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Run the Jewels is my favorite rap group of all time. This is not a slight to the revolutionary virtues of N.W.A or Public Enemy, nor to the empowering intellect and attitude of the Wu-Tang Clan or A Tribe Called Quest, but a testament to the raw strength of this decade’s catchiest hooks and one-liners, as seen in the lyrics and production of Killer Mike and El-P. At the end of February, I had the pleasure of going to their second of four sold-out New York shows, at the behemoth of a venue known as Terminal 5. Although we’re only three months in, I can say with complete certainty that this will go down as my favorite live performance of 2017. Run the Jewels brought a level of energy, empowerment and straight-up fun that I’ve rarely seen in live performance and have never seen at a rap show before. Although…

College Park’s 2 Chainz and Hollygrove’s Lil Wayne have joined forces to create Collegrove. Fans have been anticipating a collaboration album since the first rumors in 2013, but, unfortunately, it’s not everything fans hoped it would be. The album starts out strong, with the first song, “Dedication.” Although it is a solo act by 2 Chainz, with Lil Wayne only talking in the introduction and not rapping, it is a dedication from the latter to the former. Contrary to what many rap fans criticize 2 Chainz for, he has proven he can tell a story through music. “Dedication” tells the story of how without Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz never would have become the star that he has become in the last few years. Tunechi and Tity Boi have a history of releasing hits together, from “Duffle Bag Boy” to “Rich as Fuck.” The highlight of the album comes with the…

Meek Mill released four surprise songs on the mixtape 4/4 as his fans await the arrival of Dreamchasers 4 and as he awaits trial. The unannounced project was released on January 16, his first release since his 2015 album Dreams Worth More Than Money. 4/4 is Meek’s first batch of new material since Drake’s “Back to Back” diss, which ended Meek’s career according to memes all across the Twittersphere, and his only music released during his ongoing legal battle regarding his probation violation. Needless to say, Meek Mill has a lot of work to do to recover from the shaky 2015 he had. The mixtape opens with “Pray For ‘Em,” and it doesn’t take long for Meek to throw jabs at Drake. One of the opening lines is “OGs see me coming through and they say ‘that’s that baller.’ That’s that nigga really started from the bottom, really in that…

“I’m ‘bout to be professional. Homie I’m professional.” Name a rapper from an upper middle class Jewish family who calls himself “The greatest rapper alive.” If you guessed Lil Dicky, you’re correct! If not, be prepared to witness the next rap sensation aiming to introduce a new market to the world of hip-hop. With a self-described style of “funny-type rap,” Lil Dicky doesn’t display any of the qualities that make up the “typical” rapper. He’s lanky, slightly awkward, and always sporting a disheveled curly Afro. He kind of looks like an older, bearded Screech from Saved By The Bell (but that’s just me). Oh, and if you didn’t guess already, he’s white. Now, this isn’t unusual today with artists like Logic, Action Bronson and Mac Miller, to name a few, but unlike them Lil Dicky makes being a white guy a part of his brand. I mean, he even has…

“I remember you was conflicted/Misusing your influence/Sometimes I did the same,” Such is the dilemma plaguing one Kendrick Lamar, rap’s newest messiah. The Compton MC is asking the ghost of his mentor (none other than 2Pac) if he truly deserved to escape from the gang-infused nightmare of his hometown. He’s looking for guidance on what his next move should be: should he be the street poet standing up for injustice against black people, or is he just another rapper making it big? Who is Kendrick Lamar, or what has Kendrick Lamar become? If one thing is certain, it’s that Kendrick Lamar is miles beyond what rap and hip-hop is today, making the hype surrounding the release of his second major-label album, To Pimp a Butterfly, all the more appropriate. And boy, does Kendrick have a lot to say this time around. To Pimp a Butterfly is Kendrick looking outward and…

It makes sense that Big Sean is one of Kanye West’s closest proteges. He’s basically the fun half of Kanye turned into his own rapper: nerdy references, clever (if not sometimes dorky) punchlines and an occasionally goofy flow. If Kanye’s GOOD Music label was a high school, Big Sean would be the cool class clown walking in and out of class as he pleased. Sean’s boyish charm is what makes him likable, and also distracts from the fact that he’s not the deepest of conscious minds. If anyone has heard his opening verse on “Mercy,” or the title of his blockbuster single about female backsides, it’s easy to assume not to expect something like “New Slaves” or “The Blacker The Berry” to come from him. It’s probably why his sophomore album, Hall of Fame, disappointed in sales. The dark tone and lack of joy in the lyrics took away Sean’s…