1) Yaeji – Passionfruit
Drake’s Passionfruit was meant to be so much more than it was. Whilst we expected One Dance-like numbers from the chilled summer jam, a lengthy intro set it somewhat behind, leading to it peaking at just #8 on the US Billboard Charts. Yaeji’s cover of the song, featuring a distorted sampling of the original beat, helps fill in the gaps of the original. For a start, it’s more tightly cut than its predecessor, featuring a much better build-up and keeping all 4 minutes of its track length for the creation of a relaxed, soothing mood. Yaeji’s voice is also far more suited for the song than Drake’s – it’s delicate, ethereal and tender, perfectly matching the softer lyrics of the original. If you’re looking to mellow out to a fantastic cover, look no further.
2) Big K.R.I.T. – Miss Georgia Fornia
Big K.R.I.T. is finally free of the Def Jam machine, and all the better for it. The singer/songwriter/rapper/producer/multi-instrumentalist’s (he’s a talented individual) latest album, 4eva is a Mighty Long Time, is utterly fantastic throughout, an even more impressive feat considering it’s a full-length double-disc album (when was the last time we’ve seen one of those, let alone a good one?). Miss Georgia Fornia, from the more soulful, introspective second disc, is a great example of K.R.I.T.’s storytelling ability. The track, reminiscent almost of an early Kanye West, is a conversation between K.R.I.T. and his homeland, personified as a long-distance girlfriend. The track is at once hopeful and mournful – K.R.I.T. both grieves and celebrates his moving away to find fame and fulfil his dream. Even if you can’t relate to the emotional problems the song raises, a fantastic chorus by K.R.I.T. and Joi guarantees you’ll be belting it out all week.
3) N.E.R.D – Lemon (feat. Rihanna)
In a strange twist of events, N.E.R.D. are back, delivering surprise single Lemon featuring Rihanna. The side project of producing legends The Neptunes (if you don’t know who they are, name any catchy song from the 2000s and you’ve found your answer), N.E.R.D traditionally eschewed the trademark Neptunes sound to dip heavily into rock music. Their comeback, however, seems more a Neptunes production than a N.E.R.D one, featuring a glitchy funk-rap beat that skitters around frantically as the track progresses. Whilst Pharell’s rapping has improved significantly, it is Rihanna who takes the show, delivering a fantastically self-assured verse that acts as a partial beat-switch. We’re still waiting on that full rap album, Ri.
4) Avelino – It’s a Moovie / Prodigy
Known for his powerful wordplay and deep-voiced delivery, Avelino is an undeniable talent, and one of the best rappers to come out of the UK in the past few years. Whilst his new album is full of fantastic tracks, It’s A Moovie / Prodigy is perhaps the best of the bunch. Over a thumping beat Ave delivers a heart-felt description of his ends and the world he has been brought into – “an uphill struggle where there’s no downtime”. Whilst the track is hard-hitting, it also brings some of Ave’s classic wordplay – “Im just tryna raise the roof and they’re too focused on my flaws” is a simple but fantastic line. The real highlight comes at the end of the track however, where Ave delivers a skitterish verse over a punchier beat. Overall, if you’re into UK rap, you can’t give this one a miss.
5) Metro Boomin, Offset, 21 Savage – Ghostface Killers (feat. Travis Scott)
Whilst Quavo has had the most financially successful year of the Migos, 2017 has really been Offset’s time to shine. After featuring on some of the year’s best trap hits (T-Shirt, Flood Watch, Met Gala and Patek Water to name a few) Offset has released Without Warning, a collaborative mixtape with trap heavyweight Metro Boomin and rising star 21 Savage. Ghostface Killers is an absolute highlight, featuring a gothic bell-toll and organ chords from Metro Boomin’s Halloween-inspired production. The track begins with a machine-gun hook and verse from Offset, who once again shows up big. Just as Offset’s flow begins to set in, 21 takes the stage with a cold, brutal verse in a perfect tone-switch. Travis’ feature is quick to follow, and is one of his best in years – the eerie beat matches his delivery to a T. Whilst last week’s SUPER SLIMEY had its moments, Without Warning is a far better collaboration, perfectly offsetting (hah.) 21 Savage’s icy drawl with Offset’s punchy flows.