I think it’s safe to say that a lot of us have been waiting for the Kendricks, Coles and Drakes of the world to drop their albums. While we’ve been waiting though, there’s been some really impactful music that’s come out and not enough people are talking about it. You might have to start back in December 2020 to fully understand it though. While we were listening to Christmas carols, music, these artists were putting out heat. Instead of having you dig through your DSPs* for music, I thought I’d take a moment to highlight some of the projects from December that you should have checked for.
This album would have made my top 10 albums for 2020 if it didn’t come out in mid-December (rappers gotta stop doing this to us, we need more time to live with the music). What I will say though, is that it’s definitely the gift that keeps on giving from last year. J Stone already put out a great body of work with his debut album “The Definition of Loyalty”, but this man followed it up with a sophomore album that is equally as good and if not better than its predecessor. That’s difficult to do and honestly a triumph in its own right. To me, J Stone has already established himself as a prominent rapper coming out the West Coast. I don’t look at him as someone living in Nipsey’s shadow, but a rapper in his own right, who’s carrying on what Nipsey started. The marathon continues.
You remember when JR (Jim Ross), the commentator for the WWE used to say stuff like “this man has no regard for human life”? He could have been talking about EST Gee. This guy packs his songs with some of the realest and most unapologetic drug dealer bars I’ve ever heard. The man started off a record with “ I know you heard bout G/last niggas that played with me had two, three surgeries”…You’ll only get to hear the beat for a few seconds before he just casually drops stuff like that through the project. If you do some digging and understand that he got shot 5 times and almost lost his eye on the last project (he’s actually has a patch over his eye on the cover art for “Ion Feel Nun“), then you’ll realize that this guy is really what he raps about. He doesn’t glorify it but for better or worse he lets you know what his life experiences in the game came with.
On top of that, he continues to provide gritty content on beats that always slap. I mean always. There isn’t a bad beat on this entire project and more importantly, he’s shown constant progression as far as his rapping ability goes. His cadence, delivery and flow switches continue to improve from the “El Toro” days to the present. If you’re looking for something to get you excited about music and being able to listen to it outside with your people again, this is it. Personally, if he keeps this up, I think he can be right there with 21 Savage in that class of rappers known for their high energy, aggressive and violent bars. A guy from Louisville, Kentucky cut-through the industry and is now one to watch out for in hip-hop. This guy is a raw talent. Gotti really found himself a diamond in the rough in EST Gee.
Let me start this off with a disclaimer: * I am not from the UK and do not claim to represent the UK (so ease up please and thanks)*
Fam this guy right here man… this guy is crazy. When you put his project on, did you hear what he was saying? Are you really listening to the bars? Are you really taking in the content? For me, this is some of the most unexpected but realest music I’ve heard come out of the UK. I was like Potter Payper? Then you see him with the glasses and you get it fam (I don’t even mean that in a roasting sense, I get the Harry Potter reference).
First time I ever heard this guy to be honest with you was when I saw the music video for “Purpose” on YouTube. I heard that Drake “The Ride” sample and I remember thinking to myself, why hasn’t anyone else ever tried to use this sample before?! Then this guy just went and did his ting* on the beat and I had to give the whole project a listen. If you’ve been tappin into music from the UK, he’s a guy to really check for. Personally, I haven’t stopped listening to it since I heard him say “I hit her from the back and make her legs walk all bambi”. Whether it’s daily or weekly, I find myself coming back to this mixtape. Training Day 3 is something special. It’s projects like these that really make you happy that hip-hop’s influence has stretched across the globe. The art is alive and well.
Imma be honest, I’ve been a fan of Bia’s ever since I heard her verse on the Kali Uchis record “Miami”. Something about her voice on a beat makes you wanna boss up. It’s a raspy voice but it commands your attention when you hear it. It’s only 8 songs but I think it gives you a good feel for her artistry and previous work. Plus her “WHOLE LOTTA MONEY” record has garnered a lot of attention on social media. I don’t “put all my jewelry on when I got to the bodega” but now I know for certain that she can really talk that talk when she’s ready.
Is it safe to say Durk is the streets right now? This guy is on one hell of a run and he is everything your local trapper listens to but now he’s really buzzin’ on the radio. Matter of fact forget radio, in 2020 Durk was everywhere. You had to actively try to not listen to music if you didn’t want to hear him on a record. He’s one of the few artists to utilize being featured on a Drake record and pushing his own music like crazy. All this goes to further prove what a lot of us already knew about his talent and worth ethic. This guy did not let up and I’m glad because now he’s on your tv with Jimmy Fallon and nobody can take that from him.
I know it’s the cool thing to not like things associated to Meek right now (I still rate him) but Vory put out a solid debut project. It’s like a rap, trap and R&B project all in one. It makes for an interesting listen as the beat selection enables the content of his music to shine though. The EP is like a memoire of his current mental state on a lot of levels. You get insight into his street beef with family members, his insecurities and past transgressions with women, and how he copes with trauma from the environment he grew up in. Don’t let the artwork deceive you, mask or not, Vory unpacks some layers on this project.
I slept on this one and I’d like to apologize to Boldy James. I heard the Boldy James and Alchemist album but I didn’t rush to this. I should have rushed to this. I actually think I like this one even more than the “Price of Tea In China”. The first track on this project is deceiving because Real Bad Boldy is a lot more uptempo than the intro track would lead you to believe. It still stays true to his sound but I found myself boppin’ my head more to this project. Also, I’m not familiar with Real Bad Man’s production, but he did what he needed to do on this thing. He made beats that compliment Boldy’s rap style and even added elements that weren’t on Boldy’s other projects in 2020. Better to listen late than never right?
This one is pretty off brand in comparison to the rest of this list. This isn’t hip-hop or R&B at all but I enjoy her music. If you’re looking for some moody music to play on the road after a long day or to bump on a chill evening, this Nilüfer Yanya 3-pack might be your thing. I’m not fully sure how to appropriately categorize her music but Indie Rock is probably the best bet. If you like this EP, you’ll really enjoy her “Miss Universe” album from 2019. You have to be in the mood for it, but her music can be an enjoyable ride.
DSP – digital streaming platform (i.e. Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, Youtube Music, etc.)
Cut-Through – to have a breaththrough or create a buzz
Ting – thing (in this specific case : to rap at a high level)