Notable Releases of the Week (12/8)
The end of the year continues to near, which means more and more Best of 2017 lists are pouring in, and more and more holiday music is coming out. There are also tons of holiday shows to experience that holiday music live. If you're in NYC this month, check out our 2017 NYC holiday show roundup.
There are just four albums in Notable Releases this week, but I also wanna give a shoutout to the semi-surprise, 30-song Quality Control: Control the Streets, Vol. 1 mixtape that features Migos, Nicki Minaj, Cardi B, Lil Yachty, Tee Grizzley, Ty Dolla $ign, Gucci Mane, Young Thug, Travis Scott, and more. I haven't heard the whole thing yet but so far it sounds as fun as you'd expect. Also out today is the collectors edition of Kendrick Lamar's DAMN., which has the tracklist reversed. (The album was intended to be played in either direction.)
Check out my four picks below. Fun fact: two of them feature Curren$y. What was your favorite release of the week?
G Perico already released one of the strongest rap records of the year with the G-Funk-reviving All Blue, and he released an album as one third of G-Worthy (with Jay Worthy and Cardo). Before the year ends, he's offering up one more album, 2 Tha Left. He's got a few bigger name guests on this one, including Curren$y, Mozzy and Nef the Pharaoh, and he stretches his sound beyond the G-Funk revival on this one. "When I kick that All Blue shit I mean that too, you know what I'm saying? But right now, we coming at y'all to the left. You know? And uh, if you don't know what that is, just give me a minute, I'ma show you," Perico says on the album's intro track, over luxurious-sounding production. And he goes on to show us just how different this album is from the rawer, smaller-sounding All Blue. Right after the intro, he goes into "Affiliated," which has an ominous, piano-fueled backdrop that's way grander than anything on All Blue. All Blue sounds like it could go on to be an underground classic, but songs like "Affiliated" prove that G Perico has a real shot at stardom. On "Everybody" and "What's Real," he shows how his increasingly distinct, high-pitched delivery works just as well over soulful, modern production. And if you're hoping for a little of the All Blue style on this album, Perico throws in the booming West Coast throwback "Fly Around." On "Amerikkka," he offers up a Trump-era protest song that picks up where fellow G-Funk revivalist YG's "FDT" left off. ""Fuck Trump, yeah I feel that / But it don't matter who in office when you black," Perico raps, dropping some sad-but-true wisdom. He also tackles police brutality against the black community, samples a Malcolm X speech, and directly takes on the presidency once again by shining a light on what Trump's offensive slogan really means: "Make America great again -- do you know what that means? / Kill a n**** or take him in, that's what it means to me." It sucks that we even need songs like this, over half a century since Malcolm X gave the speech that it samples. But as long as we do, it’s worth paying attention to and finding solace in ones as good as this one.
Producer and DJ Statik Selektah didn't start making beats for notable artists until a few years after rap's revered '90s period, but his production usually stays true to the sounds of that era, and -- for the most part -- his albums tend to work as a who's who of '90s rap and its revivalists. (For an idea of how ahead of the curve he is, his last album had a verse from Young M.A a full year before she dropped "OOOUUU" and the world caught on to her talent.) His latest, 8, follows this trend, and it also brings in a live band to flesh out his intense production. Guests include Run the Jewels, Action Bronson, Joey Bada$$, The LOX (Jadakiss, Styles P, Sheek Louch), Westside Gunn, Conway, Termanology, Joyner Lucas, Tek of Smif-N-Wessun, Curren$y, Cousin Stizz, Lil Fame of M.O.P., Raekwon, Royce da 5'9", B-Real, Everlast, No Malice of The Clipse, Juelz Santana, the late Prodigy, and the late Sean Price, as well as a few more pop-minded guys like 2 Chainz, Wiz Khalifa, and G-Eazy. Almost everyone is in top form, Statik really knows how to make 8 flow like an album and not a compilation, and he does a good job of figuring out which rappers will sound best together. That last point is especially proved by "Slept to Death," which puts New Orleans jazz rap staple Curren$y against fast-rising Boston-born newcomer Cousin Stizz and the two sound like naturals on the same track.
Regular Statik collaborators like Joey Bada$$ and Action Bronson are highlights of 8 as they usually are on Statik Selektah albums. Shady Records signees Westside Gunn & Conway continue to prove their worth on "No. 8," where they're joined by longtime Statik associate Termanology. Run the Jewels especially bring their A-game on "Put Jewels On It" -- they sound even more fired up than they do on their latest album. Jadakiss' relevancy may have died down a bit, but he always manages to steal the show and his verse on "But You Don't Hear Me Tho" is no exception. Sean Price and Prodigy continue to be missed, and with unearthed verses this worthy, it's yet another reminder of how they were taken from us way too soon. Those are just a few of the many highlights of the album. At 18 songs, it's a long listen and certain parts are more memorable than others, but with this much talent all at once, it's worth it.
Detroit rapper Tee Grizzley dropped his debut mixtape My Moment earlier this year and he truly has been having a moment thanks to its success. People took notice quickly, and Grizzley's been rising rapidly since the mixtape's release. (In NYC, he went from opening for 21 Savage and Young M.A to headlining SOB's to headlining Gramercy Theatre in just a few months.) He's keeping the momentum going with this collaborative mixtape with Chicago's Lil Durk. It feels like there have been more collaborative mixtapes/albums in rap than ever lately, and this is one of the stronger ones I've heard all year. Tee Grizzley and Lil Durk both still have something to prove, and it sounds like the two of them are going harder than ever on Bloodas, trying to out-rap each other at every turn (the friendly competition is very rewarding for the listener). Their styles are noticeably different but they complement each other surprisingly well, and they work perfectly with the album's sharp production. If these guys aren't already on your radar, Bloodas is proof that you should change that, stat.
I named Red Death's debut album Permanent Exile my 15th favorite metal album of 2015, so needless to say, I am happy to learn that they've not only finally put out another full-length, but that it rips at least as hard as the last one. Like Red Death's past tourmates Power Trip, Red Death are really more of a hardcore punk band who play thrash metal than a straight-up metal band. If you see them live, you'll see that vocalist DHD models himself after the kinds of vocalists who never picture themselves graduating from tiny clubs and VFW halls. There may be some Slayer in the whammy bar solos, but Red Death don’t share that band’s mainstream accessibility. And it’s an exciting thing to hear the sounds of very popular metal come together with a punk attitude the way Red Death, Power Trip, and their ilk are doing. The one song on Formidable Darkness that is kinda accessible is "Parasite's Paradise," which has an ending that you might quickly find yourself singing along to. Other than that, accessibility isn't really the point. The point is a mile-a-minute, bulldozing metal/punk songs that knock you off your feet, and Red Death do that very well.