lil Spook and Spooky Black. Earlier this year, he released the album Black Silk and the accolades began rolling in as people responded to his highly emotional lyrics and sensible singing voice. While some have compared his style to Yung Lean, Spooky Black‘s restraint, modesty and sense of humor have made him a mysterious, one-of-a-kind force in what some call “meme-rap.” The Leaving EP shows Spook dealing with the repercussions of his actions and his sudden internet fame in a mature way, sounding as cold and heartless as a Minnesota winter. Download it here.
3. AK – Blessings in the Gray
The debut solo mixtape from The Underachievers member AK showcases his unique sound and influences. Following their supporting role touring with Danny Brown for his album Old, The Underachievers took their growing presence and ran with it, leading to the recent release of their debut studio album The Cellar Door. Blessings in the Gray came out less than two weeks ago but its depth and promise speak to the timelessness of the art form. AK shows himself to be an aware, skillful emcee on this mixtape and it serves as a good prequel to the group’s newest release. Download it here.
2. Mick Jenkins – The Water[s]
Mick Jenkins raps with an accent. His loose Chicago voice pours out on the fifteen tracks on The Water[s], the follow-up to his well-loved Trees and Truths, featuring tight production (from OnGaud, Statik Selektah, Kirk Knight and others) which he rhymes over with ease and grace. The mixtape feels well thought out and perfectly executed, a fun and exciting listen which rewards the listener and is graciously unpatronizing. Let this soak out your speakers and wash over your ears for a refreshing experience. Download it here.
1. Boogie – Thirst 48
Boogie is from Long Beach, California. Mick Jenkins has the water but Boogie has the thirst; his debut mixtape is a socially aware selection of songs that refine and distort hip-hop customs. At times his music is somewhat abstract, at others he waxes poetic rather than hood. One of the most promising rappers to emerge this year, Boogie offers an alternative approach to hip-hop and delivers on each track. Thirst 48 is an irresistible first look at the stylings of this young musician. Download it here.