Peep This Joint: Top 5 Rap/RnB Albums of the Year

As the year winds down, it’s time to look back at all the outstanding albums that released this year!

Reflecting on the 2019 year’s lineup, it’s clear to see the lineup is stacked. From memorable debuts such as YBN Cordae’s The Lost Boy to disappointing releases like Chance’s The Big Day and Kanye’s Jesus is King.

Nevertheless, a wide range of artists from all sides of the rap spectrum released music this year as we’ve seen with the dynamic Atlanta duo EarthGang releasing their debut, Mirrorland to the surprising posthumous project, One Of The Best Yet by legendary rap group Gangstarr. 

With not only the year but the decade coming to a close, I felt that it was right to go over what I personally think are the top releases this year for rap and R&B. It was a hard decision to whittle down my favorites to only five, but these are the albums I felt deserve some noise:

YBN Cordae – The Lost Boy

Cover from: Stereogum

This album is a phenomenal debut for the young, up-and-coming rapper hailing from Maryland. He initially blew up through a remix of J-Cole’s “1985” that circulated the web and moved its way to the charts. From then on, things have only been going up for the young rapper as shown with his song “RNP,” featuring Anderson .Paak being produced and co-written by J-Cole himself just a year later. The lyrics and production in this project are nothing but top-tier so this definitely deserves to be in the top five of the year.

Tyler, the Creator – IGOR

Cover from: Twitter

Many wondered what direction Tyler would take for his album after the release of Flower Boy, which received both widespread critical and public acclaim. What resulted was the release of IGOR, which Tyler proudly proclaims is all self-written, produced and arranged. The rave reviews of Flower Boy led Tyler to tap into his creativity to create a unique album that sonically differs from his past discography. Exploring the journey of a love triangle, Tyler paints the emotional struggles experienced throughout the album. If you ask me, this project would be the number one release of the year.

Summer Walker – Over It

Cover from: Hypebae

Another stellar debut project that dropped this year was Over It by R&B singer Summer Walker. Dropping in October, this album proved to be a hit as it broke records by becoming the most-streamed album by an R&B female artist ever during its first week. After getting her song, “Girls Need Love” remixed by Drake, her popularity instantly skyrocketed. Her sultry vocals paired with the slow-groove production made this album a top contender for best R&B album of the year. 

Anderson .Paak – Ventura

Cover from: Consequence of Sound

Anderson .Paak came through this year with the release of his album, Ventura. This album came out just a year after the release of his fourth album Oxnard, which received some criticism for his rap-centric approach. It didn’t seem to bother him though as he came out strong this year with Ventura just 5 months after Oxnard’s release. Returning back to the soulful roots with this album, Paak recovered gracefully with this “return to form” album.

Gangstarr – One Of The Best Yet

Cover from: HipHopDx

One Of The Best Yet marks the end of the 16 year hiatus of legendary rap duo Gangstarr, which consists of rapper Guru and producer DJ Premier. The death of Guru back in 2006 resulted in DJ Premier losing access to all of his old verses until recently through legal action. Fortunately, once DJ Premier recovered his partner’s forgotten and unreleased material, he was able to make magic and produce beats that ultimately culminated into the album. One of my favorite aspects of this album was the fact that Guru’s verses have a timeless element since they are very relevant in today’s rap climate. Overall, this is a classic sounding album reminiscent of the 90s that sounds like a treat for backpackers. If you’re a fan of hard-hitting lyrics, this is the top release of the year for that category. 

With so many hard-hitting releases this year, there’s a lot of content to listen to in order to keep up. Hopefully, this list gives you some ideas or suggestions on what projects to catch up on. Peep these joints out!

Written by: Johann Oribello

21 Questions: Francisco Guadalupe Velazquez

Francisco Guadalupe Velazquez Man with glasses smiling in front of tree

21 Questions is a fun way to get to know students, faculty, and staff. This week is Francisco Guadalupe Velazquez. He is the current Assistant Director of New Student and Parent Programs here at SDSU.

How do you feel about the question, “Tell us about yourself?”

“It is really open ended, but it is great, people can express themselves in regard to who they are, because often times we are told who we are, instead of us being able to share who we are.”

So, tell me about yourself?

“There are so many ways you can take this question! My name is Francisco Guadalupe Velazquez, but I also go by Frankie Velazquez. I am a SoCal native from Valley Center, North County San Diego, proud SDSU alum, and an Aztec for life. I like this question, but it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly to say. “

What is something that people usually get wrong about you?

“People think that I take myself too seriously, but it depends on the environment that I am in. At work people tend to think I am quiet, because I do not tend to speak up, but it depends on the context. But if I feel like it is a safe, brave space where I can do that, I am more likely to speak up.”

Is there anything you want people to know about you?

“It is important for people that I identify within the LGBTQ+ community. As a QPOC (queer person of color) it is important for to have faculty and staff identify in this community to represent this population. The intersectionality that does not happen as often where you see queer people in a position of power. As an assistant director I recognize I have authority to effect change in the community.”

Are you a “people person”?

“I don’t think so, but I can turn it on if needed. I know I need time to myself sometimes, so I would say I am an ambivert.”

Are you family oriented?

“That’s an interesting question, I think the idea of family I do like, but that does not always mean blood family I think you create your family so in that sense yes, I am family oriented.”

What’s on your mind today?

“At the moment work and vacation! I recently booked a vacation to Riviera Maya, Mexico, so that is my motivation.”

What brought you back to San Diego? 

“SDSU that is what really made my family. Being a student, grad student and then leaving, I knew I wanted to come back, because the connections I made. I was part of the SDSU Ambassadors and Residential Education, so those played a part in decision as well as my personal and professional growth.”

Do you have an idea of where you will be at the end of this year? 

“I have a vision of where I would like to be. 2019 has been a huge year of personal and professional growth, I hope that I am in a place of gratitude and being thankful for the journey I have been on and thankful for what I have. I am looking forward to traveling, I love to travel and travel with my partner. Our next goal is to travel somewhere whether it is a cruise or exploring Europe. I know he wants to go to Germany, so that might be on the list.”

Do you believe that struggles make you stronger?

“Yes, absolutely I think there needs to be somewhat of a struggle, because when you get to your goal or you are successful, it is so much sweeter. That is how you grow and how you become the person you ultimate want to be.”

Who are you listening to right now?

“I am listening to… let me pull up my Spotify. I listen to a lot of Spanish music reggaeton and pop — Danna Paola, Carlos Rivera, and Taylor Swift. My first concert was when I was five years old, it was a Latin pop group called Garibaldi. Some of my favorite concerts have been Ricky Martin, Lady Gaga was amazing, Mariah Carey, Demi Lovato, and Justin Timberlake.”

Do you have anyone to thank for where you are now?

“I do. So many people, I don’t know where to start. So often we go about our lives without acknowledging the team of people that support you. These are just a few people, but my advisor when I was an ambassadors Janet Castro, Kara Bauer, Dr. Avery, Randy Timm, and Christy Samarkos.” 

If you could tell your younger self something what would it be?

“You matter, because it is important to hear.”
– Frankie Velazquez
Written by: Jasmine Alexander
Photo by: Jasmine Alexander

The Art of Makeup

I started playing with makeup when I was four-years-old. I would sneak into my mother’s bathroom and smear my face with lipstick and pat eyeshadow onto my cheeks because I thought makeup would make me as beautiful as my favorite Disney princesses. Since then, my longing for beauty has grown into my love for artistic expression.

For a long time, makeup has been a tool to shame women. Makeup has been used to make women seem unintelligent and shallow as if we care about nothing else besides our appearance. Men have made jokes about taking women swimming on the first date to see if we are attractive or not without makeup. Women even get shamed by other women who base their personality off of how they are “not like other girls.”

Some people do wear makeup to hide their insecurities, and maybe we do need to talk about why we feel like we need to look attractive at all times, but many of us genuinely enjoy wearing makeup. Why do we feel the need to shame women for doing what they enjoy? Why is anything associated with femininity taken as a joke? Some people, especially men who are attracted to us, love to tell us that we look better without makeup as if that is a compliment, but it is actually degrading and frankly many of us do not care to hear it.

Art is for Everyone

Makeup isn’t reserved for people who identify as a woman. As seen by YouTube’s (chaotic) beauty community, makeup can be enjoyed by anyone. Men, or people who appear to look more masculine, are often shamed for wearing makeup as well. When men wear makeup they are often insulted and told that they appear too feminine as if that is a bad thing. If art is neither reserved for men or women, then the line should not be drawn at makeup. Promoting the idea that makeup isn’t tied to gender can help young girls, boys, and everyone else explore their artistic abilities without fearing judgment.

My Favorite Artist

My favorite makeup artist is not anyone I’ve seen on YouTube, but someone who I’ve known for her entire life, my sixteen-year-old cousin Halle. Halle dreams of going to cosmetology school and becoming a makeup artist for actors, and I absolutely believe that she is capable of fulfilling that dream. When Halle does makeup, she doesn’t simply do typical everyday looks, she makes her face look so unique that it looks like a painting that belongs in a museum. She pays close attention to the colors she chooses and all her looks require such intricacy that many of us (including myself) do not have the patience or the talent to do.

When I look at Halle, I wonder how anyone could not understand that makeup is a serious art form. I was never very artistic growing up, but knowing Halle has caused me to bring out my creative side and try bold makeup looks that make people stare. Next time someone has something negative to say about wearing makeup, remember that you are an artist and not everyone appreciates art.

Written by: Maya Dixon
Photos by: Halle Wilson

Winter Music Festivals

Looking for a last-minute music festival to attend this winter break? There are many festivals going on to bring in the New Year. Check these out!

It’s always the best to attend music festivals with your friends, especially after finishing a long and busy college semester. You just can’t beat listening to your favorite music with the people you love the most.

There will be many music festivals going on the west coast this winter break, and they contain mainly electronic dance music artists. Electronic music is very diverse, so you will get many different genres at once. These festivals are coming up close, but it’s not too late to buy tickets–especially if your favorite artists are on the lineup!

In our very own city, OMFG! NYE 2019 will be taking place at the Pechanga Arena San Diego from Dec. 30 to Dec. 31. This is the festival’s ninth year in San Diego. Tickets vary in price as you can purchase single-day tickets (around $150) or a 2-day bundle (around $270). If you are staying in San Diego for the new year, this is a must. The lineup looks amazing and I’m sure it will be awesome!

On Dec. 28, Audiotistic SoCal 2019 will be taking place at the NOS Event Center in San Bernardino, CA. Tickets are not too expensive (about $70) since it is a one-day event, so if you are looking for a cheaper event this is it. The lineup looks pretty good as well, so I’m sure it will be very fun!

A couple days later on Dec. 31, Countdown NYE 2019 will also be taking place at the NOS Event Center in San Bernardino, CA. I am attending this festival so I am very excited! Tickets are a little more expensive than Audiotistic (GA is around $130), probably since it is on New Year’s Eve. If you are looking for a NYE event, this one looks very exciting to go to!

Moving to NorCal, MTV’s SnowGlobe Music Festival will be taking place in South Lake Tahoe, CA from Dec. 29 to Dec. 31. Tickets for this festival are almost gone, and they vary in price as you can get a 3-day pass (around $250) or a single day pass (depends on the day). I have heard only good things about this festival and wish I could go. I heard it was very cold though since it is outside, so make sure to bundle up!

Moving east, Decadence Arizona will be held on Dec. 30 and 31 at the Rawhide Event Center in Chandler, AZ. Tickets vary in price, and there are 2-day passes (around $250) as well as single-day passes (around $150). I attended this festival last year with my two best friends and I had an awesome time! It was very cold and packed with people though, so make sure to bring extra layers of clothes. There are a lot of really good artists performing this year.

Decadence Colorado will be held on Dec. 30 and Dec. 31 at The Colorado Convention Center in Denver. Tickets are available in 2-day passes (around $280) or single day passes (around $150). This lineup looks better than Arizona’s in my opinion. I wish I could go since I have not seen many of these artists. This festival looks very fun to be at!

Make sure to dress warm if you are attending a music festival this winter break. If you are looking for last minute New Year’s plans with your friends, definitely attend one of these music festivals!

Written by: Alexandra Gex