This week in hip hop we got the anticipated new Isaiah Rashad album (which you can read about in Notable Releases), plus albums from Dave East & Harry Fraud, Young Dolph & Paper Route Empire, Toosii, Tink, and more. We also got new singles from Maxo Kream, Boldy James & The Alchemist, Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars & Anderson .Paak), Morray, Jhay Cortez, Sleepy Hallow, Skepta, Pink Siifu, and more. Read on for those and more…
MAXO KREAM – “LOCAL JOKER”
Maxo Kream has a followup album to 2019’s Brandon Banks on the way, and while most details on that are TBA, he just released the new song “Local Joker.” It finds his storytelling style in fine form over some laid-back production.
BOLDY JAMES & THE ALCHEMIST – “DRUG ZONE”
Longtime collaborators Boldy James and The Alchemist’s anticipated new album Bo Jackson arrives August 13, and they’ve shared its second single “Drug Zone,” a dark, deadly song that reminds you how much chemistry these two have.
SILK SONIC (BRUNO MARS & ANDERSON .PAAK) – “SKATE”
Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak’s vintage soul-inspired debut single as Silk Sonic (“Leave The Door Open”) caught on very quickly earlier this year, and now, nearly five months later, they’ve released their second single, “Skate.” It pulls from the same influences as the first single, and these two continue to do justice to that sound.
MORRAY – “TRENCHES” (REMIX ft. POLO G)
Soulful sing-rapper Morray’s Street Sermons is one of the year’s best debut albums, and “Trenches” is one of its best songs. That song now has a new remix with a new verse from Chicago’s melodic drill great Polo G.
AMINDI – NICE
Not only is R&B/soul singer Amindi featured on the new Isaiah Rashad album, she also put out her own very promising new EP: the warm and relaxed sounding nice.
KASH DOLL – “LIKE A PRO” (ft. JUICY J)
Detroit rapper Kash Doll has tapped Juicy J for a bouncy, catchy, raunchy new jam.
G-EAZY – “AT WILL” (ft. EST GEE)
The very popular G-Eazy released a new song, and it’s got a very cool guest: rising Louisville street rapper EST Gee (who just released his new album Bigger Than Life or Death).
ANT CLEMONS – “APPRECIATION” (ft. 2 CHAINZ & TY DOLLA $IGN)
R&B singer Ant Clemons has a new album on the way, and it’ll feature this single which finds him teaming with two giants: 2 Chainz and Ty Dolla $ign.
LIV.E – CWTTY+
Last year, Liv.e released the very good psychedelic soul album Couldn’t Wait To Tell You…, and now she’s put out six new songs on a deluxe edition called CWTTY+.
JHAY CORTEZ – “EN MI CUARTO” (ft. SKRILLEX)
Rising Puerto Rican rapper (and Bad Bunny collaborator) Jhay Cortez teams with Skrillex for this new single, which you can read more about here.
ELADIO CARRIÓN – “TATA” (REMIX ft. J BALVIN, DADDY YANKEE & BOBBY SHMURDA)
Puerto Rican rapper Eladio Carrión has released a new remix of “Tata” from his 2021 album Monarca, featuring newly-added guest vocals from Daddy Yankee and Bobby Shmurda, plus J Balvin (who’s also on the original). It’s a dark, menacing offering of Latin rap.
SLEEPY HALLOW – “2055” (ft. COI LERAY)
Brooklyn melodic drill rapper Sleepy Hallow has released a new remix of “2055” from Still Sleep?, and this version features another fast-rising melodic East Coast rapper, Coi Leray.
OMB PEEZY – “GODLY”
Mobile, Alabama’s OMB Peezy blurs the line between singing and rapping on this soulful anthem.
YS – “HATE ME” (ft. BABYFACE RAY & FENIX FLEXIN)
Rising Compton rapper YS raps over a classic West Coast-style bounce on this new song featuring Detroit rap leader Babyface Ray and Shoreline Mafia’s Fenix Flexin.
SKEPTA – “NIRVANA” (ft. J BALVIN)
UK rap icon Skepta released a new five-song EP called All In on Friday, prefaced by this lead single featuring J Balvin. Read more here.
NAO – “AND THEN LIFE WAS BEAUTIFUL”
UK R&B singer Nao announced a new album, And Then Life Was Beautiful, and shared the title track, which you can read more about here.
ISAIAH RASHAD – “RUNNIN'” (ft. SCHOOLBOY Q)
In addition to releasing his anticipated new album The House Is Burning, Isaiah Rashad put out this non-album single featuring his TDE labelmate Schoolboy Q and production from Kenny Beats and Mount Kimbie’s Dom Maker. Isaiah and Q sound great together over the chilled-out backdrop.
RIO DA YUNG OG – “GHETTO FREE” (ft. PEEZY)
Michigan’s rap scene has been on fire lately, and here’s a new floor-shaking collab from Flint’s Rio Da Yung OG and Detroit’s Peezy.
PINK SIIFU – “BUSSIN’ (COLD)” (ft. TURICH BENJY)
Pink Siifu has shared the second single off his upcoming album GUMBO’!, and you can read more about it here.
25 Early 2000s Rap Albums That Hold Up Today
Ghostface Killah – Supreme Clientele (2000)
Deltron 3030 – Deltron 3030 (2000)
Lil’ Kim – The Notorious K.I.M. (2000)
OutKast – Stankonia (2000)
Ludacris – Back for the First Time (2000)
Eve – Scorpion (2001)
Cannibal Ox – The Cold Vein (2001)
Jay-Z – The Blueprint (2001)
Jay-Z made a name for himself rapping alongside Jaz-O and then Big Daddy Kane in the late '80s and early '90s, but took his time when it came to making his own album. And while he was watching and waiting, the young Queensbridge rapper Nas released his 1994 debut album Illmatic, an instant-classic that received a now-legendary score of five mics from The Source and changed rap forever. Jay took obvious notes from Illmatic (and sampled a line from it) when he finally released his own debut album, 1996's Reasonable Doubt. Gone was the fast-rapping Jay-Z of the Jaz-O days and in his place was an artist with a smoother, grittier style who told real-life stories of life on the streets in Brooklyn over some of the finest production of the era (courtesy of Ski, Clark Kent, Illmatic contributor DJ Premier, and others). Jay-Z intended for Reasonable Doubt to be a classic, and it was, but it wasn't the instantly-game-changing album that Illmatic was and it couldn't compete with the flashy, pop-crossover "Jiggy Era" that Puff Daddy started to lead after Biggie's tragic death. So Jay-Z went in an increasingly pop direction, and by the time of his 1998 single "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)," he wasn't just competing with the "Jiggy Era," he was starting to take over.
Going pop in the late '90s and early 2000s also meant getting dissed by other rappers, among them Prodigy of Mobb Deep and Nas, whose feud with Jay-Z was about to boil over as Jay-Z geared up for his best album since Reasonable Doubt, The Blueprint. Months before its release, Jay made Hot 97 Summer Jam history by debuting "Takeover," a diss track aimed at Prodigy and Nas, during his set, alongside a childhood photo of Prodigy in dance clothes on the big screen. The finished version of "Takeover" ended up on The Blueprint, and the studio version proved it to be not just a brutal diss track but also a genuinely great song, and one of many on The Blueprint. Jay-Z didn't stop being "pop" on The Blueprint -- it still had the radio-friendly "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)," the sentimental balladry of "Song Cry," and other "pop" moments -- but he figured out how to put the accessibility of the "Jiggy Era," the grit of the streets, and the album-oriented structure of Reasonable Doubt into one whole masterpiece of an album. Production came largely from Just Blaze and Kanye West (plus Bink, Timbaland, Eminem, and others), and together they established a rich, soulful production style that would dominate rap for years. There's perhaps never been a better example of the classic Kanye sound than "Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)." Jay's ear for beats on The Blueprint was matched by his most consistently great rapping since Reasonable Doubt, and still some of the very best rapping of his career. Unlike his previous guest-filled albums, Jay carried the album almost entirely by himself, and he never lost steam. The only guest appearance came from Eminem on "Renegade," and look, Nas is right, Em out-rapped Jay on the track, but Jay still packed some of his finest rhyme schemes into that song.
Aesop Rock – Labor Days (2001)
Nas – Stillmatic (2001)
El-P – Fantastic Damage (2002)
Eminem – The Eminem Show (2002)
If we're picking one album per artist, a lot of people would go with 2000's near-perfect The Marshall Mathers LP for Eminem, but if pressed, I always go with The Eminem Show because it feels like the grand finale to the classic Eminem era. The Marshall Mathers LP is just as essential, but Eminem as we came to know him doesn't exist without The Eminem Show.
An artist who almost always knew how to title an album, Marshall Mathers introduced the world to his massively offensive alter-ego Slim Shady on 1999's The Slim Shady LP, he introduced us to the man behind the madness on The Marshall Mathers LP, and he took a look at the impact Eminem the artist had on the world with The Eminem Show. (He also admitted the show was over with 2004's Encore, and then made a series of failed comeback attempts with Relapse, Recovery, The Marshall Mathers LP 2, and Revival, before finally abandoning this trend on the still-just-okay-sounding Kamikaze and Music to Be Murdered By.) Eminem catapulted to the forefront of rap because of white privilege but also became a scapegoat for everything white suburban conservatives hated about rap, and there's perhaps no better response to all of it than "White America," the first proper song on The Eminem Show. And then there's "Sing for the Moment." The Marshall Mathers LP gave us "Stan," a Dido-sampling ballad about the real-life dangers of toxic fandom and the importance of mental health, and The Eminem Show gave us "Sing for the Moment," an Aerosmith-sampling ballad about the importance of rap music to young kids amidst backlash from the media, the government, and scared parents. You might argue that song ruined white rap forever (and also unfortunately convinced Eminem he needed more and more ballads on later albums), but it also spoke directly to and validated the feelings of a lot of kids who needed to hear it. The Eminem Show also attacked George W. Bush ("Square Dance"), took on personal issues like the toll fame takes on a person ("Say Goodbye Hollywood") and fatherhood ("Hailie's Song"), and also reminded the world Eminem was still better than most people at making straight-up rap songs ("Business"). One of three songs on The Eminem Show produced by the man who made Eminem a star, Dr. Dre, "Business" found Eminem packing so many career-best punchlines over a top-tier Dre beat, reminding us that -- when you put all the baggage associated with Eminem aside -- he was truly one of the greats at the pure art of rapping.