Juice WRLD Turns SoundCloud Rap Into Toxic Emo-Pop

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Juice-WRLDFifteen years ago, in her Punk Planet column, Jessica Hopper wrote a piece called “Emo: Where The Girls Aren’t.” The piece went about as viral as a zine column could in 2003, and it’s probably still one of the most widely discussed pieces of music criticism that this century has given us. Its … More »

Sada Baby Will Fuck The Party Up With His Dance Moves

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Sada-BabyIn the opening seconds of Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” video, before Donald Glover shoots a guy in the back of the head, Glover does this weird dance. He rolls his hips. He rolls his shoulders. He rolls his belly. He makes a crazy facial expression. He looks, in short, very much like the … More »

Drake’s 2018 Guest-Appearance Blitz: An Appreciation

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drake-and-lil-babyEventually, we’ll see the day when LeBron James is no longer the greatest basketball player in the world. He’s near the end of his 14th season in the NBA. Every other player from his historically packed draft class is either finished or close to it. And yet James is still playing some of the best … More »

Playboi Carti, Tee Grizzley, And The New Forms Of Rap Stardom

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When you’re an old man, sometimes it takes time to learn how to hear music — music that teenagers can understand immediately and instinctively. Case in point: Playboi Carti. Last year, the young Atlanta rapper released his hugely popular self-titled album, and I had no idea what to even think of it. It sounded like … More »

Rae Sremmurd Just Made History’s Least Ambitious Triple Album

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Rae-SremmurdEvery time a rapper ascends from humbler places to stardom — from the production credits on Roc-A-Fella albums, from the word-drunk Los Angeles underground, from the Degrassi cast — it feels like an unlikely underdog triumph. But even among stories like those, Rae Sremmurd’s ascent has been dizzy and unpredictable. Just a few years ago, … More »

Kanye West Doesn’t Care About Rap Music

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Confession time: Until this past weekend, I was still excited about new Kanye West music. Still. After everything. This was — and is — directly in the middle of one of the most confusing and dispiriting spectacles I’ve seen in the decade-plus that writing about music has been my job. Kanye West had embraced Donald … More »

J. Cole Wants, So Badly, To Be Rap’s Conscience

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“Life can bring much pain,” a woman tells us in the opening moments of KOD, the album that J. Cole released last Friday. She sounds studiously blank, like the computerized host of Midnight Marauders. She continues: “There are many ways to deal with this pain. Choose wisely.” Easy for her to say. In that … More »

Nicki Minaj Is Feeling The Pressure

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It should not be this way. There should be more than one woman within rap’s A-list at a time, and the women within rap’s A-list should be able to peacefully coexist. They should be able to record with each other, tour with each other, be friends with each other. But it has never been this … More »

Please Welcome Our New Overlord Cardi B

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Sometimes, a perfect opening line will tell you, right away, everything you need to know about an album. Kurt Cobain on In Utero: “Teenage angst has paid off well / Now I’m bored and old.” Elliott Smith on XO: “Cut this picture into you and me / Burn in backwards, kill this history.” Robert Smith … More »

BlocBoy JB Is Ready To Take Over

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You don’t upstage Drake. It’s just not done. You might rap better than Drake on a song. Drake himself seems to have no problem with that. He keeps inviting rappers who might outrap him onto songs. But as far as sheer outsized movie-star magnetism, nobody is outgunning Drake. He is King Shit in the charisma … More »