Scorching Summer: Your Guide to One of the Best Summers in Hip Hop

In 2018, music is about narrative as much as it is about the music itself. Every project passes the social media litmus test. So called influencers rate it, build the narrative, and the music either fights against or gets carried by said narrative until the heat dies down. Full bodies of work are given a week for digestion, if they are lucky. The average attention span for fans last until the next anticipated project comes out and we are on to a new narrative. So far this summer, a flood of impactful music has been released. With those releases, narratives were being built by some that this is the greatest Hip Hop Summer ever or maybe in quite some time. While I agree with the latter, I would hope that everyone who uttered the former gets hosed down to counteract the heat exhaustion that would make them utter that blasphemy. 1988 saw Eric B & Rakim, EPMD, Public Enemy, and Big Daddy Kane release landmark albums in the same summer. 1996 had Jay Z’s, Nas, Do or Die, De La Soul, UGK, and A Tribe Called Quest release career defining or career elevating Lps. In short, this is not close to being the most prolific summer. This summer should however be acknowledged for its strong start and plenty of anticipated projects still on its way. Here’s a guide to what to look for in the albums that has been released and the ones set to arrive.

Pusha T: Daytona

Released: May 25th,

Label: G.O.O.D. Music. Def Jam

The first up to bat is possibly the strongest up to bat. Pusha T did not release Daytona in the summer time per say but be damn if I don’t include it in this list. The reverberations are still being felt. Let’s put Pusha T’s dismantling of Drake aside, this man is having one of his best years period. The first to show what the 7 song template that Kanye West insisted on could sound like, Pusha T knocked it out of the park. The album is focused, littered with drug references coming from the perspective from the other side. Daytona is American Gangster without Frank Lucas doing any hard time, or Tony Montana making it out of that mansion. It’s splendid. Kanye West delivers one of the best production performances in a long time. Every beat is gritty and non-compromising. 21 minutes of unorthodox beat switches and sample laced, gritty goodness. God bless the trap.

Summer Anthem Watch: If You Know You Know

One Phrase Review: ”Yuchk”

Kanye West: Ye

Released: June 1st

Label: G.O.O.D. Music. Def Jam

Admittedly, I took a stance that I wouldn’t be listening to any album where Kanye is one of the primary performers, therefore, I did not spin this Ye album. You can read about why I made my decision below:

It’s a personal decision that you can make on your own but it would be negligent to not mention this album amongst the zeitgeist. Ye has come out to mixed reviews. Some have praised Kanye’s ability to be as personal and as revealing as he has ever been while others view the album as clumsily thrown together and lacking any creative leaps. Kim Kardashian posting on twitter that Kanye took a picture for the album cover on his way to the listening party did not help fight that sentiment. If you can overlook the circus, it is worth checking out; for better or worse, this is one of the most influential artist of our time.

Summer Anthem Watch: Ghost Town

One Phrase Review: The MAGA Classic??

Black Thought: Stream of Thought Vol 1

Released: June 1st

Label: Human Re Sources

Your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper released his first solo project on the hush but the real ones knew what it was. Black Thought’s Stream of Thought Vol 1 was a veteran continuing to show and tell. It must be exhausting being this good at putting words together, or maybe even boring. Either way, Stream of Thought is a 5 song EP filled with bar work, dense wordplay, and pertinent content. 9th Wonder produced the entire project and Rapsody and Styles P contribute stellar verses. There should be no confusion though, this is Black Thought’s classroom, sit down and take some notes.

Summer Anthem Watch (family BBQ edition): Thank You

One Phrase Review: Bring a thesaurus and a dictionary, because bars are going to fly.

Kanye West and Kid Cudi: Kids See Ghost

Released: June 8th

Label: G.O.O.D. Music. Def Jam

The same rules applied for Kids See Ghost as it did for Ye. Kanye West was a main performer therefore I made a personal decision to skip. Poor Kid Cudi who had to be mired in Kanye West’ shenanigans while helping him create what many called a more focused, purposeful project than Ye. There is a lot that can be gained here. With Kanye and Cudi’s undeniable chemistry and creativity, you can find some enjoyment and some value with this project.

Summer Anthem Watch: N/A

One Phrase Review: Free Kid Cudi!!!!