Nitty Scott, MC - "Language Arts"
I geeked over the drums that rumble at the start of Nitty Scott's latest, followed by the flutes, then the drums again. When Nitty jumps in, it's game over. Her slick bars pierce through the instrumental, as Nitty talks about everything from "sheeple" to getting her belly rubbed in Aruba. "They say she changin' and I tell em 'Oh, please,'" Nitty declares. She is changing though. Nitty started as one of many female rappers trying to penetrate the Rap game and prove herself worthy of sitting at the wordsmiths' table. Now we know she's well worthy of the praise. On "Language Arts," she playfully juggles bars that exemplify her lyricism, yet she manages to keep our attention. It's a rare gift to possess both skills and hopefully Nitty's awareness will continue to grow. That being said, The Art Of Chill should be one of the soundtracks to the Summer. - Kathy Iandoli (@kath3000)
Big K.R.I.T. - "Bigger Picture"
Since "Somedays," I love when Big K.R.I.T. makes relationship tracks. They're never just that. Instead, one of my favorite emcees (and producers) over the last three years makes concepts or speaks broadly, with some real lyrical smart bombs. "Bigger Picture" is one of the most potent moments of King Remembered In Time. Krizzle is reaching back to what appears to be a woman, who doesn't understand his relocation, his time away or his devotion to the grind. The chorus and theme opens up to the possibility of a reconvening, but also exudes the disappointment that comes with that kind of personal pressure. This is real life stuff. But rather than get heavy-handed, K.R.I.T. pushes a metaphor about a painting. This opens the song's meaning to many different interpretations. This 2013, I'm thankful to have records like this. It honed the mixtape in for me, and is absolutely, positively album-worthy. - Jake Paine (@Citizen__Paine)
Rain - "Look What I Got"
It’s hard to tell if the loft in the first and last scenes of Rain’s “Look What I Got” video takes place in a super hood apartment building or the most haute project complex ever. The protagonist is clearly living in all hard-wood everything. Yet as he ventures down the steps to the elevator (which isn't immediately intuitive), he passes the obligatory dice game going down in the stairwell. Yesteryear’s clichés sit front and center throughout. Toothbrush clean Nike Air Jordans’ still in the box…check. A fat bag of weed on the shelf hovering above an iced-out Jesus piece and a grip’s worth of Benjamin Franklins which rest on the night table next to a bottle of Astroglide visualize the oft overused motifs originated in late-Golden Era ruling-class Rap videos—sex, drugs, and fresh to def. Maybe it’s a testament to how Hip Hop is looking real 1990s these days, but somehow it all works without creeping close to corny. It's endearing and replay worthy. Plus, Rain comes correct with a controlled flow—delivered in a style that now defines the Fayetteville, North Carolina sound—mixed with perspective-laced lyrics, a seductive self-produced soul sample, and a surprise ending that resonates long after first listen. “Look What I Got” feels perfect in the whip or when cleaning the crib, and is just the latest in a handful of compelling leaks from Rain’s upcoming Live Fast, Die Young. - Justin Hunte (@TheCompanyMan)