2020 has been a renaissance for hip hop legends of the 1990’s coming back into the spotlight and reminding the music community of their greatness. Whether it is Nas coming back with King’s Disease or Black Thought and his new project Streams of Thought, Vol. 3: Cane & Able, older MC’s have returned to the forefront with a vengeance. This week sees two more 90’s hip hop legends releasing albums, as Busta Rhymes and Common both released new projects last night, in addition to many other artists.
Check out who dropped what on this new music Friday below:
Busta Rhymes – Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God
Brooklyn based MC Busta Rhymes has been spitting at blistering speeds since the early 90’s, and now, into his fourth decade of music, Busta still is able to lyrically assault beats at rapid tempos. With features from other hip hop icons like Pete Rock, Q-Tip and Wu Tang’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard, the boom-bap style that dominated the east coast hip hop scene in the 90’s is alive and present on this album. With infatuating production and enticing lyrics, Busta shows that experience and a sense of perspective can yield some of the best lyrically-driven hip hop, even if the rapper is considered “out of his prime,” just as Nas, Black Thought and other icons have shown with their new releases.
Common – A Beautiful Revolution (Pt 1)
Chicago native Common made a living off of his profound lyricism and progressive views in the 1990’s. Now, into his fourth decade of music making, he is still allowing his lyricism to expose the flaws of American society and the inequality of race. With strong features from legends like Black Thought and Lenny Kravitz, Common is backed by strong artists to deliver a powerful and important album. Common is always on the front lines of social justice issues regarding race in America, and this a bum serves as a reminder to hip hop fans of the insight and perspective that Common brings to the mic.
Trippie Redd – Pegasus
Ohio native Trippie Redd has been a polarizing artists in hip hop since emerging onto the scene due to his outlandish style and unique musical approach. This twenty six song, hour and fifteen minute long album will continue to divide Trippie fans and hip hop fans alike, as certain songs will likely appeal to certain fans while others will definitely miss. The sheer volume of the album indicates there will more than likely be at least some fillers, and while a slew of features from artists like Future, Young Thug, Busta Rhymes and more add some variety and lyrical depth, the album feels largely one dimensional. The production is nothing new, and Trippie doesn’t seem to be presenting anything new musically that we haven’t already heard.
King Von – Welcome to O’Block
Chicago based trap rapper King Von is new to the game, releasing his first studio album last year. Now, releasing his third, Von is finding his style as a trap artist, and he clearly possesses a charisma on the mic that is not easy to come by. His flow and command of the beat is palpable, and strong features from artists like Fivio Foreign, Moneybagg Yo, Lil Durk, Polo G and others further enforce the aggressive trap feel that dominates the album. Von certainly has the potential to be a strong force in the trap scene for years to come, as his intensity and raw lyricism are present from start to finish on the album.
Atmosphere – The Day Before Halloween
Minnesota based hip hop duo Atmosphere is known for their staunch lyricism and their unique production. These two tenants of the group are once again on full display on their latest album, as the lean into an ominous style of production as a means of embracing the upcoming Halloween celebration. This album sees the group at perhaps their most musically experimental, as they lean much more on the musicality of the production than the potency of Slug’s lyrics. Regardless, the album is definitely interesting, and a worthwhile listen for those looking for a unique hip hop album.
Flee Lord, Eto – RocAmerikka 2
Hailing from Queens, New York, Flee Lord combines raw lyricism with a slow and steady flow that is reminiscent of the boom bap style of rap that ruled the region in the 1990’s. Eto’s production pairs perfectly with the rap style of Flee, and the duo have an undeniable chemistry together. Flee’s loose flowing style is similar to the stylings of Buffalo based Griselda, but the production backing Flee is slightly more upbeat and snappy. The album is a great continuation of the Rock Amerikka album, and a lyrically-driven powerhouse.
$not – Beautiful Havoc
$not’s style is fun and energetic, which is evident right from the onset of this album. With almost a bouncy, west coast style approach, $not has a natural propensity for cranking out bangers, and the ability to create viral hits is evident through his music. With strong features from Denzel Curry, Flo Milli and iann dior, $not’s energy is matched perfectly and the tracks containing features contain a nice variety. Whether $not will be able to achieve greater popularity remains to be seen, but the New York rapper certainly has the potential.
Freddie Gibbs, Big Sean, Hit-Boy – “4 Thangs”
If Big Sean and Freddie Gibbs want to declare themselves the champions of 2020, I’m not gonna be the one to stop them. The song is a celebration of the duo’s accomplishments, which including two of the best hip hop albums of the year from both Gibbs and Sean, and Hit-Boy, another 2020 hip hop MVP candidate, lays it down perfectly with the production. Gibbs and Sean both flow with ease over Hit-Boy’s production, and the catchy hook provides for a catchy and swaggering single that highlights both rappers as well as the producer.
Blac Youngsta, Moneybagg Yo, Lil Baby – “I Met Tay Keith First“
This trap anthem has the production and the lyrical firepower to make an impression. Blac Youngsta hold down the hook of the song with ease, while Baby and Moneybagg provide hot verses on the second half of the song. Although the feel is a bit repetitive at times, such is the nature of the trap sub genre, and with the help of Baby and Moneybagg, the song doesn’t feel too much like a four minute loop being repeated. Nonetheless, more music variety is desperately needed for trap artists, and Youngsta would be wise to explore alternate artists to compliment his strengths rather than overshadow them.
Lil Durk, 6LACK, Young Thug – “Stay Down”
This collaboration features three rappers who can sing as well as they can spit. Thus, with a relatively empty beat provided by Metro Boomin, the rappers can all allow their melodic abilities to shine. Although all three are similar stylistically, they all come with their own unique styles and rapping/singing approaches, allowing for the song to contain enough variety to stay fresh throughout the entirety of the track. More collaborations between this group of artists would be a welcome sight, as their strengths compliment one another.
Jay Gwuapo, Pop Smoke – “Black Mask”
New York drill rapperJay Gwuapo is showing hip hop listeners why he should be taken more seriously in the drill scene. He absolutely murders this beat, and with the help of the late Pop Smoke, Jay gives us a killer drill song that contains bars from beginning to end. Jay has only dropped one studio album in 2019, so singles like this show us the immense talent he has yet to display. The state of drill rap seems to be in good hands, as artists like Jay continue to develop the style further and further.
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.