So this week was an unofficial mixtape week for a lot of artists in hip-hop and R&B. Most are in anticipation of major label full-length albums while others are just in the tradition of (presumably) so much good shit being made, the music just has to be released to the masses (until next time!)
Check out the round-up below, followed by the full clip of M.I.A.‘s new “Borders” with a short analysis:
MILA J: While her solo debut album is definitely underway, L.A.’s own Mila J has continued to churn out crunked out R&B, a “field” she’s gotten consistently more confident in. Just earlier this month, she released The Waiting Game, and she’s followed that up with a Black Friday three song EP. The standout is “Me and My”, perfect for a #SQUADGOALS theme.
Listen to it below!
ERYKAH BADU: Badu immediately nurtured her kindred spirit connection to Drake’s smash of “Hotline Bling” via an inspired mixtape! Continuing the motif of the presence of telephones and how we connect, or disconnect, from each other through them! Musically, it starts with the famous line from her 1997 track “Tyrone”, “But you can’t use my phone”, which is also the name of the mixtape (re-stylized as: But U Caint Use My Phone).
The adorable to seductive to downright demanding and eerie “Phone Down” will be burned in your brain. There are remake remixes of New Edition‘s classic “Mr. Telephone Man” and a funkdafied cut of Usher’s “U Don’t Have To Call.” And that cameo that you think is Drake because it may be listed as so, is actually not him. It’s an impressive imitator rapper named ItsRoutine. Also, on the last track, “Hello”, is (the real) Andre 3000 of OutKast, whom Badu also has a son with.
Listen to the mixtape on Datpiff here or head over to Apple Music, until December 4, when it will be more widely available.
FABOLOUS: Always willing to hear a Fabo mixtape because those three Soul Tapes completely lived up to the hype, the Brooklyn one released his latest Summertime Shootout this holiday week. Playing like a look back at the past and present dog days of the hottest season of every year, SS mixes melodic, mostly cheerful beats with his dependable hard, truth telling, and sometimes vainglorious lyrics of life experiences (and between the sheets moments).
“Real One” is a tribute to the great Lauryn Hill with the instrumental of the Fugees‘ “Killing Me Softly” and interpolations of lyrics from her solo “Lost One.” “Doin It Well” is such a banger remake of LL Cool J‘s memorable 1995-96 hit, I know James will approve of it. Nicki Minaj appropriately represents for Queens on it with Trey Songz on the hook. Fabo also graces one of the fave tracks from The Weeknd‘s Beauty Behind The Madness, “Tell Your Friends” on another cut. “Started Something” is a militant rebuttal. The heat ends with “Summertime Sadness” and you already know that it uses Lana Del Rey‘s somber hit as an influence.
And getting back to the title, and artwork, of Summertime Shootout. When you hear the first word, it’s all good, right? Summertime! Yassss! But Shootout? Instantly the mood dampens. Even in the title the rapper encompasses the clashing of bliss and bewilderment.
Listen to the mixtape here
Also released recently are the following mixtapes and accompanying artists: Lil Wayne‘s No Ceilings 2, Chris Brown‘s Before The Party, Rich The Kid & ILoveMakonnen‘s Whip It, Waka Flocka Flame’s Flockaveli ’15
M.I.A. has given us another visually stunning video with equally as potent or in her case, confrontational, lyrics. This time, it’s all for “Borders”, a single from her upcoming Matahdatah album. The timing couldn’t be apter has it’s been over a week since the terrorist attacks in many areas of Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East took place (the most reported attacks being in Paris, Mali and Lebanon). Such horror was followed by the current controversial discussion of the placement of refugees, who have been the scapegoats of the media trying to unravel the evil mentality and motives of extreme terrorists.
“Borders” itself is rather calm musically, but still packs a punch in its message. Maya performs in a kind of slow-burning rap, and the orchestra-touched world music vibe strongly backs up her support of the thankless refugee journey. The chorus also directly probes the limitations, labels, mental and material distractions that are all magnified in our post-modern, 21st, click-away century.
“Borders, what’s up with that? Politics, what’s up with that? Identities, what’s up with that? Your privilege, what’s up with that? Broke people, what’s up with that?
Ego, what’s up with that? Values, what’s up with that? Beliefs, what’s up with that? Your families, what’s up with that?Your future, what’s up with that? Freedom, what’s up with that? Your power, what’s up with that?
She directed the video and is actually the only woman in it (though she lyrically women too). The London-born, of Sri Lankan descent artist, has always intermixed the Tamil culture and experience in her artwork, designs, and music. After her birth and when her family moved to Sri Lanka to live, along with her baby brother, Maya herself was a refugee off and on for eleven years as the Sri Lankan Civil War erupted in her country.
Watch the video below. And the sharper version is exclusively available on Apple Music.