The Playlist: Hip-hop

Here are four great pieces of hip-hop – and one crushing disappointment from one of the scene's biggest names

Shabazz Palaces – They Come In Gold

Sub Pop's own Palaceer Lazaro (real name Ishmael Butler) and Tendai Maraire return with their own off-kilter and intriguing take on hip-hop. This is from their forthcoming album Lese Majesty (which has an impressive 18 tracks, is out in late July and will be housed in a shark-skin embossed sheath) and is shaping up to be one of the most exciting releases this year. They Come In Gold sounds like it's going to drop into a Bangladesh-style A Milli beat then quickly veers off into a world of abstract word play and Afro-futurism that would make Sun Ra proud. Next time someone says hip-hop is just all about bitches and bling, put this on; it's got more depth than an Ellen Gallagher exhibition. They also provided the music (in the shape of the opening track from Lese Majesty, Dawn in Luxor) for a promo video by the French fashion label Kenzo, which is a four-and-a-half minute head-trip that feels like Jodorowsky directing a modern take on the Wide Sargasso Sea; lots of post-colonial sub-text to get stuck into there.

Lil Wayne ft. Drake – Believe Me

From abstractions to an apogee as Lil Wayne delivers some new music with his former protege and pal Drake ahead of his final album and possible retirement. There's not a lot to this one; which mostly consists of a stripped-down drum pattern and a repetitious piano line that leaves room for Drizzy to compare his live pulling power to that of One Direction, while Wayne raps about buying his-and-hers Ferraris for himself and his daughter. Weezy has announced that Tha Carter V could be his last album (and definitely the last in Tha Carter series) and if this is anything to go by at least the beat selection might be a lot stronger than on IV. Lyrically though, there doesn't seem to be a lot left, with most of Weezy's recent efforts scarily resembling the mocking Twitter account that spouts out made-up Weezy rhymes. The chest-out braggadocio of Tha Carter III, with all its "best rapper alive" talk seems to have been replaced with indifference and dialled-in verses. Oh, and there's more concern, as Souljah Boy might make an appearance on Tha Carter V too.

Lil Jon & DJ Snake – Turn Down For What remixes

This is guaranteed to get played to death this summer: a trap-meets-EDM assault which is as disgusting as it is infectious. Juicy J, 2 Chainz and French Montana all drop verses on the rap remix, but those who want to hear Lil Jon try to name as many Caribbean islands as he can remember (he chucks in the UK and Japan for good measure) should check out the dancehall remix. It's a lot more palatable than the original with Assassin and Konshens, almost making you forget about Lil Jon's incessant chatter. A dollop of irritatingly catchy summer nonsense that'll delete all memories of Get Lucky and possibly make you vomit.

Flatbush Zombies – Thugnificense

The Brooklyn trio continue to represent the hazier side of New York's hip-hop renaissance with an ode to thug life and taking lots and lots of drugs. The video looks like it's shot somewhere in Shibuya, as the trio ignore the notoriously strict Japanese traffic laws and hang out in corner shops. They also released an excellent video to accompany their 97.92 track with Odd Future-endorsed hardcore band Trash Talk. It was made using an 360-degree HD camera rig and a remote-controlled drone octo-copter, and is like a super hi-tech take on Beastie Boys' So What'cha Want (there is a more detailed explanation of the logistics at Stereogum). The Zombies also featured in possibly the best ever web series: Rappers Review Movies. It's a simple, Ronseal concept, with rappers asked to review movies that are related to their name. So, Flatbush Zombies tackled zombie flick World War Z, and waxed lyrical about Brad Pitt's hair, while other highlights include Skee-lo reviewing the Hobbit (geddit?) and Masta Killah taking on Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master (pretty obvious, but still amazing).

Cam'ron & A-Trak – Dipshits

A-Trak has had a busy few weeks. First off he released a joint mixtape with trap king Lex Luger, which featured a who's who of upcoming talent, including G.O.O.D. Music prodigy Travi$ Scott (who also released a decent song sampling the 1975), the ubiquitous Young Thug and Shabba Ranks enthusiast A$Ap Ferg. For those still wondering what trap is all about, this is a pretty handy primer. There's cascading hi-hat collages, ridiculous sub bass, generous use of Auto-Tune and repetitive singalong choruses galore. After releasing that, A-Trak unveiled an impressive track for early noughties New York fur-lover Cam'ron (this will be on A-Trak's forthcoming Federal Reserve EP). Cam'ron is joined by fellow Diplomat Juelz Santana and pals, with a video that features cameos from Chromeo and Just Blaze, and finishes with Dame Dash claiming Dipset are back to claim the throne. It's a pretty big statement of intent. For those who want to reminisce about New York hip-hop for a few more moments, a couple of great nostalgia-based titbits have emerged in the last couple of weeks. There's an excellent oral history of early New York hip-hop clubs, with TR Love from Ultramagnetic MCs, Eric B and loads of other originators sharing anecdotes. For those who aren't so keen on reading, Ed Piskor's comic series Hip-Hop Family Tree covers the origin story of Public Enemy and various momentous events in early hip-hop, such as a raucous Wild Style screening.


Lanre Bakare

The GuardianTramp

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