What sets A Boogie wit da Hoodie apart isn’t how pretty his flow is (what platinum-selling post-Drake rapper doesn’t carry a melody?) but how hard he sounds in spite of it. Melancholy as some of the bars here are, Boogie (aka the Bronx-born Artist Dubose) doesn’t wallow or mythologise his self-pity—if anything, he comes off like a new model in the mould of a classic New York rapper: the steely, self-protective dude who only thaws out long enough to remind you of all the feelings under that ice. Holding back is easy; making it sound as beautiful as he does on these tracks is something else. Consider this set of Essentials an argument for a young rapper quietly redefining the game.