Catch up Session: US Rap 2015

There’s no need to be picky here, everyone knows that 2015 started off with a bang for Rap. It all kicked off with two massive album releases from (drumroll, please) Drake and Kendrick Lamar, and the work certainly didn’t stop there; a continuous stream of awesome music has followed. It’s been a while since we’ve heard so many great albums, and so much blossoming talent, in such a short space of time.

After 6 months of non-stop music, along came summer, which tends to be the least productive period of the year in terms of releases. I obviously put myself on ‘Standby Mode’ musically speaking… Everyone needs a break every now and then, right? My friends seemed a bit tired of New Era Hip Hop, and conversation got pretty samey… « Have you heard the latest Rick Ross track? Wait, you don’t know Action Bronson..? »

After two sun-soaked, alcohol-drenched weeks, I felt a bit behind. Friends were casually dropping names of new artists and albums that I’d never even heard of. Speaking as a compulsive (or so I thought) internet scavanger, I can safely say that being behind the times is a pretty big slap in the face. Luckily, Limonadier had my back; they’d been keeping their fingers on the pulse of the rap world’s latest happenings. Here’s the debrief. Looks like I missed a lot!

EPISODE 1: 

The event that marked the start of the Summer was the release of Vince Staples‘ first official album. After loads of quality mixtapes and features (check out « Hive » with Earl Sweatshirt), he finally came out with this double album release at the end of June, straight from Long Beach.

Limo’s thoughts: Vince is at the top of his game at 22, along with the likes of other young talent such as Asap Rocky, Joey Badass, Chance the Rapper, YG (and many more). His release, Summertime ’06, is so powerful. It’s made up of 20 tracks, and pretty much every one smashes it. It’s a very varied work, with moments of angst, a dash of darkness, but also a softer side coming through; all held together by perfectly blended beats. Vince certainly knows how to rap, and has an impeccable flow and unique lyrics. He deserves a cheers and a standing ovation. Have a listen to one of my favourite tracks here…

EPISODE 2:

Just a few weeks later, the rap world was shaken by some serious beef. They laughed as tension broke out between Drake and Meek Mill, after their (up to then, successful) collaboration, « RICO ».

Meek Mill dropped a bombshell when out of nowhere he called Drizzy out and revealed that he had been using the services of a ghostwriter. Naturally, his fans were devastated, unable to believe the news. « How is this even possible? No, Drake wouldn’t… ». Even though ghostwriting is common practice in the US pop industry these days, Drake’s response was not long in coming; he released a short-but-sweet diss track called « Charged Up », which puts Meek firmly back in his place. Drake’s super fast flow demonstrates that he certainly knows how to rap and write by himself. But it’s the massive « Back to Back » that really hits Nicky Minaj‘s boyfriend where it hurts: « You love her then you gotta get a world tour, is that a world tour or your girl’s tour? »… You decide, readers.

Meek Mill, from his corner of the ring, took a while to come back with a returning blow. And when he did, it was weak.

Limo’s thoughts: It’s a clear victory for Drake here after two KO rounds. Meek Mill just didn’t have the footwork to dodge around the man who is widely regarded as the best rapper around. As well as his burning diss tracks, the 6 GOD openly took the piss out of Mill during his concert. There are also some pretty funny photos (I love you, Internet).

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EPISODE 3:

Ok, enough beef for one day. Time to move onto happier news, i.e. THE release of the Summer, or even the year. In August, Ice Cube announced that his good friend Dr Dre was dropping a new album… I know what you’re thinking. I thought it too. « DETOX? After all this time? » Like many aficionados, I had mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, was the excitement of a generation that has waited for Chronic 2001‘s sequel for so many years bubbled to the surface… The memories of madly hoping, year after year, that it would finally happen. But on the other hand, there was the creeping fear of disappointment; a commercial, nondescript, slightly electro album. Maybe you can’t teach an old Doc new tricks.

However, we learned very soon that this release was not the infamous Detox. That was scrapped a good while ago. The album’s title is « Compton » (obviously working as a soundtrack for their film « Straight Outta Compton », which tells the story of NWA and was released in the UK on the 28th August). It will probably be the last solo album of a truly incredible career. After 16 years on the sidelines, the Doc whips out his ‘super producer’ cape to save the planet of Rap… But is he still strong enough?

Limo’s thoughts: The album is produced to an extremely high standard, and the feats are pretty understandable. It was great to see good old Xzibit on there. A special mention should go out to Kendrick Lamar who, as usual, really stands out from the crowd. It pains me to say, however, that after such a long wait, the magic doesn’t seem to be quite there anymore. It’s a great listen, but it isn’t the unforgettable classic that we all held our breaths for… But let’s not be bitter! Thank you for everything, Dr Dre. We love you really.

If you want to listen, it’s impossible to find the full album on the Internet, but you can stream it on Apple Music.

EPISODE 4:

This last piece of news went a little under the radar with the whole Dre situation, but the spearhead of Wu Tang Clan, the one and only M.E.T.H.O.D Mannnn (come on, you love screaming his name as much as I do, I can tell) has concocted a secret little album in his ‘meth lab’. So, of course, we went to check out whether he’d produced some high quality goods.

Limo’s thoughts: A very finely made album. Despite his 40-something years, Method Man certainly hasn’t lost his touch: his flow is as on-point as ever and his legendary voice is in tact. This is a raw, no-frills piece of work (just how we like it) and the tracks work well together. Finally, a project that really stands out after recent, less convincing, attempts.

That’s it, folks! Summer has gently wound to a close… But don’t worry, we’ll keep our ears out this autumn for more news. There are some pretty exciting releases coming up this month and we can’t wait to share them with you.

Cheers!