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 »

How Is Cam’ron Still This Good?

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CamronThere are moments in music where everything lines up perfectly, where the pieces are all in place for something great to happen. Sometimes, you don’t even recognize those moments until they’re over. But 15 years ago, we knew. In the final days of 2004, Cam’ron was part of Roc-A-Fella, the dominant empire in rap music, … More »

On Juice WRLD’s Short Life And Long Legacy

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Juice-WRLDA year ago, Juice WRLD asked a rhetorical question: “What’s the 27 Club?” And then: “We ain’t making it past 21.” The we there is crucial. Juice WRLD asked that question, and gave his own heavy-hearted answer, on the song “Legends.” He released it in June of 2018, the day after the murder of XXXTentacion. More »

Rod Wave, Singer Of Sad Songs

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Rod-WaveThere is a lot of singing happening in rap music right now. Some of it — Polo G, Lil Baby, Juice WRLD’s “Bandit” — is good. Most of it is bad. DaBaby and Megan Thee Stallion, the two rapping-ass rappers who emerged out of the internet in 2019, are looking more and more like glorious … More »

Wiki’s Great Quarter-Life Crisis Rap Album

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Wiki“I shit you not,” Wiki admits to himself and to the world halfway through his new album Oofie. “There will be another kid to take my spot.” He says this like he’s some old gunslinger watching death creep up over the horizon. He is not that. Wiki is 26 years old. And yet … More »

The Wild Ride Of Rap Music In The ’10s

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Drake-and-Future“From doing records from sampling, I started learning the science about what happened to soul music,” the Alchemist told me 13 years ago. One evening, at New York’s Baseline Studios, I sat in a backroom full of ancient, dusty records, and I listened to the Alchemist and Just Blaze talk about disco. The … 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 »

Don’t Take Gucci Mane For Granted

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Gucci-ManeGucci Mane didn’t name himself after a clothing designer. He named himself after his father. Ralph Dudley, a former serviceman turned drug dealer who wasn’t around much during his son’s childhood, was sometimes known as Gucci. Radric Davis, his son, was Gucci’s little man. That became Gucci Mane. It’s not a rap name. It’s a … More »

Is A Rap American Idol Even Possible?

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Rhythm-And-FlowTwelve years ago, someone from MTV called me and asked me to come into their office. I went. I met Ashton Kutcher in the lobby. It was weird. More »

Underground Rap Will Never Die

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AzChikeWe’re entering a strange new period where there’s no meaningful distinction between rap’s underground and its mainstream. A regional scene can catch fire out of nowhere. A 16-year-old can blow up on TikTok. After the stultifying years-long dominance of Atlanta trap, other sounds are starting to get their moment in the rap sun. Things can … More »