If you are anything remotely like me, then your last two weeks have been spent anxiously and impatiently counting down to the release of Kendrick Lamar’s upcoming, long-awaited fourth LP, titled DAMN. From the album announcement that came in the form of the stripped-back track “The Heart Part IV,” to the surprise drop of lead single “Humble.” accompanied by a visually stunning masterpiece of a music video, to the realization that the April 7 release date was a week premature. So, while we collectively wait out the next 48 hours for K-Dot to blow our minds once again, here are two other recently released albums that are worth your time:
All-Amerikkkan Badass by Joey Bada$$ (4/7)
This record is hands-down my favorite release of 2017 so far. A early East-coast hip hop inspired commentary on the political and social climate of a Trump America, All-Amerikkan Badass is as powerful lyrically as it is sonically. Each track on this record is respectable in its own right, and the album collectively follows Joey as he navigates his way through the current state of America, including negative media portrayals of people of color and the difficulty of maintaining religious faith in an increasingly secular America, asking questions that are explored and build upon one another as the album progresses. One of the most beautiful things about this record is that most all of these questions are never answered, just asked and then explored through lyrics that mimic spoken word poetry, back with soft yet appropriate beats. In a candid and telling interview with Rolling Stone, Joey reveals that while this record overtly speaks on the experience of being black in America, he hopes that the angst he expels in these tracks can be related to by anyone and everyone. With a well-timed message aimed at societal norms, and some notable features from ScHoolboy Q and J. Cole, All-Amerikkan Badass has the potential to become a classic, and is most definitely worth a listen.
You Only Live 2wice by Freddie Gibbs (4/1)
Another release from the last two weeks, Freddie Gibbs third solo project You Only Live 2wice follows recent rap projects in heavily incorporating gospel imagery and sound, with a large focus on resurrection. A short record that could actually be considered a mixtape, the 8-song tracklisting touches on numerous social and personal issues, including his own past transgressions and wrestling with the reckless lifestyle endorsed by rap culture. Though brief, this record showcases the new direction that Gibbs’ music is heading towards, taking on a much more dark and melodramatic tone than his past releases. This record provides a brief glimpse into some rare emotionally brutal honesty on Gibbs’ part, helping to solidify Freddie Gibbs as a creator that can turn even the most adverse experiences into beautiful music.