This year has seen a revival and resurgence of hip hop legends; Nas dropped an album of the year candidate last week, Jay-Z teamed up with Pharrell to release a new single, and Rick Ross has been active working with artists. This week is no exception, as classic New York City hip hop group The LOX, comprised of Sheek Louch, Styles P and Jadakiss, have released a new project for the first time in four years. Additionally, The Roots’ Black Thought has teamed up with Pusha T, Killer Mike and Swizz Beatz to release a new single, and Nas, fresh off of the release of King’s Disease, along with Rapsody, Jahi, YG, Questlove, and once again Black Thought, all collaborated to release a new remix of Public Enemy’s 1989 classic “Fight The Power.” All of this, and much more, on this new music Friday.
Check it all out below:
Jaden – Cool Tape Vol. 3
Son of the great Will Smith, Jaden has broken off from his family name to create his own musical legacy since he has embarked on his musical career. While some of his past projects have felt forcefully aggressive and musically scattered, his latest album fells much more cool and relaxed, and brings a calming vibe that Jaden hasn’t excelled at providing previously. His musical knowledge is on greater display, his lyrical ability has seemed to have progressed, and the project blends rap with different genres and production styles. Cool Tapes Vol. 3 definitely sees Jaden taking a step in the right direction, as he continues to come into his own musical sound and style.
The LOX – Living Off Xperience
The LOX, as both individuals and as a collective group, have all but cemented their legacy in the history of hip hop. However, their latest project sees the group continuing to flex their prowess on the mic. With strong features from legends like DMX and T-Pain to up and comers like Oswin Benjamin and Westside Gunn, the project appeals to hip hop fans both young and old. The raw bars presented on the projector can stand with some of the best of them, and while the production shows nothing innovative, it serves as the perfect support for the lyrical display that is shown across the album. The LOX’s project is just the latest in a wave of hip hop icons from the 90’s showing that they are still able to make music relevant for today while staying true to their classic style.
Flee Lord, Mephux – Pray for the Evil 2
Although this project will not get the same level of hype as other prominent hip hop artists, the collaboration between rapper Flee Lord and producer Mephux is a forceful display of hip hop. With shades similar to the style of Griselda, the project shows how modern production techniques can mesh with classic styles of hip hop. Although the project is on the shorter side, there is no shortage of potent lyrics and gritty production, and the slower flow of Flee glides perfectly within the production of Mephux. Pray for the Evil 2 continues to show the strengths of both rapper and producer, as well as the undeniable chemistry the two have been able to develop together.
Internet Money – B4 The Storm
Internet Money, a collective of producers that began selling beats through YouTube, is here with their debut studio album. Featuring a slew of trap rap stars, including Juice WRLD, Future, Gunna, Nav, Swae Lee, Lil Keed and many more, the album is a fun collection of some of rap’s biggest stars doing their thing over various different styles of production. The album, which is really more of a compilation of different songs by different artists, may not have the feel of a cohesive project, but there is no denying the fun and energy that is infused in the album. With the vast collection of various artists, there is no shortage of star power and hit potential from start to finish.
Nasty C – Zulu Man With Some Power
Nasty C is making his case to be the next rapper/singer to make it big on this album. Showing a great deal of versatility, Nasty raps with energy, with tenderness, and sings with ease, all while embracing his identity. With strong features from T.I., Ari Lennox and others, Nasty C is supported by a myriad of different production styles, and shows his strengths on all of them. While the album does seem a little long and probably contains some fillers, there is a lot of potential that is displayed across the album by Nasty. This album is a display of the talent that Nasty possesses, and highlights where his talents might be able to take him in the coming years.
Nas, Black Thought, Rapsody, Jahi, YG, Questlove – “Fight The Power: Remix 2020”
Hearing the familiar beat from Public Enemy’s classic, followed by the declaration that “The year is 2020,” is truly startling. 31 years after the original song’s release, the frustration and rebellious energy is just as potent and important now as it was back then. With strong showings from all of the artists involved (including YG, who may not be held in the same regard as the other rappers on the track), the remix reminds us that the work of equality is still ongoing. The fact that the next generation of hip hop artists still has the same level of anger toward systemic racism in America should reveal to those that still do not understand that racism has persisted across generations due to the lack of true change. Given the current state of social unrest that has gripped America this year, powerful songs like this serve as an anthem for those that understand, and an education for those that do not.
Black Thought, Pusha T, Killer Mike – “Good Morning”
Spitting over a much more aggressive and electric-based beat than Black Thought usually does, the Swizz Beatz produced song is powerful and intense. The lyrical ability on display between the three rappers is astounding, and each verse packs its own punch and has an undeniable energy. The intensity of the song remains strong from start to finish, and the heavy production is only topped by the immense lyrical delivery from each rapper. “Good Morning” serves as an aggressive wake up call, and sees Black Thought continue to call out white privileged and the unequal treatment of black communities in America.
Problem, Jack Harlow, Jay Rock – “NOTHIN”
This west coast forward track sees an unlikely collaboration, but still delivers lyrically over a west coast style beat. Harlow continues to deliver during his breakout year, effortlessly flowing over the west coast beat on the chorus as well as on his verse. Problem infuses his classic west coast style into the track, while Jay Rock provides a nice stylistic contrast on his verse. Each rapper has his own unique style and talent that he brings to the track, and the collaboration between the three of them works better than expected. As Harlow continues to build on his already exceptional year, songs like “NOTHIN” show listeners that Harlow can easily adapt to rap over different production styles, while still delivering lyrically and melodically.
Calvin Harris, The Weeknd – “Over Now”
This collaboration works on so many levels. Harris’ ability to infuse funk into any song plays perfectly with The Weeknd’s beautiful vocals that soar above the track. The track sounds like it could’ve come straight out of the soul era, and the accompanying video brings the classic-feeling track into 2020 with trippy visuals and highly detailed animation. The production provided by Harris is playful and full of energy, while The Weeknd, as usual, provides an amazing lyrical landscape to the track. While the track is full of energy, the laid back feel and moderate tempo allow it to not feel super busy, all while maintaining a funky groove throughout. The song makes the listener want more from this duo, and hopefully the future will see the two continue to work together.
Ty Dolla $ign, Nicki Minaj – “Expensive”
If not for a hilarious video, this song may very well be forgotten as just another attempt at a hit. Not to say that Ty and Nicki do not deliver, because their lyrical performances are strong, but the song feels like nothing that hasn’t been rapped about before. The video makes the song worth listening to, and Ty still blends rapping and singing with the best of them, while Nicki provides a fun verse that adds a different dynamic to the song. However, after a few weeks, the song will likely be largely forgotten about.
A$AP Ferg, Lil Wayne, Jay Gwuapo – “No Ceilings”
The track, appropriately named given that Lil Wayne’s mixtape No Ceilings was uploaded to streaming platforms today, sees Ferg and Wayne taking on the Brooklyn drill style of rap popularized by Pop Smoke, and carried on by artists like Gwuapo. Ferg effortlessly adapts to the new production style, and brings his infectious energy to the track with ease. Gwuapo, while noticeably young, brings a strong charisma to his verse that makes for a great second verse. Finally, Wayne basically kills his verse, providing a fast triplet flow and strong lyrics, all over a different stylistic production than he is used to. The track is intense and bold, and each rapper contributes their part to the overall energy of the song.
India Shawn, Anderson .Paak – “Movin’ On”
Stellar vocalist and songwriter India Shawn recruits the great Anderson .Paak for this emotional and optimistic r&b hit. Backed by stellar production reminiscent of .Paak’s production style, the duo’s collaboration provides heartfelt lyrics and strong vocal deliveries. .Paak’s ability to compliment nearly every and any artist he works with is once again on display on this track, as India provides a beautiful and effortless lyrical performance. The song is not only beautiful, but full of hope, as India sings about re-finding herself following a difficult breakup, a feeling that is nearly universal among listeners.
Releases previous to today:
redveil – Niagara
Cordae, Roddy Ricch – “Gifted“
Big Sean, Nispey Hussle – “Deep Reverence“
I have just completed my senior year at the University of Michigan majoring in international studies with an emphasis in political economics and development, with a minor in Chinese language and culture, and I have recently been accepted into the Berklee School of Music’s masters of music business program. Although economics, politics and history are all academic interests of mine, I consider music to be my true passion.
Music has always been my passion, and it is a driving force for the way I think, act, and conduct myself on a daily basis. I have been playing the clarinet and saxophone since the age of ten, and the ability to play music at a high level has allowed me to embrace music on a multitude of levels. I am both an avid player and listener of music, and I find myself constantly in search of new artists who bring something new and different to the art form, and writing about new music has become a new outlet for me to explore what is going on in the musical world.