The Hip Hop Week In Review: Kanye West, J. Cole & Mac Miller Drop, Jay-Z Announces Next Album
Hip Hop had itself a three-headed monster this week, while Jay-Z revealed the title of his next project, and Hip Hop loses another person to violence.
This week, the buzz surrounded the simultaneous release of Kanye West's Yeezus, J. Cole's Born Sinner, and Mac Miller's Watching Movies With the Sound Off, as the albums battled it out for chart supremacy. Not to be outdone, Jay-Z announced his next album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, and rolled it out with an impressive business plan. Finally, another death in Hip Hop occurred as Lil Snupe, only 18 years old, was fatally shot.
Kanye West, J. Cole & Mac Miller's Albums Get High Marks
Kanye West's Yeezus, J. Cole's Born Sinner, and Mac Miller's Watching Movies With the Sound Off kept HipHopDX's review section busy this week, with each album dropping on the same day.
Yeezus was the first reviewed, with DX noting that Kanye's bravado may be brazen, but will certainly be appreciated down the line, if not right away:
"It’s likely too soon for the populace to cosign Kanye’s 'The only rapper compared to Michael [Jackson]' bar on 'I Am A God,' but it was initially too soon when Jay-Z brazenly alluded to being better than the Notorious B.I.G. on The Blueprint’s 'Hola Hovito' in 2001 ('And if I ain’t better than Big / I’m the closest one'). In the end, the masses sided with Hov. Some statements are too uncomfortably cocky to digest without time and consideration. But West’s 'I feel my confidence + someone’s low self-esteem = my arrogance' quote from his motivational booklet, Thank You And You’re Welcome given away for free during his 2008 Glow In The Dark tour comes to mind when gawking at the super-sized super ego he sports like his Yeezy Red October signature sneaker."
Dubbed 808s & Anger by the review, Yeezus was ultimately called "jarring, uncomfortable, uncompromising and courageous—all the things that initially made Hip Hop great."
The most improved award went to J. Cole, whose Born Sinner was noted for its "improved production, cadences, and subject matter," and successfully dodging the sophomore curse:
"J. Cole is determined to earn the continued approval of his hometown Fayetteville, NC and the Rap legends to come before him. On the opening track 'Villuminati' he repeats the phrase, 'Sometimes I brag like Hov' before launching into verbal onslaught, perhaps setting out to convince listeners that he should one day be held in comparison to his iconic boss. Arguably the most honest moment of introspection on Born Sinner arrives with 'Let Nas Down,' a brave yet awkward tale of how the QB veteran shunned Cole’s prior measures taken in the pursuit of success. He looks back with regret, pleading, 'I couldn’t help but that think that maybe I had made a mistake / I mean you made ‘You Owe Me’ dog, I thought that you could relate,' reflecting his greatest strength and weakness in a vulnerability that risks backfiring."
Finally, Mac Miller's Watching Movies With the Sound Off provided fans with "more focused" Mac, and "showcas[ed] an improved execution alongside a murderer's row of new school misfits."
"Musically, this album can be traced back to moments of Macadelic and You, but his execution has unquestionably improved," reads the review. "With a melancholic backdrop seeping through his patient prose, 'REMember' details the passing of his close friend, Reuben Mitrani. While still shaken, Mac finds solace in wisdom as he raps, 'Your life’s short, don’t ever question the length / It’s cool to cry, don’t ever question your strength.' Elsewhere, he embraces his baritone vocals with the unexpected treasure 'Objects In The Mirror.' The topic here plays off the metaphorical outline of his previous dependence to 'lean,' and Mac’s ability to mirror his words as if he’s describing an unhealthy relationship speaks to his lyrical ingenuity."
Jay-Z Announces Magna Carta Holy Grail
Not content to let everyone else have all the fun, Jay-Z not only announced that he would be dropping his next project soon, but that he's already sold one million copies.
During halftime of Game 5 of the NBA Finals, a commercial aired featuring Jay-Z recording in a studio with Rick Rubin, Pharrell Williams, Swizz Beatz, and Timbaland. The spot, which was actually a Samsung commercial, served to announce Jay-Z's next project, Magna Carta Holy Grail.
Hov explained that he and Samsung teamed up, with the electronics company buying one million copies of the album. The copies will be given to Samsung Galaxy smartphone users for free, three days ahead of its July 4 release:
For those wondering, however, Magna Carta Holy Grail won't be immediately certified platinum.
Yeezus Currently Leads Born Sinner & Watching Movies With The Sound Off In Sales Battle
Hip Hop is looking to have three releases debut at 100,000+ copies sold for the first time since 2006.
Currently, Kanye is in the lead, with Yeezus projected to sell 360,000-380,000 copies. Next, J. Cole's Born Sinner is close behind, with Billboard reporting "270,000 to 290,000, with 300,000 easily in reach."
Mac Miller is expected to move approximately 100,000 copies of Watching Movies with the Sound Off.
There was speculation, apparently, that Jay-Z pitted Cole against West, which the Roc Nation artist denied. Regardless, it's shaping up to be quite a sales battle.
Meek Mill Artist Lil Snupe Tragically Gunned Down At 18
Death has reared its ugly head, as Meek Mill's artist Lil Snupe died, fatally shot twice in the chest prior to a Louisiana Concert.
Meek had just signed the Jonesboro, Louisiana rapper in April. Snupe's manager, as well as Meek, confirmed the rapper's death on Twitter:
The streets killed my Lil nigga Snupe...I always told him don't try 2 keep it real wit the streets.... Bcuz they won't keep it real wit you— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) June 21, 2013
Snupe was shot at the Maplewood Apartment Complex in Winnfield, Louisiana. He was in the area for a concert appearance. A suspect has already been identified.
Artists such as Turk and Bun B issued condolences over Twitter.
Machine Gun Kelly Talks Addiction & Trashes Molly Rap
This week, Machine Gun Kelly sat down with HipHopDX. During the interview, MGK spoke about his history of personal drug addiction.
"I have and have had addiction problems of what I choose to be addicted to. I’ll leave it at that. I don’t ever encourage drug use by promoting what I’ve done in a conversation. In music and stuff, I’ll divulge a lot more than I will in a personal conversation. I write every song from a first-person experience, but I haven’t gotten to the point where I have to tell everybody else a story yet. There’s still so much in my life I haven’t told, that I still have material in my life to write about. So I haven’t gotten to the point where I have to write from so-and-so’s perspective unless I choose to. Pretty much everything everyone’s heard, so far in my music, is all me."
MGK also took the time to demote molly Rap, criticizing emcees that glorify its use.
"I don’t…why would you wish those demons on anyone?" he continued. "They’re not fun at all. Heat flashes at 7 a.m. in the morning aren’t fun. Scratching at your skin until you bleed is not fun. All that shit…why would you wish that on anybody? Why do people promote molly? You won’t hear me rap about that shit, and I did that shit years ago, when I was like, 'What the fuck is this?' They’re like, 'Just lick your finger, dab it in there, and just rub it on your teeth and gums.' And this is back when I was really in the fucking out-of-my-mind stage. Thirty minutes later, I’m running on a beach and shit! Then I woke up in a horrible mood the next day. I almost swung on some old dude because he told me to pull up my pants. Drugs just don’t make you a pleasant person. So I hate being around mothafuckas that are looped out as well—just all those negatives…
"I would never wish my negatives on anybody else, and a negative to me is drugs, dude. And plus, if some 15-year-old white girl named Cindy is doing a drug, I’m not trying to do that fucking drug. People are making drugs like fucking, God damn clothes. It’s become a fucking trend. Now I don’t want to do it because fucking Cindy is doing it. You go to fucking Coachella and no one knows a God damn band performing—they just go to see what the hype is—and they’re like, 'Oh, well I’m just supposed to go. I got the money, the drugs.' Pop culture right now is so ridiculous dude."
Other items of note: