Rapper and Singer Smino took a pit stop from Coachella to perform for a sold out crowd at Hollywood's
Fonda Theatre with openers Earthgang and Phoelix.
Though halfway complete, 2019 is proving to be the year of rising new artists. With the Coachella Music and Arts Festival going back to their indie inclusive routes, Black artists like Rico Nasty, Anders0n Paak and SiR were able to elevate their fan base. One artist with a cult following that rose during festival season was St. Louis' own Smino. After hitting the stage during the two weekend extravaganza, Smino took over California with a couple of performances in Santa Ana, San Diego and Los Angeles. Joining him onto the Hoopti Tour was Atlanta's group Earthgang and up and coming artist Phoelix. The three acts performed amazing sets reminiscent of the great performer's before them all without losing their modern-day wave.
Following Smino's career is becoming one of our favorite past times. We were introduced to the young artist via Instagram back in 2017. He had just released his critically acclaimed debut studio album, blkswn. On first sound, the St. Louis native's musical style took us a little off guard, but in the best way possible. Very seldom an artist is able to display all of their amazing talents on their first album and it works so well. Smino does that with blkswn, titling himself as both a rapper and singer. With top charting singles "Blkswn" and "Anita", the album proved to be a successful introduction. The genius behind Smino is his unique voice and flow. Having the gift of a gospel-based voice, a thesaurus-wide vocabulary, and a slight southern accent; Smino's flow is something we've never heard before in the rap community.
Born to a family of musicians, Christopher Smith (Smino) has been preparing to take the stage since he seven-years-old. His talents brought him to open for other acts such as T-Pain and SZA. In November 2018, he dropped his second album Noir. The sophomore production surpassed fans' expectations for the artist. Once again, utilizing his smart lyricism with funk and jazz-inspired beats made Noir a pinnacle moment in Smino's growing career. The neo-soul based hip hop inspired album included many hits like "Z4L", "Klink", and "L.M.F". After the success of the album, Smino announced his second tour.
The Hoopti Tour is currently set up for 33 shows including stops in the United States, England, and Canada. He also announced fellow openers Earthgang and Phoelix. Phoelix is a Chicago based artist who has been linked with fellow artist Noname. The Jack-of-all-trades is an amazing singer, rapper, musician, and producer, with tracks on both Smino's and Noname's albums. The energetic and eclectic duo, Earthgang, has had the spotlight on them since joining J. Cole's Dreamville project. The Atlanta group also has ties to Smino with several collaboration tracks on the way, making them the perfect addition to the tour.
Artistry and storytelling was the driving theme of the Los Angeles' Hoopti Tour. Marketing tactics playing with Noir's theme of Black luxury, beauty, and reality; inspired Smino to create a commercial of him and his crew searching for a Hoopti for the upcoming tour. Fast-forward to an April night in Hollywood where a sold-out crowd was more than excited to see the fresh talent presented on the Fonda Theater's stage. The three acts were almost too perfect of a deal together displaying a new non-mumbling and non-conforming music style. Seeing these three artists at the beginning of their career gave us a comfortable and secure feeling about the future of hip-hop.
Chicago triple threat Phoelix kicked off the night on an old school keyboard set. His voice was both alluring and hypnotizing, so much that it was hard to believe that this was the young artist's first tour ever. He performed a few of his tracks from his 2017 and 2018 albums Tempo and GSPL. A favorite from the night was a performance of his 2018 single "Drip". Drip was created with Phoelix's expression of sexual frustration. An awkward muse yes, but hearing this song live made us Shazam this hit immediately. Just when the audience got used to the singer's voice, he then showed the crowd the multi-instrumental side to him. With already a strong track record as a producer for NoName, Saba, and Smino; we guarantee that you'll be seeing more of Phoelix.
Next on the stage was Dreamville's dynamic duo Earthgang. Earthgang consists of the flamboyant but vocal Johnny Venus and the lyrically talented Doctor Dut. The hip hop duo brought Atlanta to Los Angeles by allowing the usually boujie Hollywood-based crowd to get a little loose during their performance. Fun and energetic, the two rappers performed a couple hits from their trilogy album release Rags, Robots, and Royalty. Eclectic and eccentric, the duo's chemistry was similar to fellow ATL alumni Outkast. The crowd danced and danced till they couldn't any more thanks to Earthgang. Highlights from the act include a performance of the unreleased, yet viral song "Up" ( which was featured on COLORS' music platform) and a dance party with the crowd.
As the crowd was settling and preparing for the main act of the evening, the Fonda curtains rose dramatically with Usher playing softly in the background. The crowd was confused, yet excited for what was to come. Unlike any other modern-day concert we've been to, the Hoopti Tour decided to showcase a comedy act in the middle of the show.
After a 15 minute comedy set, the curtain rose again to introduce female singer Schenay Mosley. She showed off her vocal range by dropping a few oohs and ahs, then Smino graciously appeared from behind the curtains with his live band. Rocking a sky blue fur coat, baggy pants and cornrows , Smino took the audience with him back to the early 2000s. One thing that drew us immediately to Smino was his amazing voice. Let's just say that his live voice is just as, if not more impressive than his recorded copies. Long-standing Smino fans were in for a treat as the rapper took the crowd on a 30-song journey of his young career.
He performed hits like Blkswn's "Anita", "Hoopti", "ZFL" , "Fenty Sex" , "Pizano" and "We Got the Biscuits". The crowd sung along to the underrated rapper's melodic hits and jazz based beats. One special member of the crowd was Smino's father, who was visiting California for the first time ever. Capturing the look in the St. Louis rappers eye when he would catch his proud father recording his performance, was something so beautiful and enchanting. Especially after looking back at the young rapper's history in music. His father was a piano player, his mother was a singer and his grandfather was the original bass guitarist for Muddy Waters. The careers of his relatives were put on the hold to preserve their family, but who knew that structural sacrifice is exactly what it took to get their family name and talent in the spotlight.
However, the brilliance behind Smino is that he simply does not crave the spotlight but for sure deserves it. Both conscious yet content, he uses his music to tackle hard hitting subjects while still knowing what our generational youth is interested in. In between sets of his performance he thanked the crowd for their support but, took some well-deserved time to acknowledge his Black fans within the crowd. He brought young African American fans together in the best way possible, by Swag Surfing of course! He even continued the night with a rendition of Young Joc's "Its Going Down". The young crowd followed through and retracted the same amount of energy that Smino was giving them during his performance. Just as the night was coming to an end Smino announced his last song of the night. The crowd was excited for they knew what was to come. He performed another hit from Noir called "Merlo"t. Though the song is a fan favorite, the crowd was a little disappointed with the closing choice. As Smino and his band members closed house, the crowd chanted one powerful word repeatedly, "Klink, klink, klink". The band members took notice as the drummer set back down with the lead guitarist joining him with a smile. The dj and backup singer both returned to their stations as Smino returned on stage with a big bang. Finally, the crowd got exactly what they wanted as the dj began to play the beginning of Noir standout his "Klink". The crowd went wild, is simply an understatement for how lit the closing performance was.
The three performers killed the Hoopti Tour leaving fans with nostalgic feels and future hopes for the new artists. Everyone is now aware and understanding of why these three artists are listed as the Ones to Watch in 2019/To give you a little preview of what these artists' performances are like, we've made a brief playlist of the Hoopti Tour essentials.
Under the surface of thousands of influencers and overpriced tickets, Coachella is popular because of its appreciation for music. The original Coachella Music and Arts Festival was started to expose indie artists looking for a jump in their cult following. The first fest in 1999 featured headliners Beck, Tool and the Rage Against the Machine. As the years past and profits rose, the line up became bigger and busier. Showcasing more than just rock stars and country pop, the line up saw the likes of Jay Z, Prince, and many more. After last year's astounding Coachella or should we say "Beychella" attendees were ready to see who sets the bar for the 2019 festival. Though many were disappointed with this year's line up, many artists proved their talents and the grand stage. Here are our top artists who stole the show at Coachella '19.
Even before hitting the stage Ariana Grande made history becoming the youngest headliner ever. She also is only the fourth female headliner of the festival. The young singer has been having a successful 2018-2019, with her tour and Sweetener album release. Her performance included hits from the album "Thank You, Next", "7 Rings", and "Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored". Just when we thought her performance was already amazing she brought out everyone's fave 90's boy band 'NSync. Though without Justin Timberlake, Grande proved to be a great addition to the band's reunion. Other reunions and special guests appearing in her hour-long performances were Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, P Diddy and Mase.
In 2019's Coachella, BLACKPINK became the first ever female K-Pop group to perform at an American festival. K-Pop has been stealing the music scene thanks to the girl group and fellow performers BTS. The South Korean quartet has a successful Coachella debut with their already international fan base becoming even larger. The group performed numbers from their recently released ep Kill this Love. After this performance, we are guaranteeing that these ladies US exposure is going to go above the roof.
This is Billie Eilish's time ! If you don't believe so, do us a favor and watch her weekend 1 and 2 Coachella performances. She is currently topping the Billboard Artist 100 chart and had her first experience at Coachella 2019. The 17-year old pop star showcased her amazing vocal range performing hits from When We Fall Asleep , Where Do We Go. Joining her on stage for her performance was Long Beach's own Vince Staples.
Childish Gambino's star power shined as he used Coachella to maximize all of his many talents. His first venture for the weekend was his Coachella release of his new film starring him and Rihanna. "Guava Island" was introduced camping style to fest goers in an island themed tent. For those who missed Glover's directional debut the film is now streaming on Hulu. A second venture that the rapper/actor tackled this weekend was his new shoe partnership with Adidas. At Adidas' exclusive pool party, attendees got a sneak peek of the Childish-inspired shoes. Continuing his momentum, Gambino closed Friday's Coachella with an incredible performance including top songs "Red Bone", "This is American" and "Feels Like Summer". His performance also featured a new song and an AR App experience.
Leave it to Kanye West to find his way as the topic of discussion for Coachella, even without performing weekend 1. In January, reports of West's cancellation of headlining the festival were shrouding Coachella. However, West's spiritual change allowed him to put on a spectacular performance for Weekend 2. Lately on Sundays, Mr. West has developed his own spiritual Sunday Service, where a choir would perform notable Gospel music and remixed hits. He decided to bring this experience to festival goers on Easter morning. The performance included several praise dancers and choir members performing "You are the Sunshine", "Father Stretch My Hands" and "He has Risen". West performed with the choir a couple of his own versions of his top hits "Jesus Walks" and "All Fall Down". West was also surrounded by friends and artists Kid Cudi, Ty Dolla Sign, Teyana Taylor and Chance the Rapper.
Khalid won big at this year's Coachella with his partnership with BMW for fan based events and amazing performance. The El Paso artist started his second Coachella experience by headlining BMW i's 2019 Road to Coachella campaign. In this project, the company showcased art inspired by the artist and fans got a chance to meet the main man himself. On stage, Khalid performed songs from hit albums Free Spirit and American Teen. Songs he performed included "Locations", 'OTW" and "Angeles" (which he paid tribute to Mac Miller and Nipsey Hussle). Joining Khalid on stage was fellow young artist Billie Eilish for the duo's hit "Lovely", Normani for 'Love Lies" and Halsey for "Eastside".
This band's selection as the day 2 headliner caused a lot of commotion on social media platforms. For Weekend 1, several Instagram trolls got their questions answered on who Tame Impala was. Every attendee without a doubt called the band;s performance the best of the night and the most trippy lighting in the festival's recent history. Australian funk-rockers Tame Impala performed new tunes using psychedelic visuals. For the groups second weekend performance they brought out A$AP Rocky. The band also announced a new US tour performing their greatest decade hits.
Last on our list is LA's very own YG, who took over "Boachella" weekend. The Compton native has had a rough last couple of weeks with the death of a longtime friend and fellow rapper Nipsey Hussle. The Crenshaw Legend's death clouded the festival's activities and several artists could not complete their set without the acknowledging of one of hip hop's greatest loss. No other performer did it like YG though. Videos and photos of Hussle took over the Sahara stage and showed that this whole set was going to be dedicated to him. All of this and it is his first time ever performing at the festival, YG had a lot of pressure and balls to go through with his performance. He performed his usual hits including "BPT", "My N*gga" and "Twist My Fingers". He then took audience members back to a time where the young rapper was just a struggling teenager in Compton with his 2009 hit "Toot it and Boot It". In honor of Hussle, he performed their collab tracks the controversial "FDT" and "B*tches Aint Sh*t" with Tyga coming out as well. Just when you thought the performance was finished, he closed the show with 2018's song of the summer "Big Bank" with Big Sean and 2 Chainz. This performance proved YG's performance and celebrity factor as the rapper blended sentimental, political and powerful elements all while still having a great time.
March 31st, 2019- The day began somber as it was originally synonymous for the 24th anniversary of the death of Latina legend Selena Quintanilla. Sad to say that day got way worst. That Sunday afternoon Los Angeles rapper, Nipsey Hussle was fatally shot outside of his own clothing store in Hyde Park. Instagram kept fans updated on the shooting. As thousands of fans posted their prayers for recovery, it was announced on all media outlets of the 33-year-old's death. The shocking news left fans stunned as he leaves behind longtime girlfriend Lauren London and his two children. Hussle was more than a local lyricist. His intentions to revive Hip Hop, culture and history makes his death even more heartbreaking. To show honor to the man who represented Southern Los Angeles so well, I wanted to write a brief piece that showed the many hats that Hussle represented in the African American community.
Ermias Asghedom transformed his experience as a 60's gang member to a narrative tale as rapper Nipsey Hussle. Los Angeles rap was slowly losing its sting as the south dominated hip-hop in the early 2000's. Hussle; however, was at the forefront of the decade's new era of Rap. In 2005, The 'Slauson Boy' caught the attention of music lovers in 2008 with the releases of the two volume mix tapes 'Bullets Aint Got No Name'. Combining the lyricism and storytelling nature of an early South Central Ice Cube and the smooth enticing voice of Long Beach's Snoop Dog, Hussle reminded fans of the legacy of West Coast Hip-Hop. Year after year, and collab after collab- Hussle created iconic projects The Marathon, The Marathon Continues, Crenshaw and Mailbox Money. Surrounded by J-Cole, Freddie Gibbs, and Big Sean on the XXL's 2010 Freshman Class, Hussle stood out as the "Most Determined" and as a man dedicated to building a legacy for himself. The Militant Manifesto spoke his success to existence as he finally gained his first Grammy nomination for his last album Victory Lap. Even though he did not take home the big reward of the night, he stole the show by cementing his legacy.
"Invest in assets, not liabilities", a young Hussle said eagerly to a reporter on what he would do with his future profits. Hussle though openly and freely about being an African American male who knows his worth. After signing to Epic Records in 2008, Hussle learned about the guttering truth of an agency signed artist. Between challenging an artist's persona and slowing down their process due to costs and over signing talents-the industry has no problem leaving their performers high and dry. Hussle ended his deal in 2010, and created his own label All Money In. This was the first step to his entrepreneurial career. As a sufficient self-starter, Hussle moved differently than other rappers. Following after Jay-Z's creation of Tidal, Hussle regained interest in owning his own label and pricing his own masters. In doing so he charged one of his mix tapes for $100 (which Jay-Z purchased all of the copies). Other ventures that the rapper took interest in is fashion. In 2017, he opened his own clothing shop Marathon Clothing with Steve Careless and Karen Civil. In this shop he innovated the "Smart Shop" which fans can shop for one of kind clothing that syncs to Hussle's music purchases. Thus maximizing his ability to connect to his audience directly.
Speaking of connecting to fans, the Marathon Man was entirely for the people. Though fame and fortune came to Hussle, he never lost sight of his social agendas such as feeding the homeless, donating funds to community programs, and providing clothes and shoes for the less fortunate. Believing in teaching a man how to fish, Hussle's philanthropy style taught the community on how to profit off of themselves. His political awareness also encouraged youth to go out and vote with his YG collab "F*** Donald Trump. Hussle's latest work of activism was creating a documentary on the late Dr. Sebi. Sebi was a Hounduran herbalist and spiritualist who claimed to find a cure for Aids. In doing so however, the research was never shared to the world as the government silenced the man. Hussle was going to display the 1985 trial and prove to the world that anything is possible with hard work and education.
Los Angeles Legend
There are two faults within the rap community: First, many celebs who started out in the hood rarely return and second, when artists become famous they put on a pair of goggles that blinds them from what is going on in their community. Hussle was always both aware and proud of his roots. Starting out as a Rolling 60's gang member, Hussle acknowledged what he saw and how he can transform the history of LA gang violence. One way Hussle did this was by realizing that the reason so many children get involved in gangs is because the lack of educational resources and activities in the area. To "redefine what the streets expect" Hussle created several programs: The Too Big To Fail, a STEM center and co-working space in Crenshaw and the Marathon Movement, a program to donate back to the youth of Crenshaw. Hussle was also invested in buying back the community with his growing projects to refurbish Destination Crenshaw Arts District.
Though the world lost Nipsey Hussle, Los Angeles grieved a little bit more as we lost a father, a uncle and even big homie. We may have lost the man, but we can never lose his message. Thank you Hussle for all you have done and we will continue to keep your legacy alive.
Missing out the big festival this year? Coachella is a cultural musical event that brings together artists, socialites and music lovers. The annual celebration produces large installations and performances from both new and veteran musicians. Indio will be surrounded with thousands of people on the weekend of April 12th. Unfortunately, the dream festival of the year costs big bucks. Paying over $500 for standing in an overpopulated field, dehydrated and not able to spot your favorite artists, however; is not the dream! To assist those who are financially incapable or just not interested in dealing with the hype this year, we decided to come up with a "Coachella Adjacent List". Several of the artists on the line-up are promoting their performances by doing cheap shows near the date of Coachella and in the Los Angeles area. This list will help you find them and experience those artists with lighter crowds and heavier pockets.
* Due to artists' busy schedules and unpredictability many of the concerts are subject to change and certain performers are only limited to Coachella performances within the time frame.
Rapper Chief Keef proves to fans that 2019 will be his year after a new mix tape release and performance at Santa Ana's Observatory.
"Did the beat go off?" No one had to ask that question after rapper Chief Keef took over the stage on Jan. 16th. Keef performed favorites such as 'Faneto", "Love Sosa' and "Don't Like" for over 75 fans at the Santa Ana Observatory. Coming fashionably late, of course, Keef kept the audience satisfied for the end of that Wednesday night. With his release date for his new mix tape being Jan. 18th, Keef also decided to give attendees a sample of what is to come. After attending the performance and constantly playing both new and old records from the artist I am finally reminded and upset about the lack of love that SOSA gets as a rapper. Here are my five reasons why Chief Keep needs more appreciation !
1. Amazing Performer
The Observatory was my first experience watching Chief Keef live. I attempted to see him perform at the major Los Angeles hip hop festival, Rolling Loud. Unfortunately, after waiting 45 minutes in the cold surrounded by anxious fans, I realized that his set was definitely not happening. I admit, I felt defeated and disappointed as a long term fan of the rapper. 'How dare he abandon his fans", I thought. Lucky for me, I was able to spot his next California appearance, the Santa Ana Observatory. Now the Observatory is known for two things: their cheap tickets and hours of sound cloud rappers' performances. So the majority of the time was dedicated for up and coming rappers to display their skills. Hour after Hour, the crowd shouted: "We want SOSA !" Finally, at 11 P.M., Glo Gang artist Tadoe came out as the introductory artist. Performing his top hits, Keef suddenly appeared to perform his cult classic "Faneto" (I'll talk about that a little bit later). An hour of amazing sets and a hype crowd rapping constantly reminded me of the great artist Keef really is. His stage presence alone was impressive and surprisingly crowd friendly. After performing the beginning snippets of his songs, he would walk to the nearest fan with their phone in their hands and record a video of himself performing in the camera. He did this several times during the performance of his songs. The hits were non stop and Chief Keef shared with audience members hits back from 2012, where we were first introduced to the rapper.
2. First of His Kind
I was first introduced to the Chicago rapper as a sophomore in high school. At first, I was completely caught off guard by his sound. A lot of "bangs" and "gangs" shouted over a low constructed beat. " No way, this guy can make it", I thought. Listening to "Kobe", "Bang" and "3Hunna", repeatedly for over three days made me understand that even though this artist was different he had something special and unlike no other. The attention the rapper was getting was both positive and negative. Some people ridiculed him based off of his violent lyrics and unflattering portrayal of raw Chicago. Though his hard-hitting style ruffles some feathers, his talent is certainly undeniable. Being the first of his kind he took a lot of hits from critics, but with those hits, he created a new generation of gangsta rap. Notable artists such as Lil Pump and Lil Uzi Vert has gone on record to say that they were greatly inspired be Keef. Mumble rap was initiated by the "Chriaq Legend".
3. Introduction of Chicago Drill
From the melodic rhymes of Common to the fast-paced flow of Twista, we all learned that Chicago artistry comes in all shapes and forms. Between the late '90s and early '00s, Chicago was painted as the Windy City with a smooth sound. Slick and inspired by East Coast jazz, this style of the city introduced us to hip hop heavy hitters such as Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco. These artists created a sound known as alternative hip hop. At that time, that was the only wave everyone was focusing on from Chicago. Then out of nowhere, Chief Keef releases his first top hit "I Don't Like". This song became a Chicago hit after finally portraying the violent reality of a Chicago native youth. The song caught West's attention and he remixed the track with Keef, Pusha T, Jadakiss, and Big Sean. This introductory to the rapper showed the world a new Chicago style called "Drill Music", a form of repetitive Trap. As a prominent leader to this new style, Keef has elevated the careers of fellow Chicago natives and elevated the storytelling behind the vicious cycle of living in Chicago.
4. Young Entrepreneur
At the age of 15, Keith Cozart (at the time) dropped out of high school. Already popular in the South Side gang life , Keef turned his lifestyle into a career. After creating countless of hits and attempting to dodge the court room, Keef decided to created countless of growing businesses all under the age of 25. His first business venture is his own label Glory Boyz Entertainment (GBE) also known as Glo Gang. In his label he has signed various young artists such as Tadoe, Ballout. Tray Savage and many more. Besides his own label, he is also currently working on his own clothing line that is planned to be release in the spring of 2019.
5. Faneto> Mo Bamba & Sicko Mode
"What song is bound to get everyone hype anywhere they go?" This is the age-old question. Some of the top answers include Mo Bamba, Sicko Mode, and Dreams and Nightmares. On paper those songs are amazing, but neither of those songs brings the same energy as Chief Keef's Faneto. Back at the Observatory, Several DJs attempted to soothe the tenacious crowd over, but the only thing that made the crowd distracted from Keef's tardiness was this 2014 hit.
Needless to explain or say more, I'll let these quick videos prove why this song is better than its current competitors.
1. Fetti by Freddie Gibbs, Curren$y & The Alchemist
2. Noir by Smino
3. FM! by Vince Staples
4. Isolation by Kali Uchis
5. SR3MM by Rae Sremmurd
6. Stokeley by Ski Mask the Slump God
7. Negro Swan by Blood Orange
8. Harder than Ever by Lil Baby
9. Astroworld by Travis Scott
10. Dicaprio 2 by J.I.D
All of the old heads can continue coming for this generation's idea of music. Mumble rap, drug references and consistent add libs- that's their only argument against our current state of hip hop. To each its own, is my usually calming personal response. However, lately I've realized that 2018 was shitty for a lot of things but, not for music! Music changes for both the better and for the worst. Some of these changes includes the growth of a Chicago MC, who has been grinding for years and is finally getting the recognition he deserves. Changes of the worst includes the loss of a Pittsburgh white rapper with flavor. 2018 will be classified on its own as a year of triumphs, tributes and trouble ; but through all these troubles it will be considered an interesting year for hip hop.
1. Female Rap
No matter how many Doll's are in the industry, I am more or so excited of the amount of females attempting rap this year! It's about time Nicki Minaj is given a run for her money. With a Grammy nomination and media attention completely on her, Cardi B controlled 2018. Even Minaj held her own with her 2018 release of "Queen'. Another female artist making her name this year is Megan Thee Stallion. The Houston MC's debut EP "Tina Snow", is proof that raunchy is returning for women rap. Artistry is cool but the sex appeal and bad-assness that Lil Kim made us feel in the 90's is finally returning to hip hop. Bay Area's own Saweetie also climbed the charts with her hits Icy and High Maintenance. Other leading female rappers in the industry includes: City Girls, KashDoll, Kodie Shane and Rico Nasty.
2. Iconic Returns
Due to the industry's chaotic lifestyle, it is imperative that every artist takes a little hiatus. Regrouping and rediscovering helps certain artists further establish their positions as a rapper. Some say "absence makes the heart grow fonder", and 2018 proved that theory to be true. Returning officially this year is one of my middle school's favorite Lil Wayne with the "Carter 5". This album was in response to the all of the new fans of hip hop who forgot the reason why some of these new aged rappers started in the first place with an iconic feature from Kendrick Lamar in "Mona Lisa". Another middle school favorite making his return is the top freestyle lyricist of all time Eminem. Slim Shady returned with "Kamikaze" , Nas returned with "Nasir" and another icon of mine Ice Cube returned with "Everything's Corrupt". Both artists continued growing their platform by reintroducing everyone to why they are considered the best of the best.
3. Everyone Loves a Comeback Story
Artists took a lot of L's the previous two years. From demolished rap beefs to a laughable standing in hip hop culture, these artists were almost forgotten in the eyes of hip hop. After his controversial jail release, Meek Mill made it a point to return to 2018 on top. Which he did and in style! Releasing two top albums: "Champions" and 'Legends of the Summer", the Philly rapper reminded everyone that no beef is permanent and he's not that easy to get rid of. Another comeback of the year was Los Angeles' own Tyga. Becoming the youngest Kadashian/Jenner's boy toy left Tyga lost in the new era of hip hop. Luckily his release of the summer hit "Taste" is an homage to the Cali MC getting his groove back. Other chart dropping singles proves that Tyga has something in stores for everyone in 2019. Coming back to the scene after a long hiatus is underground favorite Earl Sweatshirt. The Odd Future alumni returned with classic collaborations with producer Alchemist, Long Beach rapper Vince Staples and his own album "Some Rap Songs".
4. Keeping it Short & Sweet
Music is finally being made with the idea of quality over quantity. Stripping away extra production costs, features and flashy promotional tactics- Artists have developed a new tactic to display their current musical projects. GOOD music dropped several albums this year including: the head man in charge Kanye West, Nas, Kid Cudi and Pusha T. One thing all of these albums have in common is a track list of only seven songs. This common theme has made its way throughout the rest of 2018, with many artists releasing projects with seven songs- some even less. The trend is surprisingly becoming a favorite of mine as it allows me to focus on the actual song beyond the numbers game. Projects with this trend are previously stated EP "Legends of Summer" by Meek Mill, "Nasir" by Nas and "Kids See Ghosts" by Kanye and Cudi.
5. Sound Cloud Lives
2018 said good bye to many of our favorite APPS- Tumblr, Vine and old school favorite My Space. Though sad, the deleting of the tools was necessary due to their low popularity. But, with the large amount of rappers transitioning to stardom, who would've thought that Sound cloud was the next app on the chopping block. The modern day Lime Wire for the gen x youth to search through unreleased music for free, Sound Cloud has constructed the careers of Chicago's Chance the Rapper, the late XXXTentacion and many more. For some odd reason the company almost shut down after stiff competition between Spotify, Apple Music and the overly priced Tidal. Due to Chance's ability to always recognize his roots, he made it his duty to save the fallen app. Other rappers continued using the streaming service thus elevating their careers such as Ski Mask the Slump God, Trippie Redd, Denzel Curry and Uno the Activist.
6. Kings & Queens of R&B
"I am the king of R&B !" The phase heard around the world muttered by fairly new music artist Jacquees. I'm positive he was not even aware of how much backlash he would receive by stating this on one Instagram video. This announcement made the world stop and think of R&B in our current standings. Comparisons between the older and newer generation sparked the bigger question "Who is the overall king of R&B ?" Bringing R&B back to conversations was a big power move of 2018. While everyone was arguing about the king of R&B, the new queen of R&B Elle Mai took over whit her chart topping single "Boo'd Up". Other waves of R&B were introduced in 2018 with sounds from Neo-Soul artists Nao, Blood Orange (Dev Hynes) and Brent Faiyaz.
7. Hip Hop on Screen
Light, Camera, Action ! Hip Hop has taken on a new stage in 2018. With the release of the iconic film "Black Panther" came TDE's "Black Panther" soundtrack. This album features a variety of black artists paying homage to first Black superhero movie. Awards for the movie are already stacking up but the most surprising ones of all are the Golden Globe and Grammy nominations for the soundtrack. Artists on the soundtrack are used to praise such as Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q and Sza. However additional artists on this project includes: fellow TDE members Reason, Ab-Soul and Jay Rock, artists 2 Chainz, Future, Travis Scoot, Vince Staples, Swae Lee, Khalid and The Weeknd are also currently in the running for award winning praise. Other standouts on the album includes Bay Area's own Mozzy and SOB x RBE.
8. Year of the Underdogs
It's about time that certain artists are getting the recognition that they deserve. 2018 saw the growth of many new upcoming artists. Some of these artists worked their asses off and finally got rewarded for it. Underdog of the year award goes to Deamville's own J.I.D. Grinding hard for years the East Atlanta artist caught J.Cole's attention in 2017. 2018 became his stepping stone as his project " DiCaprio 2" displays his craftsmanship and versatility. This album is pretty much on my top 10 album list of 2018. Another underdog receiving the recognition he deserves is TDE's Jay Rock. Ranking TDE is a difficult and pointless since Rock released "Redemption". This project proves Rock's rank among his fellow members and talent.
9. Collaboration Is Key
If there is anything that music taught me in 2018, it is that collaboration is key. This year we saw a lot of projects from husband and wife to mentors and men-tees and we even saw collaborations between long standing industry friends. These partnerships left us with the most memorable tracks of the year like "Sicko Mode". The "Astroworld" track featuring Travis Scott, Drake and soft vocals from Swae Lee was potentially the best collaborated song of the year. Some artists even decided to take their collaborations throughout their full albums. My favorite partnership of the year was "Fetti" by Freddie GIbbs , Curren$y and producer the Alchemist.
10. Rest In Peace
Certainly 2018 had its ups but also it had its downs! 2018 saw the lost of many musical icons from various generations. Losing the classic queen of soul Aretha Franklin , certainly left a empty feeling for the continuous of the year. Some deaths struck as a complete surprise. XXXTENTACION mounted his career by capturing a cult following via Soundcloud. His emo, vulnerable tracks left us all wanting more from the young rapper. Unfortunately, he was shot and killed in June 2018. At the age of only 20, he left us with his albums "?" and "Skins". Another huge lost in the hip hop community was one of my personal favorite Mac Miller. Brash; yet thoughtful, Miller was the perfect example of the late 2000's generational artists. Miller had the ability of finding ways to make music more personable and relatable. He had a knack for finding and co producing the best beats and channeling whatever he was feeling into his art. After releasing his final album "Swimming", Miller passed in September due to his struggle with substance abuse at the age of 26.