Music, reads, podcasts and videos (music and more) I’m checking for. [Here, instead, I’m gonna play Chris Paul and drop 10 dimes on my favs of the past year.]
Lil Wayne‘s feature run. For my money, his “Seeing Green” verse was the verse of the year. Apologies to Andre 3K.
- Dreamville’s rollout for J.Cole’s The Off-Season. Seamless.
- Whatever is going on with Flo Milli’s late year IG posts. She was in my top three for 6th (Wo)Man last year. Still bullish on her but I was a year early by the looks of her late '21 level up.
Folarin II. Wale’s recent LP might be the one I revisited the most in 2021.
Myke Towers’ Lyke Mike album. Bars. Also, not sure why it wasn’t Like Myke.
Benny The Butcher‘s moves. He’s who I tune into Griselda for, with all due respect to Westside Gunn and Conway The Machine.
- “Industry Baby.” Hardest line of the year might have been Lil Nas X’s “you wasn’t really rooting for me anyway.” The defiance in this track and video is the stuff of rap dreams.
NBA YoungBoy’s fortitude. Doesn’t try to be what he’s not and his fans appreciate him for who he is.
Ms. Lauryn Hill’s verse on Nas’ “Nobody.” L-Boogie knows all the tricks from Bricks to Kingston. So it shouldn’t be a surprise she seared this 16 but damn it felt good to hear her rap again.
- Give this brother his flowers, damnit. N.O.R.E. had another stellar year with “Drink Champs” and a run of guests that made for great headlines and trending topics (Kanye got all the ink but the Big Sean episode was top notch). He and DJ EFN are the top podders in the game. (Related: The Power Behind N.O.R.E.‘s “Yo, Do You Remember…”)
Backseat Freestyle is written and produced by Jayson Rodriguez for Smarty Art Media. If you have any comments, feedback or questions, feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to discuss sponsoring an issue of the newsletter, contact: holler@ smartyartllc.com. And follow me elsewhere:
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Disclosure: I’m employed by Spotify’s Studio 4 and given that I frequently include public news and streaming numbers from Spotify in the newsletter, I want to note that the views and opinion reflected in Backseat Freestyle are solely my own. Also, as the showrunner of Nas’ podcast, The Bridge, I work with closely him, however, any inclusion of his music is without influence. —JR.