New Rap, Hip-Hop Albums Prove 2020 Was Not All Bad

Courtesy: Def Jam

Rap and hip-hop fans have had quite a bit to be happy about this year.  That is because over the course of the now fading year, a lot of notable entries have made their way to audiences within the genre.  They have come from independent and well-known acts alike, too.  From the familiar socio-politically charged content featured in Public Enemy’s new album What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down, to the lighter yet still engaging content featured in Aesop Rock’s new album Spirit World Field Guide, to the unique hybrid jazz/hip-hop instrumental offering from Analog Players Society, Soundtrack For A Nonexistent Film, and more, this year’s field of new rap and hip-hop records has proven quite diverse and entertaining.  Even Eminem released his own new album (albeit by surprise) in the form of Music to be Murdered By early this year.  Between that record and so many others, this year’s field of new albums was full of interesting, impressive new albums, both mainstream and independent.  Phil’s Picks has kept track of them once again this year and produced a list of the year’s best new product.

As with past years and each list, this collection features the Top 10 new titles in the category, as well as five honorable mentions, for a total of 15 titles.  Here for your consideration is the Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 new Rap & Hip-Hop Albums.

PHIL’S PICKS 2020 TOP 10 NEW RAP & HIP-HOP ALBUMS

  1. Public Enemy – What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down?
  2. Run The Jewels – RTJ4
  3. RJD2 – The Fun Ones
  4. Common – A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 1
  5. Jamo Gang – Walking With Lions
  6. Aesop Rock – Spirit World Field Guide
  7. Eminem – Music to be Murdered By
  8. Analog Players Society – Soundtrack for a Nonexistent Film
  9. Atmosphere – The Day Before Halloween
  10. GNL Zamba – The Spear
  11. Denzel Curry – Unlocked
  12. Prof – Powderhorn Suites
  13. Busta Rhymes – Extinction Level Event 2
  14. Aesop Rock – Music From The Game Freedom Finger
  15. Black Eyed Peas – Translation

Next up from Phil’s Picks is a listing of the year’s top new jazz and blues albums.  Stay tuned for that.

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WMN’s New Compilation Will Appeal To Rap, Hip-Hop Fans From America To Mali, Beyond

Courtesy: World Music Network

Rap and hip-hop have for decades, been considered to be a purely American musical style.  While they might have started in America, rap and hip-hop have spread around the world and blended into cultures in countless nations.  Among those nations that has seen rap and hip-hop become part of their musical culture is the West African nation of Mali.  World Music Network will present a new collection of rap and hip-hop from Mali on Friday in another new addition to its ongoing Rough Guide To…series, The Rough Guide to Urban Mali.  The compilation will appeal to rap and hip-hop fans just as much as it will to World Music fans.  That is due in part to its featured songs.  This element will be discussed shortly.  The companion booklet that comes with the compilation sequencing adds an extra layer of appeal to the recording and will be addressed a little later.  The sequencing of the compilation’s songs sequencing of said songs rounds out the record’s most important elements.  When it is considered along with the rest of the noted elements, that whole make this recording a unique presentation that audiences will find is worth hearing at least once.

World Music Network’s new rap and hip-hop record is an interesting look into the worldwide reach of the genre.  That is the case even with the compilation coming without the accompaniment of English translations for the songs.  The lack of English translations is at least somewhat beside the point because Mali is a multilingual nation, and the songs’ musical arrangements clearly show the influence of so many popular American rap and hip-hop stars on the Malian rap and hip-hop communities.  Even using a respected application, such as Google translate is largely useless because of the variety of languages spoken in the country.  Rapper Alfi Boy’s song ‘Kankou Massa’ echoes the influence of Pitbull, considering Alfi Boy’s vocal delivery style and the tropical sounding musical arrangement.  The sound in the arrangement and the use of the percussion is a near direct exhibition of Pitbull’s style.  On another level, rapper Alka Po’s song ‘Chica’ can just as easily be likened to work from Lil Wayne.  That is evident in examining his own vocal delivery style and the apparent use of auto tuning in said delivery.  What’s more, the use of the keyboards and electronics presents a sound and stylistic approach that is similar to that of Lil Wayne.  One could even make a comparison to various works from equally famed rapper Drake in this case.  Zinoko’s song ‘Dire,’ which opens the record is another way in which the compilation’s songs prove so important to its presentation.  Its own instrumentation couples with Zinoko’s vocal delivery style make for a whole that lends itself to comparisons to works from Denzel Curry.  Other listeners might manage other comparisons, each of which is certain to be correct in its own right.  The point here is that while the lyrical content in the compilation’s featured songs is unavailable in this collection (something which hopefully the people at World Music Network will keep in mind with their next foreign release), the musical styles show a clear influence from American rap and hip-hop.  That in itself is certain to generate its own share of discussion among audiences.  it forms a strong cornerstone for the compilation.  The noted discussions will grow even more when the record’s companion booklet is taken into consideration with the songs.

The booklet that is featured with The Rough Guide to Urban Mali will add to the discussions started by the record’s songs because of the background that it offers audiences.  The booklet’s liner notes point out that the increase in popularity of rap and hip-hop in Mali did not start until at least “the end of the 1990s.”  That would explain why so many of the songs featured in this record exhibit arrangements that are so similar to works from the current wave of American rap and hip-hop stars.   Add in that the booklet’s liner notes point out that “more than 65 percent of Mali’s population is below the age of 25, and the picture becomes clearer as to why the similarities in musical styles are so apparent between American and Malian rap and hip-hop stars.  Just as interesting is the note that in Mali, the growth in the popularity of rap and hip-hop grew out of frustration over the nation’s sociopolitical state.  The notes add that the music evolved from being purely sociopolitical to being more centered on more commonplace topics, such as everyday life.  This is important to note because American rap and hip-hop has evolved in much the same way.  At the same time, there is still very much an avenue of the genre in American music that remains very political (E.g. Public Enemy).  Even with that in mind, audiences will find much in common between American rap and hip-ho and that of Mali in terms of the lyrical content, which is certain to add to the record’s appeal.  Referring back to the previous statement about the language barrier, the liner notes do state that most of the lyrics are delivered in Bambara, but most online translators do not offer such option, so again a lack of English translations is still slightly disconcerting, but not enough to make the compilation a failure.  The liner notes, while brief, are still rich in their own right.  They build on the discussions started through the songs and enhance them even more.  Keeping that in mind, the record’s presentation becomes that much more appealing for any rap and hip-hop fan.  It is just one more way in which the LP proves itself an interesting presentation.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.

The sequencing of The Rough Guide to Urban Mali is important to note in that it does its own part to keep listeners engaged and entertained.  The record starts strong with the completely infectious ‘Dire.’  From there, the record’s energy pulls back noticeably in ‘A Kadiye.’  From there, the record’s energy slowly picks back up in ‘Kankou Moussa.’  That energy pulls back again immediately after in ‘Fan,’ but not too much.  This is just a portion of the record’s sequencing.  From that point on, the record’s sequencing sees the energy rising and falling in all of the right points and rhythms.  At the same time, the musical styles change just enough from start to end to add to that interest even more.  It’s yet another way in which the record’s sequencing proves so important to its presentation.  When it is considered along with the record’s featured songs and its companion booklet, the whole of these items makes the record a work that  rap and hip-hop fans the world over will agree is worth hearing at least once.

World Music Network’s latest addition to its Rough Guide To… series is an interesting new look at the global influence of America’s rap and hip-hop community.  That is proven in part through the compilation’s featured songs.  They show clear influence of so many of today’s biggest names in the rap and hip-hop community.  That in itself will generate plenty of discussions among listeners.  The companion booklet that accompanies the featured songs will enhance the noted discussions even more while adding to the record’s engagement and entertainment value.  The sequencing rounds out the compilation’s most important elements.  It ensures listeners’ engagement and entertainment in its own way.  That is because it keeps the record’s energy rising and falling at all of the right points.  At the same time, the musical styles change just as much, ensuring even more, that engagement and entertainment.  All three items noted are key in their own way to the whole of the record.  All things considered, they make the compilation a work that is sure to appeal to rap and hip-hop fans from Mali to America and beyond.

More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online at:

 

 

 

Websitehttp://www.worldmusic.net

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/WorldMusicNetwork

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/WMN_UK

 

 

 

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Common’s Latest LP Gets Lots Of “Love” In Phil’s Picks 2019 Top 10 New Rap & Hip-Hop Albums List

Courtesy: Loma Vista

This year was a banner year for the worlds of rap and hip-hop.  New albums from the likes of Common, Denzel Curry and Atmosphere helped make this year stand out along with new releases from the likes of DJ Shadow, Malibu Ken and Robert Glasper added even more punch to this year’s field of new rap and hip-hop albums, giving audiences plenty from which to choose.

Considering all the new albums with those noted genres, there was so much to do and hardly enough time to cove them all.  That aside, even this realm was not ignored by Phil’s Picks.  Here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2019 Top 10 New Rap & Hip-Hop albums.  As with every other list produced this year, it features the Top 10 albums and five honorable mentions for a total of 15 titles. Without further ado, here is Phil’s Picks 2019 Top 10 New Rap & Hip-Hop albums.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2019 TOP 10 NEW RAP & HIP-HOP ALBUMS

  1. Common — Let Love
  2. DJ Shadow — Our Pathetic Age
  3. Atmosphere — Whenever
  4. Robert Glasper — F*** Your Feelings
  5. Haviah Mighty — 13th Floor
  6. Denzel Curry — ZUU
  7. Flying Lotus — Flamagra
  8. Gabriel Teodros — A Southend Healing Ritual
  9. Malibu Ken — Malibu Ken
  10. Brother Ali — Secrets & Escapes
  11. Boca 45 — Forty Five
  12. Bobby Feno — A Late February
  13. Louis Futon — Way Back When
  14. Danny Brown — uknowhatimsaying?
  15. Mally — The Journey to a Smile

 

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Evidence “Beats” Out Everyone In Phil’s Picks’ 2018 Top 10 New Rap & Hip-Hop Albums List

Courtesy: Rhymesayers Entertainment

The old year is almost over, and the new year is nearly here, but before the clock turns midnight, turning 219 to 2019, there’s still some work for Phil’s Picks to do.  That work is some more year-ender list.  The year’s top EPs have been noted already.  Now, today it is on to the year’s top new Rap and Hip-Hop albums.

This has been an interesting year for the worlds of rap and hip-hop, with strong new offerings from the likes of Ice Cube, Evidence, Atmosphere and others.  There have also been some positive surprises from the likes of Mourning (A) BLKstar, Black Eyed Peas (yes, Black Eyed Peas — the group, now a trio again thank goodness, returned to its old school roots on its new album) and Dr. Octagon.

From one to the next, the albums that have been offered rap and hip-hop fans this year has largely been strong.  Keeping that in mind, forming this list was just as difficult as any before or after.

Topping this year’s list is Dilated Peoples emcee Evidence and his new album Weather or Not.  The album, from start to finish is everything that hip-hop and rap purists will appreciate, but musically and lyrically.  It is an old school presentation that is confident in both elements’ presentation.

Next up is fellow veteran emcee Eminem and his new album Kamikaze.  This record is, in this critic’s view, some of his best work to date, hands down.  The fire from his past albums is there, along with a certain maturity, too.  that balance makes for a solid work from start to finish.

Third place belongs, on this list, to Black Eyed Peas’ new album Masters of the Sun: Vol. 1.  As noted previously, this record takes the group, now a trio again, back to the sound that made it a hit during its underground days.  At the same time, the pop sensibility that made the group a hit in the mainstream is there, too.  Lyrically, the songs are their own stylistic rebirth for the group, too.

With 1st – 3rd noted, the rest of the list is fleshed out below.  As always, 15 titles are listed, with the Top 10 being the best while the next five are honorable mentions.  That is not to say that there is anything wrong with those albums.  They are just worth noting.  Now enough rambling.  without any further ado, here is Phil’s PIcks 2018 Top 10 New Rap & Hip-Hop albums.

PHIL’S PICKS 2018 TOP 10 NEW RAP & HIP-HOP ALBUMS

  1. Evidence — Weather or Not
  2. Eminem — Kamikaze
  3. Black Eyed Peas: Masters of the SunVol. 1
  4. Ice Cube — Everythang’s Corrupt
  5. Atmosphere — Mi Vida Local
  6. Mourning [A] BLKstar — The Garner Poems
  7. Dr. Octagon — Moosebumps
  8. Denzel Curry– TA1300
  9. Del & Amp Live — Gate 13
  10. Camp Hope — Micheal
  11. Everlast — Whitey Ford’s House of Pain
  12. dem Atlas — Bad Actress
  13. Four Fists — 6666
  14. Brownout — Fear of a Brown Planet
  15. Cypress Hill — Elephants on Acid

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Nine Inch Nails “Adds” Itself To The Top Of Phil’s Picks’ 2017 Best New EPs List

Courtesy: Capitol Records

Time is officially ticking away to the end of the year, so as the countdown moves closer to the year’s final moments, those annual year-ender lists are starting to show up.  Keeping that in mind, Phil’s Picks has its own year-enders.  As is the case in year’s past, this year’s series of lists starts with the smallest releases, the year’s top new EPs.  Topping this year’s list of new EPs is none other than Nine Inch Nails’ new EP, Add Violence.  This five-song record takes all the best elements of Trent Reznor’s work from With Teeth all the way up to his most recent Nine Inch Nails record, Hesitation Marks both musically and lyrically.

Also included in this year’s list of the year’s top new EPs are independent releases from Paul Johnson & The About Last Nights, Chapel, Light The Way and others.  The list, as in years past, includes the year’s Top 10 new EPs as well as five additional honorable mention titles, for a total of 15 records.  With all of that having been noted, the following is Phil’s Picks 2017 Top 10 New EPs.

PHIL’S PICKS 2017 TOP 10 NEW EPs

  1. Nine Inch Nails — Add Violence
  2. Paul Johnson & The About Last Nights — Give Up The Ghost
  3. Chapel — Sunday Brunch
  4. The Offering — The Offering
  5. Light The Way — Grace
  6. Sleep Signals — At The End Of The World
  7. Lane Change — Rise
  8. Red Reign — Red Reign
  9. Willamena — Strong Enough To Last
  10. The Major Minor — Different Light
  11. Constructs — Shapes
  12. Denzel Curry — 13
  13. New Kingston — Kingston Fiyah
  14. Vault 1 — Kid
  15. Pig — Prey & Obey

Next up on the calendar for Phil’s Picks is the year’s top new independent albums.  That list will be posted some time tomorrow afternoon, so stay tuned.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.