This was a slow week in the mixtape universe. The two best rap full-lengths (two best full-lengths in any genre, really) were actual official albums: Ka’s The Night’s Gambit and Kevin Gates’s Stranger Than Fiction. There were no big mixtapes and no exciting newcomers, or at least none that I heard. I’d love to convince you guys that the Ying Yang Twins’ Ass Is In Session is a ridiculously fun piece of throwback hornball bounce-rap, which it absolutely is, but I don’t think I’ll convince many of you of its worth. Instead, let’s talk about a tape that’s been around for a while, slowly gathering speed until it seems inescapable, until its greatest track seems like, quite possibly, the rap song of the summer. But make no mistake: This thing is old. Rich Homie Quan’s original Still Goin In tape came out in November of last year, and Still Goin In Reloaded, the weird deluxe-reissue thing, came out in February. One of the new tracks on Reloaded was “Type Of Way,” a piece of atmospheric triumphant sad-bastard singsong-rap. That song is an absolute anthem right now. It might sound slight or generic on first listen, but if you spend enough time with it, it starts to feel hypnotic, and that slithering hook just never leaves your head. “Type Of Way” got a terrible low-budget video months ago, and it just got a slightly-better, slightly-higher-budgeted one. By the time its cycle ends, I wouldn’t be surprised if it got a third one. It is a special song.
On “Type Of Way,” Quan adapts this incantory delivery that isn’t quite singing and isn’t quite rapping. And even though it’s lyrically straight-up brag-rap, there’s this vast underground reservoir of sadness sitting underneath it. Like just about everything coming out of Atlanta right now, it’s got a profound Future influence, but unlike most of it, it’s the emotive and melodic equal of anything Future’s made since Pluto. The mantra-like hook, like Future’s incredible “Bugatti” hook, starts out as this quiet liquid thing until producer Yung Carter’s drums kick in and the whole thing turns anthemic. But even when he’s talking shit, Quan sounds sincere and beaten-down. “I got a hideaway, and I go there sometimes to give my mind a break,” Quan croons at one point, and he doesn’t sound like he’s boasting about it; he sounds like he’s admitting it. Like Future before him, Quan’s found out that big moments sound that much more exciting when they come with a profound undercurrent of vulnerability.
With a song like that, you’d expect Still Goin In to fall to Trinidad James syndrome — the thing where every time you start listening to a song that isn’t the hit, you say fuck it and just play the hit instead. And “Type Of Way” is easily the song from the tape I play most often. But the whole tape is pretty great, since Quan’s got that same ear for hooks and that same emotive punch throughout. He never quite raps; he always sings like he’s murmuring to himself. And his nagging melodies just naturally flow, lazily melting into each other with understated grace. At 20 tracks, the tape has barely any rapping guests, and nobody you’ve heard of, but Quan is enough to hold your attention by himself. And the music is this Zaytoven-influenced chintzy synthetic swirl that matches his beaten-down coo gorgeously. It’s a rare thing: A rap mixtape that sounds pretty throughout.
More importantly, Quan sounds convincingly human in a way that rising rap stars rarely do. Quan went to prison for about a year pretty recently, and he sings about it constantly, like the experience continues to haunt him. Elsewhere, he dedicates a chunk of “Sacrifices” to the woman who killed one of his friends, singing about going to court just to watch her get sentenced and getting no peace from it. There’s plenty about fucking and shooting you, but most of that never scans as dehumanizing, especially when paired with a song like “Can’t Judge Her,” an anthem of affirmation for women who struggle their way through any sort of shitty job or hardship. Quan’s hook on that one is worth typing out in full: “Even if she sell dope and start cooking, dancing or selling pussy, it don’t matter cuz you can’t judge her / Even if she got four different baby daddies, I don’t care, long as she happy / Ain’t my business, man, you can’t judge her.” It’s a song of support and admiration for the exact same women that many rappers lyrically treat as cum receptacles. It’s a work of melodic street-rap empathy, and that’s a surprising and heartening thing.
Download Still Goin In Reloaded here.