The Rap Report: Baby Money deflects shots, Legend Yae croons through conflict, and more

Every week, The FADER’s Brandon Callender shares his highlights from across the rap world, from megastar artists to the deep underground.

There are moments on Baby Money’s “Tables Turn” calls for a bit of celebration — being in position to put money in people’s pockets, the plug he’s “main mans” with — but there’s a sense of sadness that hovers over this song like a dark cloud. “I been makin’ all this change to buy some more chains, it ain’t changin me ,” he raps over the twangy beat. “I thought the percs and drank work, but it ain’t change a thing.” They aren’t the most revealing or colorful lines, but the way they precede lines about shots being aimed at him and the brother he lost to the streets make it feel like Baby Money can’t even take the time to gather his thoughts. Success doesn’t come without battle scars.

Legend Yae is a rapper from Orangeburg, South Carolina who writes loose, emotionally charged songs that deal with self-medicating, love, and the unforgiving nature of the streets. There is a plethora of other Southern rappers working within a similar style — a cottage economy could be made out of Rylo Rodriguez-type beats — but what draws me to Legend Yae’s music the internal conflict that lies at the heart of songs like “Etc,” the first song of his I heard on an episode of Hit A Lick Radio late last year, and “3rd & 1st,” where he starts off inflamed before his voice lowers to a pained whisper. “Vanish,” his latest, feels like its floating through the air because of the muffled low-end. Yae’s emotive voice is left to get twisted up in the weepy keys. “He a snake I cut the grass/Hit the gas ain’t thinkin’ bout it,” he raps. It sounds like there’s a million other things on his mind.

“I love my commas ‘cause they never did me wrong,” jaydes croons on “Lately.” “It seems like more guap, less trust, niggas getting fake r/ Nothing that I haven’t seen it used to trigger anger.” The 16-year-old Florida rapper delivers those lines with such a calming aura that it’s hard to believe he even gets angry. In the second half of the song, Texako tries to match jaydes’ carefree warbling with his own jaunty lilt over the lullaby-like beat. They both sound like they’re recording from a white sand beach.

After a few albums, rappers who rap about selling drugs tend to up the stakes of their music. Their songs becomes cinematic, and their bars are practically a parody of what a life of excess looks like. It’s easy to imagine Los if he did that: There’d be no more road trips to random towns in Pennsylvania or broken blenders; catch him out buying real estate on Daisy Lane or catching flights to Barbados. But “Los Type Beat” keeps it gutter. With Cel and MoneyMane4Real’s nocturnal funk creeping under his words, Los likens himself to a self-help guru. “Wanna make some real money? Put on Los music,” he says. “You on the ‘gram stressed out bout what a hoe doing? Is life kicking your ass, you ain’t making no moves?” Those lines would come off like you’re being put on game had someone else said them, but on here, Los is like an evil recruiter.

There isn’t much emotion in Chn Jake’s voice. Instead of adding some warmth to his voice, on “Blind,” the Auto-Tune just makes him even more cold and distant. That effect gives his words a ghastly outline that ends up having him sound like a spirit trying to communicate with us from the other side. “Fuckin’ up there streets in SRTs, I don’t do the walking,” he boredly raps. It makes me wonder what a Headless Horseman that whips around a Trackhawk would look like. Chn Jake’s way of using Auto-Tune isn’t as chaotic as some of the other approaches Milwaukee rappers have been taking, but the simplicity of his approach that makes it work. In other words: If it ain’t broke…