The post Best Hip-Hop Releases of January 2023: Ice Spice Is Just Getting Started appeared first on Consequence.
With this new roundup, we’re highlighting the can’t-miss rap projects every month. Check out the inaugural edition below, featuring the best hip-hop releases of January 2023.
To hear Ice Spice tell it, “Munch (Feelin U)” was a happy accident. Just one year ago, the fast-rising artist was in the studio looking for a word to rhyme with “lunch,” and accidentally coined one of the most popular slang words of 2022. Thinking it was a throwaway track, the Bronx baddie didn’t know she had a hit until a snippet went viral.
That’s really the 23-year-old rapper’s appeal in a nutshell. With a relatable, down-to-earth persona, Ice Spice doesn’t have to try for her music to resonate with others. While her lyrics don’t lack any bite — after all, a munch is basically a cornball or a loser — there’s no posturing necessary to get her point across. Plus, she has a knack for Instagram caption rhymes like “How can I lose if I’m already chose?” on songs like “Bikini Bottom.”
Ice Spice’s debut EP, Like…?, is meant to tide fans over while she works on her first LP. Besides the aforementioned songs and her recent single “In Ha Mood,” it only introduces three new tracks. Of those three, “Gangsta Boo” and “Actin a Smoochie” stay in the confines of New York drill, but the second track “Princess Diana” has more to offer.
Embracing a popular meme that she’s this generation’s Princess Diana, Ice Spice raps over a blowed-out bassline while keeping haters in check with some cheeky wordplay. In a single line alone (“And I’m young, still gettin’ money, my pockets is chubby, nothin’ was the same”), she crams in references to Drake’s former label Young Money, his bodyguard Chubbs, and his 2013 album Nothing Was the Same.
Though Ice Spice would likely deny it, those lyrics are a clever follow-up to her “at least ima 10” response to Drake’s rumored diss (“She a 10 tryna rap, it’s good on mute”) on “BackOutsideBoyz.” Even if Drake really has cleared the air about the line not being about her, it fits right into her style of shrugging things off while letting you know she’s not a pushover.
Having demonstrated ambitions beyond drill and a strong sense of what she brings to the table as an artist, Ice Spice is well-positioned to avoid label pressures that could trip up her first full-length project. Until then, Like…? has done more than enough to keep her in rotation.
Skyzoo and The Other Guys – The Mind of a Saint
Skyzoo’s latest concept album, The Mind of a Saint, sees him step into the mind of the character Franklin Saint from FX’s crack era series Snowfall. The New York wordsmith makes light work of capturing the real-life events of one of the worst periods in the Black community through a fictional lens, spitting precise rhymes over soulful production from The Other Guys. It’s no wonder why he’s become one of the industry’s most-trusted ghostwriters.
Gloss Up – Before the Gloss Up
Gloss Up is real-life best friends with fellow Memphis breakout GloRilla, but the Quality Control artist doesn’t need to rely on a co-sign. In addition to proving herself to be Big Glo’s equal on the appropriately titled “BestFrenn,” Gloss Up takes on dark, gothic beats like “Head, Shoulders, Knees, Toes” with a measured, yet menacing delivery and a self-assured attitude.
Oddisee – To What End
Oddisee’s first LP in five years was born out of pushing himself to do “uncomfortable things,” like seeing a therapist for the first time and collaborating with outside artists including Phonte, Freeway, and Bilal. With the help of his live band Good Company, the DC rapper/producer’s hip-hop soul beats go hand-in-hand with lyrics about self-ambition, societal ills, trauma, and learning to embrace help.
Boldy James and RichGains – Indiana Jones
Since last May alone, Boldy James has released five albums, each recorded with a different producer. The torrid streak has further established him as one of the most reliable storytellers in the game, and RichGains does a particularly good job of lacing him with laidback, psychedelic production on Indiana Jones. In the wake of Boldy’s recent car accident, there’s a chance we won’t hear any new projects for a while, but there’s plenty of music to keep fans fed in the meantime.
ZelooperZ – Might Not Make It
Bruiser Brigade member ZelooperZ makes rapping seem easy on Might Not Make It. The Detroit MC has an innate ability to switch rapping styles to match ever-changing production while spitting brash, unpredictable rhymes. For example, ZelooperZ remains unfazed by an oddball vocal sample on “Okay lil Walter,” getting off boastful lines like, “I turn my listeners to psychics/ They know the next bar flame.”
Best Hip-Hop Releases of January 2023: Ice Spice Is Just Getting Started
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