5 Hip Hop and R&B Artists to Watch Out for in 2020

At the top of the year, it’s time to see which hip hop and r&b artists will be dropping new projects to hit the airwaves.

Without a doubt, 2019 proved to be another successful year in hip hop and r&b music. Rappers such as Tyler the Creator and Anderson Paak continue to impress listeners with genre bending projects like Igor and Ventura, while artists like Ari Lennox and Maxo Kream provide a throwback to the days when soul and hardcore rap reigned supreme. As the rest of 2020 rolls on, we look forward to new releases from some of the game’s hottest and up and coming figures.

The Weeknd – After Hours

Following a relatively quiet 2019 after the release of 2018’s My Dear Melancholy, The Weeknd returns on March 20th with the release of his fourth studio album After Hours. The first single,” Heartless,” finds the singer shrugging off relationships over a gritty Metro Boomin production, while “Blinding Lights” hearkens back to the 1980s synthpop influence of past projects such as “Starboy.” The self-titled track has been compared by some fans to his earlier work, most notably Trilogy, for its atmospheric production and dark lyrical content. Make sure to check out his After Hours Tour with opening acts Sabrina Claudio and Don Toliver, coming to San Diego on August 9th.

Drake – Untitled 6th Album

Following the meteoric success of 2018’s Scorpion and re-release of his seminal 2009 mixtape So Far Gone last year, it’s only a matter of time before the 6 God returns to dominate the airwaves again. As revealed in his Rap Radar interview with Elliott Wilson, Drake is working on a new album, with consideration towards a shorter track list akin to 2013’s Nothing Was the Same. His recent tracks “War,” “When to Say When,” and “Chicago Freestyle” all seem to hint at an introspective and aggressive rap-heavy vibe reminiscent to fan favorites like “5 AM in Toronto” and “0-100/The Catch Up.”

J.I.D – Untitled Album

The Atlanta-born MC has had a great 2019, largely off the strength of his 2018 album DiCaprio 2 and his contributions to the label compilation Revenge of the Dreamers III alongside fellow Dreamville Records label mates, most notably J.Cole. The sky is the limit for the rapper, as he plans to drop new music as revealed at the Grammy Awards. Whether it is a joint project with veteran producer No I.D. or not remains to be seen. Nonetheless, if you’re a fan of fast flows and complex rhyme schemes, J.I.D.’s upcoming work will be worth a listen.

Smino – Untitled Album

Smino has been hard at work since the release of his 2018 album NOIR. The St. Louis born rapper maintains his pace with the release of singles like “Trina” and “Reverend.” Additionally, he and fellow rappers Saba and Noname formed a trio called Ghetto Sage, with a single called “Haagen Dazs.” Smino’s features on Chance the Rapper’s The Big Day and Revenge of the Dreamers III raises the stakes for his next project as he builds his following.

Brent Faiyaz- Make It Out Alive

As previously covered in my previous article, Brent Faiyaz is part of a new wave of 1990s-esque r&b singers, with the release of his EP Fuck The World on February 7th. However, he is not done yet. As reported by Billboard, Faiyaz plans to drop his next project Make It Out Alive “as soon as possible.” Listeners may already have a taste of what to expect with the track “Been Away” off the aforementioned EP. Anyone looking for some r&b with some grit should watch out for Brent’s next moves for 2020.

Get ready for what 2020 has in store for us, whether the heavy hitters of the past decade sustain their run or a new wave of artists change the landscape as we know it.

Written By: Kristian Gonzales

The Sounds of State

Have you ever wondered what everyone walking around campus is listening to through their headphones? I most definitely have. Personally, I cannot imagine walking around campus, doing homework, driving around, or getting ready without music and was curious to see if this was the same for my fellow SDSU students.

I created a survey to learn about what types of music my peers are listening to as well as the frequency and occasions they do. It was very interesting to see the results come in because I found that music is a HUGE part of a majority of students’ lives on this campus.

I found that students spend around 4-7 hours a day listening to music, which is a lot considering the time required for sleeping, class, etc. On a scale from 1-10 (1 being not important and 10 being the most important), the majority rated music as a 9.

A majority of those I surveyed use Spotify as their preferred music platform, with some using platforms like Apple Music, SoundCloud, or Youtube. It is interesting that of all the different platforms used, they are all streaming services meaning college students tend to use a streaming subscription to listen to their music rather than anything else. These streaming platforms often have deals for students as a means for them to gain more clients while making it affordable at the same time.

As far as favorite genres of music, the results were kind of everywhere. Rap/Hip Hop and Indie/Alternative received the highest amount of votes which did not really surprise me. Rock/Alternative and R&B received the next highest, followed by EDM, then Pop, Country, and then Jazz.

As for occasions of music listening, I found that everyone surveyed listens to music when they study or do homework. Genres listened to while doing this include EDM, Lo-fi, Indie, Instrumental, and others. Results were the same for listening to music while walking to class, getting ready, and driving around in the car. The frequency differed but everyone does listen to music while doing these things. My favorite part of this survey was asking people to explain their music tastes. Some of my favorite responses include:

“All over the place but really good,” “The intersection of what I want to hear and what I need to hear,” and “Anything but country.”

I already knew, based on seeing students walking around, that music is a very big part of most students’ lives on this campus, but this survey really reiterated that.

Written By: Ceceli Riffo-Drecksel

Peep This Joint: Royce Da 5’9” – The Allegory Album Review

After reflecting on his life in the highly introspective, soul-baring album, The Book of Ryan, in 2018, rap veteran Royce Da 5’9’’ focuses his newest effort, The Allegory, on looking outwards and providing philosophical commentary on society at large. 

In an interview with legendary Los Angeles radio host, Big Boy, Royce explained the origins of the album title, revealing it as a direct reference to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.

“The album speaks a lot about perspective, I’m intrigued by perspective these days,” Royce said. “It’s amazing to me that two people could be looking at the same thing and seeing two totally different things, and each thing being their respective truth.”

With this project marking his eighth studio album, the Detroit emcee enlists a myriad of rappers to help push the album’s focus on perspective. The Allegory runs for a little over an hour with 22 tracks total of dense lyricism and philosophical messages meant to question the listener’s current perspective on reality.

In the rap game, Royce is best known as a top-tier lyricist and storyteller. But in this project, he switches things up by producing every track on the album. Considering that he has only recently started producing beats with his first credit on Eminem’s newest album, this is an ambitious feat that deserves its own applause.

The album opens up with the song, “Mr. Grace (Intro)” where a sample of a a father teaching his daughter financial literacy is played. Lines such as “If I gave you a million dollars right now, would you buy candy or a candy store? A candy store,” and “If I gave you something for 500, and you flip it to the next man for 2000, what is that called? Upselling” indicate Royce’s invitation to listeners to question their perspective on America’s lack of financial curriculum for its children.

He confirms this later on in his verse the repercussions of this lack of literacy rapping, “But this is America, where credit is for the privileged and profit is not my amenity.” In this line it’s clear to see that Royce is targeting the oppressors, namely rich white businessman who maintain the racist status quo of oppressing minorities.

A standout track of the album is the song, “Upside Down feat. Ashley Sorrell & Benny The Butcher.” As the fourth single of the album, Royce and rising New York rapper Benny The Butcher lay down a lyrically he avy tirade against the aforementioned oppressors. With Royce rapping, “White kids graduate to relationships with a ton of perks / Black kids, just aggravated and had to take a ton of Percs,” it’s clear to see the frustration he holds over the lack of equity in today’s status quo. Benny The Butcher voices similar frustrations rapping, “Young heathens clap tools over VVS jewels / White kids pull heaters at school, wanna CBS News.”

For a rapper with one of the most sharpest pens in the game, the production throughout the album never seems too boring or stale, despite the heavy reliance of sampling and boom-bap drums. The eclectic use of a wide range of samples such as Kool & the Gang’s funky hit, “Sunny Madness” in the song, “Dope Man” or the soulful crooning of The Linton’s “Lost Love” in “Overcomer” shows the hard work Royce put in before showcasing his work to the world. It ultimately pays off with an impressive production quality not typically found in rappers who decide to dip their toes into beat-making, especially one capable of such high caliber lyricism.

Overall, The Allegory proves that Royce’s pen is still sharp as ever and showcases his new production skills in this self-produced album. If you’re itching to hear some hard hitting bars that’ll have you reflecting on your own perspective, I suggest that you peep this joint out!

Rating: 8/10

Written by: Johann Oribello

The Purple Ones at Music Box

On February 28th, 2020, Bay Area natives, The Purple Ones, amplified the stage at Music Box . Their Insatiable Tribute to Prince served us nostalgia and a night to remember.

While browsing for upcoming concerts in and near San Diego, I came across The Purple Ones. They are a Prince cover band based in Oakland, California. Since I never got the chance to see Prince live and he is near and dear to my heart I was excited to go. Music Box was bigger than I thought it would be, with 3 stories for viewing. After scoping out the venue, my friend and I decided to go to the main floor, and we were pretty close to the stage.

The crowd was a mix of couples, groups of friends, and obvious Prince fans. Many people were wearing purple or sparkly garments such as hats and bold jackets. After looking around, my friend said we were possibly the youngest people in the crowd.

Our openers started right at 9 o’clock. They were a group called The Red Cars, which was a The Cars cover band. They started there set and had a lot of energy, however if you do not listen to The Cars (like most of us in the crowd), you were just politely swaying to the music. Their set felt as if we were in a 80s rom-com and suddenly a song came on that majority of us knew, Just What I Needed. The Red Cars finished their set, which was nice to end on a more popular song leaving the crowd more animated.

Before The Purples Ones graced the stage, DJ Spooky Calavera greeted us and proceeded to hype up the crowd by playing high energy music and a few Prince classics.

Around 10:10 PM, The Purple Ones dramatically took the stage with an intro song of their own. The band was composed of two lead vocalists, a full horn section, keyboard, and guitar/bass. The saxophone, trombone, and trumpets gave the concert a unique sound that stole the show. They started their set with a few older Prince songs. The two lead vocalist definitely did their part to get the crowd dancing and singing. They performed classics like “Sign “O” the Times” and “Little Red Corvette”.

Although the crowd was already pumped, their rendition of “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man” got the crowd singing and clapping. They maintained that energy and during an instrumental solo the two vocalist snuck away to the back and the band finished the song. The next song explained why the two snuck away in flirty way.

The female vocalist came off the stage to perform “Nasty Girl” which is actually by Vanity 6 (a female group that Prince put together). That song definitely got the ladies jumping and screaming the lyrics.

As the night came to a close, The Purple Ones ended with one of my favorites, “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” This song is known to have a long section of instrumentals, and this is where the band introduced themselves. They thanked the crowd, shared that it was their first time in San Diego, and stated that they would not be where they are without Prince. On that note, they closed out the show.

This was definitely a new experience, but the band exceeded my expectations and it made me wish I had the chance to see Prince live.

Written by: Jasmine Alexander