April 14th was Good Friday, and it was even better as Kendrick Lamar released his fourth album, “DAMN.” The hotly-anticipated project was rumored to drop on April 7th. The Compton rapper hinted at the date in “The Heart Part 4.” He finishes the song with the line, “Y'all got til April the 7th to get y'all shit together.” On the date, a pre-order link was made visible along with confirmation on the album’s release date, April 14th.
The 14-track set includes superstar guests, Rihanna and U2. Speaking to T Magazine prior to its release, he says: “To Pimp a Butterfly was addressing the problem. I’m in a space now where I’m not addressing the problem anymore. We’re in a time where we exclude one major component out of this whole thing called life: God. Nobody speaks on it because it’s almost in conflict with what’s going on in the world when you talk about politics and government and the system.”
Here’s my top 5 on “DAMN.”
Stream “DAMN.” below:
Mary J. Blige had a rocky summer as it went public that she filed for divorce from husband/manager, Kendu Issacs. The report brought anticipation toward her music, as she’s known for her break-up hits. Blige has given a taste of what to expect on her new single “Thick Of It,” which reflects on the divorce. Entitled “Strength of a Woman,” the LP is set to feature contributions from Hit-Boy, Jazmine Sullivan, and Kanye West. Listen to “Thick Of It” below:
In 2016, G.O.O.D. Music signee, Big Sean, is one that HAS been quiet for most of the year; at least as a solo artist. Earlier in the year, Sean released a joint project with R&B singer and current girlfriend Jhene Aiko. Together, the two were known as TWENTY88. Their self-titled project along with its visuals was an amazing piece of work altogether. As we know it, the two have always made great music together.
With that and only a couple features under his belt early in the year, by the fourth quarter, Sean fuels up his latest era with the release of “No More Interviews” and “Bounce Back.” He sets the tone for his upcoming works as he returns to his original, turnt up, sound and super-duper flow. Sean later announces the release date for his fourth studio album “I Decided,” dropping February 3rd, 2017. He leaves us with “Moves,” which is featured on the album, and “Living Single” featuring Chance The Rapper and Jeremih. Big Sean says I Decided is his best work yet and hopes to push the culture forward with the release. I can’t wait to see his if he lives up to those statements.
If there’s anyone who won in 2016, it was Teyana Taylor. The actress/singer achieved breakthrough success when she starred in Kanye West’s “Fade” music video, which showcased her sickening body. Taylor was also a highlight at the VH1 Hip-Hop Honors for her tribute to honoree, Lil’ Kim. This year has displayed her versatility, but not all of it as the “Fade” star can sing. Taylor is signed to Kanye West’s “GOOD Music” and dropped her debut album in late 2014. Vocally, she falls under Brandy as she has a sultry, raspy tone.
Taylor has already teased new music. Check out my favorite from VII below:
To some, it may seem like Nicki Minaj took a break from taking over the rap scene in 2016. Although it was a small amount, Minaj did give us a major taste of things she’d been working on. The rapper gave us remixes to some the most popular hits of the year with “The Pinkprint Freestyle” and “Black Barbies,” stayed true to her brand with killer features on pop records, landed a role in the blockbuster hit Barbershop 3, released her mobile app Nicki Minaj: The Empire, and so much more.
We obviously got little solo releases because Nicki has been working on her fourth studio album, as seen in clips floating around social media; from her own hinting lyrics in her Instagram captions to producers posting snippets of the work they’re doing for her. This “break” of Nicki Minaj's fuels up the anticipation for her next studio album, hoping to release this 2017.
The Hip-hop industry saw retirement happen substantially in 2016. The Game announced his departure during his Dec. 18th show in Moscow, Russia. The rapper unveiled his final album entitled “Westside Story” will be written before he goes to jail. “When I get back to L.A. I’m going straight to jail because I fuckin’ had a fight with a police officer and shit,” Game revealed. His 2005 collaboration with 50 Cent shares the same title as his forthcoming project.
In October, The Game released his eighth studio album, 1992, which debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200.
This year, East released his highly anticipated “Kairi Chanel” mixtape after buzz of being signed to Nas’ Mass Appeal label and releasing several crazy “East Mix” remixes. As seen on social media, East has shown and announced upcoming features with artists such as J. Cole, Lil Uzi Vert, G Herbo, Don Q, and others. East has also been seen shooting a music video for the first track on Kairi Chanel titled “It Was Written.” With potential and talent on his side, I see Dave East going very far and look forward to his success.