By: Neil MacAlister
The Matrix by Hoodrich Pablo Juan and Brodinski
Atlanta rapper Hoodrich Pablo Juan has had some recent success in his local trap scene. His signing to Gucci Mane’s record label, and the release of his studio debut, Designer Drugz 3, was a big step up for a relatively unknown rapper, but something about Hoodrich’s music always felt like it should extend out of the conventional trap sound.
With his new EP The Matrix, Hoodrich paired up with French electronic producer Brodinski, to some undeniably excellent results. Brodinski broke through into Western hip-hop through a couple of placements on Kanye’s Yeezus album. He has since delved into the Atlanta trap scene, ultimately leading to his and Hoodrich’s fantastic collaboration.
Brodinski provides some hauntingly apocalyptic electronic production that matches perfectly with Hoodrich’s menacing monotone, giving the rapper not just excellent accompaniment, but an opportunity to experiment with his flow and delivery. Like Vince Staple’s Big Fish Theory, the tasteful pairing of electronic production and perfectly-suited delivery creates amazing results. Tracks like “Graveyard Shift,” and the Lil Dude-assisted “Thug Life” are some of the most enjoyable tracks released this year. – NM
Lil Boat 2 by Lil Yachty
There’s always a risk that comes with making a sequel to your best album. Lil Yachty’s debut, Lil Boat became one of 2016’s biggest albums, and its quirky, autotune-drenched melodies launched Lil Yachty into a successful career. A handful of mediocre subsequent releases, however, dimmed Yachty’s shine, as Summer Songs 2 and Teenage Emotions failed to impress. Lil Boat 2 seems like it ought to be a return to his roots, and while it’s definitely the rapper’s best work since his debut, there’s very little of the original Lil Boat in the sequel.
Instead of relying on melodies, Lil Boat 2 finds Yachty attempting to prove his skills as a rapper — to some unexpected success. On Lil Boat 2 Yachty holds his own against a fantastic 2 Chainz verse on “OOPS,” trades bars with the likes of NBA YoungBoy and Tee Grizzley, and has a surefire new single in the Trippie Redd-assisted “66.” Most of the album is unfortunately repetitive, and the album as a whole fails to live up to its namesake, but Lil Boat 2 finds Yachty determined to defy expectations and keep his career interesting. – NM