Aaliyah, Timbaland, Gotye & Kimbra - "Are You That Somebody That I Used To Know [Mad Mix Mustang Mash-Up]"
A good mash-up is timeless. Good being the operative word, here. In 2012, DJ/Producer Mad Mix Mustang dropped a track called "Are You That Somebody That I Used To Know," which melded the late Aaliyah's hit single "Are You That Somebody" with Gotye's colossal "Somebody That I Used To Know." Leaning on the word "somebody," which lyrically connects the two songs, Mad Mix Mustang crafted a perfect mash-up. The Internet has a way of rediscovering things, which is what happened here. The track resurfaced earlier this week, and HipHopDX opted to give it a spin. Now before the Rap purist choir starts singing "This ain't Hip Hop!" think about what you're saying. Production is the phantom element of Hip Hop, with Deejaying being an actual element. What Mad Mix Mustang did here fits comfortable within the crux of what Hip Hop is all about. He took two songs that really only had one word in common and created a brand new cut. The song opens with the existing soundscape Timbaland crafted for Aaliyah's Dr. Doolittle soundtrack, only to have Gotye's introductory verse slide right in. Aaliyah's hook follows, as the sitar in Gotye's track accompanies Baby Girl's blippity baby-voiced beat. It's this volleying between the two songs that makes the mash-up sound so good. There are equal contributions, and the result is a well-balanced track, ideal for somebody...or anybody. - Kathy Iandoli (@kath3000)
Young Roddy - "This One"
Throughout last month's Good Sense 2 mixtape on tracks like "This One," "Street Pharmacist" and the poignant tale of growing up too fast, "4 The Money," Young Roddy embraces his "educated thug" contradictions by serving up memoir based rhymes that live in a gray area of muddy kicks and pockets weighed down by dead presidents; "The Bible on the dash and hammer for my safety." Watching this week's video for the aforementioned "This One," I was struck by how efficient and straightforward the Jet Life emcee's rhymes are. The CJ Wallis-shot video helps things along, mixing some dreamy black and white live footage with sun-drenched barren backdrops that allow Roddy and his verses to be front and center. Like the rest of his project, everything is personal, infused with a sense of urgency to find something better while maintaining a laidback flow that allows Roddy to speak on being somewhere in between; not rich, not broke, living the lifestyle but waiting for a deal. My favorite part about the visuals are how they come full circle, linking up with the beginning of the audio portion as they end. Roddy uses the opening of "This One" to pay tribute to his "ghetto queen;" a college girl who sounds like the epitome of sweet. She teaches him "knowledge is power" and cooks him chicken and waffles. In the track itself she seems to be abandoned so Roddy can deliver a summation of his character, reflect on his neighborhood and speak on friends, family and career. Yet as the video closes, their silhouettes are seen walking into the sunset. This is just another example of the sense balance that helps make Young Roddy's solo material memorable after a single listen. - Michael Sheehan
Kevin Gates - "Hero"
There are a number of great songs on Kevin Gates’ latest mixtape, “The Luca Brasi Story,” but “Hero” may be the project's most Slept-On. The Breadwinner Association-lyricist delivers narratives, kicks advice and talks shit without ever feeling like a caricature. “Said, ‘Gates, my girl just cheated on me’ / Fuck that bitch that’s her loss / Look at it like / That’s another nigga problem / In New York they call that a ‘jump off’ / Your dick a hater could jump off" is a raw example of KG’s knack for lacing tracks with chant-ready pragmatic perspective. This is the type of joint that excels on the treadmill and on long road trips. Gates can clearly rap. He shifts cadences with ease and usually at the perfect time. There’s nothing mundane about his approach to the production. And better yet, despite Nard B’s synthy, hi-hat infested beat that screams 2009 more than 2013—Gates visceral delivery and empowering hook still lingers longest. “A coward dies a 1,000 times / And a soldier dies uno / Immortals die zero…Live up to me / I’d rather die a hero” carries more weight when considering the Baton Rouge, Louisiana-native’s years spent incarcerated. There’s emotion flowing throughout. There’s energy and subtle hints of remorse. There’s moral fortitude. It’s real, aside from its swashy shell. “Hero” may not be the best offering on “Luca Brasi…” (“IDGAF” arguably snatches that honor). It may not be the most authentically Hip Hop (“IHop (True Story)” for the win), but it’s an absolutely fantastic listen brimming with unexpected replay value. - Justin Hunte (@TheCompanyMan)
Grand Daddy I.U. featuring Sadat X - "She Said"
Since the '90s, I've been a fan of Grand Daddy I.U.'s smooth, pimpish style. His first album, Smooth Assassin is one of the jewels of the Cold Chillin' Records catalog. Twenty-three years later, "She Said" is an updated page out of that album's book. I.U., who is also a highly-accomplished producer, brings out the needle flip Soul sample maneuver that makes this as buttery as its message. Sadat X is the perfect guest, and while neither one of these guys were hearth-throb rappers, both have fared exceptionally well with tracks for, to and about the opposite sex—word to the "Lump, Lump." "She Said" is nice music for the headphones, car or chilled out party. This is some of the best work from either I've heard in some years, and it was easily my standout song of the week. - Jake Paine (@Citizen__Paine)
RELATED: Sadat X Explains Why "There's No Girl Rapper Better Than Him," Hopes To Work With Harry Fraud [2012 INTERVIEW]