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Rap Song of the Week: Kendrick Lamar Issues a Warning Shot on Baby Keem’s “Family Ties”

Babyface Ray, GRIP, and ShooterGang Kony also dropped tracks you need to hear

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Family Ties Baby Keem Kendrick Lamar
Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar’s “family ties” video (YouTube)

    Rap Song of the Week breaks down the rap and hip-hop tracks you need to hear each week. Check out the full playlist here. For our latest installment, Kendrick Lamar makes a roaring comeback on Baby Keem’s “Family Ties.”


    It’s no surprise that Kendrick Lamar’s first guest appearance since announcing his final album on TDE is on Baby Keem’s new single. Not only are the two rappers cousins, but Keem is the flagship artist on Kendrick’s company, pgLang, which will logically be the Compton rapper’s focus after leaving his label of 17 years.

    Besides that, 2021 is shaping up to be Keem’s mainstream breakout year. After teaming up with Travis Scott on “durag activity,” the 20-year-old rapper was featured on a track played at one of Kanye West’s early DONDA listening parties.

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    On “Family Ties,” Keem comes out of the gate hot by calling out all the fakers in the industry with lyrics like, “Choppa doin’ circles, it’s a bird, bird/ Take him to the projects, he’s a nerd/ I see n****s hittin’ corners in the motherfuckin’ ‘burbs, huh/ Done politickin’ with the competition, what’s the word?”

    Following a beat switch, Kendrick puts out a warning to any rapper who’s been complacent in his absence. Issuing a reminder that he’s merely been on a break, K-Dot promises he has new flows on the way and proclaims the game needs him to survive. “Smoking on top fives,” he raps, before take a stray shot at Kanye. “Ain’t nobody safe when I come up killin’ everybody that’s outside/ Yeah, Kanye changed his life, but me, I’m still an old school Gemini/ Let me jump in this bitch.”

    King Kendrick is back and he’s pulling no punches. Other rappers have no choice but to get out of the way.

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    Honorable Mentions:

    Babyface Ray, Big Sean & Hit-Boy – “It Ain’t My Fault”

    After a decade grinding in the underground, Detroit rapper Babyface Ray broke through earlier this year with his Unfuckwitable EP.  On the Hitboy-produced “It Ain’t My Fault,” he teams with Big Sean for his biggest collaboration to date.  Hardly intimidated by the spotlight, Ray stays true to his roots: “Got expensive taste, still a hood n****/ Pints in the cabinet, lights, camera, action/ I’ma keep a cup full when them cameras flashing/ Give my niggas hope, I feel like a pastor/ Wanna live like me, you might have to chance it.”

    42 Dugg feat. Lil Durk – “FREE RIC”

    After commiserating over fallen loved ones on “Alone,” 42 Dugg and Lil Durk reunite on “FREE RIC” to go off on their foes. Both rappers are in their bag as they skate over a vintage Detroit beat combining gothic keys with a funky bassline. Weary of the trappings from his recent fame, Dugg almost sounds wistful for his former life (“Ayy, I wish a n**** would play with me”) while Durk can’t leave the streets behind, either. “Clean gun, I take the switch off, put it in my headrest,” he casually raps. “I drive far, you don’t take care of your fam, what you alive for?”

    GRIP – “A Soldier’s Story?”

    Atlanta’s GRIP caught Eminem’s ear with his standout project, 2019’s Snubnose, which landed him on Shady Records. While his debut album, I Died For This!?, features a requisite appearance from his label boss, the real standout is “A Soldier’s Story?”, in which GRIP details nearly giving up on music before getting the call that changed his life. “Is this really what I want? Am I still in love with this game?” he recalls feeling during the pandemic. “Tigg called like n****, Eminem just said your shit was flames/ Then me and Em hopped on a call and it all seemed fitting/ Just a couple days from quitting and the rest is unwritten.”

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    Big Boss Vette – “Eater”

    St. Louis rapper Big Boss Vette lets loose raunchy rhymes on “Eater,” her lively take on New Orleans bounce music. With a brash delivery, she brags about turning other women’s men into her sexual servants with lyrics like, “I hopped off the dick, landed right on his tongue/ Bitches really envy because they wanna be me. Hoes really mad I turned their n**** to a eater.” Newly signed to Republic Records, Vette is certainly one to watch.

    ShooterGang Kony – “JumpMan”

    Hailing out of Sacramento, ShooterGang Kony has been tapped as the next artist to break out from the city’s deep hip-hop scene for his irreverent lyrics balancing dark humor with battle-tested raps. “JumpMan” and its goofy video shows exactly what he is capable of, as he drops rhymes like “I smoke a n**** real quick/ He a doobie.” At just 22 years old, Kony is already gearing up for his ninth full-length, titled Starshooter. Whether or not the project gains him mainstream recognition, it’s going to be well worth a listen.


    Best Rap Songs Playlist:

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