Let’s just get right into it. Check out RLGT’s Rap-Up of April 2018 below.
RLGT RAP-UP: APRIL 2018
This month was essentially the perfect interlude in what could be an incredibly memorable year for hip-hop music. April had absolutely everything: the return of rap legends, major recognition for the genre, the long-awaited release of a star, some great albums as well as the announcement of a few with high potential to bang. There was way too much going on, but needless to say I put everything together into this article. Just in case you missed it. I really don’t blame you for it, ‘cause I barely caught it all too.
Some of the notable highlights…
The Return of Yeezy Season
April was a big month for Kanye West, who seemed to dominate headlines, group chats (shoutout to MMC) and hip-hop blogs alike. It began with the reactivation of his infamous Twitter account and numerous insightful sprees on being a creative in today’s environment. It was explained that this was Kanye writing out his new philosophy book, Break the Simulation, in real-time. Along with that, we were exposed to prototypes of the new Yeezy sneakers and a ton of political controversy (we’re gonna skip over that, at least for now). On April 19th however, Ye’ took a cue from Kim and broke the internet (terrible-pun intended). He announced his own seven-track album, set to drop on June 1st and a long-awaited collaboration project with creative protege Kid Cudi. It’s almost like it’s 2010 again. The duo have been frequent collaborators for years, with Cudi working under ‘Ye and having a substantial creative impact on Kanye’s fourth studio album 808s & Heartbreak. Since then, both have assisted each other artistically and considering past examples of their work (which also include “Waves”, “Erase Me”, “All of The Lights” and “Gorgeous”) there is definitely potential for this to be a legendary project. On top of all that, G.O.O.D. FRIDAY’S is officially back with album announcements from Nas, Pusha T and Tenaya Taylor with each set to drop only a week apart. Oh yeah, Kanye is also apparently solo-producing each project.
Drake Single + Album Announcement
If his past drops have indicated anything, Drake is coming for y’all in 2018. With the exponential mainstream success of “God’s Plan” and the hip-hop allure of “Diplomatic Immunity”, not to mention his standout feature on Blockboy’s JB’s “Look Alive”, Drake continued to keep his track record clean by releasing “Nice For What“ on April 6th. The song itself is a vibe, sampling Lauryn Hill’s iconic “Ex-Factor” and featuring Drake speaking on themes of female empowerment in a digital age. The accompanying music video stands out on it’s own, providing visuals starring Olivia Wilde, Issa Rae, Rashida Jones, Tiffany Haddish and so many more. After the dust began to settle, Drake announced that his fifth studio album titled Scorpion will be slated for June 2018. You could say our hopes are high on this one.
Kendrick Wins a Pulitzer Prize for DAMN.
This was a huge win for the entire hip-hop community. Kendrick’s DAMN. winning the Pulitzer Prize made history, being the first time it has ever been awarded to a non-classical or non-jazz record. The website described the album as “a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life”. I’m not 100% sure what that means but nonetheless it signaled a shift in music culture inspiring passionate reactions from fans around the world. This is the recognition hip-hop artists knowingly deserve, proving that the mass-influence of our culture cannot be ignored any further. Copies of DAMN. saw a 236% increase in sales when the news of Kendrick’s accolades dropped. With it, Kendrick is able to cement himself into rap history as one of the greats.
Release of J. Cole’s Fifth Studio Album “KOD”
When J. Cole announced a live-event, Twitter promptly blew up. It was being held in New York with a few defining rules: no phones, no cameras, no bags and no press list. It was there Jermaine held a listening party for his fifth studio album titled KOD (Kids on Drugs, King Overdosed and Kill Our Demons). Once released, it was met with major acclaim from critics and fans alike. Dealing with themes regarding addiction, Cole came in with ambitious energy, innovative flows and signature bars delivering what could just be a potential classic in upcoming years. The more I listen to it, the more I enjoy it. This project felt like one Cole wanted to make and fans have wanted to hear. It smashed records on both Spotify and Apple Music as the most-streamed album on it’s first day of release, only to be topped by Post Malone a week later. “1985 (Intro to The FaLL Off)”, the bonus track, itself was enough to keep hip-hop heads talking for days. For Cole haters, unfortunately the iconic “double platinum – no features” joke will continue to live on. The album is available on all streaming platforms.
On Tuesday, April 25th Meek Mill walked out of prison after Pennsylvania’s highest court granted his bail request. He celebrated by heading over to the Sixer’s playoff game, ringing the ceremonial bell pre-game and sitting court-side with Sixer’s owner Michael Rubin and comedian Kevin Hart. Considering the hype, to absolutely nobody’s surprise the Sixers won and moved onto the next round. He had been sent to prison in November for violating his probation, stemming from charges made in 2008. The case was highly controversial and we saw influential figures among not just the hip-hop community, but the world comment on it. Even foes like Drake were noted with coming to his support. The case is very clearly corrupt and the world stands at his side, but there’s more to come and only time will tell if justice will truly be served.
Beerbongs & Bentleys
Post Malone’s sophomore effort was released on April 27th, an 18-track album that features a focus on emotional themes and the integration of more rock elements. Although the project suffers from the now frequent fatigue (the same seen in Culture II) in over-saturated projects, there are definitely some notable highlights. Off the bat, my favorites (singles excluded) are “Paranoid”, “Stay”, “Better Now”, “Otherside” and “Rich & Sad”. “Stay” is arguably the best song on the record, a heartbreaking cut stripped away to simply vocals and acoustics. It’s safe to say Posty fans are into it, considering it has already beat KOD’s week-old record of first day streams and is on pace to top Drake’s More Life for first week streams. The album is available on all streaming platforms.
ICYMI: Care for Me by SABA
On April 5th, Saba dropped what could be one of my favorite projects this year. It is moody and profound with exceptional flow, lyricism and story-telling. Saba speaks with raw emotion served over hard-hitting production. The Chicago rapper frequently addresses his roots and the violence in the area, using a variety of his own personal experiences to communicate his message. I’ve never listened to Saba’s solo-work before and so shoutout to Hospey for recommending the project to me. My favorite cuts are “LIFE”, “PROM//KING”, “GREY” and “FIGHTER”, along with a standout feature from Chance The Rapper on “LOGOUT”. I felt it wasn’t appreciated as much as it could be so I included it in this piece. I’m really getting a Chicago’s Kendrick Lamar vibe. The album is available on all streaming platforms, so go listen to it.