With a lot of recent emphasis on veteran New York Hip Hop acts, HipHopDX wanted to branch out this week. We spotlighted a track from a sometimes Hip Hop, sometimes EDM artist who we’ve loved since way back. We looked at a new joint from a Bay Area juggernaut who has constantly reinvented himself. And we looked at the rapper who stands a chance to really put it down for Kansas in a major way, after going the self-released route to a major label.

M.I.A. featuring Missy Elliott and Rye Rye – “Bad Girls Remix”

When I first saw the video for M.I.A.’s single “Bad Girls,” where she’s in the Middle East ghostwriting the whip, I was immediately enthralled. Maya’s IDGAF attitude in her style and music is one that transcends genres and cultures. It’s no wonder why she was such a comfortable fit for Hip Hop, and why Jay-Z, T.I., Lil Wayne and Kanye West sampled her “Paper Planes” joint for “Swagger Like Us” and even had her perform it nine months pregnant at the 2009 Grammys. That’s how you know you’re a G (that and you flip the camera the bird at the SuperBowl while performing with Madonna and Nicki Minaj). It was announced that M.I.A. would be releasing three remixes for “Bad Girls” on a special limited edition USB gold necklace. This is the first of them and it doesn’t disappoint. Missy Elliott sounds as comfortable as ever on Switch’s production and the return of Rye Rye proves that Azealia Banks did in fact have a high energy predecessor. The song is reminiscent of the original, only now it’s enhanced. Looking forward to what the other two remixes have in store (and I’ll definitely be buying that gold chain). -kathy iandoli (@kath3000)

Listen to “Bad Girls Remix” by M.I.A. featuring Missy Elliott and Rye Rye

Andre Nickatina featuring Problem – “Jelly”

Too Short is a Bay Area pioneer to the fullest extent of the term. He was releasing 12″ singles before I was born, and I’m no spring chicken. E-40 is always lumped with Short as the sole “veteran Bay guys.” That’s cool, and I’m a huge fan of both. However, people like Andre Nickatina (f/k/a Dre Dog) (along with C-Bo, San Quinn, Boots Riley, Del The Funky Homosapien, etc. etc. etc.) rarely get just-propers outside of their region. Andre’s early work is amazing, and something that I honestly owe a lot to blogs like CocaineBlunts.com for helping me understand its impact. When Dre made Khan! The Me Generation a couple of years ago, I wanted to dig it…but the music just kinda missed me. “Jelly” is a closer step in the direction in which I like to hear Mr. Nickatina. Problem also comes correct as he’s building his own catalog up. It’s a simple, slick-talking track that re-imagines one of the guys I really remember looking up to early in my Rap-buying career in the same way DJ Quik and AMG did in ’06-’07 with The Fixxers. Jelly jams. – Jake Paine (@Citizen__Paine)

Listen to “Jelly” by Andre Nickatina featuring Problem

XV f. Emilio Rojas – “Wonkavator”

With 2012 half over I can say with great certainty that XV’s Popular Culture will go down as one of the year’s most pleasant surprises. Not only is it a cohesive and filler-free project  – two things lacking in an era of rushed out mixtapes that still resort to Pen & Pixel artwork and deceptive feature credits  – but it’s also subversive and smart. If you’re a child of the 90’s sharp enough to know there are two Kansas Cities, you’ll be won over by the time the intro finishes; a baby is born into a world where the first sounds it hears are those of a TV set. The opening songs from The Simpsons and Step By Step! fade into the chronically oversused Scarface cues which should have been put to rest after Hell On Earth. But XV is well aware of this and in a wink-wink nudge-nudge move lays clips from the original WIlly Wonka & the Chocolate Factory atop thus setting the stage for later tracks like “Wonkavator.” Not only does XV have a flow that manages to sound relaxed being a bit ahead of the beat but he seamlessly works in something far difficult than double entendres…double pop culture references like the direction of the Wonkavator mirroring the cheat code from Contra. Half the credit for Popular Culture’s success goes to producers The Awesome Sound for a dark backdrop – soulful at the right times, trippy at othes – that creates a magical juxtaposition to the spot-on referential humor in the rhymes. Listening to Gene Wilder’s voice used rhythmically as an actual component of the song brings me back to DJ Shadow tracks like “Right Thing.” Not bad footsteps to follow. -Michael Sheehan

Listen to “Wonkavator” by XV featuring Emilio Rojas

Last Week’s Slept-On Songs