The first month of the year was a bit quiet on the release front, but that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t some fire that will last through the year. Future dropped off his The WZRD solo album, while upstarts Boogie and Dreezy dropped a pair of long-awaited albums with Everything’s For Sale and Big Dreez. Elsewhere, YNW Melly and Yung Bans dropped off a pair of impressive, harmonious projects, and Aesop Rock took us on another journey with producer Tobacco as Malibu Ken.
Future, The WZRD
Future set off what’s sure to be a typically busy 2018 with The WZRD. The album’s release cycle has been dominated by reaction to his admission that he was reticent to announce that he kicked the cup and quit lean. But the debate about his omission shifts the focus from what should be the primary takeaway of his latest work: His undeniable musical gifts.
Sure, Future occupied a lane as a self-medicating blues spitter as prone to depressive laments as euro-fashion references, but that’s not the whole of who he is. The WZRD properly displays the scope that he should have staked his musical reputation on before any intoxicant. The album is twenty tracks, but only an hour, which keeps the listener entertained. Album standout “Crushed Up” is an ode to “diamonds in the face” where he manages to let us know “I just blew an M on my kids,” a subtle nod to what may be newly-shifting priorities. On “Baptiize,” he gives us a glimpse of his pensive musing by noting, “when it come to these emotions I play camouflage.” But there’s no hiding that this is a strong effort which shows he doesn’t need any lean to step through with trap bangers.
Boogie, Everything’s For Sale
After much anticipation, Compton rapper Boogie’s debut album Everything’s For Sale is here. Boogie has frequently referenced the hardships of his upbringing in the buildup to the album, which he delves into with poetic flourish throughout the 13-track project. On album intro “Tired/Reflections,” he deftly surmises that “It’s hard to feel sh*t when you livin’ off pain pills/Hard to put on war boots when you walkin’ on eggshells.”
“Silent Ride” and “Skydives,” show him delving into the permutations of a shaky relationship where commitment and loyalty are resounding obstacles. On “Rainy Days,” he and Eminem celebrate their hard-won place in the game, but both surmise that they still have more to do to add to their legacy. Boogie obviously has a longer road ahead than Mr. Mathers, but Everything’s For Sale is a strong first step in the right direction.
Dreezy, Big Dreez
Whether Chicago artist Dreezy is being a fashion killa with Kash Doll on “Chanel Slides” or harmonizing and asking her man to “tell me how it feel when you wit’ me” on the dreamy “Ecstacy” with Jeremih, her sophomore Big Dreez album delivers. The project boasts features on half of its ten tracks, but Dreezy’s vivacious mic presence is still the driving force. She’s just as adept weaving a narrative on heartbreak with professional song-stealer Jacques on “Love Someone” as she is dropping flashy double-time bars with Offset on “Cash App.” Big Dreez is an energetic, well-crafted exhibition of the Chicago rapper’s versatility on display.
Payroll Giovanni, January 30th
Detroit’s Payroll Giovanni released one of the best albums of 2018 with his Big Bossin Vol. 2 collaboration with Cardo, and he’s getting an early start on following up that momentum with January 30th. Sure, the project was just released, but Payroll’s gritty bars are among the best we’ve heard in this first month of scant releases. On “Do What I Do,” he proclaims that his occupation is “stayin on my job” over triumphant horns, while “Still Run The City” is a posse cut full of Detroit standouts HBK, Dre Armani and Doughboy Roc. Overall, the eight-track project is a strong primer for Payroll’s burgeoning fanbase.