Remember how this time two years ago, summer officially kicked off with JAY-Z delivering one of the best albums of 2017? Or how about last year, when Drake closed out the month of June by dropping one of the most anticipated hip-hop albums of 2018? Well, here’s the bad news: Unlike each of the past two years, the first week of the summer in 2019 came and went without a high-profile rap release, let alone an event-type offering on the level of 4:44 and Scorpion. As for the good news? We were blessed with a DJ Mustard project full of bangers, the second collaborative album from Freddie Gibbs and Madlib, a long-awaited collaborative album from J Balvin and Bad Bunny, and a surprise Daniel Caesar project, along with a handful of great singles from ASAP Ferg, Big K.R.I.T., H.E.R., and Rich Brian (“Yellow”), among others. As we head into July, these are the best new songs of the week.
Freddie Gibbs f/ Pusha-T and Killer Mike, "Palmolive"
I thank God every day for the Best Rapper Alive, Pusha-T, who, with every verse, reminds us that mic skills still matter in hip-hop’s modern era. “Palmolive,” the standout track from Freddie Gibbs and Madlib’s second collaborative album, Bandana, is the latest display of both Pusha and Freddie’s exceptional pen games, as each wordsmith submits brilliant verses backed by Madlib’s soulful production. —Brad Callas
H.E.R. f/ YBN Cordae, "Racks"
Fresh from winning Grammys for Best R&B Album and Best R&B Performance, H.E.R. tapped YBN Cordae for her sensual new single, “Racks.” Over a trap beat and airy guitar riff, the R&B crooner delivers a classic “money can’t buy happiness” message, which bleeds into a smooth verse from Cordae, in which he explores the same themes. “My infatuation with these bags I’m facin’/Got a couple dollars so congratulations/Tryna find love, so I’m navigatin’/Shower you with gifts, oversaturation,” he rap-sings. “But I can’t seem to find love without the ratchet shit/This gold dream of mine, why am I attached to this?” —Brad Callas
Mustard f/ Nipsey Hussle, "Perfect Ten"
It’s only fitting that DJ Mustard, a Los Angeleno himself, would close out his anthem-heavy album with a touching Nipsey Hussle appearance on the the self-titled closing track. But unlike Nip’s inspiring performance on DJ Khaled’s “Higher,” which featured an uplifting hook from John Legend, ”Perfect Ten” is more somber, as Nip speaks on the code of ethics by which he lived his life. Instead of a chorus, the song features vocal clips of Nipsey lamenting about the violence in hip-hop, his worldview, and even his friend YG (who he calls a “genius”). What a perfect way to end an album. —Brad Callas
Daniel Caesar f/ Pharrell Williams, "Frontal Lobe Muzik"
Daniel Caesar's follow-up to his breakthrough 2017 album, Freudian, is a slam dunk, providing us with ideas like the battle between good and evil, and life and death. On the upbeat “Frontal Lobe Muzik,” Caesar delivers a message based on the power struggle between happiness and loneliness, which, thanks to a stellar Pharrell feature, tends to lean toward the former. —Brad Callas
Juicy J f/ City Girls and Megan Thee Stallion, "Three Point Stance"
With a collaboration between Juicy J, Houston’s hottest rapper alive, Megan Thee Stallion, and Miami duo City Girls, you kind of already know what you’re getting into, but the bombastic club banger “Three Point Stance” still delivers. Over a Three Six Mafia-type trap beat, all of the rappers trade nasty bars while, probably, setting a record for the highest number of times p**** is mentioned in a song. It’s everything you’d expect from Juicy J, which is to say, I wouldn’t ask for anything else. —Brad Callas
Big K.R.I.T f/ Lil Wayne and Saweetie, "Addiction"
Following a trifecta of EPs in 2018, Big K.R.I.T. is gearing up to release his K.R.I.T. IZ HERE album on July 12, the long-awaited sequel to his breakthrough 2010 mixtape K.R.I.T. Wuz Here. After hitting us with the lead single “K.R.I.T. Here” a couple weeks ago, the Mississippi native taps Lil Wayne and Saweetie (who also teamed up on Kid Ink’s “YUSO” last year) for his latest offering, “Addiction.” Over slippery production from Don Coreleon and Rico Love, K.R.I.T. delivers a summer-ready anthem centered around Saweetie’s sultry hook and Weezy’s metaphoric bars. —Brad Callas
ASAP Ferg f/ City Girls and ANTHA, "Wigs"
On the heels of their prolific 2018 in which City Girls collaborated with big names like Drake (“In My Feelings”), Cardi B (“Twerk”), and 21 Savage (“A&T”), the Miami duo deliver a show-stealing performance on ASAP Ferg’s new track, “Wigs.” The bouncy track is the latest in a string of solo singles from Ferg, kicking off with last month’s A$AP Rocky-assisted offering, “Pups.” Nearly two years removed from his last album, 2017’s Still Striving, let’s hope that “Wigs” signals the arrival of a new project coming very soon. —Brad Callas
Rich Brian, "Yellow"
It’s been one year since Rich Brian released his debut project, Amen. Since then, the Indonesian rapper has kept a low profile. But now, four months after teasing his forthcoming sophomore album, The Sailor with a tweet that read, “Hope ur ready for the next one :)” Brian returns with “Yellow,” a single that he says is an important step forward for his art, explaining that he pushed himself to write about things that are deeply personal to him. Produced by Bekon & the Donuts, “Yellow” is a departure from previous Rich Brian songs. But, given the song’s deeper messages, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. —Brad Callas
Bad Bunny & J Balvin "Cuidao Por Ahí"
The entirety of OASIS is solid, but we chose to go with the Tainy-produced “Cuidao Por Ahi” for this list, because it best encapsulates the fresh air that both Bad Bunny and Balvin have brought to the Latin Urban genre (i.e. Reggaeton). This track has elements of the traditional reggaeton sound mixed with some stateside hip-hop elements, making it consumable to our non-Spanish speaking friends in the U.S. mainland. They first announced that this album was on the way in our cover interview with them back in September of last year, and it’s finally here. Play this while doing something tropical like sippin' on a nutty or a Henny Colada at Rockaway Beach, unless you live close to a real beach. —Angel Diaz
Jon Waltz, "Sportscar"
Our cousins over at Pigeons & Planes already propped up Jon Waltz as one of the best new artists of the month. Now that his new tape Monochrome is out, allow me to keep the hype train going by tapping "Sportscar" as an early fave. What a perfect song to drop during the first official full week of summer. This has lazy, sun-soaked 85-degree day written all over it. It's a flashback to those days of dreaming you had a sports car to cruise around in, but handlebars was the best you had to offer shorty at the moment. Those days weren't so bad. —Frazier Tharpe
Tyler Thomas, "Kamehameha"
Tyler Thomas is an outlier in today's rap game, an anachronism if you will. And he knows it. "They don't make rappers like they used to," he laments on his new song "Kamehameha." After getting his year started this past spring with the moody, double-time flow cut "Dripped in Gold," TT slows things down a bit to get some emphatic bars off, too. "Kamehameha," named after the signature finishing move in Dragon Ball, is pure mean-mug driving music. No passenger. Tyler's powers are getting stronger, and at this point, it's only so long before he goes full super saiyan. —Frazier Tharpe