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Image via Lord Apex/Instagram

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F*ckers in school telling you, always in the barbershop, “Steven Louis ain’t ’bout this, Steven Louis ain’t ’bout that.”



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You instantly recognize that pointed, dreadful feeling, wading in from the deepest recesses of your resting mind. Yup, you’re having THAT dream again — sitting at your desk in high school, right in front of the teacher, wholly unprepared for the exam. The class is asked to say “I want some drank” in sign language, and as if suddenly compelled by a petty deity of cosmic humiliation, you’re raising your hand to interrupt with, “Mr. Bagg, may I use the toilet bowl please?” Mr. Bagg summarily roasts you in front of everyone — the jocks, the nerds, the girls drawing wieners in pink chalk — and calls you a shitty booty ass.

Bankroll Got It’s bass slinks around in a cold sweat, with chamber-pressurized synths and hollow, clinking bells that recall prime DJ Paul beatwork. This Texas-to-Tennessee connection feels natural, with OT’s slippery drawl scaled against Yo’s boiled sugar cane flow. Co-directing the video, Bay City’s ascendant looks like he’s genuinely enjoying his moment while still punching on his heels; Texas Technician, his second full-length album in eight months, also features Lone Star legends Paul Wall, Slim Thug and Z-Ro.



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Recorded as a living testament for the new, evolved and souped-up generation of “Gz and Hustlas,” Dr. Dre’s futuristic Chronic 2001 is somehow turning twenty-five years old. And for all that hand wringing about today’s LA rappers disrespecting the canon and swapping Tanqueray for Wockhardt, here we have 2024 with a half-dozen of the city’s best flowing across Dre’s ode to the birds and the bees, for all the nights he had neither birds nor bees.

Tune in for the ceremonious Shoreline Mafia link-up between Geesy and Fenix, stay for Greedo’s hydroplaning, and fully settle in once Wallie channels the March on Washington to lay up with Beyoncé and Lisa Raye. The four-minute freestyle closes by evoking Snoop’s heartfelt lament from “All About U” — the girl from the Greedo video in Seattle is the same girl from Geesy’s LA video. Every other city we go.



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East Side Los Angeles’ Zoe Osama raps like he’s being chased through a field of fire after chugging a pint of gasoline, or as if he’s doing pull ups off a forklift with a sherm blunt steaming from his lips. Maybe the urgent, jolting flow comes from a lifetime of feeling like one of the livest rappers in LA, and just now getting the opportunity to catch up for curdled time. Zoe sprints through “ALLAT,” the stick on his person, barking taunts from the top rope. Like a confident point guard, he makes space for the slower, grinding flows of TNC soldier Honcho and incarcerated scarface-turned-young OG Big Hit. The beat thumps and glitches as the newly-acquired black card gets maxed out.



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The off-license organic wine feels damn-near caffeinated, while the crinkly spliff splices spacetime with questions about luck and kismet. Lo-fi Londonite Lord Apex is “Back Outside” and catching up on everything he missed from a self-confessed three-year valley. This is how a corner store turn from mundane to mythical, how the rusted ghosts tunneling underground get to let it all out.

Charlotte indie star MAVI casually strings together a six-syllable rhyme scheme without raising his voice or breaking his stare. This is less a performance than an exorcizing of unmet expectations; it’s icy and smooth and mechanically gorgeous, yet it feels like self-conversation and a cycle of internal bargaining that we absolutely should not be privy to. Apex’s rain dance brings damp sand to the shores, soggy air in metro terminals, a textured high that’s both distrustful and motivating.



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If the above choice hits like a pensive crossfade, this one is a mephedrone binge leagues below the murky swamp water. It sounds like Atlanta’s BabyDrill is sourcing beats from Andromeda, chipped in transmission and uncoiled inside its metal cyllinder. Why bother with the anesthetics when you can bump “I Can’t Feel My Face” and experiehce precisely that in under three minutes? Our fearless protagonist hits the barbershop, shakes up in the parking lot and sends the Maybach into orbit. The way his delivery dips, warps and quivers with indigo radiance makes BabyDrill one of the most unpredictable and exciting new rappers out. We’ll keep watching as the countenance crumbles to blunted ash.



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In which the axiom makes hoes into ”Hoe Cakes.”



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Willem de Kooning really got his shit off on this one.



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