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Quality Control’s Control the Streets, Volume 2 is the Sound of Now, For Better or Worse

Atlanta hip-hop empire Quality Control remains one of the most significant dynasties in the rap game. Six years deep and their roster still ranges from superstars to hitmakers to buzzing names: Migos, Lil Baby, Lil Yachty, City Girls, Stefflon Don and more. QC may not be shifting tectonic plates quite like the early 2017 era of Peak Migos, but it’s still impossible to ignore the label’s role in a 2019 dominated by the booming trap beats and off-kilter melodic flows they helped popularize. By now, all three members of Migos have successfully launched solo careers, Lil Baby has been on more than a dozen charting songs in the last two years, and City Girls have already been absorbed for a Number One hit (Drake’s “In My Feelings”) before landing several successful singles of their own. 

The massive, 36-track Control the Streets, Volume 2 is basically a State of the QC Address, a chance to flex their muscles (guests include Travis Scott, Meek Mill, Gucci Mane and Young Thug), showcase the family vibe that makes them feel more like a crew than a label (QC do a lot of tag-team raps with other QC artists), and show off their newer associates (among them, singer Layton Greene, and rappers 24Heavy, Street Bud, and Duke Deuce). 

If you don’t have two hours, leap right to the collab between Lil Baby and DaBaby called, of course, “Baby.” Two of the most important rappers of 2019 join forces for something that may portend rap’s near future. Thanks to the sproinging beats and giddy flow of DaBaby, the bounce-assisted spring of recent Drake hits, the continued excellence of DJ Mustard, and the vintage South Florida boom of City Girls, much of rap (and much QC2 for that matter) is moving to funkier pastures after a decade of monolithic trap beats. There’s no better example here than “Like That,” a song where Mustard chops up some New Orleans bounce with Miami’s City Girls, the U.K.’s Stefflon Don and South Carolina’s Renni Rucci. It points to many directions of Southern rap history but only asks you to move (though, with Rucci’s absolutely raunchy rap you may blush, too).

As for the other 34 tracks, they’re all lean and digestable (only one song, a Migos track, crosses the four minute mark), where street hustles ultimately turn to Pateks, Range Rovers, and the occasional threesome. Lil Yachty is on his second wind opting for more chops-centric flows. If you’re yearing for a new Migos tape, 17 tracks feature one or all of them. Elsewhere, Duke Deuce’s “Yeh” is an elastic crunk update, Marlo’s “Big Bag” is some slightly offbeat cool, and the pairing of Young Thug with 24Heavy (“Longtime”) is a nice juxtaposition of two distinct, impassioned voices. 15-year-old Street Bud provides a trap update of Chi Ali’s 1992 hit “Age Ain’t Nothin But’ a #.” In the middle of her Hot Girl Summer, Megan Thee Stallion drops in for a scene-stealing cameo. 

At an hour and 45 minutes, it’s a lot. But throw QC’s formidable team at streaming services and something will probably stick. 2017’s Volume 1 had a minor hit in the Quavo and Lil Yachty collab “Ice Tray,” and provided a spotlight for City Girls and Lil Baby, who both broke a few months later. For anyone willing to take the full plunge, it’s a mostly satisfying chance to hear the sound of contemporary rap evolving in real time.