Ordinarily, a possible Kanye West release could suck all the air out of a release week (see: five weeks in summer 2018). However, this time around, with the status of Jesus Is King shifting seemingly by the hour and some staunch competition from DaBaby and Young MA, Mr. West may not have the biggest album of the week — which could signal some seismic changes in the hip-hop landscape.
Culture critic Taylor Crumpton tweeted an intriguing thread earlier this week drawing a parallel between this Friday’s hip-hop releases and the week over a decade ago when Kanye West’s Graduation was positioned as a direct challenger to 50 Cent’s Curtis, with the result seen as a reversal of the balance of hip-hop culture (and the most lucrative release week the then-slumping industry had seen in a while). “This Friday could be a definer on how audiences elect the direction of America’s most popular genre and cultural export to the masses,” Crumpton wrote, summing up just how big of a release week this could end up being.
Besides DaBaby and Kanye battling for hip-hop’s soul, this week also sees the hotly anticipated release of Young MA’s debut album, which a certain subset of fans have clamored for since her breakout single “OOOUUU” took over the airwaves three summers ago. MA stoked the flames herself with a memory-jogging freestyle to remind listeners that she is one of the finest pure rappers in the game today.
Finally, the long-awaited sophomore album from Kevin Gates finally received a release date after multiple pushbacks and an erratic rollout from the “Two Phones” superstar. With so many projects to get into, there’s no reason for further ado. Here are the best hip-hop albums coming out this week.