Every day, dozens of free rap releases hit the Web. These are the moment’s most interesting and resonant. This week, a freestyle for every trending topic.
1) Beatking – Houston 3 AM
In 2015, hustling for a rap career isn’t what it used to be. Passing out mixtapes in front of record stores doesn’t happen. There are no record stores. Music is all on the Internet, and by the time Houston’s mid-aughts rap scene stopped producing national stars, Beatking had logged on and started clicking. This Web grind has consisted of putting out a freestyle for every trending topic, like he explained over a bulky beat chopped up from the “POP Hold It Down” meme on his 2014 song “Ebola Freestyle.”
Besides his grind, Beatking makes songs that slap—and he’s got personality to spare. He is the Club God after all. His self-produced tracks are almost all Earth-shattering, bass-filled, and made to move butts. He only produced three songs on Houston 3 AM, however, and I’d have a tough time picking them out without the help of his signature Jaws DJ drop.
Beatking doesn’t mess around with an intro. The first two songs are some of the hardest on the tape. “Stopped” has, if nothing else, the line “pussy boring like Hobby Lobby,” and “I Got Hoez” is a huge beat among huge beats, over which Beatking busts out a surprisingly quick and deft flow. He’s basically just flexing all over the whole tape like he’s standing in front of a mirror at the gym, with samples spanning from fellow Houston rapper Paul Wall to New Orleans legend Silkk the Shocker and even Brian McKnight.
Remarkable reference: “For the last 15 years they had me fucked up/Been a beast on the beat since I was 16 jacking off to BET Uncut.”
2) DJ Chose – Incaseyouforgot
DJ Chose is a rapper and producer from Brookshire, Texas, just west of Houston. One of his biggest looks was actually a feature on Beatking’s 2014 Vine hit “Throw Dat Ass,” where he showed all his rapping talents while sounding like an overhyped interviewee on the local news. Chose’s biggest talent is producing, though. He’s created a sound of blissed-out Southern rap, something between champagne on the Trinity Bay and syrup on the French Riviera. His newest mixtape Incaseyouforgot continues that direction with a bit of a psychedelic turn, sounding like he might have been influenced by R&B star Miguel.
The most Miguel-sounding song is “Drunk Calls,” in which Chose recounts the time he turned down a girl who sent intimate pictures to both him and Indiana Pacer small forward Paul George. In addition, Chose has been adding extra elements to his production while also enriching his songwriting. There are some added musical flares and focused concepts, even when they’re awful like “these hoes for everybody.” It all feels like a marked improvement. “2marro” is an acoustic guitar twerk anthem that isn’t anywhere near as bad as that description sounds. Sometimes the strip club just needs to be reupholstered.
Remarkable reference: “And we still ain’t had shit/Going to school wearing Shaqs/Or Hakeem Olajuwon when we cop them hoes on sale.”
3) Lil Reese – Supa Savage II
After gaining widespread attention from his verse on Chief Keef’s 2012 hit “I Don’t Like,” Lil Reese signed with Def Jam Records. The infamous rap label doesn’t seem to have done anything for Reese. He hasn’t put out a proper album nor has he made a song as good or as popular as “Us” since signing. But the Chicago rapper has been releasing music in the form of mediocre mixtapes and collaborations with other rappers in the same area codes—even as some of them have gotten away from the kind of music Reese embodies. Keef, who’s been making rap off the deep end lately, shows up on the weirdest song on the tape, “Brazy.”
A lot of this tape can blend into the wallpaper of the Datpiff website, but Reese is lacing some of these tracks with double-time flows, and he’s still able to get a hook stuck deep in an ear canal. The guests also help the tape immensely, like his hometown peer Lil Durk’s three appearances. Atlanta rock star Young Thug brings some welcome sugary melodies to the song “Baby.” The most haunting moment of the tape is on “Gang,” where Reese uses fewer adlibs to let bits of silence carry the edge. Like the tape being about five songs too long, Reese can benefit from less as more.
Remarkable reference: “Just because he don’t smell like tacos don’t mean he ain’t got nachos.”
4) Lil Mouse – In Gunna I Trust
Lil Mouse is yet another rapper from Chicago. But while Lil Reese is 22 years old, and even Chief Keef is 19, Lil Mouse (relevant to his name) is still just 15. He actually was thrust onto the national spotlight at 12, when his song “Get Smoked” and his dancing in the video was shared by everyone and their momma. The song itself got the second-biggest look possible in rap (behind a Drake remix) with Lil Wayne using it for his Dedication 4 mixtape. And Mouse’s dance with a band of cash became immortalized as the “money dance.”
Mouse has kept rapping though, even as Chicago drill music has moved into the rearview. He’s almost an old-head purist at this point, having not finished puberty nor looked to evolve his sound. Mouse still has the energy that his local rap scene once had at its height because he is the age of those first-wave drill artists. His music also comes off as blunt as one might expect from Mouse’s age, even if the content is almost uniformly gun talk.
Remarkable reference: “VVSs all in my watch can’t tell the time it’s blinging/Pulled up to the party with a four and a two-liter.”
5) Ice Billion Berg – Live House Session
Florida is technically part of the American South, but it might as well be its own region–especially the peninsula, where the further south it is, the further away from the South it is. This is borne out in the region’s rap music, where Miami has never had the same sound of Atlanta or Houston or New Orleans. Dade County rapper Ice “Billion” Berg stands out in that way, as someone more concerned with rapping-ass rapping than turning up the club and throwing bands.
His newest mixtape Live House Season is his first since 2014’s Damage Is Done. Berg is always focused on the mic, but this is a pretty relaxed affair, with mostly breezy beats and simpatico features. He gets the loosest on beats that are outside his lane, like the chopped-up version of Dr. Dre’s “Next Episode” or the instrumental for Teena Marie’s “Square Biz.” That latter beat in particular, for his “Square Bricks (Freestyle),” brandishes how well Berg can rap and keep up with the beat, calling back to his star performance on Trina’s fantastic 2012 song “Beam.” Ice Berg might be the best rapper rapping with no essential song or project, but as he declared during the outro of the last song on the tape, he ain’t going nowhere.
Remarkable reference: “And like the short esé from Next Friday I tell them hoes in my party.”
Screengrab via CSharp_C3ENT/YouTube