The year of 2020 is finally coming to a close, and while the year has been filled with turmoil, uncertainty and isolation, the music that the year gave us was actually some of the best we’ve seen in years. The great wave of new music this year has not yet come to an end, and some major names, including Kid Cudi, Jack Harlow, Fetty Wap, Chance The Rapper and more dropped projects today to add to the already chock-full year of music.
In addition to the big names, some underground and up-and-coming artists also dropped quality projects today. Check it all out below in this edition of New Music Friday:
Kid Cudi – Man On The Moon III: The Chosen
Kid Cudi dropped his first two albums, Man On The Moon: The End of Day and Man On The Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager back in 2009 and 2010, respectfully. Now, ten years later, he is back with the third installment in this album trilogy, and it is certainly one of Cudi’s most unique projects to date. While the first half of the album is dominated by trap-style production as Cudi adopts a rap-heavy approach, the second half of the album sees Cudi once again tap into his more musical and emotional side. Although the album does not feel as cohesive of a project as the first two MOTM albums, there is no denying the talent Cudi possesses, as well as his musical and lyrical acumen. This album certainly is not for everyone, but Cudi fans should rejoice when they hear probably his best album since the two MOTM albums.
Jack Harlow – Thats What They All Say
Few artists have had quite as big of a year that Harlow has had; after dropping his hit single “What’s Poppin” earlier in the year, he has capitalized on his momentum with other successful single releases. Now here with his debut album, the Louisville rapper is here to cement his place in the mainstream rap scene. Although his style is somewhat repetitive, his lyrical ability is certainly top notch, and his flow is as precise as they come. Additionally, with strong features and production, Harlow shines across a variety of different styles. Harlow’s arrival is no fluke, and his album shows that he is definitely a force to be reckoned with.
Fetty Wap – You Know The Vibes
Is Fetty Wap a one hit wonder, or is he a legitimate trap artist? After dropping his hit single “Trap Queen” back in 2015, Fetty has been largely irrelevant in the rap scene, but he has not stopped grinding to get back to the top. His latest album highlights that he rapper/singer still possesses talent, and with a variety of different production styles, Fetty looks to show he can rap and sing over different styles. This album does not seem like it will mark a comeback for Fetty, but it does show that he is not simply a one hit wonder. He is still capable of delivering some good songs to certain audiences, but it does not seem like he will return to the number 1 spot anytime soon.
Chance The Rapper, Jeremih – Merry Christmas Lil Mama: The Gift That Keeps On Giving
Speaking of rappers who once reigned supreme that have since been somewhat forgotten, Chance The Rapper dropped a new Christmas themed project with fellow Chicago r&b singer Jeremih. Chance received a lot of negative heat for his 2019 album The Big Day, and while this album feels less like a push for a musical return to glory and more like a passion project, Chance fans will probably find something to complain about. Although the content of Chance’s raps have changed greatly over the years, his musical ear is still as good as they come, and his production never fails to provide soul, emotion and energy. Maybe if people appreciated Chance for his music rather than his lyrics there would be less complaints. Just a theory.
Boldy James, Real Bad Man – Real Bad Boldy
Detroit rapper Boldy James is having one of the strongest years in rap maybe ever; he has already dropped three quality albums this year, two of which are serious contenders for album of the year, and he’s back with one last project to round out the year. Backed with some seriously gritty production from Real Bad Man, Boldy shows that he might be the best coke rapper in the game right now, alongside his fellow coke rapper Freddie Gibbs. His raw lyrical talent and precise flow pairs perfectly with the intense production on the album, and Boldy once again shows that great rap talent comes in any age.
Young Scooter, Zaytoven – Zaystreet
Altanta native Young Scooter is showing that he belongs in the trap rap conversation. With a style reminiscent of a young Gucci Mane, Scooter is backed by trap production legend Zaytoven to deliver a serious display of trap. With features from the likes of Future, Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, Young Dolph and others, Scooter is backed by the biggest names in trap to cement his credibility in the genre. His flow pairs perfectly with Zaytoven’s production, and the album shows that there is a new name looking to enter the trap scene with force.
38 Spesh, Green Lantern – 1995
New York rapper 38 Spesh is bringing the boom-bap back to hip hop. With a litany of classic beats from the classic era of hip hop behind him courtesy of producer Green Lantern, Spesh shows his ability to provide moderns spins on the most classic of beats. Spesh’s lyrical ability is matched by his timely flow, and his style sounds like it could have come straight from 1990. Those looking for a classic hop hop vibe today need to look no further than this album, as it is a nostalgic tape that takes any listener back to the boom-bap days.
Heem, Green Lantern – Long Story Short
Speaking of Green Lantern, Buffalo rapper Heem also collaborated with the talented producer to release a new project. With features from Boldy James, fellow Buffalo rapper Benny The Butcher and others, Heem asserts his own gritty, grundy rap style onto this album. His style is reminiscent of the Griselda style that has defined Buffalo rap in recent years, although he still manages to sound unique and sticks out even alongside Benny. Heem is yet another example of the rap talent residing in Buffalo, as well as the gritty content that Buffalo rap seems to highlight.
Pete Rock, The Soul Brothers – PeteStrumentals 3
Pete Rock is one of hip hop’s best producers of all time, and his latest beat tape is just the latest example of his musical brilliance. Combining equal parts hip hop, jazz, funk and soul, his production style is truly unique, and it has managed to both evolve over time while maintaining that classic feel that dominated int he 1990’s. The production on this tape could feature any number of talented rappers, and the great variety of production styles allows for a great listening experience from front to back. Never sleep on Pete Rock and his production ability.
Terrace Martin – Village Days
Multi-instrumentalist and producer extraordinaire Terrace Martin always brings the funky, soulful west coast vibes, and his latest EP further shows off his musical brilliance. With features ranging from his jazz/hip hop fusion group Dinner Party to Rexx Life Raj and others, Martin demonstrates that he is able to make music that fits a great deal of different styles and genres. His ear for production is truly among some of the best out there, and his musical knowledge allows him be genre fluid in his music creation. Few artists are able to blend genres like Martin does so consistently. and he brings it with jazz, soul funk and more on this EP.
Benny The Butcher – “3:30 In Houston”
Griselda signee Benny The Butcher has had himself a great year along with the rest of his label, but his world was turned upside down when we was shot during a robbery attempt in a Houston parking lot recently. Now back with his response, Butcher not only lets his opposition know that he is not phased by an attempt on his livelihood and life, but also once again highlights his supreme rapping ability over a perfect beat that highlights his strengths as a rapper. Butcher will continue to provide the hip hop world with quality music, as evidenced by his latest single.
WESTCOAST BOOGIE, Joey Bada$$ – “Outside”
Compton rapper WESTSIDE BOOGIE and Brooklyn native Joey Bada$$ is an unlikely collaboration, but both the content of their raps as well as their respective styles are complimentary to one another. Both rappers aim to portray their life experiences through their music, and both rappers are extremely lyrically driven in terms of delivering their message. The song highlight each rapper’s ability to eave a narrative into their raps. Any song that brings Joey Bada$$ onto the mic is likely to succeed.
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.