The best new hip-hop this week includes albums, videos, and songs from Doja Cat, Diddy, and more.
What a week it’s been in hip-hop. After the MTV VMAs brought a slew of standout performances from Cardi B, Doja Cat, Metro Boomin, and Nicki Minaj, Dunkin’ Donuts announced a drink named after ice Spice and Flyana Boss finally shared a video for their breakout hit “You Wish.” Women are definitely still running rap right now — pun halfway intended.
Here is the best of hip-hop this week ending September 15, 2023.
Diddy — The Love Album: Off The Grid
Diddy’s first solo album in over a decade finds him firmly in a dance lane, turning down the tempo from recent house-influenced releases from Beyoncé and Drake for a more groovy, shoulder-rolling vibe taken from ’80s funk R&B acts like George Benson and Heatwave. There are 2000s club jams, afrobeats experiments, and rappin’ Puff… hip-hop has needed this for a minute. We’re finally seeing the culture as a whole slowly worming its way out of the Xanax-induced daze of the past half-decade and it’s so refreshing.
Nas & Hit-Boy — Magic 3
It’s kind of fitting that Nas’ 50th birthday lands just about a month after hip-hop’s 50th anniversary. Nas more or less is hip-hop, and his extended collaborative run with Hit-Boy has both defined and reimagined what hip-hop has been for the past 50 and where it can go as it finally matures out of its awkward adolescent era.
Nasty C — I Love It Here
While lots of attention has rightfully been lavished on music from the West African region of the mother continent, South Africa is not to be slept on. Although most are getting hip to the splendors of amapiano and gqom (you say the “gq” with a click), SA is home to some fun and quirky hip-hop as well. Nasty C is more conventional for US audiences than most, but as a gateway act to the overseas scene, you could do worse. He sounds a little like Don Toliver and Travis Scott here, but with a brighter, more uptempo approach — not a bad thing when you come from the sun-baked cradle of humanity.
Phora — Lucky Me
You know, for as much flak as Drake gets for being the quintessential emo rapper, Phora has utterly locked that lane down. Somehow, the schtick has yet to get as stale from him as it has from the former (no offense intended; Drake just has too much talent to keep bidding for the same audience of 20-year-old college dorm f*ckboys he has been for the past three years). Phora, if nothing else, is consistently entertaining with it and never lets things get too mawkish, which I think is the key.
Vic Mensa — Victor
Vic Mensa has been through the ringer as an artist and as a person, so he has an interesting story to tell. His worldly, well-rounded perspective that goes from the druggy haze of some of rap’s top names and rebellious intellectuals like fellow Chi-Town rapper Noname. The beats here reflect the triumphant mood of a consummate survivor finally coming into his own and doing a little well deserved chest beating. With appearances from Chance The Rapper, Common, D Smoke, Jay Electronica, and Rapsody, this is a “real hip-hop head’s” dream version of the album Vic had in him all this time.
Doja Cat — “Balut”
Doja is back talking her sh*t on her latest Scarlet single, so I feel like following her lead. I’ve been telling you people for five years that Amala is a rapper’s rapper, a true hip-hop head raised on backpack rap so dusty that her lyrical skills never should have been in question. Maybe now you’ll finally believe me. (I’m not sure why the song is named after the Filipino duck dish other than say balut is … an acquired taste, as is Doja’s new aesthetic. But if you know, you know.)
Earl Sweatshirt & The Alchemist — “The Caliphate” Feat. Vince Staples
Just… Ayo, really, fellas. Stop playing. Give us the damn album. We know you finished it. Like, you can’t keep dropping stuff like this and then NOT giving us the album. You know how good this is. You see the response. You’re just being mean at this point. Vince did 30 verses. We know Earl’s been working. Just figure out a cover photo and drop the thing. Please.
Rexx Life Raj — “Hook Mitchell” Feat. Dame D.O.L.L.A.
Rexx has figured out a formula that works for him. It’s left-of-center, so it might not ever be the biggest deal, but he’s been pretty successful doing things his way. So, of course, fellow Bay Area native Damian Lillard is the perfect pairing for this hustle benediction as a player who refuses to switch up despite plenty of external pressure to do so. It’s been working out for him pretty well, too.
$NOT — “Cruel World”
I can’t lie, I was getting a little worried about $NOT. He hadn’t really made much noise since dropping Ethereal last year. But it looks like he’s back and sounding much more focused, tapping into an aggressive lane that fits with his laconic delivery in an off-kilter sort of way. This bodes well for his next project, which is hopefully coming soon.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.