The best new hip-hop albums coming out this week include projects from Cookie Kawaii, Jaden, KenTheMan, Nasty C, Rich Brian, Saigon, Teejayx6, The LOX, Wifisfuneral, and Yung Bleu. Basically, yikes.
This week is stuffed to the gills with so much rap your ears might pop, and yet, depending on which direction you’re coming at it from, you might feel like some of this stuff isn’t worth checking out or isn’t even technically “hip-hop.” And while I won’t try to tell you what your taste should be, I can tell you that maintaining that attitude might make you miss out on some great stuff.
So yeah, if you’re a young head, stuff from The LOX and Saigon might feel stodgy and “old school.” And if those names got you excited you may not be champing at the bit to check out Jaden or Wifisfuneral. But trust me on this: both kids have bars. And kids, listen: it’s worth checking out the older stuff, even if you think it sounds like something your dad would listen to (2012 was so very long ago) because it can give you worthwhile context and history that informs your current faves. Besides, variety is the spice of life, so listening to a little of Cookie Kawaii’s Jersey club or Nasty C’s South African perspective can’t kill you, and might just become a welcome addition to your personal rotation. You won’t know ’til you’ve tried it!
Here are all the best new hip-hop albums coming out this week.
Cookie Kawaii — Club Soda Vol. 2
Cookie Kawaii does rap a bit on her clubby tracks, but as hip-hop becomes more and more informed by EDM (see: “WAP” or Duckwrth’s excellent debut album) it’s nice to see where those influences come from. The only downside here is that we’re still on lockdown — or should be [points sternly], so we’re missing out on some Cookie-fueled nights out full of laser lights, packed rooms, and sore legs in the morning.
Jaden — Cool Tape, Vol. 3
Jaden expands on both his eclectic sound and the backstory of his conceptual protagonist from Syre and Erys with the latest installment of his Cool Tape series. Incidentally, that involves both the mellow surf rock of “Cabin Fever” and the confident swagger of “Rainbow Bap.”
KenTheMan — 4 Da 304‘s
First of all, let’s just talk about how great that name is. Ken. The. Man. As the rising tide of female solidarity in hip-hop threatens to become a tsunami (a good thing, if you ask me), sometimes, all it takes is the right name to set yourself apart and establish your mission statement. Ken is here to take the top spot and earn equal recognition to hip-hop’s men.
Nasty C — Zulu Man With Some Power
During a recent trip to South Africa, I heard Nasty C everywhere. He’s the hometown hero, although there was an undercurrent that he’d Americanized his style too much for local tastes. That said, he’s one of the most popular members of his country’s hip-hop community and looking to crossover to the wealthiest market in the world, so playing ball couldn’t hurt (England had a similar sentiment about Dizzee Rascal in ’03, but he’s still around, so clearly, a little evolution is welcome).
Rich Brian — 1999 EP
There’s a lot of big, bold sounds and melodies on Brian’s latest EP, which he calls the best thing he’s done, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t also improving as both a songwriter and a rapper. If anything, his growth over the past few years has been impressive; from the gangsta-aping of “Dat Stick” to the heavy backpack rap vibes on Sailor, Brian is proving that the constraints of traditional hip-hop can’t hold him — nor should they.
Saigon — 777: The Resurrection
This one really is just for me. You couldn’t tell me in 2004 that Saigon wasn’t the second coming. However, after years of label interference that squandered the positive buzz from a XXL Freshman Class cover and Just Blaze’s involvement as executive producer, his debut album The Greatest Story Never Told seemingly lived down to its title on its quiet release in 2011. Since then, Saigon hasn’t done much… so I, personally, am very excited for this comeback, especially with no one trying to force him to collaborate with Pretty Ricky (who’ve since made a comeback of their own. SYNERGY).
Teejayx6 — Black Air Force Activity: Reloaded
He’s calling it an EP, but it appears to be a deluxe version of the original Black Air Force Activity with twelve new songs, including appearances from fellow Detroiter Sada Baby and NLE Choppa. More scams, more hilarious punchlines, more tales of illicit activities, and more of that overwhelming Detroit accent. If you don’t find something to like here, check your pulse.
The LOX — Living Off Xperience
That sound you heard was thousands and thousands of old heads lacing up their Timbs and taking to the streets to cop this on compact disc. I kid, but The LOX truly was a foundational group for an entire generation of rap fans, even if it was mostly for their solo work (“We Gone Make It”) and feature appearances (“It’s All About The Benjamins”). However, those who’ve aged out of checking for the hottest new rapper on the streets would do well to at least check out new music from their old faves rather than paying lip service to “real hip-hop” while shaking their canes at Lil Uzi Vert.
Wifisfuneral — Pain?
Speaking of old heads, I can see how they’d be turned off, both by this Florida rapper’s name and his unruly appearance. Scratch the surface, though, and his ’90s New York influences bleed through, even when he sing-raps his Big L-inspired punchlines and floats over synth-heavy, eerie production endemic to the “mumble rap” genre. Despite the title, his album is a lot of fun — although there are plenty of requisite introspective tracks as well.
Yung Bleu — Bleu Vandross 3
Sounding for all the world like a cross between Future and country cousins from places like Tennessee, the Alabama underground vet is confident and polished on his latest, running the gamut from hood tales to love songs. High-profile features include fellow Alabama breakout Flo Milli, No Cap, Rylo Rodriguez, and Yo Gotti. My personal favorite of all the projects I’ve heard this week.
Some of the artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.