In 2016, 21 Savage and Metro Boomin released Savage Mode. Bleak, unrelenting, indifferent—the project took 21 from talented-but-raw newcomer to “serious artist” capable of staying power and critical acclaim, and kick-started Metro’s run as co-headlining artist, grabbing his deserved spotlight as trap’s foremost producer. SAVAGE MODE II arrives in a much different world, one where 21 has added trending topic for immigration reform to his rap star status and where Metro seems content to play the reclusive genius more focused on his own work than racking up production credits. With narration from Morgan Freeman and features from Drake, Young Thug, and Young Nudy, the sequel is a brighter, more polished affair, made obvious by Pixel & Pen cover art.
After breaking through with 2015’s T R A P S O U L, Louisville singer, rapper, and mood maestro Bryson Tiller released a chart-topping follow-up album and scored a No. 2 single alongside Rihanna and DJ Khaled. Since 2017, though, he’s been largely quiet outside of a handful of guest features. A N N I V E R S A R Y is marketed as a return to form, released five years to the day after T R A P S O U L and complete with cover art and title (a e s t h e t i c) that mirrors that of his debut. A sole Drake feature caps off a concise album that gives fans the emotional songwriting and ambient, sample-heavy production they’ve been waiting years to hear.
Restless II is the latest EP from Lagos-born singer, songwriter, and producer Simi. The sequel to Restless, her 2014 EP that came after a transition from gospel music to a more mainstream sound, features six butter-smooth tracks blending afro-soul, Afropop, and R&B. London rapper Ms Banks and fellow Nigerian artists Adekunle Gold and WurlD provide guest features, while SESS and Oscar handle all production.
Another week, another Griselda album. WHO MADE THE SUNSHINE, amidst a flood of 2020 releases from both himself and his label roster, is a special Westside Gunn release. The culmination of years on the grind, it’s the rapper’s major-label debut, out via Shady and Interscope. Featuring the entire GxFR squad (Conway The Machine, Benny The Butcher, Armani Caesar, and Boldy James), NY legends (Slick Rick, Busta Rhymes, Jadakiss), and more, and with production from Just Blaze, The Alchemist, Daringer, Beat Butcha, and Conductor Williams, WMTS is a milestone for Buffalo rap.
Over the last few years, ALLBLACK has made his case as Oakland’s best rapper. His outsized personality, balancing charismatic shit-talking with confessional honesty and vivid accounts of life in a city swirling with drug and pimp culture, is distinctively Oakland. No Shame 3 is ALLBLACK’s first project since 2019’s 22nd Ways, a joint mixtape with frequent collaborator Offset Jim, and first true solo project since 2018’s Outcalls (2 Minute Drills, an EP with Kenny Beats, followed later that year). Featuring Too $hort, Guapdad 4000, DaBoii, Cash Kidd, Offset Jim, and Lil Bean, it’s a propulsive listen with enough energy to balance out the madness.
Read our interview feature: "ALLBLACK Wants to Thank You"