Memphis’ Lukah is a consistently fiery rapper with a knack for fleshing out album concepts. His latest, Permanently Blackface (The 1st Expression), continues the streak: It’s a furious and unblinking portrait of being Black in America that diagnoses the conversations and ways of thinking that inhibit racial progress. But it’s the beats that bring it all together, a collection of brooding piano riffs and doomsday drums that feel like they should be blaring out of speakers in late-’90s Queensbridge. Producer Hollow Sol’s instrumental on “Beautifully Blackface” might be the best of the bunch: The drums thump, and the trembling keys capture the same ill-fated mood as gothic noir scores (Hangover Square’s ending comes to mind.) And Lukah is rapping as well as ever, fantasizing about a future without compromise.
With artists releasing songs at a fast and furious pace, it’s difficult for the average hip-hop head to keep track of it all—no matter how tapped in they are. That’s why we created The Ones, a daily post to highlight the song you need to hear.