Written by Aidan Werder
1) Eli Fross – ‘Cesar’
The long-awaited project from Winners Circle’s mysterious third member, Eli Fross, finally arrived last week… and it delivered. ‘Cesar’ is a hugely impressive outing from the young Brooklyn artist, especially considering it’s Fross’ first official album. Listeners can definitely hear the similarities between Fross and his labelmates Sleepy Hallow and Sheff G – leaning heavily on Winners Circle hitmaking producer Great John – but Fross manages to carve out his own lane by giving us a new take on the captivating signature sound made popular by Sheff and sleepy (and architected by Great John). On upbeat tracks like “Voodoo” and “No Ad Libs” Fross is coming for your neck – while on “Lifestyle” and “Mental” Fross shows off a softer, melodic flow that’s sure to have broad appeal. Making sure to let him shine in his own right, ‘Cesar’ contains only one feature from Sleepy on “GOAT FREESTYLE” – an off-speed banger reminiscent of Sleepy’s “Deep End Freestyle” or “Tip Toe.” Throughout the project, Fross 100% lives up to the hype that built while he was fighting for his freedom – making it clear that he’s no add-on or afterthought, he is a true multifaceted artist in his own right. ‘Cesar’ is a sing that this is just the beginning for Fross and the Winners Circle camp – and we can be sure to expect more music from their side soon.
2) Statik Selektah – ‘The Balancing Act’
Legendary producer and DJ, Statik Selektah dropped a star-studded treat for fans of true hip hop last week. The ninth studio album from the prolific Statik Selektah is a masterclass in classic production, nostalgic flows, and hip hop royalty – with features from an absurd number of New York hip hop legends including Nas, Method Man, Styles P, Jadakiss, and Smoke DZA; not to mention the cream of the current crop including Conway the Machine, Benny the Butcher Dave East, Joey Bada$$, Haile Supreme and more. And that’s just New York. The list of out-of-state talent is just as impressive with names like Black Thought, Bun B, Paul Waul, Jack Harlow, Kota the Freind, and a bunch more. ‘The Balancing Act’ is a hugely listenable project, striking a perfect balance between the old and new schools – somehow feeling fresh and classic at the same time and all the while remaining unapologetically hip hop.
3) Fivio Foreign – “Trust”
Fivio dropped “Trust” on Friday. Just when you thought that you had heard every version of his signature flow, trust that Fivi has plenty left in the tank. On “Trust” he continues to show just how versatile that Fivio-flow can be, walking all over a AXL-produced guitar beat that shows off a softer side of both artist and producer – eager to show off their skills outside the standard drill formula they both played a role in pioneering. The track comes with a super crisp visual directed by another NY drill staple, director & videographer JLShotThat of VisionaryVision. The music video, which amassed 1.6M+ views over the weekend, prominently features the recently fallen King Von – paying respect to the hugely popular artist from Chicago. A tough moment to meet for everyone, Fivio definitely made the best of it with “Trust.”
4) 38 Spesh & Elcamino – ‘Sacred Psalms’
NY spitters 38 Spesh and Elcamino, from Rochester and Buffalo respectively, dropped a joint project ‘Sacred Psalms’ last week and frankly… this is getting a little ridiculous. If this being El Camino’s 4th project of the year wasn’t enough – true to his word of dropping a project for every month of 2020 (and actually a few days early) this is Spesh’s 12 project of 2020 if you can believe it. Not only is ‘Sacred Psalms’ another dazzling display of the frequent collaborators’ complementary styles filled with tight bars, raspy flows, and signature gritty production – it’s entirely produced by 38 Spesh himself. The 8-track project opens strong with “Hammers on the Hip,” shining on “What I Be On”, and finishing with what feels fittingly like a sacred, street psalm in “If You Want It.” Both of these emcees are quickly becoming prolific in their own right, and listeners can only hope the surplus of bars and classic production from this special class of northern NY artists will continue.
5) Seddy Hendrix – “45” feat. A Boogie
Seddy Hendrix managed to get a rare feature from the man himself, Highbridge’s A Boogie. While Seddy Hendrix is a rising star out of Florida, anyone that can drag A Boogie out of the shadows and hold their own deserves a spot on this list. ‘45’ is off Seddy’s album that dropped on Friday, ‘Sayless’ – a really strong 7-track project with an impressive feature list also including G Herbo, Gunna, 24hrs, and another appearance from labelmate Jack Harlow. The talent and versatlity of Seddy’s smooth vocals, every bit as hip hop as they are R&B, combined with the direction of Generation Now (See: DJ Drama, Don Cannon, Lakeshow, Lil Uzi Vert) – this 7-song feature flex is only scratching the surface of what we’re sure to see from Seddy Hendrix in the coming year.
(Boston) Doobie – ‘Trap Diary 1.5’
A rising artist out of Boston has quietly been dropping heat throughout quarantine. Today, Doobie dropped ‘Trap Diary 1.5’ – another impressive 5-track EP following up on ‘Trap Diary 1’ that dropped this summer. While not native to NYC, Doobie’s gritty energy and command over a variety of hard-hitting drill flows might have you fooled. The opening track “Calm Price” sets the tone for the project, channeling the same haunting energy that made ‘Trap Diary 1’ so successful. “Extra Percent” and “No Respawn” show Doobie in his bag, flexing his signature take on the drill sound – while “Bustdown” takes a more melodic approach with a well-laced crooning feature from VALLEY. The track “Ambush” features MOA Cash who was also featured on the standout drill banger from the first project, “Traffic” alongside Dul Based.
The numbering of Doobie’s first two projects (Trap Diary 1 & Trap Diary 1.5) makes it seem reasonable to expect a Trap Diary 2 at some point – and if we’re lucky we’ll get that sooner rather than later. The quality of output we’re seeing not only from Doobie, but from the whole Pound Club Group, should not be ignored and leaves fans of the Doobie camp eager for the next release. Stream ‘Trap Diary 1.5’ on Apple Music and catch the video for “Traffic” feat. MOA Cash & Dul Based off ‘Trap Diary 1’ here.