New Music Friday got off to an early start last night when Atlanta trap legends Gucci Mane and Young Jeezy faced off in the first Verzuz battle of the series’ second season. The battle hit an all time record for viewership, as 1.8 million viewers tuned in live to watch the two rappers square off. Although tensions did rise at times during the feud between the rappers who have had beef in the past, it ultimately ended on a note of harmony and unity, and was an overall win for hip hop.
Not only did Jeezy arguably take the win in the battle, but he also dropped a new project last night, along with Megan Thee Stallion, DaBaby, SAINt JHN and many more. Check it all out in this edition of New Music Friday below:
Jeezy – The Recession 2
Coming fresh off of his Verzuz battle with fellow Atlanta trap rapper Gucci, Jeezy is back with his tenth studio album, and his first of the new decade. The album highlights Jeezy’s classic 2000’s trap style, while also demonstrating his ability to change with the times and rap over more modern production styles. With strong features from the likes of Rick Ross, E-40, Ne-Yo and other artists, the album contains a variety of different rap styles, as well as some great accompanying singers. Overall the album is surprisingly fresh, and is a great victory lap for Jeezy after his Verzuz battle.
Megan Thee Stallion – Good News
Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion brings the energy as well as the bars, and no song is evident of her talent more than her new album’s opening song, “Shots Fired.” The song, which samples the beat used in The Notorious B.I.G.’s classic “Who Shot Ya?,” calls out Tory Lanez for the incident in which he shot Megan while she was in his car, and absolutely destroys any hope he has for looking like the good guy in that situation. The album hits not just in the opening song but from front to back, and with features from Big Sean, 2 Chainz, DaBaby, SZA and others, it contains a great deal of variety while maintaining Megan’s high energy from start to finish.
DaBaby – My Brother’s Keeper (Long Live G)
DaBaby’s second album of the year comes at somewhat of a surprise, but it sees DaBaby take on a more sentimental and reflective tone. The album is a dedication to DaBaby’s late older brother, G, and DaBaby both celebrates his life while also opening up his vulnerability and insecurities like never before. The difference in lyrical content is not only refreshing for DaBaby, but is also sees him taking on some different flow and rapping styles. Although the album is just eight songs, DaBaby continues to demonstrate his evolution as a rapper on the project.
SAINt JHN – While The World Was Burning
Brooklyn based rapper, singer and producer SAINt JHN has a very distinct style that is comparable to Houston’s Don Toliver, and his latest album shows his unique approach as a rapper/singer. His melodic understanding is very high, and he effortlessly is able to string together his lyrics into beautiful melody lines. Features from Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, 6LACK and others add stylistic variety and help round out the album. Although the production feels repetitive at times, JHN’s unique style allows each song to feel distinct, even if the album as a whole feels somewhat stagnant.
French Montana – CB5
Another rapper hailing from NYC (specifically the Bronx), French Montana may not bring much stylistic versatility to his work, but he does bring energy, charisma and a great deal of strong features. Contributions from artists such as Lil Durk, Jack Harlow, A$AP Rocky, Curren$y, Benny The Butcher and many others help to contribute some variety to the album, while the production is varied enough throughout the album to allow for different styles to shine through. The album is definitely long and contains some filler songs, but there are also some great songs worth listening to within the album.
Rich The Kid, YoungBoy Never Broke Again – Nobody Safe
While a collaboration album between trap rappers Rich The Kid and YoungBoy Never Broke Again may not have the same cache as a collab album between, say, Future and Lil Uzi Vert, the two certainly are more than able to crank out some quality songs together. With few features just from Lil Wayne, Rod Wave and Quando Rondo, the duo is largely on their own on this album, and while songs stand out, the album is highly repetitive and one dimensional. While this is largely expected, it would have been nice to see Rich and NBA try to broaden their musical horizons a little bit. Overall, the album contains some solid songs, but it is nothing that has not been heard before.
Kali Uchis – Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios)
Speaking of musical versatility, Kali Uchis shows off hers on her latest album. Combining Spanish lyrics with English, Uchis not only shows off her bilingual abilities, but also her velvety smooth voice over some awesome production. The album contains a great deal of variety both from the production as well as from Uchis’ delivery, while each song also highlights Uchis’ abilities as a stellar vocalist. The Spanish lyrics allow those of us who do not speak the language to feely get lost in the lyrics and let our own imaginations take us on a journey. The album is extremely beautiful, and is a masterful display of both amazing singing and stylistic versatility.
Meek Mill – QUARANTINE PACK
Philadelphia’s Meek Mill is incapable of not bringing 100% of his energy and intensity to each and every one of his tracks, and that remains true on his latest EP. The energy, as always, is infectious, and Meek’s intense lyrics combined with his strong flow is a force to be reckoned with. With help from Lil Durk, 42 Sugg and Vory, Meek delivers on each of the four songs on this EP. This EP marks Meek’s first new music in two years, so hopefully his return means more new music is soon on the way.
Russ – CHOMP
Although Atlanta rapper/singer Russ has often opted for a more melodic approach that favors singing over rapping in the past, his latest EP is a demonstration that he is more than capable of spitting bars. With help from serious MC’s like Black Thought, Benny The Butcher, Busta Rhymes and Ab-Sol, as well as a beat from the legendary DJ Premier, Russ shows off his boom-bap style of rapping that he hasn’t shown off as much in the past. The EP is new territory for Russ, and he seamlessly raps throughout the EP and holds his own with some of the world’s greatest bar for bar rappers.
Big Sean, Fivio Foreign, Hit-Boy – “SALUTE”
Big Sean and Hit-Boy have already made waves this year when they dropped their collaboration album Detroit 2 earlier in the year. Now, with an encore single, they are reminding the world of their ability to make a hit together, and a contribution from Fivio Foreign both adds to the overall energy as well as the stylistic variety on the song. The accompanying video is both comedic and serious, and adds a nice complimentary vibe to the intense song.
Marlon Craft – “Lot To Give”
Although New York City’s Marlon Craft is not a big name, his lyrical ability and natural charisma is as strong as any rapper in the game. He demonstrates as such on his latest song, as he effortless combines serious flow with insightful lyrics and an unrelenting rhyme scheme. The accompanying video is a celebration of his city amidst a global pandemic, and highlights the everyday struggle of everyday people trying to make a living. The question is not whether Craft will make it big in the rap game, but when he will.
Boldy James, Real Bad Man, Stove God Cooks – “Thousand Pills”
Detroit native Boldy James is having an extremely prosperous 2020; he has dropped three albums this year, two of which are serious album of the year contenders, and he is showing he has not slowed down at all on his latest single. James’ intense lyrical content combined with his precise flow is a serious force, and a strong feature verse over a contemporary boom-bap style beat combines for a winning formula. James’ style is not for everyone, but those who appreciate the grit and grime of the rap game would love what he has to offer.
IDK – “2 Cents”
Maryland based rapper IDK is very underrated and extremely versatile, and his latest single sees him embracing a more aggressive trap style. He effortlessly hops over the beat using a triplet flow, and his lyrical content is as potent as ever. IDK is capable of delivering nearly any and every style of rap, and hearing him embrace southern trap and display his aggression and intensity is a dope listen. IDK is another smaller name in the rap game, but his talent is certainly up there among some of the best.
Statik Selektah, Conway The Machine, 2 Chainz, Killer Mike, Allan Kingdom – “Play Around“
Any beat produced by Statik Selektah is going to be worth listening to, and with this eclectic group of features on the track, the result is special and varied. While Conway shows off his ability to spit pure bars, 2 Chainz shows off his lyrical ability and his skills with wordplay. Statik’s beat is both intense and chilled out, and perfectly straddles the line between trap and boom bap. The song is a great blend of past and present, and is yet another piece of evidence showcasing Statik’s skills as a producer.
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.