Rauw Alejandro has been teasing Trap Cake Vol. 2 for months, promising to build on the sludgy, trap-soul sounds from his first iteration of the project, which he released back in 2019. The EP finally dropped last night and while it’s a quick, 33-minute ride, it refuses to be limited by brevity. Rauw does a lot with a little time, churning out music that’s more grim and provocative than his last full-length album, Vice Versa, but he’s great when he’s lurking in darkness. There’s a bleak disaffection in the guitar-drenched “Gracias Por Nada,” and he lands a steely, down-tempo coolness on the lusty “Red Velvet,” featuring the Jamaican artist Shenseea.
And as good as those songs are, one of the album’s experimental peaks happens on “Wuepa.” The dim and dubby track is powered by a thudding beat you’d find in a vampiric nightclub, and it features what, at first, seems like a surprising cameo from the 21-year-old rapper Ankhal. The insolent newcomer has made raucous, irreverent rhymes his calling card, but he also knows how to use electronic sounds to boost the chaotic energy in his music, so he fits right in with Rauw here. Next to Rauw’s smooth vocals, his verse feels like it’s moving in double-time, making their collaboration that much more exciting as they push each other into new directions.
Hearing what Ankhal can do comes with serious emotional weight right now, given that he’s currently in critical condition after suffering multiple gunshot wounds this week. It also highlights Rauw’s eye for identifying talent and finding ways into music that doesn’t feel like he’s repeating himself, even when he’s revisiting projects from his past.