Posts tagged Hip Hop
Sir Michael Rocks sits down on the Smoked Out Couch

Rapper and one-half of The Cool Kids - Sir Michael Rocks - sits down on the couch on the latest episode of Smoked Out Saturdaze

Will #MuteRKelly be the change Hip-Hop and Urban Pop Culture needs?
Prince Williams

Prince Williams

Over the past year we have seen the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements out many pop culture icons as predators. One of the giants to fall was Bill Cosby, who before the digital takeoff of the aforementioned hashtags faced several accusations and trials for drugging and raping women. Cosby, who has since been found guilty and awaits sentencing, has caused many to explore the effects his behavior has on his life work.

Especially in the Black community, Cosby was heralded as a generational father by many, serving as a guiding role model through his television persona.  Many have responded to the accusations with outlandish conspiracy theories, and showed sympathy and even remained on the convicted rapist's side. Why is it hard for urban pop culture to cancel problematic faves?

Similarly, the music industry has had several artists, producers and executives both young and old, male and female engaged in predatory behavior. With or without convictions, testimony, statements and evidence pointing to the true lifestyle of these individuals are on display for the world to see, and yet these people continue to succeed unscathed.

R Kelly and The #MuteRKellyMovement exist as examples of a man whose predatory behavior has terrorized, conditioned and trained young black girls for decades. Meanwhile he’s led profitable tours, sold millions of albums and garnered support against these claims, with damning evidence against Kelly in many of them.

Recently music streaming services Spotify and Apple Music announced they will be removing R. Kelly’s music from their featured playlists for his abusive behavior Many have exclaimed their new policies are unfair unless all artists of all genres, races and accusations are held to the same standard. Rap music, currently reigning supreme as the most popular genre in the country, has a long reputation with negative connotations surrounding its artists, lyrics and lifestyle.

Will the #MuteRKelly movement and Spotify’s announcement launch a spring cleaning of the Hip Hop world?

While not unique in housing abusers (artists and professionals of all genres have been found to be problematic) hip hop's relationship with domestic abuse, rape, and other problematic behavior is finicky. Often times, lyrics, videos and other mediums of the culture mock abusive behavior, celebrate and encourage rape and sexual abuse.

For example, think about the number of lyrics you can recite referencing the domestic turmoil between Ike and Tina Turner. The abuse Tina faced at the hands of Ike, leading her to fight back, has turned into a metaphor for rough sex, proposed as an “A-HA” moment. Countless other simple yet violent bars exist. Is this example indicative of why men such as R. Kelly remain only slightly impacted by extraneous claims?

It seems we are on the cusp of the “R Kelly Reckoning” where he will finally be held responsible in the public eye for his behavior. Could this be the precursor to an overhaul in Hip Hop and the Black community to report sexual violence and shun those responsible? For musicians like Kelly, the need to protect our own in celebration of our gifts and talents has existed for too long.

In the same breath, a family knows which Uncle not to leave their nieces alone with, but they'll still invite him to the cookout. The overlooking of sexual trauma and marauding behavior in our communities on a familial and professional level continues to exist.

The digital age has created a space for movements like #TimesUp who continue to fight for men, women and every representation of people who have been victims. The hashtag, among others, has amplified many to courageously share stories that would have otherwise been ignored until time to pass down the generational trauma.

Recently more women are coming forward to share their encounters with predatory behavior in the Hip Hop & R&B community. When revealed producer Noel ‘Detail’ Fisher was accused of physical and sexual abuse, rising vocalist Jessie Reyez shared details of her encounter.

During a segment on daytime television show The Talk, co-host and rapper Eve shared the story of how pop icon Janet Jackson came to her rescue when she was drugged at an industry party.

Even Cardi B has called out the abusive treatment of women in Hip-Hop and how these voices are ignored when vocalizing her opinion on the #MeToo movement.  Her cover story with Cosmopolitan shared a personal interview where Cardi B reflected on the uncomfortable situations she herself has experienced.

"A lot of video vixens have spoke about this and nobody gives a fuck,” she says. “When I was trying to be a vixen, people were like, ‘You want to be on the cover of this magazine?’ Then they pull their dicks out. I bet if one of these women stands up and talks about it, people are going to say, ‘So what? You’re a ho. It don’t matter.’” As for the guys who have publicly embraced #MeToo, Cardi has her doubts. “These producers and directors,” she says, “they’re not woke, they’re scared.

With the support of #MuteRKelly rising, many are hopeful that whether woke or scared, urban pop culture grows out of stagnant abusive conditions and grows to a place where creativity and talent continues to thrive.

Best projects of April 2018

Maaan, the last full week of April proved to be one of the craziest weeks in recent memory.  We saw a Dream separate itself from a Nightmare, a Spaceship on a troubling descent, and the MCU's spin on the chorus of XO Tour Llif3. Amid all the madness, what shouldn't be forgotten is the number of quality music releases that came out this past month. The start of the 2nd Quarter of music has a high level of importance because of it unofficially sets the bar for the soundtrack of the Spring and Summer seasons.

Songs that are melodically dreary are quickly getting replaced by uptempo anthems for those wanting to live their best life on their worst behavior all Summer '18 (*raises hand*). Substance and lyrical depth are important, but so too are the cadences and flows on "beat-driven" tracks.

Respect the fact that some people aren't trying to hear an academic dissertation at a poolside party. On the flipside, some people aren't trying always trying to turn up and would like some introspective music for their downtime. Life's about duality. Better yet, like what Thanos said, "perfectly balanced...as all things should be." The music drops of April 2018 did just that.

Eyeless and Just JT of The Barber's Chair are here to give you their favorite projects of the month and some other notables that should be on your radar.

Flatbush ZOMBiES - Vacation in Hell

EYELESS: The trippy triumvirate "representin' BK to the fullest" has returned with their most complete project to-date, Vacation in Hell. Flatbush Zombies are comprised of 3 uniquely talented individuals: Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice, and Erick the Architect.  As explained by Erickin their GQ interview, "I feel like Vacation in Hell is about making the best out of a situation that may not be the best." A darker, less optimistic, but a no less true version of "when life gives you lemons."

During the hour+ journey through their warped sense of reality, each member brings their own bold efforts to the table on ViH. In addition to his role as the primary beat maker (self-produced all but2 tracks), Erick is a dual threat with the pen, both of which are clearly exhibited on the haunting track "Proxies." His approach to creating a boom-bap sound is meticulously imaginative and forward-thinking. Arc's production credits have helped shape the sound ofNew New York, aka Beast Coast.

Juice is a high-octane, colorfully eccentric, and flat-out hilarious artist that is far from a joke in the clownin' sense. The growth of Juice as not only a rapper and harmonizer is evident with every new drop from Flatbush ZOMBiES. Watching his progression from "Thug Waffle" to the dope and frenetically calm"Leather Symphony" (featuring a focused, yet unhinged ASAP Twelvy) has been a great thing to watch.

But wow, like LeBron James' performance down 3-1 in a series against the 73-win Golden State Warriors, Meechy Darko stepped up from an already ridiculously high level set from his past work. Being the purest MC in the group, and quite possibly New York at the moment, Meech undoubtedly puts any challengers on notice that he ain't here to play games with y'all in 2018. Clever metaphors, gravely voice with an equally gritty delivery, emphasis on being lyrical; just bars.

This has always been in his arsenal, but on Vacation in Hell, he turned the proverbial corner. A raw and confident energy surrounded his presence on "Facts," featuring Jadakiss "I'm a walkin', talkin' silhouette, the darkest rhymer //Since DMX dropped that album with blood all over his body". It'd be best to steer clear of him in battle unless you're fully prepared for the challenge.

Rapping about drugs at a high pace over bruising instrumentals isn't the only thing that appears on ViH, and that narrative is hardly the focus. This album has an interesting blend of different sounds, like "Crown" featuring an unlikely collab from the alternative rock group Portugal. the Man. The lead single "Headstone" sounds like typical New York sonics, but the lyrics are filled with odes to legendary rappers that paved the way for them.

Other tracks, such as "YouAreMySunshine" (No lie, I stopped getting high once we lost Yams // I was there the night he died, he was blue cold in my hands) or the track turning the mirror towards our country, "Best American," shows the range and honesty this group is capable of. The political state of this country, the untimely loss of loved ones (RIP to Juice's mother), falling in love, and the ills and horrors of being Black in America among other things are topics on Vacation in Hell. It's a soundtrack to and reminder to try and have some fun in the face of adversity.

J. Cole - KOD

JUST JT: Every time when J Cole wants to speak to the people, he makes sure that we stop and listen. He made it clear one day on Twitter when changing his Avi and announcing his album listening session for his 5th album KOD, which stems from 3 names; Kids on Drugs, King OverDose, or Kill Our Demons. During his live listening sessions he confirmed that this album was completed in two weeks. The overall theme behind the message of the album was overcoming the many different addictions of life, whether it’s using self medication as a means to cope, chasing and stacking money. social media obsession, etc. In the beginning of the intro, we hear the narrator say, “Life can bring much pain There are many ways to deal with this pain./ Choose wisely” which echoes throughout the album on numerous occasions to consciously  serve the listeners as a reminder in life. Coming off from his last album, 4 Your Eyez Only, I was happy to hear Cole becoming passionate again about rapping. He recalled in his interview with Vulture saying that he wasn’t in the proper headspace around the time that album needed more promotion when it came out. Although i'm a huge fan of his song Deja Vu, 4 Your Eyez Only really just came off for me as part 2 of 2014 Forest Hill Drive.

This time around on KOD with the message being preached on the album, he sounded rejuvenated and ready to rap about some real shit that needed to be said. What’s even better about this album is knowing that he’s already got another project coming soon called The Fall Out. Cole not only has been one of my favorite rappers since the 2010s time period but has also become a polarizing figure with all of the love & hate he gets from people. You just have to sit back and wonder how in the world is a little nigga that’s from Fayetteville, North Carolina making this much noise but doesn’t show nor act as if he’s famous. He does the total opposite. My favorite records off the song include Photograph, ATM, Brackets, Window’s Pain, & 1985 Outro. Brackets was truly amazing for me when he was rapping on his 2nd verse questioning the american tax system. And the curriculum be tricking them, them dollars I spend/ Got us/ learning about the heroes with the whitest of skin/ One thing about the men that's controlling the pen/ That write history, they always seem to white-out they sins. Only time will tell with what’s going to happen with The Fall Out but between that and Revenge of the Dreamers 3, Im looking forward to hearing more of Cole’s energetic raps among his Dreamville peers.

Kali Uchis - Isolation

EYELESS: For how strong it is as a whole, it feels like Isolation has been criminally under-discussed in on social media. With high-profile features such as the creative enigma Tyler, The Creator, and the legendary funk musician Bootsy Collins, one would think more buzz would surround her project, especially after it dropped. Doesn't matter. I firmly believe that the debut studio album from Kali Uchis will inevitably stand the test of time. Numbers aren't totally indicative of the quality of a project (quick aside: please cut that shit out of your music arguments on Twitter; nobody cares). If it's dope like Kali's style, it's dope and people will eventually hear it. Her voice matches her aesthetic: smokey, stunningly beautiful, with an unconventional flair. The strength of Isolation lies with the extensive production team that created a multi-faceted universe for the Colombian-American singer to get some deep feelings off her chest.

To name a few: Thundercat, Tame Impala's Kevin Parker, and hip-hop/jazz quartet BADBADNOTGOOD all had contributing roles in creating this genre-blending tape that does not like a forced soundclash. RnB, hip-hop, and soul are natural elements that mix well. But for a pop artist to include a heavy (yet authentic) Latin American influence with a sprinkle of reggaeton and bossa nova is refreshing to hear. Tracks like the dangerous sounding, slow yet beach friendly "Miami" featuring BIA and the untranslated "Nuestra Planeta" shows Kali's dedication to holding onto her native culture.

In short, the entire record is groovy as fuck. Prime example being "Just a Stranger," the Steve Lacy (and BROCKHAMPTON producer Romil) assisted, lighthearted track. She makes quick work of her 2 short verses by coolly rolling her sultry voice over the live instrumentation. Definitely some shit you'd hear at a roller rink on a Friday night...but not in a corny way. Having a team of talented writers and producers is only half of the equation. Showing up and executing what's been laid in front of you is the difficult part. Kali did not miss the mark.

With Isolation being her debut after several years in the industry, it'd be hard to imagine her not having a hands-on approach pre, during, and post-production. Even with the large crew of people in the album credits, her own musical influences can be heard loud and clear. And, the lyrics are as personal as it gets. On the Gorillaz produced "In My Dreams" - with Damon Albarn on additional vocals; let's just call it a Gorillaz feature - we hear the ideal utopia that she created in her head, cut with an undercurrent of pain (I'm never stressing my bills, nobody ever gets killed, it's the dream world...My mama's never on coke, this isn't my way to cope // Washing my mind out with soap). This, and the rest of the CD all ties into the theme of Isolation. It may seem poppy on the outside, but if you read between the lines, there's a person struggling alone with real problems. Kali Uchis put her heart on display with this excellent debut; she'll be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.

Cardi B - Invasion of Privacy

JT: America’s new favorite sweetheart Cardi B made her major label debut Invasion of Privacy on April 6th. With the way her life has been going, the debut album title is the best fit description towards Cardi’s life. Everywhere she goes, there’s always someone saying something that’s pertaining to her life, whether its about her past, her relationship with Offset, her pregnancy, etc. But even with all of the bullshit, she’s still pushes forward promoting her music and living her best life while making guest appearances on tours and shows like Saturday Night Live. First starting off back in 2017 with the smash single Bodak Yellow, Cardi began truly gaining traction from both the hip-hop audience and the mainstream world.

Outside of creating the ratchet anthems for the ladies to enjoy, she steps out of her comfort zone with different records such as Be Careful, I Like It, & Ring. Not to mention her album is only 13 tracks long which make it a perfect segway. I’m looking forward to hearing these records during the summer days. I can already hear Bickenhead, Drip, & She Bad being played all throughout Day Party Season this summer. The ladies are going to hold it down for Bartier Cardi while shes away getting ready for motherhood. When you look at Cardi’s trajectory from when she first started on Social media towards getting into Love & Hip-Hop New York and finally setting herself up with a music career, you can’t help but think about how great this current era is with building the proper fanbase.

Young Thug - Hear No Evil

JT: Jeffrey aka the artist formerly known as Young Thug voiced that initially he wasn’t going to release any music in 2018, which was then met with mixed reactions. Then one Thursday night in April, rumors started surfacing on Twitter speculating that Thugger was going to drop a surprise EP and low and behold, his 3 song EP Hear No Evil was released to the world. My favorite song from that EP was Up with Lil Uzi Vert. Overall, despite not really feeling attached to Anybody with Nicki Minaj for personal reasons, I still thoroughly enjoyed this EP from Thugger. With all of the talk with his music, he really should be way bigger than where he’s currently at but thats a different subject for a new day. In a perfect world for me, Thugger would drop maybe 2 or 3 more EPs later on in the year hinting us of a bigger project that is coming ahead. But for now we will sit back and wait to see what Thugger comes up with next. You never know what’s in stored with him and the music.

Saba - CARE FOR ME

EYELESS: No matter what new trend, steez, or wave that crashes into the shores of music, honest transparency delivered in through the conduit of storytelling will always be appreciated, especially narration that is at a high level. It's only April, but I'll be shocked if CARE FOR ME isn't mentioned amongst Album of the Year contenders come December. The self-released and extremely personal project from Saba is that damn good. The 23-year-old,SAVEMONEY-adjacent, Chicago native sounds incredibly mature for his young age. An "introspective journey haunted by trauma and deflated with social anxiety," that is somber to the point of numbness, yet engaging enough to keep your emotions stimulated.

Chances are, you've heard Saba's raps on 2 of Chance the Rapper's standout tracks from Acid Rap and Coloring Book, respectively. With all due respect to Chano, 2018 may be one of the last years that his name gets brought up in convos that begin with "have you heard of Saba?" CARE FOR ME has been getting so much attention in the world of music that he'll be a widely recognized name sooner rather than later. Like some of his Midwest collaborators such as Mick Jenkins, Noname, and Smino, there's an enthusiastic gusto in his flow. Just as rapidly as he can spit, he could easily "Pivot" on a dime to switch up his cadence to avoid any semblance of monotony.

On one of the standout tracks, "SMILE," Saba's melodic versatility is beautifully showcased here. He starts off with a smooth flow that resembles waves slowly hitting the beach during low-tide. "Smile, smile, smile, smile..." is chanted like a mantra for meditation, then BOOM. An unexpected bouncy flow where syllables are stretched then replaced in quick succession by the next line...for a period of 8 bars. Once that stanza is complete, he goes back to spazzing on the calm instrumental. Throughout this all, there is substance and depth behind these lyrics. Vivid imagery by Saba, as the rest of the album does so well to paint, puts the listener in the portrait created by his words. CARE FOR ME, a project dedicated to his late cousin Walter (referenced throughout but most prominently on "PROM / KING"), is a touching and heartfelt project full of raw emotion that's short on time but not short on fulfilling content.

Eyeless' Honorable Mentions:
Janelle Monae - Dirty Computer
J. Cole - KOD
Cardi B - Invasion of Privacy
Smoke DZA - Not For Sale
The Alchemist - Lunch Meat EP
Young Thug - Hear No Evil EP (Thugga, this was fire, but what is the plan?!?)
Robert Glasper Experiment x KAYTRANADA - The ArtScience Remixes

JT’s Honorable Mentions:
NBA Youngboy - Until Death Call My Name
Jacquees - This Time I’m Serious

Check out Eyeless and JT's best projects for January, February, and March 2018

God’s Plan - DON’T TELL THE LABEL

Drake is no stranger to giving us great music we can vibe to, but he just took a feel good song to another level when he released the video for God’s Plan.

If you’re a Drake fan, or even if you’re not a fan of the brilliant actor turner rapper/singer, you’ve probably been hearing in the news how he has been doing various acts of kindness throughout Miami, such as paying for everyone’s groceries in a store, awarding a young lady scholarship money to University of Miami, giving a family a brand new car, donating to a community center, fire department, and many more things as seen throughout the video.

$996,631.90 is the budget Drake had for this video project. Instead of using the money for expensive cars, video vixens, and filming in a big mansion or club, he gives it all away, literally. This says a lot about Drake’s character and how he knows his success is really bigger than himself. Although he is known for showing love to strippers and strip clubs, he has shown us a different side of him that makes people love him even more. Many people would seize the opportunity of having close to one million dollars and keeping it all to themselves. Drake seizes the opportunity of using it to make the lives of others better. So many people are struggling to just feed their family, or pay their bills. Knowing how hard some people have it allows you to see how blessed you are and should encourage you to be a blessing to others in some way.

Giving not only money, but his time is what makes the God’s Plan video even more appreciable. Drake could of easily just handed the money over and walked away from people, he however, wanted to know their unique stories. Outside of money he donated or used to gift others with, Drake spent time at the different places he visited such as, Miami Senior High School and Overtown Youth Center and bringing excitement to their faces. Even with the different families Drake gave to, he had conversations with them to understand the struggles that they may be facing and offered words of encouragement along with the donation. Seeing the challenges others go through can change your perspective on how you value things. Even if you, yourself, can’t give someone else money, you can be a listening ear or be supportive by volunteering your time. In the video, you see Drake talking to various people and actually capturing the moments, the emotions, and the really being able to empathize with those in the video.

I DON’T WANT TO DIE FOR THEM TO MISS ME really is about showing people that you care now. Letting them value and appreciate you in the present day, allowing them to not only think about you once you have passed. Too many times, people will take others for granted and tend to forget about them or put them in the back of their mind until it is too late. HOPE I GOT SOME BROTHERS THAT OUTLIVE ME, THEY GON' TELL THE STORY, SHIT WAS DIFFERENT WITH ME. Drake is definitely one of a kind and for certain his story will be an inspiration for others.

Unfortunately you can do all you can to be a good person and live out God’s Plan for you AND STILL, BAD THINGS, IT'S A LOT OF BAD THINGS THAT THEY WISHIN' ON ME.. This line of the song along with the video reactions shows that people are going to continue to talk and wish bad things on you no matter what. All you can do is continue doing your best and living out your purpose.

“Thank God for what’s happening right now, it might not be good, but Thank God” is a quote from a man in the video. Not everyday is going to be easy, but the trials we face can bring triumphs. That resonated with me on a spiritual level and ensures that it’s always best to trust the process in God’s Plan for you.

This video warmed my heart and I legit tear up each time I watch it. I challenge each of you reading this to do something kind for someone that you know or don’t know. It doesn’t have to be monetary, but make it meaningful and from your heart.

Nipsey Hussle 'Victory Lap' Review
@NipseyHussle

@NipseyHussle

Atlanta, LA, & Chicago are my personal top three cities that have been running hip-hop since the 2000s; from the sonic sounds to the cultural impact including style of attire, lingo, swag, impact, & influence. Each city has had their shining moments throughout the 2000s with Atlanta leading the scoreboard. Chicago had it’s legendary moment with the introduction of Drill music to the the world in 2012.

Recently after careful review and consideration of the last 2-3 years, it’s safe to conclude that the West Coast rap scene has the best quality music right now. This isn’t to take away from the New West movement that took place back in the early-mid 2000s right around the time rapper Game dropped The Documentary. But Im loving today’s West Coast music coming from YG, Ty Dolla Sign, RJ, AD, & lets not forget the current king of the West and his label, Top Dawg Entertainment, which also happens to be the best team in hip-hop right now. But among all of these current LA greats lies one whom we’ve all been anticipating for this year in 2018: Nipsey Hussle.

Neighborhood Nip had announced his debut album Victory Lap back in 2013 after releasing his acclaimed mixtape with DJ Drama titled Crenshaw. Between releasing projects in between time while dealing with constant pushback resulting in the delay of the album, it was certain that Victory Lap was Detox status. But low and behold, Nipsey decided to drop his first single Rap Niggas on us. Not only did he drop his single but he actually gave us a release date for his debut. Talk about a double Whammy.

Nip continued to drop his singles, “Last Time That I Checc’d” with YG and “Dedication with Kendrick Lamar.He also dropped Been Down with Swizz Beatz, however it didn’t make it on the album tracklist. Each track that released was nothing short of amazing.It was refreshing to hear the direction Nipsey was going in for his debut album. All it did was heighten our expectations more. The album ended up being everything that we imagined when it officially released on February 16th.

According to Nipsey, the theme of Victory Lap is the collection of his significant life stories that shaped his existence and  overall meaning of the album, his brand and what he stands for as a entrepreneur.

It’s tough to really sit back and pick which favorite tracks stand out the most because just when you think you’ve found those important life gems necessary on cuts like Dedication, you let the album play and hear Blue Laces 2, Hussle & Motivate, & Status Symbol 3. All of sudden you’re motivated all over again and are ready to get back out there and get back on your grind. Dedication with Kendrick is one of my favorite tracks on the album. When I listen to that record, it truly sets the tone for what the entire album stands for. Everytime I hear the hook, I get the chills and reminder to keep continuing to “step my shit up” in life. Not to mention, Kendrick blessing us again with another fire feature, where he makes mention of a conversation him & Nipsey had with Top and Snoop during the 2017 biopic premier of All Eyez on Me.

Hussle & Motivate is another favorite of mines off the album, from the Annie sample flip to the cash money shit talk that will drive you and make you question what you doing with your life. This is a record where you need to play this either when you first wake up in the morning or when you’re on your way to work.

On his recent Breakfast Club interview, Nip said he was able to clear the Annie sample through Jay-Z and found out that back when Jay originally cleared the sample for his song, Hard Knock Life, he negotiated a deal where every rapper after him can use that sample as well. Hearing him tell that story made me appreciate the record more and reminded me why Jay-Z is who he is today: the greatest of all time. Hov did that so hopefully you won’t have to go through that.

Not only does this album promote the message of entrepreneurship, success,& being self-made, but also contains albums cuts like Status Symbol 3, Keys to the City 2, & Succa Proof that bang when you’re in the whip. Right now, Victory Lap is the best Rap album of 2018. Granted that we still have a long year ahead, It really took Nipsey 5 years in the making to create this incredible body of art and Im confident that not only its going to stay in rotation all 2018 but is going to age very well in the long run. Long live the Marathon. 

New rappers to look out for in 2018

A common theme found in music has been “out with the old, In with the new," and the rap genre in general has always considered a young man's sport. Every few years, we’re blessed with a new wave of artists that manage to leave their mark in the rap world. This year, new talent are ready to run with the torch. Here are a few rappers you should look out for in 2018.

Valee

G.O.O.D. Music Rapper Valee is one of the hottest commodities in Chicago right now. I came across his music last year when I heard We Up By Bricc Baby, which led me to his 1988 Mixtape on Soundcloud. Valee has went to drop other songs such as I Got Whatever, Shells and his verse on Two 16’s with Z-Money. Like other Chicago rappers to blow up, Valee has his own sound which he describes as "elegant trap music." I'm looking forward to a full Valee project this year.

Tate Kobang

I remember discovering 300 Entertainment artist Tate Kobang during this past A3C when I was at a friends event. The crowd's response to North North made me go back and listen to more. Fast forward some months after, he dropped his mixtape Tate Ko. The northeast Baltimore native has dropped three mixtapes so far. I haven't heard much from Baltimore, but Tate's music makes me hope to discover more.

Tay-K

The Race is one of my favorite records of 2017, it's so catchy. Tay-K was facing different charges and was in jail at the time when the record blew up. Apparently on June 30th, the same day that The Race was released, he got arrested in New Jersey due to some incidents that date back to 2016. He released his debut Project Santana World on July 17th. Since then The Race has went platinum and a remix was made featuring 21 Savage and Young Nudy. Recently his camp released a new song, After You. There’s really no telling of what his future is going to look like since he’s behind bars. But if in fact he’s released, then I’m going to need for someone to get in his and make sure he sticks to doing music because he’s definitely got star potential.

Kami

Discovered Kami through a homie after he told us to play his record 2 T’d. Kami is another member of the Save Money Militia, the same group that gave us Chance The Rapper, Vic Mensa and Joey Purp. Other standout records for me include Payload & Everything Gone. He already has a project released called Just Like the Movies. Be on the lookout for music from him to come in the new year.

Jack Harlow

It was getting to a point where I was losing interest in white rappers especially after the release of Eminem’s new album, Revival. Then suddenly I accidentally stumbled onto Jack Harlow’s music video for Dark Knight. It showed Jack riding around downtown with his homies while turnt up. From the flow of the song to how his voice sounded on the record, all I know was that I needed to listen to a full blown project to find out more about him. There I came across his project Gazebo and it was on from there. I'm looking to hearing new more music from him.

Mula Guapo

I actually just randomly came across Mula Guapo's music while browsing through IG. He just dropped his new joint Crazy and it grabbed my attention from jump. While research more information on Mula’s music, I come to find out that he hails from Bridgeport, CT and his Soundcloud page still looks fresh. I’ll be keeping an eye out on his music.

Young Nudy

It took me some time to really get into Nudy's music. Usually when it comes to Atlanta artist, I hear most of their records either while I’m out and about or when I’m with my Atlanta homies. At first I may not know the name of the song but Ill always research or have a homie put me onto the artist. EA with 21 Savage was what really put me onto Nudy’s music. Nudy Land introduced me to records such as Loaded Baked Potato, 4L Gang Shit, Barbecue, etc. him & 21 got their collaborative album 4lbum and his solo project Slime Ball 3 coming all sometime this year.

NBA Youngboy

I was put onto NBA Youngboy’s radar through some of my Louisiana homies. His project AI Youngboy reeled me in to check out some of his music. My favorite tracks from him include No Smoke, Left Hand Right Hand, Murda Gang, Outside, etc.

Dealing with oversaturation in Hip Hop

While sitting back listening to Migos new album Culture 2,  I took some time & analyzed the mixed responses to the new record. Some people liked the album; while others weren’t so fond of it. Unfortunately, I was hearing more bad responses than good.

The album hit my expectations, even though there was a lot of filler that could have probably been left on the cutting room floor. I knew it wasn’t going to surpass its predecessor, but as long as there were records that I could jam to then it wouldn't be a problem. The primary complaints for Culture 2 were about the lack of energy on the album, how predictable Migos' flow has become, and the nearly-two hour runtime.

Migos making a 24-track album isn’t something new(No Label 2 sends its regards), but their recent project has resurrected the debate about whether artists are over-saturating the market with their music.

It's a bittersweet topic for me because even though hip-hop today is still in a good state,  it’s hard to argue that music is not being pushed and forced fed to consumers. However, Much like 24 track albums, there's nothing new about artists flooding the streets with new music in the internet era.

Gourley/BEI/REX/Shutterstock

Gourley/BEI/REX/Shutterstock

The overflow of music flooding the streets started back in the mid 2000s when Lil Wayne & Gucci Mane were constantly releasing new music, which helped build their fanbase, but it forced other listeners to get familiar with their music whether they really wanted to or not. Current rappers like Future, Migos and Kodak Black have adapted the same formula and have been successful with keeping their fanbase fed with new releases.

Over the recent years, more music than ever has flooded the market, and some argue that it’s reaching a point where the releases are starting to become overwhelming. Some feel that they’re forced to consume new music fast for the sake of “keeping up with Jones',” and I get it. Social media keeps everyone up-to-date with the latest trends. Thats why every Thursday night, we’re waiting patiently for the brand new releases so we can run back to our timeline to voice our opinions.

While I do understand the issue this causes, I don't think that it’s as overwhelming as some say. There’s no problem in presenting new music (there’s has to be a source where new music can be thrive properly), however I do think there’s better ways to showcase new music without having it feel like the product is being shoved down people's ears.

Like I said, some listeners feel like it’s overwhelming and too much to take in. IF you’re feeling overwhelmed by the new music coming out at once, you need to understand that the music is not being taken off the streaming services anytime soon. They’re available anywhere and you can find them if you look in the right places, so there's no need to rush to judgement. 

It’s ok to still stick with a certain project if you still need time to digest it. Also it’s a reminder that rappers that throw albums/projects out there, whether it’s curating a 20+ track projects or consistently dropping projects every other month, is only partially doing it for sales. It’s either sales or somehow the label is forcing them to push out so much music.

I’m still learning about the analytics of sales with hip-hop streams, but just looking from the outside in, it doesn’t take a genius to know why artist have begun to oversaturate the market; sales. Its better to make a several records versus making an impactful record.

Something I've noticed as well with the music over-saturation is that consumers may be unconsciously trained to treat new music almost like paper plates, 1 and done. While this may not apply to all music consumers, it certainly applies to many consumers who are on the internet.

As I explained in one of my older features, most listeners usually know if whether or not they’re going to press replay on an album. This truth still hold in this scenario, usually you’ll have to really live with a project to determine whether or not you’ll truly appreciate the art. Too many consumers are throwing projects out like paper plates, failing to give projects time to make it through to be actual tableware.

Now I’m aware that when it comes to singles, some records don’t need too be revisited. However, albums are a little harder to come by. They’re not meant to be thrown to the side. Listening to an album front to back & living with it for a moment of time will forever be the wave. This is exactly why some consumers may revisit an album and come to discover the album wasn’t entirely bad as they initially thought.

But kids today act like they have albums, singles, and artists all figured out. Like the great Shawn Carter asked, “Do you fools listen to music or do you skim through it?”