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 »

DaBaby Is On An Unholy Hot Streak

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DaBabyIn the calendar year of 1998, DMX came out with two albums: It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot in May, Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood in December. Both debuted at the top of the Billboard album charts. No rapper had ever pulled off a feat like that before. Almost no … 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 »

JPEGMAFIA Makes Some Anxious-Ass Rap Music

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JPEGMAFIA“Disappointed.” In the weeks leading up to the release of his new album All My Heroes Are Cornballs, JPEGMAFIA used that word over and over, like a mantra. He used that word onstage, in interviews, in video promos for the album itself. He used the word so much that I actually thought the … More »

The Wu-Tang Clan’s New Hulu Show Is Beautiful Mythmaking

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Wu-Tang-An-American-SagaThere are many, many reasons why I love rap music. One of those reasons, I have learned, is this: At a young and formative age, I had my mind blown by superhero comics. Many rappers — most of the best rappers — present themselves as flesh-and-blood superheroes. (In this, rappers are like action-movie stars or … More »