Best Rap Mixtapes of the Month - April 2014
Young Thug, Gucci Mane, Migos, Fat Trel, and Jeremiah Jae dropped some of April's hottest mixtapes.
Gucci Mane & Young Thug - 'Young Thugga Mane LaFlare'
After 10 solo releases in 2013, his acting debut alongside James Franco in Harmony Korine's 'Spring Breakers,' and an arrest that's led to his current state behind bars, Gucci Mane is probably putting his feet up, right? Wrong. It's Gucci, and the Trap God's been pretty prolific from the slammer. His latest release is called 'Young Thugga Mane LaFlare,' which sees Gucci teaming up with his-protegè-turned-man-of-the-moment Young Thug (whose ' Thug 1017' was one of the best mixtapes of 2013). While Young Thug released the fantastic 'Black Portland' mixtape earlier this year with Bloody Jay, his unhinged, idiosyncratic flow works better as a counterpoint to Gucci's slurred, muffled delivery. This DJ Holiday-hosted release might be the last fully fleshed-out collab between the two before Young Thug officially makes his way out of Brick Squad.
- LISTEN/DOWNLOAD: ' Young Thugga Man LaFlare'
Girl Talk & Freeway - 'Broken Ankles'
A collaboration between the hyper-sampling, in-the-know omnivore producer Girl Talk and the early-00s energetic rap perfectionist Freeway will likely go down as an anomaly in the history of rapper/producer relationships. But it works, with Girl Talk's DJ set-style, party-jam fluidity meeting up with Freeway's hyped-up, intense flow. Might not be "classic" in the way that the collaborations between Freeway and Red Bull Music Academy lecturer Just Blaze were, but if you've ever wondered what Freeway sounds like rapping over Cyndi Lauper, Jimmy Eat World, and Iannis Xenakis, then 'Broken Ankles' is for you.
- LISTEN/DOWNLOAD: ' Broken Ankles'
Migos & Rich The Kid - 'Streets On Lock 3'
If two installments of 'Streets On Lock' goodness just isn't enough for you, then you'll be happy to hear that the Gwinnett County rap group Migos have reassembled with Rich The Kid for a hefty, 26-track mixtape. Released appropriately enough on 4/20, 'Streets On Lock 3' is jam-packed with guest spots from Atlanta and beyond, from Young Thug and PeeWee Longway to Soulja Boy and Wiz Khalifa. And with production from Metro Boomin, DJ Spinz, C Note, and more, 'Streets On Lock 3' is about as good a representation of the contemporary mixtape game as you can find.
- LISTEN/DOWNLOAD: ' Streets On Lock 3'
DaVinci & Sweet Valley - 'Ghetto Cuisine' (Fool's Gold)
Deviating from his more moody affairs, DaVinci has teamed with the production duo of Sweet Valley, featuring Wavves' Nathan Williams and his brother Kynan, for something a little more light-hearted. This is Sweet Valley's first collaboration with an actual rapper, and this particular San Francisco MC spits some mean street stories over their junky video-game production. Listen for cameos by 100s and Main Attrakionz.
Jeremiah Jae - 'Good Times' (Warp)
'Good Times' is yet another mixtape to add to Jeremiah Jae's growing catalog of releases. The whip-smart rapper is from Chicago but is distinctly different than the stuff coming out of the drill scene. His aesthetic is a bit more classic with a twist, affiliated instead with the Black Jungle Squad Cxllective and Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder imprint. As a result, 'Good Times' is more cerebral than visceral, more Madlib for the streets than pulse of the party, and 'Good Times' is yet another perfect distillation of what Jae is capable of.
- LISTEN/DOWNLOAD: ' Good Times'
Zuse - 'Bullet'
Zuse's debut finally arrived this month. 'Bullet' sees the Kingston-based, Atlanta-living 23-year-old mixing trap and dancehall into a highly refined, surprisingly polished release. The mixtape, hosted by DJ Scream and DJ Spinz, gets its soundworld from FKi, DJ Spinz, Metro Boomin, and more, with Trae Tha Truth, Young Thug, and Mike Fresh keeping the lyrical flow lively. But it's Zuse's throaty, full-bodied, slightly accented delivery that slices through the din of an already bloated scene with both poise and fire, making it even harder to believe that this is just his debut.
- LISTEN/DOWNLOAD: ' Bullet'
Fat Trel - 'Gleesh'
Maybach Music Group's latest signee is Fat Trel, and 'Gleesh' is a perfect example of why Rick Ross signed him. The man's got a refined delivery, with triplet rhyme schemes breaking up his more complex, intricate flow. No Danny Brown or YG appearances this time around, but 'Gleesh' features everyone from Rick Ross and Wale to Rich Hil and Boosa. He's even got Young Chop on the beat (among others), so don't sleep on this.
- LISTEN/DOWNLOAD: ' Gleesh'
The Devil - 'VIOLENCE'
It's surprising how rare it is to stumble upon more overtly bizarre rap mixtapes, but The Devil -- a.k.a. Derek Schklar -- gives us just that with 'VIOLENCE.' The mixtape, which follows last year's 'Harbinger,' is composed of unnerving, twitchy production, with a minimalist array of lengthy asides and generous vocal samples filling up an otherwise claustrophobic release. Alley Boy, Pesci, Yung Ralph, Johnny Cash, and more help out, with The Devil's suspense-filled, serial-killer aesthetic contributing to one of the more transgressive releases you'll hear all year.
- LISTEN/DOWNLOAD: ' VIOLENCE'
Young Dro - 'Purple Label' / 'Black Label'
A slew of rappers released their mixtapes on 4/20, but Young Dro took things to the next level by releasing two of 'em. The mixtapes, titled 'Purple Label' and 'Black Label,' follow last year's 'Day Two,' with guest rhymes by Mac Boney, Zuse, and Just Ty, and guest beats by Dun Deal, FKi, The Democratz. All together, the Atlanta spitter bestowed 31 new tracks upon the hip-hop community, making for one fantastic family-friendly Easter Sunday.
- LISTEN/DOWNLOAD: ' Purple Label'
UNIIQU3 - 'The New Klassiks' (Lit City Trax)
While it isn't rap by any means, this will surely go down as a quintessential mixtape, regardless of genre. Ever since Lit City Trax broke free from its footwork pigeonholing late last year, the imprint has gone full speed ahead with the latest and greatest in dance music. May sees the label releasing new EPs by grime producer Visionist and Afro-Portugese kuduro expert DJ Marfox, but April was all about Jersey Club. UNIIQU3 (a.k.a. Cherise Gary) is its queen, and 'The New Klassiks' sees her collaborating with the likes of DJ Tricks, DJ 93rd, Mike Gip, DJ Fade, DJ Kiff, and DJ Get Em for 20 incredible dance tracks. If you're heading to Red Bull Music Academy Festival New York, be sure to visit Lit City Trax's showcase, which will feature UNIIQU3 in the flesh.