Jame$TooCold - Still Goin Dumb (Prod. BRKLY​​​​​​​)

Jame$TooCold has been a standout since he started dropping music just a few short months ago. With his frantic, nervous delivery, he packs more words into his bars than we’ve heard in a minute, overloading the speakers with his aggressive boasts.

On “Still Goin Dumb,” a dark, sparse piano beat by BRKLY blends into Jame$ usual production style, while he menacingly hovers over the beat. Evidencing his growth as an artist, the shit-talking is getting better, the flow more anxious, and the hooks more memorable.

This is a man on the upswing, and we shouldn’t be surprised to hear more from him this year. Check out his latest single below.

The Fault Line Vol. 4

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For decades, the voicemail has been one of the unsung heroes in the art of the classic rap album. They’re rarely necessary and often warrant more skips than applause, but when properly executed, the perfect voicemail can help complete a song’s narrative arc and link together the entire album. Keeping it real is perhaps the most important quality in hip-hop, and there’s nothing more organic than ripping low-quality cell phone audio and throwing it on your album—content so real, you can’t even be bothered to re-record it into a proper mic.

On top of its authenticity, it’s is one of the most versatile tools in the game; it can be used to comedic effect, to share words of wisdom from an OG, or give an old flame a little airtime. Sometimes, it truly is the only way to get a song out to the public—just ask Gucci Mane, Mac Dre, and the countless other rappers who have recorded their verse over the phone while sitting behind bars.

Not every effort can be the best, however, so we decided to count down the top 10 album voicemails and phone messages to separate the weak from the strong. If you have a problem with anything about the list, you’re more than welcome to call my line and leave it after the beep, but be warned: if I like it, it’s probably ending up on my debut mixtape.

10. Isaiah Rashad - “Dressed Like Rappers”

More power to the man who hears the president of his own label call him and his dating habits “creepy” over the phone, and feels compelled to turn it into an outro. Voicemails from TDE president Dave Free are littered throughout Isaiah Rashad’s album The Sun’s Tirade, attempting to spur the rapper back into action as he struggled with addiction issues. “Dressed Like Rappers” is one of the funnier messages, finding the president appalled after rediscovering Isaiah’s age and comparing it to the women he’s involved with.

9. The Internet - “Palace / Curse”

This one gets heartfelt, as now-former band member of The Internet Jameel Bruner pays tribute to the rest of the group for everything they’ve done for him. There’s a shout out to Syd for teaching him how to “handle a drunk person appropriately,” Pat the bassist for taking him to prom, and the giddiest squeal on the world wide web as he reminisces about playing the bongos with Matt Martians in Europe. If you don’t get that excited about calling up your friends to thank them for being in your life, you might need some new friends.

8. N.W.A. - “Message To B.A. - Interlude”

Had history played out a little differently, “Message To B.A. - Interlude” probably would have landed much higher. In the midst of their high profile feud with Ice Cube after he split from the group, the remaining members of N.W.A. deemed it wise to stitch together voicemails from various fans insulting the former member’s street cred as well as his entire persona. Not only did N.W.A. lose the beef, however, but Ice Cube even sampled “Message To B.A. - Interlude” on his lethal diss track “No Vaseline” that still sits among the most vicious rap records in history. It’s bad enough to suffer defeat to someone you used to call your brother, but at least have the decency to keep your fans from taking the loss as well.

7. OutKast - “Nathaniel”

This 70 second song is nothing but the voicemail, as OutKast leaves room on their album for Supa Nate to rap an acapella verse from jail. Nate describes the harsh realities of life behind bars with a detached resentment, lashing out at the guards for their inhumane treatment and longing for the day he has his freedom back. When listening to Aquemini in order, it’s the perfect segway into “Liberation,” the nine-minute saga that further delves into the pitfalls and obstacles of growing up in their hometown of Atlanta.

6. Saba - “California”

Lupe Fiasco also leaves a voicemail on “California,” but that’s not the reason it qualified for a spot. Roast master Donterio Hundon ends the song by tearing Saba a new one, leaving no stone unturned as he rips him for everything from his hairstyle to his bank account. The bar “Yo ass look like the unpaid Future with no future” probably would have been enough for the song to make it on the list, and the fact that it’s not even the best line in the monologue makes it that much better.

5. The Notorious B.I.G. - “One More Chance”

This likely would have been number one if the category was answering machine messages rather than voicemails; an infant child telling the various women in Biggie’s life to “get off his dick” is not easily beaten. Unfortunately for Christopher Wallace and his wife, however, the plot didn’t work. Despite the warning, scorned women flock to Biggie’s inbox with a vengeance, only for him to double down on his ways for the rest of the song.

4. Kendrick Lamar - “Sherane a.k.a Master Splinter’s Daughter”

Now we’re getting into iconic territory. Kendrick’s parents hog up his voicemail inbox throughout good kid, m.A.A.d city, but it’s their first appearance at the end of the intro that’s the most noteworthy. Kendrick’s exasperated mother sets the tone for the rest of the album’s narrative, while his father’s incessant desire for pizza brings well-timed comic relief to the song. Can’t a man just get some damn Dominos?

3. Frank Ocean - “Be Yourself”

Sluggish, lazy, stupid, and unconcerned. Mothers around the world would echo the anti-drug PSA that comes on “Be Yourself,” as the parent of one of Frank’s childhood friends implores him to stay sober and be comfortable in his own identity. Over the atmospheric, wandering instrumental, it’s a heavy-handed wake up call that just might get you to put down the blunt and pick up other methods of stress relief. Or ignore her words and light one up anyway, cause, you know, rebellion.

2. Drake - “Marvin’s Room”

The premiere song about calling up your ex while under the influence wouldn’t be complete without her tinny voice asking “are you drunk right now?” through the speaker. The song begins with her words fading in and out of focus over sloshing synths, before Aubrey Graham enters the soundscape begging her to return to him. Before long it’s pretty apparent that his pleas aren’t going to work, but it’s still a valiant effort from Drizzy that’s undoubtedly inspired countless late night drunk dials in the process. But of course misery loves company, so it’s still a success in it’s own twisted way.

1. Kanye West - Blame Game

This one’s got everything: starpower courtesy of Chris Rock, hilarious quotables that have lived on in the years since, and the most foolproof ingredient to inspiring classic art—heartbreak. The all-star comedian rants for almost three minutes over how much his girl has improved between the sheets, while she’s sure to credit Kanye at every turn. Yeezy might not have wound up with the girl, but at least he secured an album purchase from the guy who took her, thanks to his brilliant teachings. And in the end, isn’t that all an artist can ask for?

For the late nights: Joseph Carter - “One Night”

Quick shout out to Paupa for lacing up half of LA with some of the best beats in the city. On the first song of Joseph Carter’s MANNISH EP, Carter glides over the fresh production with a melodic hook that’s smooth as butter, while rapping his verses to add interesting dynamics to the song. The “Bad Boy of R&B” and Paupa are a formidable combination throughout the EP, linking up on eight of the 10 tracks.

For the sugar babies: Vinny West - “Sugar Daddy”

Off his recent Draft Day mixtape, Vinny West flows in a monotone voice that’s a perfect match for the menacing instrumental underneath him. The blistering hi-hats give the track a bouncing energy, while Vinny finds the perfect pocket to take the song to the next level.

For the psychedelics: $K - “Mu$e”

Colors swirl and reality flutters when the 808’s drop for the first time on “Mu$e,” the latest song from $K that gives you the feeling of staring into a kaleidoscope. The music video is no less disorienting, complete with a turbulent sky and watery filters that warp the song into an alternate dimension.

The Faultline Vol. 3

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No matter how you feel about Los Angeles as a place to live, it’s impossible to argue that the city is lacking in iconic landmarks. As long as you’re willing to endure eternally congested freeways, there’s a sight to see that’s perfect for whatever your tastes are, with varying levels of excitement, edginess, or relaxation depending on what you pick.

Which, if you think about it, would be a pretty fair way to describe the local hip-hop scene too.

For decades, many of the landmarks as well as the rappers that call LA home have been exalted in their respective categories, but today I’m here to make the case that we’ve kept the two spheres separated for far too long. That as long as you’re willing to close your eyes and open your mind, you could place the current crop of rising talent next to the most notable scenery and find no difference between the legendary Hollywood sign and, say, a certain rapper buzzing out of Inglewood.

Let’s get to it.

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Hollywood Sign = Rucci

There aren’t many people in America who would look at the emblematic sign in the hills and place its home as anywhere but Los Angeles. You don’t even have to listen to Rucci’s music to come away with the same idea; the cover art for his Dawgystyle mixtape, heavily influenced by that of Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle, gives away the secret.

Just like the Hollywood sign has become perhaps the most definitive symbol of Los Angeles, Rucci is now a staple in the city’s underground scene. Several mixtapes into his career, he’s helped shape the new LA movement, while paying homage to the pioneers before him with a classic sound that’s still clean and modern in 2018.

You could say the Hollywood sign has tried to keep up with the times as well -- most recently as last year, when an artist vandalized the sign to instead have it read “HOLLYWEED.” Women, weed and weather indeed.

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Roscoe’s House of Chicken N Waffles = 03 Greedo

Since 1975, Roscoe’s has ridden the foolproof sweet and savory combination to a dedicated cult following, serving up full-flavored chicken and syrupy waffles all over the city. More recently, 03 Greedo has found success by working with a similar duality - bursting with energy one moment on songs like “Basehead,” then drowning you in saccharine melodies the next on “In My Feelings.” No matter which one you’re enjoying at the moment, the soulful passion is evident in his vocal delivery, just the same as the comforting nature found in all soul food throughout Roscoe’s menu.

Unfortunately they’re also both dealing with setbacks at the moment, with Roscoe’s battling through bankruptcy in the face of a $27 million dollar debt, and Greedo locked away in Potter County Detention Center for the next 20 years. Still, they’ve got the support of the city as they work their way through it; hopefully that day will come sooner rather than later.

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Santa Monica Pier = Kalan.FrFr

The Santa Monica Pier takes the beach to another level. Forget the simple stretch of sand you thought you knew, now we’re throwing arcade games and a light-up ferris wheel just feet above the water. It’s refreshing, it’s energizing, it’s carefree… it’s Kalan.FrFr.

Feel the ocean breeze in the lush production on “Star,” whipping through your hair as you plunge down the roller coasters. Once you’re looking for something more relaxing, stretch out on the sand at the end of the day with “Atlanta.” Listening to Kalan.FrFr feels like enjoying LA at it’s best: posted by the water without a cloud in the sky.

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Watts Towers = Almighty Suspect

The Watts Towers are as straightforward as they come. At the core and on the surface, they’re a potpourri of steel, concrete, wire mesh and similar materials, twisted into an aesthetically pleasing arrangement by the hands of a skillful creative. Or basically, Almighty Suspect.

Look no further than one of his biggest hits to date in “WhereYoSafeAt,” where teeth-rattling bass hits form a rock-solid foundation for Almighty’s proclamations. On this song and many of his others, his words hit like bricks thanks to his exaggerated delivery, punching his words into the air more so than speaking them. As hard as the towers themselves, it’s proof that you don’t always need to disguise great art behind unnecessary frills, especially when it’s bare essence is as captivating as it is.

Griffith Observatory = Huey Briss

Huey Briss has a raw lyricism, spilling his thoughts and his story over mellow beats that emphasize the wordplay over the production. Simply put, it’s music that makes you want to smoke a blunt and ponder the marvels and misgivings of the universe. Which is a lot easier to do when you have access to the best telescopes in all of Los Angeles.

The Griffith Observatory is one of the prime hubs for astronomy in the country, with its state-of-the-art planetarium and countless exhibits dedicated to science and space. It meshes seamlessly with the desire for understanding and enlightenment that comes from listening to Huey Briss unwravel wisdom in his verses, as he questions the “Strings of Life” on his recent EP Black Wax. Once you’ve learned all there is to learn in a day, switch your focus from the lyrics to the laid-back instrumentals, soothing your mind as you watch the sunset from the plaza outside the Observatory.

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Disneyland = Holland Izz

Fine, Disneyland is technically in Orange County… but from Holland’s home city of Compton it’s closer than driving to certain locations within Los Angeles, so we’ll let it slide. Plus, the comparison is just too perfect to pass up.

Holland’s colorful beats paired with his youthful energy on the mic are the audible equivalent to visiting the “Happiest Place on Earth,” whether you’re there for the thrilling rides or just to see the shows. His squealing, high-pitched vocals on songs like “Summer Love” are akin to the screams you might hear while passing by the Matterhorn, equal parts excited and agitated as he questions his lover’s true intentions. Throw in a parade of beloved characters (features) for good measure, and you’ve got yourself a day (album).

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STAPLES Center = Drakeo the Ruler

The STAPLES Center is one of the premiere arenas in the entire country, hosting three major sports teams as well as frequent marquee events. Seating nearly 20,000 people, the building has become a fixture in the Downtown area, with high-profile tours and awards shows affording it that colossal status. Even before LeBron arrived in LA, it was a venue fit for a King… or a Ruler.

The icy grandeur that permeates Drakeo’s music is the perfect parallel to the magnitude of the STAPLES Center, with his atmospheric yet authoritative production increasing the scope of his soundscape. Every moment feels bigger, whether it’s Kobe going for 60 in his final NBA game, or Adele selling out eight shows in twice as many days. Not to mention, his signature “sheesh” ad-lib definitely came from watching Shaq shatter backboards at will with all of his ferocious dunks.

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For the plot: AzChike - “That Shit Again”

Starting your song with the delicate voice of a well-trained opera singer, before stretching her final note into an eerie synth made even more menacing by the skull shaking 808’s resonating underneath it? The Phantom of the Opera wishes it could be this sinister.

For the shooters: Bino Rideaux - “Bother You”

“Shawty you should let me bother you,” croons Bino Rideaux on the chorus, making his case for the girl on his mind with a playful confidence. Over classic G-Funk production, Bino uncovers new melodies in his verses, even tip-toeing into falsetto territory to show just how deep his passion for her runs.

For the twerk team: Ackrite - “G-Shit”

The hi-hats are bouncing off the walls on this one, and Ackrite’s infectious flow brilliantly matches the energy. “G-Shit” arrives off the Inglewood rapper’s forthcoming project No Remorse, and his delivery is equally unforgiving, as he details his lifestyle without fear of retribution.