The It Girls of Rap: 2021 Edition

What a year it’s been. Can you believe it’s almost over? Despite the world plummeting into a global pandemic, at least we have music to keep our spirits afloat. While I’m bummed I won’t get to experience live concerts for a while, I’m glad I get to soak in all of the exciting releases from these up-and-coming female artists. Here’s who to look out for going into 2021:

Coi Leray

Refusing to be confined by one genre, Coi Leray brings her versatility to any track she hops on. Her EP Now or Never was released this year in August and features the likes of Gunna, Fetty Wap, Kiana Ledé, and Sevyn Streeter. I appreciate her ability to diversify her style–with some songs being explicit hard-hitters and others featuring smooth, laid-back melodies. Aside from her artistry, Coi has an interesting and lively personality outside of music. Her fashion, social media presence, and charisma are a few factors that have propelled her fanbase and success; she’s just an effortlessly cool person. I only see her stardom growing in the coming year.
Listen: “The Hills”

Rubi Rose

With a deep and raspy voice, Rubi delivers a gritty sound that inherently screams “IDGAF.” In the age of Megan Thee Stallion-esque music that pushes for women controlling the reigns of their sexuality, Rubi Rose perfectly caters to this niche audience. Coming off an already large social media following, she has boosted her name both as an influencer and artist. Even though her first single was released in 2019, Rubi has since then collaborated with Wiz Khalifa, Rico Nasty, K Camp, NLE Choppa, and Yella Beezy. She is still in the early stages of her career, but I’m excited to see what she does in the future.
Listen: “Big (ft. Rubi Rose)”

BIA

I honestly didn’t hear about BIA until recently–and boy am I glad that I did. I first heard her on the “Perfect” remix with Cousin Stizz and Doja Cat (which is arguably better than the original). Something about her cadence and delivery sparked my interest in researching the rest of her discography. She first signed to Pharrell’s I Am Other label in partnership with RCA back in 2014, but later signed a new deal with Epic Records. While she is best recognized for being featured on songs with Russ and J Balvin, BIA is evolving into a unique solo act of her own. Her debut project Rich Tiers is scheduled to release in 2021, so make sure you’re tuned in.
Listen: “Same Hands (ft. Lil Durk)”

Flo Milli

It wouldn’t feel right to not include THE Flo Milli on this list. The Alabama rapper came swinging out the gates when her debut mixtape Ho, Why Is You Here? peaked at number 78 on the Billboard 200. At only 20 years old, Flo Milli has positioned herself as a force to be reckoned with in the industry. Her consistently clever verses and catchy hooks over bouncy, bass-heavy beats give her a signature sound that is hard to replicate. She isn’t afraid to dish out insults in the process and can switch up her flow in a matter of seconds. Having already received a taste of commercial and critical acclaim, Flo Milli definitely isn’t going away anytime soon.
Listen: “Send The Addy”


Photo Source: The Fader


Written by: Nathalie Lum

Cover Photo Source: Paper Magazine


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

Peep This Joint: The Brooklyn Drill Sound

A new movement has been brewing in the midst of the New York rap scene for the past couple of months.

Take the gritty, haunting production from U.K. drill and mix it with the aggressive yet charismatic delivery of Brooklyn rappers and you have the Brooklyn Drill sound. The catapult-like rise of Brooklyn rappers such as Sheff G and Pop Smoke have officially put Brooklyn back on the map.

It’s clear to see that Brooklyn Drill has roots from the original drill scene in Chicago and the U.K. Nevertheless, the rappers from Brooklyn have managed to put their own signature New York flavor and created a new, bustling movement that’s taking hip-hop by storm.

The sound has already been steadily growing in the most thorough borough for a minute now with Flatbush’s own Pop Smoke’s track, “Welcome To The Party” gaining tons of traction during the summer of 2019. The song became a breakthrough hit and landed Pop Smoke at the forefront of movement. 

Unfortunately, the fast-rising rapper’s career was tragically cut short on Feb. 19 as he was fatally shot in his Hollywood Hills home during a home invasion. 

The shocking death of the promising rapper has left the rap world shocked with music artists from the rap community pouring their condolences and support on Twitter.  In light of Pop Smoke’s untimely departure, here are a few words about the young phenom as well as other Brooklyn Drill rappers to check out:

Pop Smoke

Taken from: HipHopDX

As mentioned previously, Pop Smoke reared the helm for the Brooklyn Drill scene. Listen to any of his tracks and it’s not difficult to see why. His low, gravelly voice matched with his effortless delivery and signature growl adlib caught the attention of many listeners worldwide. It even had one writer compare him to an ancient Sumerian demon. Out of all the Brooklyn Drill rappers, he saw the most commercial success garnering collaborations with artists such as H.E.R. and Travis Scott. It’s clear to see the prosperity Pop Smoke received brought much attention to the Brooklyn scene as a whole.  Now mainstream artists such as Tory Lanez, Quavo and even titans like Drake and Nicki Minaj have hopped on to the Brooklyn Drill wave. Despite the premature cut to a promising young career, his influence opened the gateway for the sound to reach the masses. 

Tracks to check out: “Welcome To The Party,” “Meet the Woo,” and “Dior.”

Sheff G

Taken from: Pitchfork

Due to Pop Smoke’s meteoric rise into the spotlight, he’s seen as the most prominent voice in the Brooklyn Drill soundscape. Before his arrival into the music scene though, Flatbush’s own Sheff G reared the helm. He first made waves back in 2017 with the release of his breakout track, “No Suburban” and then went on to release his full-length debut, The Unluccy Luccy Kid in 2019. Capitalizing off the momentum of the entire movement, the album proves to be a strong entrance for the Brooklyn rapper. If you’re new to the scene The Unluccy Luccy Kid is an amazing introduction to the subgenre as a whole.

Tracks to check out: “Flows,” “We Getting Money,” and “Menace feat. Sleepy Hallow & Mozzy.”

22Gz

Taken from: Atlantic Records

22Gz (pronounced as tutu jeez) is one of the earliest pioneers of the Brooklyn Drill wave, releasing his first song, “Blixky” back in 2016. After capturing heat with the release of his next single, “Suburban,” his career took a turn for the worse as he was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. Fortunately for the young Brooklynite, he only spent several months in jail as the murder charges were later dropped. Since then, the self-proclaimed “Brooklyn Drill General” has been steady on his grind and managed to ink a deal with Kodak Black’s label, Sniper Gang. With a successful mixtape under his belt, 22Gz is a force to look out for in the near future.

Tracks to check out: “Blixky Gang Freestyle,” “Spin the Block feat. Kodak Black,” and “Suburban Pt. 2.”

Fivio Foreign

Taken from: XXLMag

Fivio (pronounced as fabio) Foreign is another up-and-comer that’s firmly gaining traction beyond the Brooklyn music sphere. Landing a feature on Tory Lanez’ new single, “K Lo K,” Fivio shows up with an infectious energy and bounce as he puts on for the city of New York. His rapid rise to popularity has even caught the eyes of Drake who he’s rumored to have a feature with. After connecting with legendary New York rapper Mase and signing a record deal with him, Fivio is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the near future. 

Tracks to check out: “Big Drip,” “Richer Than Ever feat. Rich The Kid,” and “K Lo K feat. Tory Lanez.”

If you’re looking to find out what’s currently hot right now in hip-hop, peep some of these joints out!

Written By: Johann Oribello

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