Noname Is Spoken Word’s Last, Best Hope

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NonameFatimah Warner wasn’t a music person as a kid. In a recent FADER profile, we learn that she grew up with her grandparents and that music wasn’t that big of a presence in her life through most of her childhood. The rapper known as Noname didn’t fall into rap through the sort of … More »

Armand Hammer’s Paraffin Is A Disorienting Rap Masterpiece

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Armand-Hammer-Paraffin“Service weapon in my face, all I could see was his lips chapped.” That’s billy woods, one half of the New York rap duo Armand Hammer, on “Dettol,” a song from their new album Paraffin. He’s rapping, in hard and dense clusters, over a staggered loop of strings and pianos, the kind you might hear … More »

Eminem Is So Mad That You Don’t Like Him Anymore

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EminemPicture it. You’re getting into your late twenties, and you haven’t done shit. You’ve been abused, knocked around, ignored. You’ve tried releasing music, but it hasn’t gone anywhere. You’ve found yourself a little bit of a home in the underground rap scene, doing the calisthenic rap workouts that the Scribble Jam scene demands, but nobody … More »

Is Danny Brown’s Twitch Stream The Future Of Mixtapes?

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Danny-BrownYBN Nahmir is an 18-year-old rapper who comes from Alabama, lives in Los Angeles, and sounds like he’s from the Bay Area. He’s good, and he’s going places. Nahmir’s career started about a year ago when the video for his song “Rubbin Off The Paint” went viral. But he doesn’t credit that song with his … More »

Ka’s Odyssey Into Greek Mythology

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KaThe story, in most of its tellings, goes like this: On the day of her wedding, Eurydice, trying to get away from an extremely horny satyr, falls into a nest of vipers. She is bitten, and she dies. Eurydice’s husband is Orpheus, the man who once sang so beautifully that his ship, the Argo, was … More »

Nicki Minaj, A Titan Stuck On Autopilot

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Nicki-MinajBack in 2007, around the time she joined Lil Wayne on Young Money Records, Nicki Minaj released the mixtape track “Dreams (2007).” The concept was pretty simple. She was freestyling over the beat from the Notorious BIG’s “Dreams,” the one where he graphically fantasized about having sex with different R&B singers. Over that same beat, … 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 »

Denzel Curry, Traveling At The Speed Of Thought

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Denzel-CurryThere’s a moment on “Percs,” the stunningly venomous fast-rap tirade that Miami rapper Denzel Curry released earlier this summer, where Curry lets loose on the mumble-rap hordes: “These dumbass niggas, and they don’t say shit / Sound like ‘durr durr durr,’ you like, ‘Oh, that’s lit.’” Curry is hardly the first rapper to call out … More »

Tierra Whack Gamed The System

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Tierra-WhackFor a while, it looked like Twitter fiction was going to be a thing. As early as 2009, a writer named Matt Stewart self-published The French Revolution, a novel originally shared in 140-character installments. Five years later, David Mitchell, the great British novelist who wrote Cloud Atlas and Ghostwritten, spent a week serializing “The Right … More »

Rico Nasty Is The Best Thing About SoundCloud Rap Right Now

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Rico-NastyIn a vacuum, the loosely connected movement known as SoundCloud rap would be one of the most exciting things to happen in music in a long time. Here we have a genuine explosion of youthful excitement, a generational insurgency that’s throwing out whatever received wisdom it’s been handed down from older folks. It’s fast and … More »