Aminé — Limbo
Aminé has had to fight off pop-rapper labels his whole career, and while blind haters will continue to do so, this album cements his status as a force in the industry that can’t be ignored. His official sophomore album, Limbo chronicles the Portland rapper’s difficulty reaching out of liminality in intimate areas of his life — whether romantically, professionally, or personally, it feels as though he’s trying to break through and find his place in the world.
A strong supporting cast featuring Young Thug, Summer Walker, Slowthai, Vince Staples, JID, Charlie Wilson, and Injury Reserve keep things fresh — Aminé has never gone a whole project without significant help, perhaps the only criticism of his skill as a professional to-be-taken-seriously rapper. But intimate moments on this album like “Burden,” “Fetus” “Mama,” and “My Reality” pull back the curtain and show Aminé’s personality as sensitive and loving. “Woodlawn” and “Pressure in my Palms” add to the pre-released singles and provide a strong allure to the playlist crowd, filling the album out as one that can appeal to a wide array of hip-hop heads.
Glass Animals — Dreamland
As their first release since 2016’s electrifying How To Be a Human Being, Glass Animals, the four-man British psychedelic pop band, has broken their drought with the 16-song, 45-minute Dreamland. At its core, this project displays the group furthering their experimentation with the elements of hip-hop that, within measure, help creatively craft the special sound fans have come to expect and enjoy. While the attempt was genuinely exciting and has a handful of highlights, the album in totality comes off as a sloopy and poorly thought out jab at something revolutionary. Instead of representing a groundbreaking move for hip-hop, Dreamland is a miss, and I think Glass Animals fans are hopeful to see the band shift back towards the sound that brought them success in the past.
Lil Keed — Trapped on Cleveland 3
While Lil Keed was just named to the XXL Freshman list, it sure isn’t due to his ability to put a strong album together. LongLiveMexico, his 2019 effort, was fantastic, lined with bangers and witty ad-libs, goofy bars, and experimental delivery, but Trapped on Cleveland 3 threw much of that momentum away.
“Trippin” kicks the album off strong with a growling hook; “I got an elephant ring, Alabama / Humps on these pockets like a camel.” Other candidates include “Traplanta,” “Hibachi” and “Zaza.” It’s difficult to judge this album so early — Keed’s proven to age like fine wine, but off a few listens, this album isn’t cutting it.
Cardi B & Meg Thee Stallion — WAP
This is the fucking anthem. Two queens of the rap game, Cardi and Meg link up for a nasty, sexually charged track with quotable bars and goofy ad-libs. Headed straight for the top of the charts, it’s a fantastic collaboration composed purposefully and will leave you wanting a whole album of their WAP energy.
Anderson .Paak — Lockdown Remix ft. JID, Noname, Jay Rock
A redux of .Paak’s poignant protest song, JID, Noname, and Jay Rock bring new energy to the track with emphatic delivery and strong messaging. “Reparations, though, we tryna get even
Just run the paper, maybe then we can start the conversation / Common ground, prison compounds full of my fuckin’ people,” raps JID, and Noname echoes the sentiment, taking it up a notch; “And if you’re rich, I pray to God, forgive you / You’re supposed to share the garden, grow the Holy in you.” The track is subtle and downtempo, yet gives a strong feeling of the need to take action to eradicate America’s evils.
Omar Apollo — Stayback
His second solo single of 2020, Omar Apollo sings about elusive love, a familiar theme for longtime listeners. He sports smooth vocals over a vibey beat — but with an electric twist. Apollo plugs in for the bridge, and goes off on a gripping guitar solo that’ll grab your attention and keep it. “Stayback” is a reminder of Omar’s industry-breaking talent, and will accelerate hype leading up to his next release.
CHIKA — U Should
CHIKA’s first release since the heartfelt, boastful, and skilled INDUSTRY GAMES, “U SHOULD” shows off her singing ability with floating vocals about an unfulfilled love. She’s gained steam since INDUSTRY GAMES, and this latest track displays her at her best, with dexterous flow, witty lyrics, and effortless harmony.
Kali Uchis & Rico Nasty — Aquí Yo Mando
Kali Uchis and Rico Nasty link up for a bombastic, hip-shaking track that makes its presence felt. Booming bass from the top of the track makes for infectious energy, and the duo’s chemistry is unbreakable despite different styles and language.
JID & IDK — Cereal
JID had a fantastic week — with appearances on Aminé’s album and the “Lockdown” remix, he’s trending in several different circles of hip-hop heads. This collaboration with IDK is welcome, as the duo liken their experience as broke kids coming up in a rough area — the dichotomy of having water instead of milk with their cereal and running with serial killers is a strong device.
Washed Out — Purple Noon
Best known for “Feel It All Around” (of the Portlandia theme song), Atlanta singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/producer Ernest Greene is back on the scene with this new LP, “Purple Noon.” The album will transport you to beachy bliss through a wide variety of styles and beats, tied together by Greene’s dreamy vocals.
Remi Wolf — Monte Carlo
Quickly following the release of her EP I’m Allergic to Dogs, Remi Wolf dropped another bop of a single featuring a catchy beat, a new level of funky voice effects and some honestly hilarious lyrics like “You’re not my mom, you’re not my dad, you’re my tiny little boyfriend.” It’s an easy track to keep on repeat.
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