Drake threw this Nothing Was the Same throwaway out to the public right before the New Year as something like a victory lap. Laced with "All of the Lights"-style horns, graced by Drizzy in Young Scooter-esque yelling mode, and punctuated by a contorted footwork breakdown that oh my gawd if only it went on a little longer (echoes of Take Care's "Crew Love"), this is a tricky banger and a fascinating look into OVO's editing process. (It presumably got cut because, as great as it sounds, it's a little too rummy to fit with the album's low-key atmospherics.) But when all you make are victory laps these days — when your whole album was a celebration of how damned comfortable you are in your own smarmy skin — is a song called "Trophies" redundant?
Drake feat. Migos, "Trophies (Remix)"
Thankfully, Migos up the emotional stakes on the remix. Drake gives 'em permission to cut off his blustery blathering mid-verse, replacing the comfy Canadian's fat-and-complacent all-me trolling with a hungry-sounding Rap Game DIY celebration of not signing to label, still making a whole bunch of money, and, most importantly, reveling in the trio's intact sense of brotherhood. "This shit is not a love song," Drake claims at the start, but Migos turn it into a crew-love song. And if we've spent 2013 celebrating Quavo, Takeoff, and Offset for so effectively staying in their lane uncorrupted, well, Quavo declaring, "I want a Grammy" here belies their admirable worker-bee qualities while ambitiously echoing Rich Kidz' sustainability anthem "Grammy." Looks like this new school of ATL trap-pop isn't content to stick with low-stakes street rap forever.
Nicki Minaj feat. PTAF, "Boss Ass Bitch (Remix)"
Wherein Nicki Minaj ends a relatively silent year with a gauntlet-throwdown riff on a regional ratchet hit. Consider this her version of Kendrick Lamar's "Control" verse (which Nicki properly responded to in November, lobbing a lyrical SMDH at Kendrick for not even mentioning her), and an extension of Beyoncé's feminist fuck-you anthem "***Flawless." Plus, you know, "Control" itself is kind of a dick song, in the sense that it's a bunch of dudes blabbing about who's bigger and better, which makes the following Nicki lines all the more devastating: "Fuck his best friends then make them yes men / And get a dick pic and then you press 'send' / And send a red heart and send a kissy face / And tell him that his friends love how your pussy taste."
Rick Ross, "Bound 2 (Freestyle)"
So Rick Ross, the phoney-baloney rapper, won a lawsuit against Rick Ross, the real-life cocaine dealer, who was understandably upset that a rapper was walking around with his name and personae. (Read SPIN's 2012 interview with "Freeway" Ricky Ross here.) That win is no surprise, though it's another through-the-looking-glass moment for hip-hop when a rapper jacks the life of an actual street dude, and then can't even throw the guy a bone or anything. Anyway, to celebrate this cheap-shot success, Rozay dropped a "Bound 2" freestyle that finds Ross being, well, Ross, hitting on Khloe Kardashian and indulging a sub-Game litany of rap-history shout-outs. Who even knows, man. Happy New Year, motherfuckers!
Sicko Mobb, "Lamborghini Girl"
Chicago's Sicko Mobb signed to Sony on Christmas Day, by way of seratonin synth-pop producer crew Stargate's Stellar Songs/Water Music Publishing imprint. (Hopefully they'll be positioned as some kind of black-bop boy band.) In conjunction with this major-label love, Lil Trav and Lil Ceno just released Super Saiyan Vol. 1 (insert "Eat the cake, anime," joke here), a too-sweet musical milkshake made up of ringtone rap, rave-hop, AutoTune mumble, G-funk wheez, and just enough heartwarming Jason Derulo cheez to make it all go down smoothly. "Lamborghini Girl" is the musical equivalent of that thing Curly from The Three Stooges does when he falls to the floor and kicks his legs in a circle and whoop-whoop-whoop's.