A$AP Ferg gives us one of the most human big-budget NY rap albums in recent memory, though "Always Strive And Prosper" does end up being a bit all over the place.
There are three rappers who blew up in the early 2010s that I've always grouped together in my head, though they do hail from different corners of the country and are some of the most enigmatic artists currently working in hip hop. The categorization's based mostly on first impressions, which is unfair, but also on realizing that those impressions were wrong.
For someone who's been in the game since 1999, Royce Da 5'9" has had a hard time getting his full life story down on wax. His first five albums were more than enough to show his considerable rapping abilities, but were recorded when he was still a precariously functioning alcoholic, known to down a liter and a half of Patron per day.
In some ways, Future’s in the most difficult position in hip hop right now. After a year-long, nearly unimpeachable run, everyone expects nothing but brilliance.
As one of the most significant rappers of the past decade, for better or worse, Kid Cudi's stamp on the genre has been inescapable. I mean, lets face it, Kanye's last 3 albums have not only featured that man in some right, but they've also had Cudi's fingerprints all over.
Around the time the Graduation came out, I developed a philosophy for media consumption that I called the “Kanye rule.” Its premise was simple: judge art only for the contents within, not for the extraneous actions of the artist.
You may find it hard to believe that Macklemore was once a ramshamble everyman. But it’s true. Ever since he dropped his debut album The Language of My World in 2005, Macklemore has presented himself as an earnest, funny, knucklehead regular white kid from beautiful, rainy, blunt-tastic Seattle. (Full disclosure: I am also a white guy from Seattle.)
B-sides, bonus tracks, and outtakes are usually released to show us the sides of artists that we don't get on their standard commercial projects.
During a recent interview with Larry King, Mac Miller stated that GO:OD AM -- his major label debut under Warner Bros. -- was intended to be a departure from the "darker and sad" vibes of his previous record, Watching Movies with the Sound Off. GOD:DAMN. Mac was right on the money.
The first two installments of Young Thug's Slime Season series arrived a little over a month apart last fall, providing a good display of both Thugger's speed in the studio and his versatility.
Twenty-five-year-old Logic, the author of four buzzworthy mixtapes and, now, with the release of The Incredible True Story and the Transformation of the Man Who Saved the World, two studio LPs, is clearly equipped with immense talent. His first studio effort, Under Pressure, was good enough to put Logic himself under pressure.
Last year's Dark Sky Paradise was a big step up for Big Sean. He culled his finest crop of beats yet, finessed natural-sounding collabs out of some of the biggest artists around, and most importantly, finally let go of his goofiest lyrical impulses in favor of more mature songwriting that still didn't sacrifice any of his characteristic charm.
Somewhere along the way, mainstream R&B's relationship with sex changed. It's still a central theme in the vast majority of the genre, but the offhand, casual way in which it's usually referenced these days stands in sharp contrast with the reverence it was awarded up until the mid-2000s.
In a sea of melodic Southern rappers defined by their contradictions, Kevin Gates easily stands out as the most extreme.
Of all of Lil Wayne's post-Hot Boys frequent collaborators, 2 Chainz was the best choice to tap for a joint album. Who else fits so effortlessly alongside him? Like Father Like Son is certainly an underrated relic of the past, but you'd be hard-pressed to convince anyone that Birdman could ever hang with Weezy lyrically, at any point in either of their careers.
More so than any rapping ability, swagginess, or A&R masterminding, the ability to collaborate with a wide range of artists and dabble in various sounds without once straying from his distinct vocal style has been French Montana's greatest strength.
Listening to Chris Brown records is a bit more involved an activity than ingesting your average pop album. Listeners are required to constantly do mental arithmetic, weighing variables like catchiness and artistic merit to determine if their need to listen > the knowledge that Chris Brown has done some heinous things and your listens are enabling him, albeit in a very small way.
When listening to the two nearly 80-minute-long discs that The Game has released in the past week, it doesn't take long to realize that they're both very good albums. The Documentaries 2 and 2.5 both have high-profile guests who deliver, excellent tributes to Compton, and surprising arrays of beats, which is more than you'd expect from a whopping two and a half hours
After dominating the majority of the most recent millennium, Free Weezy Album marks Lil Wayne's first foray into generating music without the safety net of the Cash Money Records machine that helped make him. More than that, it’s Weezy’s first opportunity to air a slew of infamous grievances, whether it be his fallout with Birdman or new beefs.
You don’t peg Erykah Badu as the type of artist to release a mixtape. Her albums are well thought-out, seemingly in every sense. They’re rich with instrumentation, passing as top-notch soul music while keeping a foot in the hip hop scene.
J. Cole has come a long way from rapping about how to get up off the sideline. Three albums in, with 2014 Forest Hills Drive, the “God” is home. The Fayetteville, North Carolina native composed an honest, nostalgic album without any apologies. Cole typically plays it safe, straddling the fence of a conscious rapper who can still create commercial hits and enjoy a good romp in the bed.
Future has been overwhelming us lately, yet he still remains in-demand. Despite giving us back-to-back releases of three monstrous mixtapes (Beastmode, Monster and 56 Nights), the streets were literally salivating when news broke that he was dropping Dirty Sprite 2.
Breakout Chicago emcee Mick Jenkins raps, “With perfect pitch, I’m screaming free my niggas/ polished and purposeful, he’s producing pristine pictures.” These rhymes-- which open “P’s & Q’s,” the eighth track off Jenkins’ latest effort, Wave[s]-- encapsulate both the ethos of this nine track EP, and one of its major shortcomings.
After announcing his retirement via a poem the other night, Kobe Bryant took the court to face the Indiana Pacers for the second-to-last time in his career. He alternated between flashes of brilliance and moments that made his decision seem logical, ending up with a 13-point performance that was far cry from his glory days, but respectable for your run-of-the-mill NBA starter.
If traditional "bangers" are what you're looking for, 2015 Young Thug is not your go-to guy. You'd be better off trying some of his other locations, like 1017 Thug or I Came From Nothing 3. Maybe even take a trip on up to Black Portland if you feel so inclined.
Something about the current configuration of the major label industry has proven particularly unfair for R&B auteurs. The-Dream has only managed to sputter out inconsistent EPs since his critically adored, commercially underperforming Love (Hate, Vs. Money, and King) trilogy. A similar outcome for Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange has seemingly forced its creator into hermitage.
Young Thug is easily one of, if not the most, interesting artist in hip-hop at this moment. The Atlanta born rapper has been all over the hip-hop headlines these past 12 months, for a variety of reasons; some good and some not so good. The latter referring to his oddly constructed "beefs" with the likes of Lil Wayne, The Game, Rich Homie Quan and most recently Plies.
As time continues to edge its way further, a rapper's career seems to warp underneath the passing moments. For some, greater success or second stages have come to them only after years of hard work. Others have stagnated, or maybe the years have just caught up to the reality of their talent.
Everything about The Barter 6 is enigmatic.Firstly there's its author, Young Thug. The septum-pierced, face-tattooed Atlantian emcee seemingly came out of nowhere just a few years ago, quickly earning endorsements from the likes of Kanye West, Drake, Gucci Mane, and an apparent apprenticeship with Birdman.
People have really been into ranking their all-time top MCs lately. About a year ago, Chris Rock revealed his in the trailer for his film "Top Five": "Jay, Nas, Scarface, Rakim... and then I might let Biggie get in there.
Earlier this year, hip-hop bible XXL Magazine featured rappers A$AP Rocky and French Montana on its cover declaring New York rap is back. While the focus of the game has shifted to other parts of the country in the past several years or so, there are some native New York emcees that are doing their part to rep their city.