Roddy Ricch Became A Star When You Weren’t Paying Attention

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Roddy-RicchJustin Bieber wanted it bad — or, at the very least, people within the Justin Bieber camp wanted it bad. (Bieber himself never seems to want anything except for the endless nightmare of his own fame to end, and he doesn’t want that badly enough to stop making music.) … More »

Hemlock Ernst, The Little Indie-Rap Side Project That Could

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Hemlock-ErnstSamuel T. Herring looks like the dad in a ’50s sitcom. He sings in a stately baritone-blues quaver that sometimes unpredictably lurches into death-metal growl territory. He dances like an unusually balletic hardcore frontman who has been cast as the lead for a Tennessee Williams play. There is absolutely nothing about Samuel T. Herring, save … More »

Tekashi 6ix9ine & The Bizarre Spectacle Of Rap On Trial

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6ix9ineFourteen years ago, I sat in a federal courthouse in Brooklyn and watched Irv Gotti’s lawyer call Ja Rule a fake crook. Irv Gotti, the founder of Ja Rule’s Murder Inc. label, was on trial, alongside his brother Chris Lorenzo, for money laundering. Prosecutors were claiming that the two brothers had used Murder Inc. as … More »

Blanco Brown’s “The Git Up” Raises The Question Of What Rap Music Even Is

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Blanco BrownA recent conversation with my seven-year-old: “Dad, put on the cowboy boogie song.” “You said you hated that song.” “I did, but then you played it, and it was stuck in my head. So I started singing it, and then I wanted to hear it. And now it’s good.” He has figured out the way … More »

ALLBLACK Carries The Bay Area Flame

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ALLBLACK“Thank you, Kenny.” That’s something the Oakland rapper ALLBLACK says over and over on 2 Minute Drills, his new collaborative EP with the producer Kenny Beats. “Thank you for fucking with me.” He sounds so sincere. More »

Stream ALLBLACK & Kenny Beats’ 2 Minute Drills EP

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ALLBLACK-and-Kenny-Beats-2-Minute-DrillsThe producer Kenny Beats has been having a huge year, working extensively with rappers like Key! and Rico Nasty. Just this month, he’s produced a huge chunk of Vince Staples’ great new album FM! and teamed up with JPEGMAFIA for the one-off “Puff Daddy.” And now he’s released 2 Minute Drills, … More »

Curren$y & Freddie Gibbs Make Sense Together

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Currensy-and-Freddie-Gibbs-FettiCurren$y and Freddie Gibbs had it figured out before almost everyone else. Near the beginning of this decade, when the rap landscape completely and irrevocably changed, both of them were right there. Both of them figured things out on their own. They saw rap music becoming a decentered system, a fractured landscape that no longer … More »

Quavo Needs To Rethink This Whole Solo-Career Thing

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QuavoThere’s this phrase in pro-wrestling terminology: Killing the town. Back before the ’80s WWF takeover, pro wrestling was a regional phenomenon: All of North America divided up into these discrete fiefdoms over which a single promoter would reign. Those promoters would then tour their wrestling rosters around their own corners of the map, running shows … More »

YG Doesn’t Even Have To Try Hard Anymore

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YGHas any rapper this decade outperformed expectations as thoroughly as YG? For years, YG prowled the Los Angeles G-rap underground, cranking out mixtapes and releasing exactly one hit, the just-OK 2009 track “Toot It And Boot It.” But eventually, YG teamed up with DJ Mustard, whose clipped and propulsive sound was coming to dominate West … More »

Nas Sounds Tired

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NasIn 2000, Rakim, then widely regarded as the greatest rapper ever, signed with Dr. Dre’s Aftermath label. This was a ridiculously exciting thing to even contemplate: an all-time great rapper and an all-time great rap producer coming together, aligning forces, ready to take on the world. In the end, Rakim was only on Aftermath for … More »