Coming from the city of Mobile, in Alabama, Rich Boy started making some noise in 2006 with "Throw Some D's", a single about his new Cadillac – a luxury car he had undoubtedly bought with dirty money. To keep the momentum, Maurice Richards – his real name – contributed the following years to the mixtapes of more notorious rappers like Ludacris, or beginners like a certain Drake. And also, he released a first album, which would become a moderate success. What needs to be retained from his discography, though, is a mixtape he would record in 2008, to herald a second opus, Break the Pot, he would finally release much later, in 2013.
For decades, sex was a central theme in rap music. Often described in very raw and explicit ways, it is one of the key reasons why some people hate hip-hop. Because of this, they consider it too vulgar, or sexist, not always noticing – or appreciating – the often humorous and playful side of the approach. The shock value and debates even took an extreme turn, when successful female rappers like Lil' Kim and Foxy Brown played this game. They started a new war between two radically antagonistic kinds of feminism: the first, the rigorist one, which considers that women shouldn't present themselves as objects of desire; and the other one, according to which they are allowed to expose freely their libido and sexual appetites, that it is an inalienable human right, and a proof of their emancipation.
This is a well-established rule: any rap crew needs to have one feminine member. Such is the case with the Sailing Team, the collective led by Lil Yachty, who recently became an icon of Atlanta's new generation. Among his gang of happy guys with colored hairs, is a young lady, Kodie "Shane" Williams. Coming from a family of musicians – her half-sister used to belong to Blaque – she is not the least interesting of the band. She proved it last year, with a series of short projects like 2060, Little Rocket and Zero Gravity, and her defining song, "Sad". Having joined now Epic Records, thanks to Lil Yachty's post "Broccoli" notoriety, and benefiting from a growing media exposure, Kodie Shane recently proposed a new mixtape.
As 2016 is coming to an end, it is good to review its new faces, and to choose those we want to remember. Among these is Travon Smart, a.k.a. Jimmy Wopo, a young man from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who surfaced with the success of his "Elm Street" single. First coopted by local stars Mac Miller and Wiz Khalifa – he is affiliated to the Taylor Gang – he was also praised by Mike Will, performed on stage with Rae Sremmurd, collaborated with Sonny Digital, and shared the mic with Riff Raff and another rising star, 21 Savage, whose "No Heart" he remixed.
The CunninLynguists have been, in many ways, an exception. The duo – later on, a trio - had represented more or less the backpack rap tradition in a place, the Dirty South, where it scarcely existed. Also, in an anachronistic way, they have been loyal to some 90's and Dungeon Family inspired kind of hip-hop, at a time when Atlanta had moved to other subgenres, like crunk, or trap music. And curiously, by the mid-00's, with their third album, A Piece of Strange, they started meeting some success, at least on the critics side, exactly when their kind of rap had seemed rejected to the dustbin of history. As a matter of fact, by the end of the decade, the group was fully part of the hip-hop landscape; it could mix with people coming from other worlds than indie rap, and be a full part of the game by 2009, when mixtapes reached an unequaled status, when they were all the rage.
In the 2010's, rap's biggest mainstream star is Drake, undoubtedly. He understood how rap was had changed from a musical genre, into the very center of international pop. He abolished the borders with other genres, using singing tunes, and also, with Future and a few others, the melancholic synthetic sounds rap critic Jeff Weiss and rapper Nocando once called a "sad robot music". Before Drake, though, there were others. Kanye West, of course, whose 808s & Heartbreak was somehow the matrix of this kind of music. But also Kid Cudi, who had contributed to this album, and released before that his own manifesto, A Kid Named Cudi.
In 2002, Sage Francis stopped being the underground's best kept secret, due to the release of his first album, Personal Journals. Thanks to some great tracks and beats – maybe, also, because of his rock music compatibility – and despite the record's heterogeneity, the rapper and spoken word artist from Providence suddenly extended his audience. However, per one of the universal laws of music, some fans were disappointed. They thought that his Sick of… mixtapes had been much more exciting, especially the first of the series, Sick of Waiting Tables...
Until now, Young M.A. hasn't done much. She only released a few songs of her own, and mostly focused on freestyles. It is actually through one of them that her name started buzzing. Built on Nicki Minaj and Lil Herb's "Chiraq", rapped along a few of her RedLyfe PainGang buddies like Rell Markz and LA Danger, and renamed according to her borough, "Brooklyn" was a viral success. Thanks to it, the New-York rapper joined the historical Duck Down Music label – which was somehow logical considering this young woman's brash, virile and intimidating kind of rap.
You can't have missed them. The guys from the Sauce Factory, indeed, have been quite present over the last few months. They released several mixtapes, and were praised by locals like Slim Thug, as well as superstars like Drake. They are everywhere, and presented like the next wave in one of rap's biggest strongholds: Houston. The Sauce Twinz (Sauce Walka and Sancho Saucy), Sosamann, 5th Ward JP, Drippy, Rizzo, plus a few others, are coming from different places in the Texan city, but they all belong to the same new generation. They are the heralds of a new movement, a new sound, a new concept – all at once – they call "the sauce".
The endless bursts of a machine gun. The horrific screams of a panicking women. Crescendos built with the help of booming synthesizers. Martial choruses. All of these played very loudly. And also, most importantly, the raspy and enraged voice of Gunplay himself, rapping in a breathless way, as if today was his last day. Those who assumed that nothing could be more extreme than the brutal Inglorious Bastard, he released in 2011, were completely wrong. The song "Jump Out" is insane, it is just utter madness. It goes beyond anything heard before.
Do you enjoy Action Bronson, and more particularly the Blue Chips project, he released earlier this year? Do you like this sound, so typical of New-York, but refreshed, so that it still looks relevant in the 2010's? Are you a fan of these guys? Do you think that, thanks to them, the Big Apple can pretend to remain the capital city of hip-hop? If so, you should love this mixtape, his own author introduced that way in its very first seconds: "I ain't bringing shit back, New-York we never left".
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