Written by Aidan Werder
1) NY Knicks x Kith x Nike x Dipset – Dipset For Kith
So New York it almost hurts. While not exactly a song, this cinematographical masterpiece is a pretty jaw-dropping collaboration between three bona fide pillars of New York culture – The New York Knicks, Nike, and The Diplomats – brought together by Kith, one of the most forward thinking, trend-setting brands in streetwear with a long history of working with NYC legends. The 4-minute video set at half court of the historic Madison Square Garden prominently features three knockout accapella verses from Cam’ron, Juelz Santana, and Jim Jones of The Diplomats. The trio, rising to prominence in the early 00’s and affectionately known as Dipset, are three of the most iconic artists in New York hip hop in terms of both music and fashion – reuniting as a unified front to make the perfect spokesteam for Kith’s collaboration with the NY Knicks.
The scene commences with a deafening silence that gives way to the deep vocal and classic Killa bars of the original face card of The Diplomats, Cam’ron, poetically standing on the very same court where he played in the 1992 Public Schools Athletic Class A Championship alongside Ma$e – under the very same rim that did him dirty as he took, and missed, the buzzer beater 3-pointer to win the game.
Cam is followed by a dope verse from Juelz – looking appropriately icey and rocking his signature bandana headband (and his own fire Kith x Nike sweatsuit… this is a commercial after all.)
Batting cleanup is El Capo with a classic Jim Jones verse – reminiscing on the Harlem golden era days, namedropping their top-shelf brand partners, and of course not forgetting the obligatory mention of Harlem’s legendary Rucker Park. Inspector Capo coming through like COVID, to make sure every bar’s good.
Overall, this was an unexpected yet hugely well executed collaboration – not only an engaging commercial for Kith’s new capsule, but a dope piece of art that celebrates a few of the most sacred staples of NY culture. Well done all around.
2) Funk Flex & King Von – Lurkin
It’s fair to say that no one really saw this one coming. The collaboration and posthumous tribute to the fallen Chicago icon, King Von, orchestrated by New York’s favorite-to-hate DJ Funk Flex is well… hard to hate. While unexpected and sounded a little funny when word first dropped of its release, “Lurkin” turned out to be a great track and moving tribute – the embodiment of King Von’s signature dark energy and aggressive, story-weaving style over fittingly somber production.
The track is accompanied by a simple visual depicting the fallen icon alongside Funk Flex in Midtown during one of his rare trips to NYC. Despite maybe one too many shots of Flex’s hellcat, the straightforward video does a good job of placing appropriate emphasis on Von and his musical talent. It’s 2M+ view count in just a few days is a testament to the reach of King Von and a reminder of just how much was lost with his passing. Rest In Peace Dayvon (King Von) Bennett.
3) Benny the Butcher – 3:30 in Houston
New York’s favorite Butcher opted to lay down an eerie track instead of an interview in response to his recent shooting incident in Houston. “3:30 in Houston” immortalizes the event on wax in truly epic fashion, with Benny ever so slightly touching on the events of that day and laying out what will soon be his legendary next steps – “Out the hospital to a private jet” …and straight to Westside Gunn’s with a pound of Butcher’s Breath. Don’t expect any interviews or further clarification on this one anytime soon… unless your name is Anderson Cooper or Barbara Walters.
4) Bizzy Banks – Neo
Last week, Bizzy Banks dropped the visual for “Neo” – off his debut project ‘GMTO Vol. 1 (Get Money Take Over). This young artist out of Brooklyn – as part of The Culturvated Agency alongside 22Gz and CoachDaGhost – has had a hugely warm reception from fans, recently revealing via his Spotify 2020 Wrapped that he saw 10.1M+ streams this year, many of which came since dropping GMTO Vol. 1 in September. After fan favorites “Top 5” and “Extra Sturdy,” – “Neo” is probably the next hardest pure-drill track off the project, with Bizzy gliding over a classic Brooklyn drill beat, bookended by a fire hook and punctuated by heavy bass, asymmetrical high hats, and a killer flow throughout. Far from a one-trick-pony however, listeners can hear Bizzy elsewhere on the project exploring sounds outside of the traditional drill framework on tracks like “Hold You” “Heartfroze,” and even a surprising yet really successful flip of Jesse McCartney’s hit “Beautiful Soul” on the track “Beautiful.” The accompanying visual for “Neo” directed by Aklo91 is well put together – nodding to the title with Matrix-themes throughout and sure to show off an appropriate amount of drip. Overall, a great track and a solid visual from Bizzy Banks. Hopefully this is a sign that we can expect more heat from Bizz and the Culturvated camp in 2021.
5) Jim Jones feat Dave East – Pardon My Thoughts
Harlem greats Jim Jones and Dave East connected on “Pardon My Thoughts” – a dope cut off the deluxe version of Jones’ latest album ‘El Capo.’ The beat is an unexpected – and probably not that easy to get – sample of the cult classic “Bring Me to Life” by Evanesence, the 2009 emo/rock mega hit (that only haters say they don’t like). The haunting female vocals are flipped into a cool, snare-heavy 808 beat to make way for a classic East verse, followed by a signature Harlem-heavy verse from Capo (which, if memory serves correct was previewed on Jim’s IG while featuring his innovative Quarantine Studios setup).
6) DJ Drewski feat Sheff G & Sleepy Hallow – 2020 Vision
In the second DJ-driven track of the week, we’ve got DJ Drewski’s “2020 Vision” – carried by the young goats Sheff G and Sleepy Hallow. With the pair again showing their ability to appeal to audiences beyond Brooklyn drill, “2020 Visions” is a hugely listenable and radio-friendly track that still manages to remain true to their unique style – with the duo gliding over an acoustic guitar beat, just how they like it. Between the Drewski involvement, the notably upbeat vibe, and the fact that the song is fairly light on cuss words for the normally unapologetic drill rappers – one can only assume we’ll be hearing this one on tri-state radio stations at the very least through the rest of 2020 – a great warmup for Sheff G’s new album set to drop this week.
(Jersey) Fetty Wap – You Know The Vibes
Patterson, New Jersey’s viral sensation Fetty Wap returns with “You Know the Vibes.” After blowing up in 2014 and rising to absolutely ridiculous heights with a string of radio-friendly mega hits, before taking a step back to catch his breath – Mr.1738 is back in great fashion with a new project. We hear glimpses of the Fetty Wap we came to love when he first hit the scene with “Trap Queen” throughout, while also hearing growth and a really successful evolution of his style – especially on tracks like “Vibes.” We see Fetty reconnect with close collaborator Monty, for a laid back but super catchy vibe on “Way Past 12” (watch the video below). On tracks like “Attachment” feat Styles P and “Gangsta Love” we’re introduced to almost an entirely new Fetty Wap – riding classic sounding boom-bap beats with soulful female samples and highlighting his un-autotuned vocals. Overall, great to see Jersey’s beloved Fetty Wap back in the ring – and definitely some great tracks on this project.