The best-received and most ambitious album of Kanye West's career turns five today.
Since we began this "Classic Rotation" feature two years ago, we've written about albums that have stood the test of time, ones that have come to define eras and genres. A decade is usually what's needed to meet such lofty criteria, but today, we're highlighting the youngest album to ever make the cut.
Last Saturday marked the 15th anniversary of hip hop legend Big L’s untimely death. The Harlem rapper helped propel the strong New York hip hop movement in the nineties, and collaborated with dozens of artists including a young Jay-Z, Tupac, Fat Joe.
Despite the fortuitous shift in the music industry, the status of Jay Z and Kanye West remains unblemished. For over a decade, Hov and Ye anchored the remaining bits of Roc-A-Fella by extinguishing rays of doubts with timeless material. Since Reasonable Doubt, nobody questioned Jay’s lyrical prowess. He embodies consistency and longevity.
Each year around the beginning of March, artists begin sending in pitches to XXL, hoping to wind up on the magazine’s highly-coveted Freshmen list. Thus far, we’ve seen Lil Herb, Bishop Nehru, Fat Trel, and a few others try to convince us they have what it takes to grace the cover along with eleven of their peers, each turning in a short video clip to the publication.
We've officially wrapped up a big year for the genre we all love-- new albums from Jay Z, Kanye West, Pusha T, Mac Miller, Drake, Juicy J (and the list goes on), only made 2013 that much sweeter. Mix in a new-found competition brought on by, you guessed it, "Control," and all the free mixtapes we've received in 2013, and this past year was definitely a good one.
Rap culture has been linked with drugs for the better part of its lifespan. Rising alongside the crack epidemic in the 80s, the music was synonymous with the inner-city struggles, and at the time that meant crack cocaine. As the 90s hit, there were more drug-dealing raps that hit the mainstream from the likes of Raekwon, Notorious B.I.G., and Jay Z.
On Friday, Dr. Dre will drop Compton: The Soundtrack, his first project since 1999's 2001. He's kept busy in the 16 years inbetween, executive producing hip hop classics like Eminem's Marshall Mathers LP, 50 Cent's Get Rich Or Die Tryin', & The Game's The Documentary and contributing to the making of hundreds of other projects.
It's the time you've all been waiting for, or at least, the five of you that take trolling extremely seriously. It's the only year-end list you care about, our biggest trolls of 2015.
There is much we can learn from rap Instagram, much to read between the lines as rappers attempt to craft their image without pesky publicists looking over their shoulder. Take a look at some of the best hip hop Instagram posts of the week after the jump.
50 Cent filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy this morning was one of the most unexpected turn of events of the year. Even with his $5 million payment to Rick Ross' baby mama last week, 50 seemed to have an unlimited supply of cash between his rap career winnings, minority stake in Vitamin Water (sold to Coca-Cola for $4.1 billion in 2007), and current spread of business enterprises.
Of the many things that old heads will insist "were better back in the day," diss tracks are among the few that most younger rap fans can also agree upon. Even if you didn't live through them, the 2Pac / Biggie, Eazy-E / Dr.
Vinylz already had a pretty big 2014, but he's setting himself up to have an even bigger 2015. You probably saw the name Vinylz in 2014, or at least you might recognize it, but you probably aren't super familiar with who he is a producer. His frequent collaborator though, Boi-1da, is definitely a name you know a thing or two about.
Mixtape Weezy-- somewhat of a legendary title that continues to be cited as the rapper's hungriest and most engaging form. With the release of Dedication 5, the discussion about this particular brand of Wayne was rampant once again. Was Mixtape Weezy back? or was D5 just more of the same recycled punchlines we've been hearing from his last few releases?
The history of rap and rock collaborations goes back to the year 1986 when Run DMC, considered one of the most influential hip-hop groups of all time, released their own version of the Aerosmith track “Walk This Way.” This song paved the way for hip-hop’s ascent in being accepted into the realm of pop, rock and other forms of mainstream music.
Toronto has been on the map ever since Drake came up and The Weeknd became one of the biggest pop stars in the entire world. In recent times, a young cat by the name of Jazz Cartier has come up to gain a portion of the Toronto hip hop scene's spotlight. With a following that seems to grow each day, Cartier is poised to have a huge year.
Music festivals seem to be more popular than ever these days, causing hundreds of thousands of music enthusiast to splurge on passes, fly out of state or even the country, to camp outdoors and soak in live music alongside strangers in borderline unbearable heat for multiple days in a row.
Drums are to a rap song what shoes are to an outfit. Even the flyest of threads are rendered whack if paired with white Asics. Conversely, a tuxedo T-shirt and basketball shorts has great potential, if paired with Griffey high tops.
It's just been announced that Meek Mill will support Nicki on the "Pinkprint" tour. Judging by his personality, Meek is no "opening act," but for Nicki, he'll gladly make an exception. In his own words, Nicki Minaj is "da best female ever". That tweet was from three years ago, and Meek's thirst goes back even further than that. Meek first tweeted about Nicki in October of 2009.
Kendrick Lamar has captured the attention of all of us with his studio albums. Section.80 broke him into the mainstream, good kid, m.A.A.d city established him as a hip hop heavy-hitter, and To Pimp A Butterfly put him at the top. However, like most great artists, Kendrick struggled for years to get to the point he's currently at.
Slang is an important part of hip-hop culture, sometimes originating first as part of lyrics (think 'yolo') before later transcending to everyday use, often times, transcending generations, meaning, even your mom is capable of throwing out the word 'yolo' every now and then.
In 2014, it's no secret that where Kanye West goes, the rest of hip-hop follows. Starting with him and Just Blaze making "chipmunk soul" a hot sound in Roc-A-Fella's prime, Mr.
"Betcha Rozay never ever heard no shit like this," Denzel Curry rapped earlier this year on his track "Lord Vader Kush II," contrasting his own trippy sound with the in-your-face pomp of his hometown's biggest rap export. Since the mid-2000s, Miami has produced two of rap's loudest voices in Rick Ross and DJ Khaled, as well as their more traditionally-minded signees Ace Hood and Gunplay.
Lupe Fiasco has been in a battle with Atlantic records for what seems to be forever. We all know about his discontent with Lasers and on his mixtape Friend of the People he made it clear that he wanted off the label. He did not get his wish before this album dropped, and that almost prevented us from hearing this album entirely.
Terrence Thornton, better known as Pusha T, was one half of the group Clipse and enjoyed a ton of success in hip-hop in the early 2000s along with his brother Malice, who made up the other half of the duo. After Malice took a step back from Music, Pusha T took the opportunity to explore the solo lane and put out music on his own.
Often time, being in the rap game and doing prison time goes hand-in-hand, something which we documented on another recent list, 15 Rappers Who Did Jail Time.
The Grammys are coming right up, and we'll have the pleasure of watching Iggy Azealia, Common, Eminem, Childish Gambino, Schoolboy Q or Wiz Khalifa take home an award for the 'Best Rap Album.' In the past, the Grammys have picked some albums that had everyone scratching their head, but they've also got it right a few times. We're going to focus on those instances with this list.
The Game has taken on a new reality show that mirrors Flavor Flav's "Flavor of Love" with VH1. The TV show, which The Game previously spoke about the show on HOT 97, revealing the motive behind it ($$, unsurprisingly). What's interesting about this show is that each girl is picked by one of The Game's friends.
At this point in the Trap-A-Velli mixtape series (and this point in the unkillable career of 2 Chainz) we definitely know what to expect from any new releases.
The hip hop crew is an essential part of success. Whether big or small, every rapper has an entourage. Sometimes it's full of rappers, and other times it's just his buddies from back in the day, nonetheless, weak links in a crew can water down the crew as a whole-- something we took into consideration when crafting this list.
Last year was amazing for hip hop. There were new sounds popping up all over the country and no shortage of albums, mixtapes, and projects to feast your ears on. From the West Coast renaissance to Atlanta's overall dominance, 2015 was awesome, straight up.