$QUAD GOALS

If you haven’t caught onto it yet, my favorite genre of music currently is rap. While I tend to believe I have a pretty diverse interests in music, if you walk into my room or my car rap is playing. It is currently my playlist for just life. Depending on my mood, I could jump to reggae or a softer rock or even some electric music. But so far, the playlist for daily activities is rap heavy. One of my favorite classifications of a rap song is a posse cut.

A posse cut by Wikipedia definition is a popular form of song in hip-hop music that involves successive verses by four or more rappers. This usually consists of each rapper essentially going blow for blow on each other, not so much in a roast manner but more of wanting to be the guy with the best verse. You don’t want to be the guy that signals for the skip of the song. Posse cuts have long been around; it was hip-hop groups of earlier times that popularized him.

Not to discredit these, but I really like the posse cuts that are between different crews and people. Sometimes posse cuts can get redundant if you are used to hearing the same rappers spit flows together. It is when we get a bunch of different cats spitting on the cypher that we get the energy that is infectious and gets us to sing along like we are on the mic. This isn’t to be confused with a label spitting together. I also really enjoy when the beat goes on and on, not just 4 people spitting on the beat. This thing better be over 4 minutes and filled with heat. Here are 5 posse cuts to help you get through a dull duration of your day.

 

Recently Released Roundup

Here is what has been jamming in the headphones at work and slapping on the speakers in the CRV:

Upon finishing this, I noticed I didn’t mention The Plugs I met, by Benny the Butcher. So instead heres a video so you can learn more (it might be my most played of them all).

Revenge of the Dreamers 3 – Dreamville

With a star studded roster of both rappers and rhythm-ers, this album was bound to be good from the get go. Although I kind of wanted to dislike it to due to a pal of mine being one of Dreamvilles biggest fans. Nonetheless, this tape was jammed packed with heat from the first track. A hard-hitting beat + a feature from Dababy = happiness. Along with having multiple heater tracks that just slap (especially in the car) there are songs for just about any mood. As far as groups, this tape is up there for a cohesive, pleasing to the ear project. It also might have 2 of the better interludes I’ve heard in a while (Wells Fargo + 1993).

FAVS: The 1st 3 (Under the Sun, Down Bad, Lambotruck), Sleep deprived

 

BANDANA – Freddie Gibbs + Madlib

Freddie Gibbs absolutely bars out on this thing. I mean, at this point it is pretty expected you are just going to hear bone-crunching bars and gritty beats. Madlib teamed up with Gangsta Gibbs for the second rendition of a joint project, and the two again show their chemistry is unmatched. Last summer when Gibbs and Currrensy teamed up on Fetti, I was surprised at how well the two matched. It kind of just shows Gibbs can flex no matter whom he is paired up with. With a great string of lyrical features and a catchy Paak. Chorus, this thing is in constant rotation.

FAVS: Palmolive, Crime Pays, Cataracts

 

ERYS – Jaden Smith

Jaden Smith has always been an artist that has a couple songs that I really can jam to. Both this new album and SYRE have some awesome songs, and overall when you listen to them front to back put you in a musical scenery. ERYS was more of a chopped up and raw version, with gritty beats (one using the sound of him shaving his dreads) and wavy vocals. While I tend to cherry pick this project, the two ASAP featured songs and the Kid Cudi feature have been on constant repeat. I think I need to immerse myself in the album as a whole, but overall ERYS and SYRE both are a good listen.

FAVS: Chateau, On My Own, Ghost Remix, Summertime In Paris

 

Let’s Rock- The Black Keys

I am going to steal this from the pitchfork, but I believe it sums it up: the album title is called let’s rock, and that exactly what we are going to do. With just a classic black keys sound, this album has been a go to for the speaker on the beach. With enough melody coupled with hard guitar riffs, it makes for an enjoyable listen. Much like the Dreamville Tape, there is a varying amount of songs to compliment different moods and occasions, from mellowing out to amping up.

FAVS: Under The Gun, Shine A Little Light

 

OASIS – Bad Bunny + J Balvin

While I can’t entirely understand what is being said, this joint kind of just screams a summer vibe. From more poppy songs to deep trap hits, Bunny and Balvin cover all the bases on this dual project. This thing has to have Central and South America jumping, since they are the two biggest Latin stars at the moment.

FAVS: CUIDAO POR AHÍ, LA CANCIÓN

 

Perfect 10 – Mustard

Mustard has a pretty firm grasp on recruiting some of the hottest rappers to join his projects when they come around. I got to salute him always putting on the CA rappers to help blow up his fellow statesmen. This tape has a lot of different sounds and the beats are A1 as usual. Mustard pretty much does it all on his own, and just cherry picks the features as the icing on the cake. While I don’t love every song, some have been in heavy rotation. The album couldn’t end better than with the track Perfect Ten.

FAVS: On God, Baguettes in the Face, Ballin, Perfect Ten

 

Late Night Feelings – Mark Ronson

Mark Ronson enlists an all female crew for a slew of songs that can kick in the club or on the beach. While this is not my main genre of listen, I always tend to lean more towards female vocals on Edm type joints, so this is more up my alley in comparison to other albums in the genre. I don’t have as much to say on this one, since I don’t bump it nearly as much as the others. However, I threw it on shuffle for a beach day and the sounds complemented the sunshine perfectly.

FAVS: Find U Again, Truth, 2 AM

 

Bonus: Acid Rap – Chance The Rapper

Enough has already been said about this piece of work. As my favorite Chance project, this thing hits home with the nostalgia and also the fact I don’t have to switch to my apple music library just to play cocoa butter kisses.

FAVS: Cocoa Butter Kisses, NaNa, Favorite song

SK Level Delivers a Hot New Album

Like a bullet from a gun it burns. The opening lyrics to grime MC Skepta’s new Album Ignorance Is Bliss (this is of course, if you admit the “big smoke” and “SK level” ad-libs). Skepta comes into this album 3 years post Konnichiwa, an album that was highly praised and surely leap frogged him into the artist he is today. It got him featured on big artist’s records like A$AP Rocky and Playboi Carti. It got him matching tattoos with hip-hop mega star Drake. And surely also put him in the space were most people would use that album as the benchmark. Ignorance Is Bliss had to be better. The people have been waiting! While I can’t say I was ever the biggest Skepta fan, I always enjoyed his persona and his affinity with fashion much like some of my favorite rappers. This being said, I definitely was caught off guard with the dissatisfaction some listeners had with this album. This is for sure for me one of my favorite drops of 2019.

First of all, the production is bonkers. I can’t remember the last time I heard so much synth and electronic sound in an album when the artist still spits hard bars into the microphone. After listening to some interviews, it sounds as though Skeppy had his hands all over the project, especially in the production aspect. I always think some of the best and most unique beats come from artists that can chop it up. Names like Kanye, Andre 3stacks, Tyler the creator, J Cole, and the late Mac Miller come to mind as those who can spit but also take unique sounds and mash them up into beats. Like stated, the production on this thing is nuts. Some songs can definitely ring a little too loud, but much like any album certain songs require certain moods.

Speaking of moods, we get Skepta at his most vulnerable in this one. Talking about having a kid and growing up definitely make this album seem like Skepta is in a happy place as far as how he has matured and looks at life differently. It is interesting to think at one point his children will listen to this and wonder what their father really was like at this time in his life. Skep is at his most happy, but definitely confronts some of the trials and tribulations that led up to this point.

The features on this album go hard. Skeppy kept it diverse and cultured with the features, enlisting artists from all over the globe. The hooks are often very different form the verses, giving a good switch of energy from when Skepta has bar-ed you to death with heavy flows. My favorite outsource of talent has to be on Glow In The Dark with Lay-Z and Wizkid singing the chorus. It does help break up how unique Skepta’s voice is. Sometimes if you hear it for too long, it sounds monotonous and just a little too much accent (I get past it, but others find it a deterrent). The only feature missing was one from the guy A$AP (can we get another Praise The Lord?).

Coming in at a digestible 40 minutes, it is pretty easy to run this project back (turbo) and play the shit out of it. Some songs can mold into your favorite playlists, whereas I really enjoy either playing it front to back or on shuffle, just going in full SK level mode. The greaze is strong with this one. While I wonder why so much distaste is garnered to this project (not so much distaste, but few giving it as much praise as I), it makes sense if you hold him to the Konnichiwa standard. Having not dived as deep into that project, this is one album from Skepta that will stay in rotation for quite some time. It will definitely make me go back and bump more of his discography, and appreciate his total body of work. In this instance, ignorance is really bliss as far as my enjoyment of this album.

Random thoughts regarding desert da(y)ze.

It is that time of year again. Thousands flock to the desert in search of good music and a weekend to let loose at. The outfits alone couldn’t even describe the hectic nature of it. Coachella 2019 is halfway over, and I am stepping up to the plate next weekend. The anticipation really didn’t start hitting me until early last week, when I was jamming out at work to potential acts I will see (if everything goes according to plan, which it never does). Oh, the stoke! It really is unlike anything else I have experienced, in so many different ways. That was super cliché. But I digress. What will follow this light introduction are some thoughts I have had stirring in anticipation to the desert days and wildness that will ensue.

Sick Sets (Not waves, which look like they will be good when we are dancing in the desert. Sad face.)

The best part about Coachella is how much good music is surrounding you. Last year, some of my favorite band sets were from bands I didn’t know, and ranged along a large spectrum of genres. This year will be no different most likely, but there are definitely some acts I am stoked to cross off my concert bucket list. First and foremost, Kid Cudi, who I have been listening to since my brother was my age and living in Red Bank, NJ. (Shout Preston). Along with him, I will cross Diplo and DJ Sanke off the EDM side of things, along with a slew of other electronic artists I like. I will see my guy Wiz Khalifa for the third time, and am also jazzed about Anderson .Paak since it is following the release of his new Ventura album, which is quite good. Also, Pusha T will be performing, and most likely dishing out those classic Daytona verses.

A True Test In Opportunity Cost

Do I stick with the crew or drift off into the abyss of people to go see someone I like but others may not? This is also a question, since there are so many conflicts and often a lot of people I may like way more than others. Last year I only adventured once solo, for French Montana (while he is one of my favorite artists, the set was sub par). This year, I am going to just go with the flow, but definitely see a couple more sets solo. While it is definitely different being alone than with a mob of 30 people, it is really cool to think you have thousands of others around you all connected because of one person’s music. That was pretty deep. But it’s true!

 

Great Company

The sheer amount of people that go each year is pretty ridiculous, and it is a great place to reconnect with old friends and also new ones. In a way it is similar to a family reunion, with much of my alma mater (Chapman University) in attendance, it will be awesome to catch up over great tunes, even if it requires yelling the same thing 3 times. I am also staying in a house with some of my closest pals, and will be bringing disposable cameras in the festival and around the house to document all the great moments that will ensure. (Scope this IG post to see a recap of last years. The lesson learned, use the flash since half of my exposure did not turn out.)

 

Gues(t)sing Game

One of the marquee features of Coachella is the amount of surprise guests that come out during performances. This is often something I think about when weighing out options of who to see. Last year, pedaling back to French Montana, he brought out Ty Dolla, who I had seen before. Kind of a bummer. This year, I am keen to see who comes out with certain acts. I swear the best surprise guests come out when you aren’t at that set. Hopefully this year packs some heavy hitters for on stage guest appearances.

2018: A Dynamic Year for Hip-hop Music

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The Good, Bad, and Ugly for Hip-hop Fans this Year.

Note: Lots of hyperlinks in this piece, so feel free to click away if you find yourself wondering what I’m talking about or want some more info on a certain drop.

Note 2.0: Here is a link to my Top 100 played songs playlist 

2018 might go down as one of the most eventful years for hip-hop in recent memory. From the beefs to legends reentering the game and the genre taking over the billboard charts, hip-hop is at a peak currently and is at the apex of mainstream popularity. Whether this is for better or worse is still up for discussion, but hip hop music and its stars have been in the spotlight for the majority of 2018. From Instagram famous face tattoo MCs to artists having large cultural impacts or giving back in huge ways, a hip-hop artist is always in the latest headlines. With a slew of new tunes coming out weekly and fresh releases for just about every style of listener, lets dive into the ups, downs, and bumps along the way of 2018.

Good

Big name drops

2018 would see some of the most hyped up releases from artists who are on the top of their game. The long awaited third studio album from Travis Scott Astroworld ended up dropping in august after being teased for what felt like an eternity. And it definitely did not disappoint. ASAP Rocky would also release a teased album in May, and while it might not be for everyone, TESTING definitely pleases listeners with its unique sounds and non-radio ballads. We would see Drake drop his 5th album, Scorpion, along with an A and B-side. At this point the only album left that had been almost an afterthought since its been rumored for so long is Tha Carter 5. Five years in the making, Lil Wayne would drop Tha Carter 5 and return to the upper echelon of rap. Just 2 weeks ago we received a Diplomats album (Diplomatic Ties), featuring 9 songs that sounded vintage and current all at the same time. Gucci Mane is dropping a project in December, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some industry giants had a surprise in store for us during the last month of the year.

Surprise drops

This year we gained lots of music that wasn’t necessarily advertised until the very last second. In the last week of May and the whole month of June, Kanye would produce albums for a slew of G.O.O.D Music artists, including him. Every Friday, we would be blessed with a 7-track album that usually ran about 20-25 minutes. The brevity of the projects played in their favor, and Pusha Ts Daytona is definitely in contention for AOTY among many. Many think the albums dropped around Drakes Album date of June 15, but we will get into that later. Along with these unexpected EPs, we received a joint Beyoncé and Jay Z album out of nowhere. Everything is Love especially excited listeners of streaming platforms, since Jay Z is not available on Spotify or Apple music. These are just a sampling of albums that came without any warning. Check new releases every Friday and it is guaranteed you’ll see something that comes as a surprise or had only a weeklong rollout.

New stars

While OGs had released a ton of new music in 2018, large figures in the rap game didn’t stop there. We saw the entrance of many new acts in 2018, most of which came from cosigns of larger artists. We can look to drake for putting on BlocBoy JB and Lil Baby. We can thank Young Thug for getting flows and cadences similar to him out of rising star Gunna. We also saw a rise of internet rap, specifically Soundcloud rap. Stars like XXXtentacion, Trippie Redd, Sheck Wes and Smokepurpp all came from a viral use of the music-sharing site. We saw crews who came together because of the Internet (YBN crew), and also artists who blew up thanks to their Instagram antics (6ix9ine). Like it or not, these guys are here to stay, and the internet as a whole has made it very easy to have your music heard.

Bad

Beef

This is a tough idea to dance around. While to a rap purist, beefs are apart of the game. And while I almost put this under the good, overall I think it can put a sour taste in the mouth prior to the altercations. While the Pusha T Drake mess was fun to watch, things just got a little too personal, with both rappers at fault. Another thing that didn’t sit well with most was drake claiming he could end King Push’s career with the track he had in the vault. Is there really a track in the vault? Few will ever know. This was corny, as Drake should of either dropped said track or just held the L for the rest of the year. Another form of beef that was frowned upon in 2018 was the social media beef that were often started for no reason. Majority of beefing in 2018 had no music or disses involved, and were just people talking trash on the gram and twitter. While this is still under the bad, I feel as though competitive sparing (that at first would seem to be beef but just a friendly competition) was inspired by the Pusha/Drake and MGK/Em disses. In November we saw Tory Lanez and Joyner Lucas go blow for blow. With 4 tracks and a pretty unanimous tie between the two, everyone enjoyed the MCs testing their flows and punch lines in the exchanges.

Sensory overload 

Having multiple albums to listen to every Thursday night at 9PM (west coast time) isn’t a bad thing, right? Overall you’d be a little silly to think this. The massive drops and large flux of music this year has been great for hip hop as a genre and has put on many artists. However, as a listener, it has almost started to become a tedious job. There are so many marque album drops a week that you are guaranteed to at least have 3 majorly anticipated drops to comb through. At first, it seemed like a blessing. Alas, it has turned into somewhat of a curse. If an album has more than 15 tracks it becomes more of a chore to listen to. One major drawback as well with all these drops is the longevity of some of the projects. We see some artist being shadowed by others (Mac Millers Swimming not getting the credit it deserved to due Astroworld being lined up on the same date). There are so many big name albums that we are always changing to a new soundtrack weekly. While personal favorites stick, people could be missing out on phenomenal albums due to listening to a release only once or twice and not really letting it age due to the anticipation of the project next week.

Ugly

Drug glorification/ Untimely deaths

Drug glorification isn’t anything new in the year 2018. However, this year certain drugs have risen to fame and continue to get shout outs in song lyrics steering people the wrong way. Xanax and lean have had a big year in 2018, even after taking the lives of some or spiraling the careers of others. While these will not disappear, you’d think people would maybe stop giving them the light they do in songs. It is nice to know in 2018 some artists are rallying against the movement. Sadly, in 2018 we saw 26 deaths in hip-hop, most notably XXXtentacion and Mac Miller (a longtime favorite of mine).

A Numbers Game

While we look at all the new releases of 2018 and multiple artists dropping more than project in the year, we can’t help but look at the labels and the numbers game that has really taken over the genre with the use of streaming. While getting all this music in one year is awesome and always having something fresh to listen to is a blessing, it can’t help but feel like there is a fine line of quality control being blurred. Personally, I don’t think you can really put out more than 2 albums in a year and think they are all equal bodies of work. We see artists take 2-3 years to put out one, and even then it still cannot live up to the hype. The music labels and musicians themselves are playing a numbers game. We find artists putting hits they might only be featured on to boost numbers, along with inflating the track list to help get to the top of the charts. We can look at a prime example of this in Scorpion. This album didn’t really sit well with me, because anything with a run time that long is hard to digest. On top of this, there seemed to be a lot of filler in between the tracks with substance. The Joe Budden Podcast touched on this in a recent episode, and brought up if it was cut down it could be the #1 album of the year. At first this is laughable, but if you take 12 or 13 out of the 2-disc album, you’d have a very strong body of work.

2018 has set up hip-hop for an interesting 2019. One must wonder if we are going to get projects shoved down our throat every week or it will go back to a less saturated genre just from the fact that anyone who is anyone has released a project this year. I believe people who typically take longer on albums and have a little more of an artistic approach (A$AP, Travis, Joey Badass, etc) will continue to space out projects, regardless of numbers or label tactics. However, a lot of the new talent I think is so accustomed to the workload and overproduction they will continue to put out project after project, giving their previous projects limited time to breath and really blossom. Whatever happens, plan to keep those ears open for the rest of the year as we await projects from 21 Savage, Gucci Mane, Offset, XXXtentacion, Ice Cube, Kodak Black, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Method Man, and many many more.

 

Bonus: Take a look at these lists detailing 2018 hip-hop hits/albums

Complex top 50 albums (not exclusively hip hop)

HotNewHipHop top 30 (take a look at the comments, not many agree with the standings)

Billboard Year end Top Hip-Hop/R&B (Purely based off of numbers)