In December, Japanese-American rapper Ollie Joseph released his latest EP, Hot Streak 2. Full of braggadocious bangers and bona fide bars, Hot Streak 2 is some of Joseph’s most potent work to date. The beats take his global influences into the modern hip-hop sound, his flows are memorable, and that collaboration with Apollo on “Burn The Bridge” is astounding. There’s something to love in every facet of this EP, so let’s get into it.
Right from the beginning, “Hot Like The Sun” shows that Joseph isn’t afraid to take a singular song into multiple sonic spaces. There are quite a few beat switches here, but they all feel deserved. None of the switches are jarring in a bad way, and they all center around the same musical theme presented with Japanese instrumentation. To be quite honest, the beat is what makes “Hot Like The Sun” stand out the most, but that’s not to say the lyricism isn’t good in its own right. The line “Have y’all stopped self-sabotaging for praise” is fantastic, and the idea of delusion plaguing the mind is something that needs to be analyzed within the music community. “Hot Like The Sun” is a multi-faceted opener, and it establishes Joseph as not only a strong writer, but also an incredible performer.
“Torched” has similar flows to “Hot Like The Sun,” but the beat is tense and foreboding. The constant subdued mellotron flute and strings make it feel like the track is always on the edge of falling apart, but it never does. That tension is exacerbated by the use of a similar flow to “Hot Like The Sun.” By using a pre-established motif from the previous song, it feels like the same energy is present, and “Hot Like The Sun” is Joseph’s challenge to the hip-hop community to return to an authentic image. “Torched” feels like the scene in a horror movie where the protagonist has something paranormal happening right behind them but they don’t notice. It’s tense. It’s powerful. It’s awesome.
“One With The Smoke” is honestly a little bit of a miss, but not by much. The beat is a bit too similar to other artists out there right now, but Joseph’s lyricism and flow make it so that there’s nothing too far off. The use of the saying “ducks in a row” might feel a little childish, but the way Joseph works it into this track is fantastic. “I’ve seen a lot of people try hard, but they ain’t tried long enough” is the thesis of the song. It serves as a message to any struggling artist to keep pursuing their craft, but it also serves as a warning. If you give up too early, you become “One With The Smoke.” You get burned.
“Burn The Bridge” is the most commercial of the songs on here. Let me be clear: that is not a bad thing. There’s this notion that being commercial is a distraction to artistry, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Ollie Joseph and Apollo prove that with this track. Although the concept of the song is quite commercial – it’s pretty much about a breakup – the lyrics and flows sound as if Drake put his nose back to the grindstone. This would be my personal favorite if “Hot Like The Sun” didn’t start off this EP so well.
Finally, “Therapy Session.” This track could come across as a ballad at first with its use of piano, but once the trap drums kick in, it’s apparent that this is another banger. The backing vocals add a new type of energy, and this is probably Joseph’s strongest set of lyrics amongst this whole EP. And that’s saying something, cause there are some powerful moments on this thing. “Therapy Session” is an incredible way to round out this particular EP, and I can’t wait to see what Ollie Joseph does next.
Be sure to check out Hot Streak 2 below, and let us know what you think!