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Megan Thee Stallion – Hiss
“I just want to kick this shit off by saying fuck y’all,” Meg declares at the start of Hiss. It’s an appropriate way to launch into her new single, considering all the trolling she suffered during her highly-publicised trial against Tory Lanez. Following her emotionally raw, vulnerable single Cobrah, this time the Houston rap star is at her most defiant.“I’m the Teflon Don in the courtroom /They be throwin’ that dirt, don’t shit stick”, she raps, daring anyone to stand in her way. At the time of writing, Nicki is waging war. JW
Ice Spice – Think U The Shit (Fart)
If the planet survives another 100 years, Ice Spice’s latest single will likely be looked back on as a perfect distillation of our current cultural climate. “Think you the shit, bitch? /You not even the fart (Grrah),” is the rapper’s main hook. It’s a funny read, yes, but also a line that’s embedded in meme humour, so unserious and so clearly written to go viral. Is it genius, or a new gastrointestinal low for the culture? We’ll let the anthropologists in 3024 be the judge of that. OP
Skepta – Gas Me Up (Diligent)
Last year, Skepta and Jammer were on the press grind to promote their new DJ/producer project Más Tiempo. And although Skeppy had announced only a hiatus, rather than retirement, from rapping, he gave the impression that these days he’s happier with tech-house wafters and Ibiza sunsets than spitting aggressive bars. The hiatus was briefer than expected: right at the beginning of 2024, he announced a new album – Knife and Fork – and the previously-teased rap single Gas Me Up (Diligent) as well as a live performance at his inaugural Big Smoke Festival.
There’s been controversy over the single’s artwork (which has now been replaced with an “Image Not Found” logo), but lyrics suggest he’s ducking trouble. Over cloudy synths courtesy of US producer Cardo – who’s recently worked with Playboi Carti and Baby Keem – Skepta makes it clear that he still can’t be bothered with rap rivalry: “We don’t get angry, we don’t get even /We don’t talk about beef, by the way, did I mention I just turned vegan?” DR
Sainté – Tea Over Henny
Sainté wants to get his priorities straight on Tea Over Henny. Over soothing, spaced-out production, the Zimbabwe-born, Leicester-raised musician is on a wholesome tip, rapping about the simple pleasures of sipping Tetley and having a sensible night in. Finally dry January has its own anthem. JW
Chastity Belt – 1 – 90 Bridge
Chastity Belt have never taken themselves too seriously. This is a band who named their debut album No Regerts, after all. But the Seattle four piece have gradually grown more sincere over their 13 years together as a band. The title of forthcoming album, Live Laugh Love, started off as a joke inspired by guitarist/singer Julia Shapiro’s stick-and-poke tattoo, but they’re now taking the fridge magnet mantra seriously. The album’s second single features glassy guitar licks and poignant lyrics about growing pains and self-reflection. Close your eyes and let the bittersweet memories flood in. DR