The Hype, The Chance, The Rapper

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“What did you think of the Rites lineup?”

This question has reverberated around Vanderbilt’s campus since February 11, 2015. Rock purists celebrated the appearance of Young, the Giant at the top of the bill. Fans of psychedelia and indie rock were surely excited to see Portugal. The Man make the trip. Music fans of every walk of life are singing the praises of T-Pain’s inclusion.

However, the first name on the bill has generated the most buzz. Chancelor Bennett, known to the world as Chance the Rapper, whose profession, as it turns out, is in fact rapping, has taken the hip-hop community by storm over the past two years. His rise to fame has been exponential, and his headlining position at Rites should not come as a surprise.

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Lots to Like on Surprise Drake Mixtape

Early-career mixtapes are often exciting event releases with production quality indistinguishable from a studio album. Think Acid Rap, The Weeknd’s remarkable 2011 mixtape trilogy, or Drake’s own So Far Gone. Once the major label contract is signed, however, “mixtape” doesn’t really connote high-quality, important work. One can argue mixtapes are rawer versions of more calibrated studio releases, but it’s hard to shake the nagging thought that mixtape tracks weren’t good enough to hold over for the album. Often when it comes to mixtapes, only the most dedicated fans need apply. So what’s this mean for If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late?

Drake quietly dropped a new mixtape/album on iTunes late Thursday.
Drake quietly dropped a new mixtape/album on iTunes late Thursday 2/12.

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Azealia Banks’ Island of One

Azealia-Banks

Open up Twitter, type in “azealia banks”, and witness the 23 year-old rapper-singer-songwriter’s solitary crusade against any soul that she sets in her sights. A lot of artists talk huge game about being above caring about the public’s opinion of what they do or say but make no mistake, they, like many of us, shiver when they hear the phrase “did you hear what Azealia Banks said this time?” She utterly embodies the term “outspoken”; her Twitter is essentially a platform through which she unleashes barrage after barrage of unfiltered passion.

Banks is seemingly inexhaustible when it comes to her unflinching hostility, and the list of targets who have been unfortunate enough to come under her heat reads like a who’s who of key music industry figures and past and current stars. There’s T.I., Lil Kim, Diplo, Nicki Minaj, Rita Ora, The Stone Roses (?) and of course, Igloo Australia, whom Banks reserves a singular hate for. No one is too large for her to size up and attack, proved most recently by her brief spar with Erykah Badu, an indisputable hip-hop/r&b/soul/black music dignitary. Her long list of enemies made in her short career garnered Banks the reputation of an unproductive troublemaker during the period of time in which Banks’ debut Broke With Expensive Taste languished in label hell. As Hazlitt writer Sarah Nicole Prickett notes, Banks had been seen as more famous for her acidic insults than her actual music.
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Joey Bada$$- “B4.DA.$$”

B4DA$$

 

B4.DA.$$ is a record made for rap purists, which is a welcome change of pace in the era of personalities and quotability (see Shmurda, Bobby) taking the genre’s center stage. However, as a result, the record can get uncomfortable when it leaves Joey’s comfort zone of self-exploration and braggadocious wordplay over boom-bap beats. Joey’s natural flow and mastery of the craft of hip-hop over meticulously-crafted laid-back beats makes for an album with a definite confidence and direction, even if the 90′s rap sound feels disingenuous at times.

I first discovered Brooklyn rapper Joey Bada$$ with “95 Til Infinity” off of his 2012 mixtape “Summer Knights.” The most jarring aspect of the song was the reference to his birth year, 1995: the same year I was born.

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What Is Death Grips Up To?

If you have heard a Death Grips song before, you may have described the experience as shocking, unnerving, electrifying, or just plain weird.

While the group (supposedly) disbanded on July 2, 2014, they have been quite active on social media and have actually come out with an album since then. So, what are they really up to?

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Top 10 Hip Hop Tracks of 2014

Bobby Shmurda
Bobby Shmurda

2014 saw all kinds of hip hop floating around, from new stars and old. Countless tracks have already been forgotten, but this article is about the ones that really stuck. This is just one writer’s opinion, but here it is: the ten best hip hop tracks of the year.

10. Clipping – “Work Work”

While clppng is one of 2014’s more uneven releases in any genre, “Work Work” channels the group’s brand of bizarre industrial-hop into something almost party-appropriate. The sneering delivery of lyrics about pimps, gang signs, and dead homies comes caked in irony, but “Work Work” is charming and catchy enough to let us in on the joke.

9. Jeremih – “Don’t Tell Em”

DJ Mustard gets much of the credit for gracefully reconciling modern popular hip-hop with increasingly EDM-soaked pop charts, after previous attempts ranged from limp to mashup-tier. You can criticize Mustard for being formulaic, but when songs you didn’t even produce start following the formula you can’t deny its effectiveness. On representative track “Don’t Tell Em”, Mustard streamlines the hazy, stylish, “All the Time” Jeremih for mass consumption.

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