The playlist – hip-hop: Rick Ross, Run the Jewels and more

Rick Ross keeps to his usual shtick, eXquire sounds fresh on gentrification, a Drake collaboration barely qualifies as one and Run the Jewels impress

Rick Ross ft Chris Brown – Sorry

You might expect Rick Ross to have slowed down recently. He had a brush with the law that saw him renege on his own philosophy (when I interviewed him in 2012, he said of rap’s relationship with incarceration: “I’m saying being successful is gangsta, being rich is gangsta. Going to prison isn’t gangsta”). He has had a busy month: his Black Dollar mixtape came out, with Ross making a typically ostentatious video to go with Geechi Liberace (fur coats, white mansion, a diamond-encrusted signet ring that spells MOB), plus the Money Dance feat The-Dream, Buried in the Streets and an interview with the Breakfast Club. Ross’s new album, Black Market, is next and the lead single, Sorry, feat Chris Brown was released this week. It screams “radio track”, and is a departure from Ross’s recent penchant for soul-based samples and dusty beats that are more backward-looking than you might expect. Lyrically, he’s still Ross (sample lyric: “send the bottles to her table, then make love in a jet”) though, and you do wonder whether that shtick will wear thin this time around. With hip-hop seeming to be in moment of stasis, the bawse will probably be fine.

Mr Muthafuckin eXquire – Ice Cups

A rapper on the other end of the aesthetic spectrum is New York MC Mr Muthafuckin eXquire, who is more into rapping about a night out that ends in pools of vomit and bloody noses than thousand-dollar bar tabs. On Ice Cups, he channels Raekwon’s gritty yarn-spinning approach and makes it contemporary by taking on gentrification (“I didn’t even know the word until I got some white neighbours … knock down the chicken spot, turn it into a bike shop”). For a subject that’s been thinkpieced to death, it sounds remarkably fresh coming from eXquire. Despite being hotly tipped for a couple of years now, he seems more than content to keep ploughing his own furrow regardless of what kind of sound (trap) is catnip to labels who might sign him. Nihilistic, low-slung and idiosyncratic, eXquire is one of hip-hop’s genuine one-offs (who has been ripped off by bigger artists), and his Live Forever EP is out on 8 October.

Drake ft Beyoncé – Can I

Drake and OVO Sound are using their radio show on Beats 1 to premiere their seemingly endless stream of “content”. The latest comes with added Beyoncé, who doesn’t sing a note and essentially asks one question (“Can I, baby?”) and says “before I turn the lights on”. An exercise in hip-hop minimalism? Perhaps. Or a case of fans being hoodwinked into excitement about a “collaboration” that barely qualifies. Drake has arguably been the most important rapper of this year. Battling with Meek Mill, releasing a steady stream of singles and completing a headline tour, unlike Kendrick Lamar whose opus To Pimp a Butterfly was released, impressed a lot of people and then slowly faded from view, Drake’s been jumping up and down while dishing out tracks for his fans.

Run the Jewels – Oh My Darling (Just Blaze remix) and Rubble Kings Theme

Run the Jewels are in a position where they can do whatever they want. A cat-themed remix album for the hell of it? Yep. A crushing soundtrack for a hip-hop documentary, Rubble Kings, which will probably increase the publicity around said film by 50%? Why not? They’ve got the Beastie Boys’ skill of balancing the absurd with the aurally impressive and even managed to steal the limelight from the supergroup featuring Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Kamasi Washington and George Clinton who guested on the Adult Swim Singles collection that Rubble Kings Theme comes from. The track below has the duo’s now-to-be-expected muscular production and wordplay that mixes highbrow and lowbrow and treats both impostors the same way.

Boards of Doom – Deathhop

Splicing together two artists for an unofficial release that has the potential to become a huge cult hit isn’t a new concept (see Danger Mouse’s Grey Album). But this 20-minute mix of Doom’s rap and Boards of Canada’s ambient trip-hop-tinged productions is a brilliant fit. Made by Deathhop – a DJ from north-east England with 50 followers on SoundCloud – it sees Boards of Canada’s Satellite Anthem Icarus melded with My Favourite Ladies by the masked moniker-hoarder. Odd, and at times a little ill-fitting, it feels just right for these two.


Lanre Bakare

The GuardianTramp

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