Best Rap Mixtapes of the Month - August 2014

New mixtapes by Ty Dolla $ign, Cam'ron, Lucki Eck$, Fredo Santana, Travis $cott, The Underachievers.
Lucki Eck$ at 4 Days In Austin
Lucki Eck$ at 4 Days In Austin © Erik Voake/Red Bull Content Pool
By Yu-Cheng Lin

Lucki Eck$ - 'Body High'

Red Bull Sound Select artist Lucki Eck$ follows up last year's critical hit 'Alternative Trap' with another hazy mixtape called 'Body High.' Unlike the Chicago rapper's first mixtape, 'Body High' further hones in on Lucki's ultra laid-back, lethargic delivery, all foggy and refreshingly rough around the edges. The cloudy production matches his tempered bite, with muted beats and samples sliding in and out of focus. 'Body High' doesn't jump and down for attention; it lulls you into its slow-motion swirl, and like with his recent collaboration with Danny Brown, you willingly let it take over.

Issa Gold - 'Conversations With A Butterfly'

Before The Underachievers released 'The Cellar Door,' their first proper album, the Brooklyn duo of AK and Issa Gold generously offered their own solo mixtapes. Gold released his first (on his birthday, no less), an economical eight-track mixtape titled 'Conversations With A Butterfly' that showcases his amazingly adaptable, versatile flow. Atop beats by everyone from Rami.B and Ion Quest to Thundercat and Pat Banahan, Issa leverages his talent to push the tracks onward, with hooks aplenty and perpetual rhythmic stabs that ironically leave you, not Issa, breathless.

AK - 'Blessings In The Gray'

After Issa Gold hit fans of The Underachievers with his solid mixtape, AK followed it up that same week with 'Blessings in the Gray.' Also economical at just nine tracks, 'Blessings in the Gray' further articulated AK's spirituality through his impeccable flow, rooted in 1990s hip-hop and steeped in the kind of universalism that only deepens appreciation for The Underachievers' refined philosophical soundworld. Like Issa Gold's 'Conversations With a Butterfly,' 'Blessings in the Gray' might be a solo mixtape, but its concerns about collectivity and global affairs place it in a realm that transcends individuality, which is always welcome in the ego-driven rap world.

Ty Dolla $ign - '$ign Language'

We've seen a couple dollar-sign monikers in August with Travi$ Scott and Lucki Eck$, but that didn't stop Ty Dolla $ign from joining in on the fun by dropping his latest release just before the month ends. Titled '$ign Language,' the L.A. rapper corrals a host of high-profile rappers (Rick Ross, Big Sean, Juicy J, etc.) and high-profile producers (Metro Boomin, Dun Deal, man-of-the-summer DJ Mustard) to create 11 tracks of scorching heat for this already-hot time of the year. The mixtape precedes his 'Free TC' album, which is expected later this year, as well as his recently announced collaboration with Rich Homie Quan.

Travi$ Scott - 'Days Before Rodeo'

Okay, so Travi$ Scott made it abundantly clear that 'Days Before Rodeo' isn't a mixtape, but it's free and was released with little fanfare, a killer combination for this mixtape list. It's also fantastic: The G.O.O.D. Music producer picks up the mic here and lets producers like Metro Boomin, FKi, and Lex Luger take over on production, ending up with an eclectic, experimental, curiously spacious prelude to the Houston rapper's forthcoming debut studio release on Grand Hustle/Epic. Guests include Young Thug, Big Sean, PeeWee Longway, Rich Homie Quan, and Migos.

Jeremih - 'N.O.M.A. (Not On My Album)' EP

Last month, we got the 'No More' EP, a collaboration between Chicago R&B singer Jeremih and L.A. producer Shlohmo. This month, we get 'N.O.M.A. (Not On My Album),' a compilation of seven tracks that, as the title suggests, didn't make his forthcoming album. There's only one feature here -- by Juicy J -- the rest is Jeremih's show, with his smooth vocals and understated, patient delivery as versatile and engrossing as ever. If these tracks aren't deemed album-worthy, then we're in for a treat when 'Late Nights: The Album' (formerly 'Thumpy Johnson') drops on September 30.

Cam'ron - '1st Of The Month: Vol. 2' EP

Regularity and predictability can be comforting to audiences, especially when it comes to the often erratic world of rap. So it's with a bit of ease that Cam'ron's '1st Of The Month' series has expectedly continued on this month, this time with volume 2. This month's installment saw Cam'ron collaborating with the likes of Nicki Minaj, Yummy, and Rod Rhaspy, as well as with Dipset cohorts Jim Jones and Hell Rell. Five tracks, 15 minutes. Expect installment three on the first of the month, and maybe we'll finally see the release of 'Federal Reserve,' his much-anticipated collaboration with A-Trak, sometime in the near future.

Rich The Kid - 'Feels Good To Be Rich'

Hours after dropping his video for 'Came From Nothin' with Young Thug, Rich The Kid logged back online to drop his latest mixtape, 'Feels Good to Be Rich.' The release is collaboration-heavy, with only 6 of its 19 tracks without any mic-passing (and that includes a 13-second intro track). But Rich The Kid's intonation complements nearly any style well, which is why his voice works so wonderfully next to everyone from Migos, Rockie Fresh, and Soulja Boy, to K Camp, Jeremih, and Young Dolph. Listen too for the always-solid production by Young Chop, Zaytoven, Cassius Jay, and more.

Fredo Santana - 'Walking Legend'

Chicago rapper Fredo Santana keeps the trap game going with 'Walking Legend.' With Young Chop, Metro Boomin, and 12Hunna on the beats, as well as features from Lil Durk, Chief Keef (his younger cousin), and Childish Gambino, Fredo Santana gets down and dirty, freaking out everyone in his path. This is, after all, the rapper who released previous mixtapes titled 'It's a Scary Site' and 'Fredo Kruger.' And you saw that Drake video where he plays the kidnapping villain, right? Right. If you need a scare, this one's for you.

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