South-side drill rapper Lil Bibby is 19, but he sounds much, much older—his husky voice conveys a seen-it-all attitude that lends his dark street raps a weight that resonates. It’s a gift, one that Bibby knows how to use well and one that can make up for the MC’s weaknesses—when he performed “Water” on BET’s 106 & Park for the XXL “Freshman Class” episode, he walked around the stage listlessly while his voice came out booming. I’m reminded of that episode because Bibby just dropped a track off his forthcoming Free Crack 2 and it features a collaboration with another recent XXL freshman: Baton Rouge’s Kevin Gates, a rapper I admire in part because of the fine grain of his deep voice.
Gates opens Bibby’s new “We Are Strong” with an ad lib that sounds like he recorded it moments after waking up from a three-month slumber. His trap-life raps fit in neatly with Bibby’s Chicago street-life rhymes, which he delivers atop a wicked instrumental featuring a sample of Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield” (I’ll never hear that song the same way again). “Did it on my own / I don’t need nobody help,” Bibby raps midway through “We Are Strong,” but this song wouldn’t be nearly as strong without Gates’s growl.
Bibby’s line about making it on his own reminds me of another new hip-hop track by a local rapper-singer named Fluffy. On “Best Friend” she raps about how falling in love with her best friend drove her insane while a throbbing bass blares away. And yet Fluffy sounds positive throughout the track, even when she addresses the madness of love, and she comes out of the experience wiser. She also got some help on the track from a friend, Bonafyde labelmate Probcause, who lends his playful flow and an additional narrative of tumultuous romance to the track.
“Best Friend” is Fluffy’s first single, and she released it just ahead of her show tomorrow night at Jerry’s Sandwiches in Wicker Park. She’ll be joined by Glow Mechanics, Deuce Funk Monsters, Beasthead, and Hologram Kizzie (aka Psalm One); the show costs $5 and it starts at 9 PM.