J. Cole’s in a tough spot these days. With a fanbase that exceeds the quality of output he’s produced in the past few years — his solo work, that is, he’s stuck between hip-hop legends and those vying to make it there. “Lewis Street” feels like another step, but not necessarily in a direction as enchanting as anything he put out in 2015 or beforehand. It hurts to say, but it feels more and more like he’s a better label director than rapper, and while his upcoming album, The Fall Off won’t be outright garbage, it’s hard to imagine it’ll be better than anything he could focus on with Dreamville.
Speaking of past his prime, Logic dropped his version of a farewell tour, No Pressure, this week. The sequel to the album he released at his likely peak Under Pressure, this latest work is a selection of honestly fun tracks that show off his technical skill for rapping alongside a great selection of boom-bap beats cooked up by the legendary No ID. Overblown criticism of his ego, as well as discussions on mixed identity and mental health, altered his career path wholeheartedly, but this album is another reminder of his talent and cheeky lyricism. It’s not groundbreaking, it’s rarely thought-provoking or perspective-widening, but it’s an album Logic fans will enjoy. Mainstream media and fans have beaten the visionary out of him, and while his annoying tendencies still shine, No Pressure is a gentle goodbye to the fans that have continued to believe in him even with all the baggage.
Our goodness. Swongus has released another absolute USDA prime meat patty of an album. The dissonant beach metal that she’s created her dirty persona through is as greasy as ever on Cheeseburgers, Garbage Disposals, and Sam Adams Summer Ale. The album is full of pickles and tomatoes, which is a welcome change from her earlier carnivore efforts — while she’s packing patties on this one, it feels like she’s embraced a more balanced diet, and it shows with a much more balanced series of bowel movements early on in the album. Tune in if you loved Red, 1989, and Reputation.
Olu, the electric energy behind household duo EarthGang, casually put up his rendition of Marvin Gaye’s legendary track “What’s Going On,” this past week. His stirring iteration of the heart-thumping track is soulful and cute, and provides a look at who Olu could’ve been if he was born 40 years earlier.
Calling Dave Brubeck and Charles Mingus into the mix with their album art, Lupe Fiasco and Kaelin Ellis put together a pensive selection of raps for the HOUSE EP. The two met on Twitter, and as Lupe details on “L95”, their collaboration felt natural. Seasoned Lupe listeners will be excited to hear a new taste test of what Lupe’s thinking about these days. He’s one of the greatest rappers of all time, and doesn’t really have to prove it anymore — laid-back efforts might be more his pace at this point in his career.
Over an eerie, bassy instrumental, Guapdad develops the theme of a painful orgasm, likely referring to the difficulties of getting rich as a popular rapper while his family is still dealing with the everyday hardship of racism and oppression. Hitchcock comes through with a similarly haunted verse, completing a track that’s a lot more serious than potential listeners would expect.
Sylvan Esso always manages to fuse thoughtful lyricism with an upbeat youthfulness that makes all their songs stick. “Ferris Wheel” captures that essence, with a track that feels like summer. The full album Free Love, set to release September 25th, will be the duo’s first album as a married couple, and also the first to feature them both on vocals.