As the streaming era picks up steam, 2018 has been marked by the rise — and subsequent success — of two album forms which were previously thought to be gimmicks or side projects between full-length releases: The joint album and the EP. While Kanye West and crew sparked some debate this summer over just what constitutes an extended play “record” with their spate of super short Wyoming-spawned projects, the generally accepted definition for an EP is generally under 25 minutes and under 10 tracks.
Rappers have begun to make extensive use of the format both as a stopgap between longer projects and as a creative way to keep their names in conversation and music in fans’ ears. They’ve allowed rappers to branch out creatively or generate quick sales without the full album promo that would normally be required to ensure a project’s success.
But mostly, they’ve just been a fun bonus in a year where many of the major projects from big names slogged through overly long tracklists, like musical palate cleansers sprinkled amongt all the lavish, five-course meals the upper echelon of rap has been delivering lately. Even artists more formally recognized as R&B singers are getting in on the act, as Brent Faiyaz and Khalid join Open Mike Eagle in jumping on the trend this week.
And though I put out a formal request at the top of the year for rappers to chill out on all the joint projects, the ones we’ve received so far have been pleasant surprises, with Kanye West and Kid Cudi’s Kids See Ghosts becoming the best album out of Wyoming (with all due respect to Teyana Taylor and Pusha T) and Lil Baby and Gunna’s Drip Harder turning the ATL upstarts into bonafide stars. However, this week might bring about the weirdest and most unexpected pairing in a while.
Then, with women taking over hip-hop all year, from Cardi B’s history-making success to Noname’s triumphant return, two new young ladies will join the burgeoning pantheon of fast-rising rap goddesses this week, each with a different approach that shows that anything men can do, women can do as well or better.
Finally, one of the standout artists of the last few years makes his return after showing off a more-polished flow on his last project that should silence the haters of his first. Lil Yachty says he has nothing to prove — now, ironically, he must prove it.