Summer Music Roundup: Hip-Hop/Rap

Summer is the time of year when the highest volume of music comes out. Over the past four months, many artists have been looking to release the “album of the summer”. This is the album that will give people nostalgia in a few years time, making all the memories from the summer of 2018 come back. Though it’s not always the best album of the summer, it is commonly the one released by one of the biggest artists or one that has a few huge hits on it, which allows the rest of the album to go unnoticed.

In my opinion, the album that best fits this criteria is Post Malone’s beerbongs and bentleys. Post released this project at the perfect time, right as April was drawing to a close so that in two weeks, when everyone had listened to it, summer was kicking off and people wanted to listen to “summer-y” music. Tracks like “92 Explorer,” “Candy Paint,” “Ball For Me,” and “Zack and Codeine” all fit this description to a T. This album also had a good amount of staying power. “Better Now” and “Psycho” are still charted at #5 and #28, respectively. While beerbongs and bentleys was the album of the summer, I do not believe it had the song of the summer.

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The song of the summer, without a shadow of doubt, was Drake’s “In My Feelings”. This song had everything to make it the song of the summer. With an upbeat tempo that exudes summer, a beat that encourages you to break out in dance no matter where you are, and a viral sensation to go along with it, “In My Feelings” has spent nine weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, dating back to mid-July. This song saved Drake’s summer after his uninspiring Scorpion and a feud with Pusha-T that ended with Drake being exposed for having a “secret” son with pornstar, Sophie Brussaux.

There was a ton of critically acclaimed music that came out this summer, from both those already established in the industry and those just breaking onto the scene. First, with the more mainstream music, Travis Scott finally came through with the long-awaited Astroworld. This was an all-around solid album with a lot of exceptional tracks but left me underwhelmed by Scott himself, as he was generally overshadowed by the features on the album. I found myself forgetting that this was actually a Travis Scott record at certain points as 11 out of the 17 songs on the track list have features, which Scott really hides behind. I certainly enjoyed the album, but was hoping for more from Scott himself, not features like Drake and The Weeknd.

As many popular artists unveiled their summertime hits and shot to success, there were still many overlooked releases. This summer put a spotlight on a great deal of newer, underrated artists who released tracks that deserve more attention and recognition.  The most underrated albums this summer were Juice Wrld’s Goodbye and Good Riddance, YG’s Stay Dangerous, and Amine’s ONEPOINTFIVE.

After huge singles “All Girls are the Same” and “Lucid Dreams” catapulted him onto the scene, many were watching to see what Juice Wrld would come up with on his debut album, which came out on May 23. Overall, I was very impressed by the versatility he showed throughout the track list. The motifs of depression and heartbreak that appear on every track of the album allow the songs to flow together very nicely; my favorite cuts were “Black and White” and “I’m Still.” Juice Wrld’s vocal versatility is what put this album over the top, as he was able hit some high notes reminiscent of Young Thug. Juice Wrld really put the world on notice to his unique skill set and has fans eagerly anticipating his next move.

YG’s Stay Dangerous was released on the same day as the star-studded Astroworld, which resulted in a lack of appreciation for YG’s album. Despite the fact that I believe YG performed much better on his project, than Scott did on Astroworld. YG is one of the few remaining rappers who is West Coast gang-affiliated, which has shown in bouncy beats like the one on “Too Brazy”, nostalgic of a classic Dr. Dre beat. YG’s ruthless dialect and delivery is what sets him apart from the pack. Even listening to the album through your phone’s speakers, YG’s delivery is as authentic as if the Compton native is in the room with you. With gang references riddled throughout the lyrics, track list and cover art, it is safe to say that YG firmly stays true to his roots on Stay Dangerous.

Finally, Amine’s mixtape ONEPOINTFIVE was an album that was possibly overlooked in the shadows of the more mainstream releases. Admittedly, I was not expecting much from Amine because his first album was good, but not great. This album has two cuts that I believe have the possibility to be hits with greater recognition, which are “REEL IT IN” and “WHY?”. On “REEL IT IN,” Amine skates over an omnipresent wavy flute instrumental; “WHY?” is a much more downbeat and introspective track. His style is different, and it sounds like he’s talking perfectly in sync with the beat. The rest of the album is well-rounded, with only a couple cuts that I skip when I turn it on.

Overall, it was truly an awesome summer for rap music, but I feel that people should look past the mainstream more, as there are some very special diamonds in the rough.

Max SmithComment