T-Shirt – “Clique Freestyle”

I’ve said this before – I’m usually against rappers going in over instrumentals to songs currently circulating on the radio/internet. It almost feels like the artist isn’t giving the original song enough time to breathe and really become a hit of its own. In a situation like “Clique’s” though, having Jay-Z and Kanye West on a song will guarantee it has a fair shot. So T-Shirt was pretty bold in choosing that song to rock over, but does a great job. I’ve heard Shirt evolve from a newish blog rapper to a lyrical force to be reckoned with. He takes this beat on full force, capably kicking around bars and really owning this track. For a second, you even forget the beat existed before this song. I’m still waiting for this guy to blow up. He deserves it. – Kathy Iandoli (@kath3000)

Listen to “Clique Freestyle” by T-Shirt

Curt@!n$ featuring ScHoolboy Q – “Ruthless”

A popular single several weeks ago, this video version went under the radar of our readership in large part. After years plugging away in the blog circles, Curt@!n$ makes his stamp as a rapper with both substance and swag, like his high-profiled guest on this particular cut. The video is a simple but seamless integration of some dark file footage of the Klan, snake-charmers and other jarring black-and-white images. This is an album-ready Biggie-sampling cut from Dopeboy C, who is fast building his own base after several years paying dues. – Jake Paine @Citizen__Paine

Young Dro featuring Decatur Slim – “On Set”

Admittedly, I was never the biggest Young Dro solo fan. I interviewed him for Skope magazine back in 2006 though, and always admired his politeness and loyalty to T.I. A few peers I respect had been championing some of Dro’s work in recent years though, post-Atlantic Records. Paired with my man DJ Burn One (who’s been instrumental in re-energizing some veterans as well as introducing some critical figures, I’m not so surprised on how much I like “On Set.” Ralph Lauren Reefa is coming this week, and this single has a dope, smoked-out chorus with a really feel-good sound. What I like most about this cut is its mellow vibe paired with an urgent delivery. No, Dro isn’t the most lyrical guy in the world, but at least he knows how to hammer in a rhyme and speed it up when necessary. I think this deserved considerably more attention than 600-some listens this past week. – Jake Paine @Citizen__Paine

Listen to “On Set” by Young Dro featuring Decatur Slim