Despite the disappointing Chance The Rapper fake-out earlier this week, there are still some strong offerings on reserve in the world of hip-hop. For one, the long-awaited debut of Compton rapper Buddy is set to drop after a prolonged promotional run that saw him release two EPs and a fleet of singles showing off his impressive artistic growth since 2014’s Idle Time. Alongside his release, some fellow Los Angeles area artists bring a little competition as the much-anticipated fourth studio album from former Odd Future affiliates The Internet hits digital shelves and brings the burgeoning voice of Syd and her bandmates back to the fore.
Aside from Syd and the gang, another West Coast up-and-comer from the Bay Area, Nef The Pharaoh, will follow-up last week’s excellent joint release with recently-incarcerated 03 Greedo with his own, 13-song debut, Big Chang Theory. Meanwhile, Nas affiliate Dave East is preparing a relatively low-key release to keep his buzz going in the e-streets while producer Swizz Beatz will make his comeback to hip-hop after an 11-year hiatus with only his second album, Poison. So, while we may not be getting a Chance album just yet, there’s plenty to be excited about this week in hip-hop.
Buddy — Harlan & Alondra (Cool Lil Company/RCA)
Buddy’s had a penchant for naming his albums after locations he’s lived around LA County, but he reserved the most meaningful for his studio debut — he grew up across the street from Compton’s Woodley Airport where he filmed his video for “Hey Up There” and titled his album after the intersection closest to home. The 12-song full-length finds him exploring the widest range of topics of his career, from his pride in his heritage (“Black”) to the trials common to his hometown in “Trouble On Central.”
The Internet — Hive Mind (Columbia)
it’s been three years since the release of the band’s funky third album, Ego Death, and since then, their public profile has grown in unexpected but prolific ways. They’ve gone on a number of high-profile national tours, several members released confident solo debuts of their own (Syd’s Fin was one of the standouts of 2017, but Matt Martians’ The Drum Chord Theory and Steve Lacy’s Demo are not to be overlooked), and they’ve grown both as artists and as humans, becoming more self assured in both their presentation and messaging. It’s evident from album single “Come Over” that they’ve leveled up in a big way, a sentiment which the band confirmed on Beats 1 radio.
Nef The Pharaoh — Big Chang Theory (Sick Wid It Records/Empire)
Nef The Pharaoh represents Vallejo, CA, best known as the origin of Bay Area father figure and hip-hop legend E-40, which means he has some pretty huge footprints to follow. Fortunately for the 23-year-old rapper, he’s got a veteran’s drive and confidence, delivering self-possessed party music on a series of mixtapes and 2017’s The Chang Project, proving he can stand with the best from his city. The Big Chang Theory features OMB Peezy, Dej Loaf, and Cuban Doll, and finds him cruising confidently over wavy, laid-back West Coast productions that showcase both his fun, consistent energy and unexpected depth.
Dave East — Karma 2 (Mass Appeal)
The follow-up to last year’s Karma, this mixtape with DJ Holiday is a testament to the Harlem rapper’s insane worth ethic. The first Karma came out only three months after his studio debut, Paranoia: A True Story, while Paranoia 2, a standalone mixtape, fell in January of this year. While he hasn’t revealed a tracklist or any of the features, in the past he’s worked with established stars and up-and-comers and he recently dropped “Fresh Prince Of Belaire” with Rick Ross, which may or may not end up on the mixtape, so expect to see him once again trading bars with top names over menacing production.
Swizz Beatz — Poison (Epic)
In a recent interview with Pitchfork, Swizz related the story of creating this sophomore album so late in his 20-year career, cutting around 60 songs to arrive at a feature-heavy, but brisk 10-song project in a similar vein to fellow superproducer Zaytoven’s Trap Holizay earlier this year. The album is set to feature a who’s-who of rap’s biggest acts, including Lil Wayne, Young Thug, 2 Chainz, Pusha T, Nas, and Kendrick Lamar. He also proposes a near-immediate follow-up, with four complete albums ready to go, each featuring a different overall vibe from R&B to “World Music.”