The Rotation is a new series in which our writers share and briefly discuss what music they’ve been giving the most spins over the past week. Whether it be revisiting classics, digging into the underground, or fresh drops, we hope to break down projects we might not have a chance to review otherwise and put you on to something dope!
Daniel Son – Yenaldooshi (prod. Futurewave) 
Futurewave – one of the busiest producers in the underground – linked with frequent collaborator Daniel Son (also check out Pressure Cooker, Bite the Bullet, and the Moonshine Mix series) for one of the dingiest rap projects you can find. The Toronto native Daniel Son brings a slightly slurred flow and deep guttural voice to deliver the most menacing street tales in the game. The cover art places a mystic twist on the somewhat typical revivalist subject matter. As in, his bars might not be next level, but his delivery combined with Futurewave’s grimy psychedelia make Yenaldooshi of the most evil sounding projects out of the East Coast revival scene.
Kevin Gates – Only the Generals Gon Understand pt. 2 (2021)
The NOLA/Baton Rouge legend continued his decade long run of strong trap releases in 2021. Only the Generals 2 continues the pain style that Gates revolutionized – Confessionary, melodic anthems balanced with cartel swag and trap beats. He is highly underrated both for the quality of his discography and the influence he has had on popular hiphop today (Youngboy NBA, NoCap, Rod Wave, etc.). On this project, the production leans rather polished, reminiscent of studio albums like Islah. He of course comes through with his signature combination of bangers and love songs, and Only the Generals 2 is one of the best trap albums of the year. It also includes what might be his best song ever: “Fairy Tale”. This heart touching record details Gates’ experience being sexually assaulted as a child, his retaliation, and struggles with mental health. It all culminates in an uplifting message that we need to overcome and make the most of life.
Nas – Magic (prod. Hit-Boy) [FRESH]
Nas surely needs no introduction as an established GOAT, but he has had a bit of a resurgence in recent years through collaborations with producer Hit-Boy (The man behind many early 10’s mega hits and projects with SOB x RBE, Benny the Butcher, and more). The King’s Disease series is generally pretty safe, but consistently enjoyable. On Magic however, they both shine. This project is among the best work from either artist, with each stepping outside of their box a bit and sounding hungrier than ever. The beats no longer use Hit’s fall back – a sort of off key piano loop – and they are some uniquely bouncy modern boombap. This invigorates Nas. While his bars haven’t been lacking, they shine through stronger on these beats and he brings some energetic flows (particularly on “Meet Joe Black” and “40-16 Building”). There are also standout assists from A$AP Rocky and the legendary DJ Premier. This is simply the best Nas project in a very long time.
Shawny Binladen – Merry Wickmas (2020)
‘Tis the season! Shawny Binladen is a member of the New York drill wave and he is certainly one of its most unique. His beats heavily utilize famous samples (Snoop Dogg, among other soul classics) flipped into drill bangers, and a whispered flow which is oddly menacing. He almost feels like the New York equivalent of Babytron with such off the wall vocal style and sample choice. This project is just a really entertaining, quick listen and a standout from the NY drill scene. For more information, check out our NY drill guide!
Rob Sonic – Alice in Thunderdome (2014)
Already a legend in the backpack scene and a former Def Jux member, Rob Sonic actually didn’t release his best solo work until the 2010’s. Along with 2018’s Defriender, Alice in Thunderdome saw Sonic narrowing his craft into a balance of the esoteric and digestible (similar to the evolution of friend and collaborator Aesop Rock). While his vocabulary isn’t too over the top here, each song is packed with individual bars which tell entire stories themselves. Strange concepts such as a man’s simple commute and tales of labor, as well as strong guest appearances from Aes and Breeze Brewin create a dystopian aura over spiraling, heavy synths. While it certainly isn’t for everybody, Rob Sonic brings a very unique perspective and lyrical approach to hiphop.