New week. New Music. New Takeaways. Let’s dig deep and discuss what hip-hop’s newest drops uncover.
Nostalgia always wins
Artists using old wins to propel new ones is nothing new, but nostalgia in these times undoubtedly hits different.
Anniversary and Savage Mode II epitomize “playing up the past”, serving as anticipated sequels to two beloved albums, and surely beloved times.
For Bryson, Anniversary is no Trap Soul — but it isn't supposed to be. It’s the ideal evolved effort. Sonically reminiscent, the 10-track album carries the same raw sincerity as his debut, so ever candid in his disposition towards women and relationships, all while using his vocality to soften the bite.
“F*ck bein’ on Forbes, I felt rich when I was yours /Feel more like a corpse, all these women been a bore.” — Bryson Tiller, Inhale
Essentially, this is the Tiller we know and the sound we’ve been yearning for. Tiller knows it too. Alluding to his sophomore slump in “Years Go By”, Tiller lays the past rest, assuring us he ain’t putting out no more lackluster R&B.
“Spit the truth in the booth, give it to the fandom /Listen boo, I gotta make these anthems.” — Bryson Tiller, Years Go By
Anniversary feels like an ode to OG fans, epitomizing the importance of an artist always remaining planted in their roots.
Savage Mode II is a slightly different story, delivered not as a work of redemption, but as an upshot of the cultural gem that is Savage Mode. If the clubs were open, “No Heart” and “X” would still go up.
But, don’t be mistaken. Savage Mode II doesn’t rest on any laurels, but rather attests to the range the powerhouse duo possesses.
“Steppin on N*ggas” serves as a prime example, replacing the trap-beat mold, with a mid-tempo, early 90s feel. Even the cover art, designed by Houston’s own Pen & Pixel, takes us back to the early 2000s.
And on top of it all, the decision to feature the legendary voice of Morgan Freeman, intensifies every message on the record, making it a true cinematic work of art.
The Drizzy Effect Still Stands
It’s no secret a Drake feature holds weight, but it surely doesn’t come without a price (literally too, I’m sure).
Although, the words “ft. Drake” guarantees press, heightened anticipation, and an automatic standout track (regardless of what the song sounds like), Drake has a habit of stealing the show. And he certainly did this week.
On Savage Mode II, Drake doesn’t elevate “Mr. Right Now” because his verse is necessarily groundbreaking, but because of his choice to air dirty laundry.
If Drake is good for two things, it’s quotables and speaking on old flings.
“Yeah, said she wanna f*ck to some SZA, wait / Cause I used to date SZA back in ’08”– Drake, Mr. Right Now
Drizzy is a tad more remorseful on Anniversary, using his unequivocal suave to cultivate a vibe only he can supply. “Outta Time” could easily be his song, but Tiller holds his own.
Rollouts Still Matter
YG’s fifth studio album, My Life 4Hunnid, dropped last Friday, but where was the promo?
My Life 4Hunnid is beyond a solid body of work, telling a story of lust and loss — all accompanied by a “Bompton bounce”.
The album is loaded with notable features, pulling in Lil Wayne for the anthem-esc “Blood Walk”, and Ty Dolla $ign and Gunna for the more melodic, mid-tempo record, “Surgery”.
Despite the top-tier cameos, the album seemed to slip under cracks, falling second to other mega-hyped releases.
He most recently teased the album with “Out on Bail”, released in late September, but it didn’t seem like a whole-hearted effort.
And while YG is a respected, veteran act, hip-hop is saturated as ever. A good rollout is not only needed for creative aims, but it builds the excitement necessary for longevity.
Wishful thinking hopes YG is plotting as we speak, because this album isn’t one to be skipped over.
All Features Ain’t Good Features
Ah! If there’s one thing thee hot girl is known for, it’s her knack for collaboration, and I’m not just talking WAP.
That’s why her latest drop is a little surprising.
“Don’t Stop” is a classic hot-girl hit, from the impeccable flow to the notable one-liners, it screams stallion. And while it’s a good standalone record, the remixed Alice in Wonderland music video concept is what gives it the “X” factor.
Young Thug’s verse is pure thugger, cheeky and double-play worthy.
“Shake what your doctor gave ya/And I’ma ice your wrists like a player” — Young Thug, Don’t Stop
But, it feels slightly misplaced.
The dichotomy of the duo’s flows, mixed with the distinctive sound of the record, it’s easy to hear the disconnect. But, it’s very possible that “Don’t Stop” is a label-pushed collaboration, merely acting as a build up to what’s next.
Either way, Megan could've swung this one on her own.
-Skylar Rochon, Hip-Hop’s New Drops & Gems for Oct. 2, 2020