R.A. The Rugged Man featuring Tech N9ne & Krizz Kaliko - "Holla-Loo-Yuh"
This track goes hard. Aside from the haunting howls of "Holla-Loo-Yuh" in the hook, the way all three artists in the equation show up and show out, it's a perfect blend. Tech N9ne opening the track is a little distracting given he is such a dominant force. Hearing him slow his style, speed it up a bit and then pull the clip back and shoot would seemingly make it hard for anyone else to come correct after that. That's not the case here. Krizz Kaliko follows, and with his sped up flow, he rhymes in almost a similar cadence as Tecca Nina, but not. All props due though to R.A. the Rugged Man's clean-up verse. R.A. has a way about his flow - it shapeshifts from time to time, even slightly resembling Tech's in this case yet still sounding like himself. It may be due in part to R.A.'s double life as both a rapper and Rap writer, where he can swiftly shift voices and pay it in full with his bars. It could also just be an innate talent. Whatever the case may be, this track could have even the greatest non-believer shouting "Holla-Loo-Yuh." - Kathy Iandoli (@kath3000)
King Los featuring Pusha T & Yo Gotti - "Dope"
"At the crack house with the dope fiends, the dim lights and the smoke screens, let 'em smell the aroma from a coke coma, if you listen close you hear souls scream..." Featuring some of Harry Fraud's most ethereal Tangerine Dream-inspired production to date, King Los' haunting new mixtape track "Dope" depicts a subterranean world where making money is more of an occupational hazard than reason to celebrate. Los doesn't once sacrifice evocative imagery to show off his technical prowess when it comes to rhyming. Chilling visuals like "My niggas scrape the wall of that Pyrex as I thank the Lord for my progress..." aren't bookended by dazzling - and distracting - wordplay. Rather than get preachy, he tells us how he feels by not glamorizing anything. A breakdown of the "dope" life during the chorus leads to another knockout guest verse from Pusha T that makes it sound like getting those bragging rights hasn't been much fun. "King's ransom for a kilo," "opening doors for overlords" and "nights in the Days Inn" aren't things we heard about in "B.M.F." Yo Gotti probably has the bleakest bars of all since they're so personal. He may have ten million dollars but he's still in the streets and people are calling him stupid for it. He's not so quick to refute their opinion either. There's a real feeling of apathy and wearniess as Gotti runs down his skillset, " I can show you how to make eight bands off a pound of kush, 35 off a white block. I can show you how to drop top on fella, show you how unload that hammer..." "Dope" is a triumph of a track. It's three guys standing around the water cooler presenting the drug game in matte finish. It's up to us to decide if the perks are worth all the blood and sweat. - Michael Sheehan
Ruste Juxx & Shae Money - "Over Here"
This video and song made the week for me. Shae Money's beat, complete with the sample snippet in the beginning, is everything that I love in gritty Hip Hop. More than that, I've been following Ruste Juxx for some years, and have seen him perform with Sean Price also. Admittedly, I thought he always had room for improvement, especially coming up under Sean's wing. Ruste's lyrics and delivery have improved so much since 2011, and I would honestly throw money down on his albums—especially with beats like this, courtesy of the Denver, Colorado beat-maker. I'm not quite sure where this song will end up (Duck Down is behind it), but the video is gritty and takes me back to the Brooklyn I remember as a kid, especially as presented to me through the Hip Hop video lens. Is it just me, or does Ruste's delivery and cadence kind of call back to Pacewon? Take that as a compliment, as I play the life outta this video all week. - Jake Paine (@Citizen__Paine)