Migos still has the bangers, proven on "No Label II."
DJ Khaled has been behind some of the hottest records of the last few years and if there's one thing he's made consistently clear it's that he has a winning formula for hits. This is also his greatest fault. It's never been so clear how one dimensional DJ Khaled's music really is than here on Suffering From Success, the DJ's seventh studio album.
Today marks the culmination of the strangest rap career genesis this country’s ever seen, one that has included an MTV reality show, a hip-hop trio name Three Loco, OG Ron C, a Harmony Korine film, a slew of investigative articles and perhaps most importantly, about as much hate as the internet can muster.
Fifteen years of Shady Records represents an unusual time for rap music, transitioning out of the shiny suit era and into a bubble featuring new names. Aside from D12 and Obie Trice releases, the label’s existence was mostly tied to Eminem signing a certain Queens MC.
The first Luca Brasi Story, released last February, put Kevin Gates on the map. Soon after, he quietly inked a partnership with Atlantic and a management deal with Young Money. He put out another excellent mixtape, Stranger Than Fiction, months later, and he’s had a similar 2014 in terms of output: two mixtapes, both excellent.
Seven years after Wale released his blazing Mixtape About Nothing, he’s released The Album About Nothing. His alternative hip hop style has come a long way in the time since; he’s inked a deal with Rick Ross, had a #2 album with Ambition, and a #1 album with The Gifted.
After Yelawolf’s first major-label album Radioactive proved to be, well, just that; and failed to meet the standards set by his 2010 mixtape Trunk Muzik, it felt as though - with his second effort Love Story - an explanation or apology was due. He seemingly traded in his trademark mud-coated country roots for pop-pandering.
After a long wait, SURF is finally here. The debut LP from The Social Experiment (aka SOX) is billed as Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment despite the fact that the band’s biggest star is obviously Chance The Rapper. The album features, although they aren’t listed on the iTunes version of the free album, the likes of J.
I don’t believe there’s a single person on Earth who saw Tity Boi becoming a national superstar. From background appearances in old Ludacris music videos to becoming a one hit wonder as a part of Playaz Circle to having the number one hip-hop album in the country, the rapper formerly known as Tauheed Epps is an incredible example of what hard work and dedication can do.
Defining a “classic” is no easy task. The first factor is obviously the quality of the music. Here we ask the basic questions: Are there any unnecessary tracks? Does the production impress without outshining the lyrics? The usual surface stuff that’s easy to assess on two full listens. After the surface level is cleared, an album has to separate itself from the pack.
In February of 2012, Pro Era’s Joey Bada$$ and Capital STEEZ dropped the visuals for their collaboration “Survival Tactics,” which quickly went viral. Crowned the future of New York rap, Bada$$ served the perfect blend of youthful, braggadocio-tinged rhymes, and laid-back flows-- not to mention an ear for classic 90s-referencing production that would make Gangstarr proud.
In recent history, there’s been a few kinds of rap albums: the long ones and the short ones, those with lots of features and those kept rather personal. A$AP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar, and The Social Experiment went with longer listens peppered with tons of flavor from their friends and collaborators.
Lloyd Banks' pedigree as an ill emcee speaks for itself at this point. During G-Unit’s active days, Banks was widely considered the best pure spitter in the group. Very little has changed in that regard; if anything Banks' career since the early 2000s has distinguished him as one of the most technically savvy rappers out. F.N.O. (Failure's No Option) only makes it easier to argue the case.
2012’s Don’t Be S.A.F.E. flew under the radar for the hip-hop masses. Aside from smash hits “Female$ Welcomed” and “All Gold Everything”, nobody quite knew the true identity of Trinidad James. Many eyebrows were raised when James inked a deal with Def Jam worth $2 million. Skeptics argued that he would be a one-hit wonder, and fail to live up to expectations.
There has been a heavy influx of modern and neo r'n'b in the past few years, but R. Kelly will always remain an important figure in what we now consider “old school r'n'b”.
Every meaningful artist takes a step back at some point in their career to dwell on their achievements and tribulations in an attempt to make sense of everything that’s happened. JAY Z accomplished this feat on wax with The Black Album. Kanye did the same on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, as did Nas on Life Is Good.
The average man thinks about sex between one and 388 times per day; Trey Songz isn’t your average man. In his nine years of making music, the twenty-nine-year-old has made it abundantly clear that sex is pretty much all he thinks about. One might even say he invented it. In a way, Songz's one-dimensionality is a gift and curse.
There’s something admirable about truly stepping out on your own, as your own person. You’re leaving behind that helping hand, that “co-sign,” and pursing your dreams, able to stand without the crutch.
A weird thing happens when an artist gets signed to a major label. It seems, no matter how talented they are, no matter how much their fans are willing to support, debut albums almost always come up short. There have been exceptions, of course. (Logic's Under Pressure being the most recent example.) But, more often than not, the curse of a major label signing is very real.
In many ways, the early 2000s belonged to Ludacris. Within that time, the rapper was able to cross multiple platforms, making palatable music for varying tastes tinged with his trademark Dirty South sound. He would drop cheeky hit after cheeky hit, with a self serious flow delivered through a cheshire grin - and we all loved him for it.
Tyga has been a very busy man. After banking more than a few racks after his massively successful 2011 strip club banger "Rack City", Tyga (aka Michael Ray Nguyen-Stevenson) has showed no signs of slowing down.
To say Hopsin's third album is long overdue is like saying FEMA's response to Hurricane Katrina was slightly delayed. It's been three years since he dropped his critically acclaimed sophomore album Raw. Since then, he's toured the country extensively and landed a spot on XXL's 2013 Freshman list.
Among Odd Future’s colorful cast, Earl Sweatshirt is almost reserved. Almost.
Tech N9ne has been in the rap game for well over two decades but he flew under mainstream’s radar for much of his career. Shooting off lyrics with the speed of an automatic weapon, he earned a legion of fans through relentless tours to small cities in the heartland of the country.
Bobby Ray is often cited as one of today’s underrated rappers. In the past, his hip hop game has come under fire for infusing pop and rock into his music. He’s also been dubbed a “sell-out” many a time, for creating radio winners. On Underground Luxury, he fights the critics bringing more of a hip hop feel.
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