The past couple months have seen some exciting new music releases in the hip hop world. Between Drake’s new singles, Migos new album and so many more new projects coming out, there’s a lot to digest and review. In this article I want to take apart a few of the more popular releases.
Drake – “God’s Plan” and “Diplomatic Immunity”
Drake released two new singles, “God’s Plan” and “Diplomatic Immunity”, quietly one Friday night (January 20th, 2018). Despite being a complete surprise to fans and the general public, God’s Plan rocketed to the number 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
God’s Plan, by Drake’s standards, wasn’t too extraordinary. While obviously a great song with a nice beat and classic Drake sampling, at its heart, it was “just another Drake song”, which always seems to be good enough. It’s the same classic Drake themes; “haters gonna hate”, “I think I love her, wait no I don’t”, “life is great, but I’m sad sometimes”. One thing I did notice was his newfound usage of ad libs in the style of Lil Uzi Vert/Playboi Carti/Migos etc. – “I hold back sometimes I won’t yuh / I feel good sometimes don’t ayy / I finessed down Weston Road, ayy.” Overall, it’s a good song, and I have no problems with it debuting at the #1 spot.
Diplomatic Immunity, however, brings back the hard Drake, which doesn’t match the reflective vibe he’d been having with Views and More Life. It harkens back to a time when Drake cringely claimed he “started from the bottom now he’s here.” It’s not as noteworthy as God’s Plan, and releasing it on the same night doesn’t help.
Kali Uchis, Tyler the Creator, Bootsy Collins – “After the Storm”
Released in late January, I was personally excited to hear Kali Uchis’s solo work after listening to her on features such as on Get You with Daniel Caesar. The song itself is amazing, with slightly melancholy instrumentals but lyrics meant to uplift;a slight 70s funk with contributing vocals by Bootsy adds to the listening experience. It’s a great song in and of itself.
What’s even better is the music video. Any kind of project involving Tyler the Creator is bound to have great aesthetics and imagery. With Kali Uchis in the picture, it was even better, with pastels abound and scenes taken from almost surreal situations. The Easter eggs were abundant: the Bootsy cereal that Kali eats, the sunflowers on the table taken from Tyler’s album Flower Boy, and his self-referential lyrics – “‘Cause I’m the hottest flower boy / That popped up on the scene”. Since its release, it’s been one of the more slept on songs, with only 5 million streams on Spotify, and I greatly recommend people listen to it.
Culture II: Migos
In one word: underwhelming. There’s a reason why this album release hasn’t been hyped up as much as it could have been, and it’s because the Migos have been pursuing much more lucrative solo projects. Singles such as Ice Tray with Quavo and Lil Yachty are the types of projects that the Migos should be working on now.
The majority of the songs in this album use repetitive beats that fail to deliver the same hyped-up vibe we get from the first Culture. The only saving grace is the song BBO (Bad Bitches Only), and I cite this song’s success to 21 Savage.
Huncho Jack – Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho
This brings us to Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho. This signifies the emergence of Quavo, Offset and Takeoff as individual artists instead of as a group, as this album is mostly the mastermind of Quavo and Travis Scott, featuring only some features from Offset and Takeoff. It pains me to say that this album was also underwhelming, especially as a big Travis Scott fan. It felt much more like a Culture II rather than a Travis influenced album. No particular song stuck out other than Modern Slavery, largely due to its production and sampling. Otherwise, this project was a flop, compared to what it could have been.
No Drama – Tinashe and Offset
Tinashe is good in this song. Offset is good in this song. But more importantly, Tinashe is good at dancing to this song. The music video is dope, whether you like hip hop dance or fashion. While it’s neither a banger nor a chill Kali Uchis, it’s a solid song with badass vibes that I can’t help listening to on repeat.
Amen – Rich Brian
It’s still weird just typing Rich Brian instead of Rich Chigga. Nonetheless, I can’t leave out Rich Brian from a hip hop review. The Indonesian legend became the first Asian artist to reach #1 on the iTunes hip hop chart with his new album, Amen. This wouldn’t have been possible without assistance from one of his most popular singles, Glow Like Dat, which was released earlier last year, but, the rest of the album was pretty good as well. At a certain point I wonder if he’ll shift his rap style from his very deep and monotone voice, but it’s also what we love about him. Featuring verses from Joji, another up and coming Asian artist, and Offset, he’s starting to make a real name for himself in the rap game rather than presenting himself as a goof. I’m excited to see what this re-brand brings.