What Does Kendrick Lamar & Lil Wayne/2 Chainz Surprise Releases Say About 2016 Hip Hop?
Blog reader: Seeing that Fridays are now the official reckoning for new album releases, I don’t necessarily see a connotation between the two. However, yesterday’s rap manna offering from the sky did satiate two polar opposite fan appetites who had been hungering for new product as the snow begins to melt. For Kendrick, it furthers the notion that once you’re golden in terms of public opinion, you’ll be an automatic beneficiary to the benefit of the doubt. When most rappers release their exoskeleton recordings (before or after) the official album, it’s usually met with disdain or frustration that some of the better records were left off the retail rollout. Proclaiming King Kendrick’s table scraps to be better than most rappers’ main courses could be seen as an audacious claim that makes for irresponsible public opinion (especially when social media comes into play). I do feel, however, this new compilation is worth marveling on how the behind-the-scenes doctoring ultimately made To Pimp a Butterfly the gem that was presented to the world. CeeLo Green told us he actually had forgotten even recording something for the album. Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat just didn’t make “These Walls” from thin air. There was cement and insulation and electrical wiring that had to be blueprinted, as we hear on untitled unmastered. Just like in ceramics, the most beautiful pottery known to man had disfigured lumps of clay left on the ground. That’s ultimately what untitled unmastered personifies, although you can tell it was a precursor for great things to come.
In the case of ColleGrove, I’m having a helluva time±not listening to the actually music but reading between the lines. Lil Wayne and Baby may be posing for Instagram photo-ops and getting the gossip blogs off their backs (for now) but Wayne is loopholing his way back to music relevancy by any means. First there was the TIDAL Free Weezy Album and now he’s sacrificing the top billing on ColleGrove by letting Def Jam put it out as a 2 Chainz solo. When Tha Carter V gets bought and leaked by Martin Shkreli, don’t act surprised, people. Just don’t.
Blog reader: There’s been a huge battle fought over the past decade in rap music between traditionalist and progressives. Due to the Hip Hop’s unbreakable attachment to African American culture, the argument over commercialism and activism were mutually exclusive to one another. For most, tackling socially relevant themes meant sacrificing fame and wealth. Others looked at radio friendly artists as hollow sellouts. Then there’s the deeper conversation of where Southern rap plays within Hip Hop. Who knew how divisive everything became? Guess this is the point French Montana tried to articulate before fumbling hard this week along with being known for making the “lyrical rappers don’t get paid” comment years back. Then Kendrick Lamar burst into 2015 with the super black album of the decade To Pimp a Butterfly. Sure, the album wasn’t the highest selling project of the year despite being the most critically revered. Even “Alright” elevating from the most radio friendly joint to unofficial theme song for Black Lives Matter didn’t reach Fetty Wap numbers. However, all of that didn’t matter. It’s just cool to be black regardless if you’re protesting in the streets or bouncing in the clubs. The same could be said for Hip Hop which is just as healthy as ever. And yes, maybe surprise releases aren’t going anywhere anytime soon for those with sizable fanbases.
The day represents the coolest moment of the year in rap so far where K.Dot and everyone’s favorite ratchet bromance of Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz dropped two completely different albums. Hearing the free flowing raw and uncut masterpiece of untitled unmastered. is just as invigorating as going to 1-Oak and hearing everyone yelling something from ColleGrove. Let’s be honest here though, if anyone is the real winner here, it’s Universal Music Group who owns Aftermath, Interscope, Cash Money and Def Jam.
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