Article by Ben Casey. Media by Paige Lunde.
Though the days haven’t started to cool yet, summer is over and classes have begun. As you get settled into your schedule and reflect on the summer, you might recall some great hip-hop albums that were released. Some of the artists that released these albums include Desiigner and Schoolboy Q who answered Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly” with an album of his own.
These albums are my personal top five hip-hop highlights:
Aesop Rock – “The Impossible Kid” (Album)
Aesop Rock is almost 40 and lived in a barn for a year before recording his album, “The Impossible Kid.” The result was an incredibly intimate view of Ian Bavitz, the man behind the legend of Aesop Rock. Aesop raps about his failed art school education, the therapeutic nature of his kitten, Kirby, and feeling old in a Baskin Robbins. The instrumentals on this album include a combination of flowing ambient synth sounds and biting, warm guitar leads that Aesop vocalizes over with his unmistakably unique flow, which adds a conceptual level to this otherwise extremely personal album.
Frank Ocean – “Blonde” (Album)
Ocean was oddly silent after his 2012 debut record, “Channel Orange.” After this deafening silence, he followed in the footsteps of Kanye West’s “The Life of Pablo” by changing the name of his album from “Boys Don’t Cry” to “Blonde” and then released another album titled “Endless.”
In “Blonde,” there are dreamy and soft mixes that compliment Ocean’s powerful voice, which glides from melody to rhythm as he switches between rapping and singing. Impressively, Ocean can sing his hooks with just as much power as he raps the verses. Drawing from hip-hop/RnB fusions of the past like Lauryn Hill and D’Angelo, he makes an album of introspection, reflection, mourning, and comfort.
clipping. – “Wriggle” (EP)
Clipping. is a band that uses cars backfiring and radio static to make its beats. The frontman is Daveed Diggs who played Thomas Jefferson in “Hamilton.” With Diggs’ success, the future of the experimental industrial group was thrown into question. Diggs, however, returned with clipping. for their most dirty, obtrusive music yet.
“Wriggle” begins like every clipping. project. Diggs raps fast and hard while a drone builds tension in the background, building until industrial noise takes over and the track goes silent. The five songs display an environment of violence, sex, and drugs displayed not in glory, but in their grimy, dark truth. The music is very industrial and even goes as far as to sample music from the WhiteHouse, one of the founding fathers of Industrial music.
The energy of this music is incomparable. It hits you over the head and takes you on a journey at 100 mph. If you’re a metal-head looking to get into hip-hop, this is perfect for you.
Young Thug – “No, My Name is Jeffery” (Mixtape)
Jeffery Williams, commonly known as Young Thug, is a simple man. He makes simple trap music delivered in his signature rap/singing/mumbling mix. He also likes to wear dresses. That is all you need to know to enjoy his music.
Young Thug is backed by a diverse set of beats. It’s a combination of catchy without being too repetitive. This is the kind of music you can dance to or blast in your car at an inconsiderate volume while all your friends mumble along with the unintelligible syllables filled with Young Thug’s energy. From the warm ska-inspired guitars of Wyclef Jean to the icy synth and piano leads of Harambe (yes, named after the gorilla,) Young Thug delivers one of his most fun projects to date.
Noname – “Telefone” (Mixtape)
Noname is not only one of the best female rappers in the game right now, but she’s also one of the best rappers in general. Fusing elements of gospel and soul into her new mixtape, she gives a warm and happy sound to many of the somber subjects she tackles. Her instrumentals are busy, messy, and melodic in a distinct way as vocal samples pop in and out throughout the album.
Noname raps with a uniquely plain delivery, which feels emotive in the same way a close friend having a serious talk with you feels. As she glides over every track with ease, Noname evokes artists like Outkast or De La Soul while still creating her own unique sound.
These artists definitely grabbed the attention of their listeners. Comment about what hip-hop music caught your attention this summer!