K.R.I.T.’s reliance paid off last year with his self-produced mixtape, Return Of 4Eva. When necessary, the Mississippi native curtailed his sound from ’90s boom bap (“Rise & Shine”) to contemporary bounce (“Return Of 4eva”). He kept trunks rattling with”Sub” and “Country Shit (Remix),” but moved listeners on cuts like “Dreamin” and “Lions and Lambs.” With his debut, Live From The Underground on the horizon, it’s only a matter of time until the mainstream takes notice.
After a brief hiatus from the game, Queen B made her return to reclaim her throne and released her fourth solo album. Yup, she’s still the hottest chick in the game and the chain’s been replaced with a wedding ring. Baby Blue Ivy’s momma experimented with different sounds on this go ’round, especially on the titillating “End Of Time”. She ran the female revolution on the lead single “Run The World (Girls)”, kicked up the funk a notch on “Countdown” but slowed it back down on slow jams like the heartfelt, ”1+1″. Whether ol’ school groovy (“Love On Top”) or with Kanye punch (“Party”), Mrs. Carter continues to captivate with consistency.
This dropped unexpectedly like bird shit a month before Rolling Papers and boy was it potent. This 9 track collection of tunes too good to apparently make the album have held up better than his disappointing CD. The funky “Phone Numbers” starts the party with guests Trae Tha Truth and Big Sean bearing gifts. Sean Don sticks around for the bangin’ “Gang Bang” and Chevy Woods goes hard for his squad on the Lex Luger-produced “Taylor Gang.” But it’s the closer “Homicide” where Wiz and Woods truly kill the competition. Long live free music.
After disbanding Floetry and leaving Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment, Marsha took matters into her own hands. She appeared on a string of hip-hop cuts and finally released her debut. Hell hath no fury like a Songstress scorned, which makes a song like, “I Hope She Cheats On You (With A Basketball Player)” so entertaining. She submits to vulnerability (“You Hands”) and handles splitsville like a true champ (“The Break Up Song”). She revamped MJ’s “Butterflies” while Just Blaze’s fairy dust-coated “Far Away”. In all, Late Nights & Early Mornings is the perfect recipe for a lovely day.
Praise the Lord. One half of the Thornton Brothers has ventured off to focus on his own career. While Malice was gettin’ closer to the man above, Pusha Ton officially got down with G.O.O.D. Music and dropped a mixtape of his charming coke raps. Mixing his hood tales with the glamorous life, Pusha gave fans our first taste with the glorious “My God”. Like in the Clipse days, Pusha got in tune with the Neptunes sound on “Raid” with 50 Cent, but later connected with his new family on the Kanye-produced “Touch It”. Whether breathing easy on Hov’s “Can I Live” or making it to radio with “Feeling Myself,” Pusha stood and delivered on the solo tip. And you can’t find a better ending than “Alone In Vegas”. Amen to that.
Folks were so thirsty for TM103, they almost missed the much-needed reunion between Da Snowman and Mr. Thanksgiving. Shit, if the title track intro here doesn’t move you, get the fuck up out this post right now. Ok… Now the rest of us know this is trap rap at its best. Even the laziest thug must get motivated to tunes like the intense “Win,” the sinister “Flexin” and the aforementioned second Fab collab, “Rollin“. New CTE recruit, Gangsta Gibbs also shines on “Run-DMC” and “Do It For You.” No sequel needed. This one was for the people.
In celebration of a million Twitter followers and to further wet the public’s appetite for Ambition, Wale returned to his mixtape roots. The follow-up to RR’s personal fave More About Nothing, this collection reeks of Folarin’s new-found extra confidence and lyrical flair. Already knowing what he had in the stash, Ralph unleashed strong selections like the outstanding opener “Fuck You,” the Aretha Franklin-fueled “Lacefrontin” and the stand-out, D.C. bounce-based “Bait”. Whether showing love to the wide world of sports (“Barry Sanders”, “Varsity Blues”) or the sexy women (“Fairytales,” the Guy-inspired “Let’s Chill”), ‘Le makes all the right moves. Good theory. Good music.
You can never count 50 Cent out. With the release of his next album in limbo, he held fans over with his latest mixtape, The Big 10. Fif makes killing two birds with one stone look easy. First, he gives his hometown a new anthem (“Queens”) and radio another rotator, “I Just Wanna”. Gunplay has always been 50′s specialty (“You Took My Heart”, “Shooting Guns”) but when the time calls for it, he knows when to ease off the trigger (“Wait Til Tonight”). When it’s all said and done, The Big 10 is in a conference by itself.
The Bogus Boys gave the game an ultimatum with last year’s standout, Now Or Neva. The Chicago natives leave their calling cards on “Amerikkka’s Worst Nightmare” and “Claim My Shit”. They push their skills to the limit on “25TH Hour” and emit the same urgency with Meek Mill for “Rush Hour”. Their crown jewel though, comes from the Lupe Fiasco-assisted “Zombieland”. Anchored by J-Kits’ instrumentation, the Chicago natives deliver a cautionary tale served cold. “Better open up your eyes they’ll eat your ass alive.” That’s an appetite for destruction.
For a mixtape entitled Cold Day In Hell, Freddie Gibbs, knows how to make some smoking hot tracks. Off top, Gibbs attempts to boost the crime rate with “Rob Me A Nigga” and “187 Proof”. He unveils his art of storytelling on “My Homeboys Girlfriend” and then salutes his comrades on “My Dawgz”. How’s that for juxtaposition? Throw in features from Young Jeezy and 2 Chainz (“Twos And Fews”, “Neighborhood Hoez”) and Cold Day In Hell is nothing more than a gangsta’s paradise.