Kai Fortyfive - Silky Joints, Vol. 2

Commercially, Long Island Rap Records' 2021 was all about Kai Fortyfive. It's fitting then that I cap the year with a post on his latest, Silky Joints, Vol. 2, the sequel to the EP that put me onto Kai's music to begin with. Truthfully one of the things that hit me hardest about SLUGSMOKE & MIRRORS when I first heard it was how different it was than Silky, that a rapper/producer who made that could also make this. I'm not saying I like one style more than the other {adlib: not at all}. Quite the opposite: I most appreciate that Kai does both so adeptly it breaks down boundaries in a way that recalls the Duke Ellington quote, "There are simply two kinds of music, good and bad." As for Vol. 2, it's every bit as sophisticated as the comma in its title. Play it for your lover as the ball drops. (And hit Kai on IG for CDs.)


Hus Kingpin - The Firm

In the The Last Dance, they say that Jordan was playing at such a level during the mid-90s it was as if he wasn't competing with his opponents, just with himself. Another way to look at it would be that he wasn't even playing in the same game as everyone else on the court, never mind the same league. I'd liken it to Sacha Baron Cohen's performance in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. He so embodies and elevates the character of Jean Girard, it's as if he's acting in an entirely different film. People get so hung up on stats and lists, they assume this kind of transcendence must be tied entirely to skill, but consider that it may very well be as much a product of self-image. Hus Kingpin's songs of late — the entire winning streak that was his 2021 output, really — sound like the musings of a poet writing from, of, in and for an entirely different form and paradigm than every other rapper. How ironic then that his latest (sixth, seventh, who can keep count at this point?) project released in 2021 is named for and conceptualized around a group of other rappers. I get it though. The Winners are a supergroup unto themselves. SmooVth and Sageinfinite's verses on "Affirmative Action" and Rozewood's on "Cayman Islands" leave no doubt about that. Buy [me] everything on wavo3000.com.

Fun fact: for who knows how long, everything on Hus's Bandcamp is name your price.


The Chopstars & Busta Rhymes - The Coming (ChopNotSlop Remix)

Over a million people bought each of Busta Rhymes' first two solo albums, yet they remain two of the most underappreciated rap records of all time. That's how dope Busta Rhymes is. Even two million sales can't begin to explain the brilliance, the inventiveness, the unprecedentedness. Chopstar DJ Surrup breaks it down nice and slow for those who still haven't caught on.

Charlés - Progress 4

No matter how mature one grows as a musician and songwriter, a rapper's rapper can always come back to just ripping instrumentals. If Charlés fka Charles DaBeast showcased his versatility on last month's Thoughts That Roam 2, this month he proves that development hasn't dulled his fundamentals a bit. Progress 4 finds Charlés returning to a mixtape series whose last installment came over seven years ago, and more than living up to the title's promise. It's not just progress; it's evolution.


Nomad Carlos - Element of Surprise

Nomad Carlos raps hit like Y2K-era Flash animations killed time in Junior year journalism class, sometimes crudely but always effectively. At their best, as in Element of Surprise, they murder details, provocatively telling stories from heretofore unseen angles, even when talking shit, e.g., "It's crazy how one line could truly speak volumes / While rappers' artwork stay better than they albums / Make good for a coaster for my fam to crush weed on / While blasting Undertaker's theme song."  Said high school journalism teacher Mr. Kravitz wrote and self-published a memoir. Nomad Carlos wrote, performed and self-published a proper LP, as in a vinyl record album (RIP Phil Schaap).

Often Spaced - Black Summer

South Shore boatfolks fly kleptocrat flags in polluted channels, sinking. The stench of low tide creeps like climate change, that is, until it's on you. Then, time is no longer factor, it's everything. A Tweet this morning called Don't Look Up a documentary. True story and perfect timing, like Black Summer dropping Friday, August 13. Often Spaced is dope. Long Island prevails.  
"I feel hopeless at the macro level," said evolutionary anthropologist Paul Hooper in an interview published this year by Nautilus (also in August, as it happens). "But still I feel like there's untapped creative potential in determining the nature of our own society. Everything in this model works because of social action, because one strategy imposes constraints on the whole rest of the society, and then the society changes. We see radical, enormous shifts in social norms and institutions through history. I know that we haven't explored all of the possibility space yet. If we could tap that potential, and we could make egalitarianism truly a self-perpetuating cultural unit that also preserves itself, then it'll stay around. It'll be a new kind of society. The math points to those possibilities, so I'm not entirely pessimistic. There's amazing untapped potential that comes down to face-to-face relationships that endure over time."