Sometimes it's hard to listen to anything other than one's typical catalog of favorites, but eventually you're gonna need some brand-new tunes to test out on your life. I'll be the first to admit that sometimes I'm just not in the mood to listen to rap music—all those words, puns, and bars can be a lot to digest if I'm not in the mood to engage with music in that way. If that's the case, I'll turn to lots of instrumentals or melody-focused music. But this week, hip-hop and rap fans lucked out; I was in the mood (and had the bandwidth) to consume it this week, and some of this new stuff inspired me to go back and listen to some of the older stuff that influenced it. Below you'll find three new releases from locally relevant and globally acclaimed hip-hop artists.
Portland Monthly called him the next big thing, and now I can see why. If you’re indeed looking for Rip City’s latest major-label rap star following Aminé, look no further than Portland-raised hip-hop artist Daniyel. The 19-year-old was recently signed to EMPIRE records, and just dropped his studio debut 82 on May 14. Daniyel lists Drake, Kanye, and Childish Gambino as major influences, as well as non-musical/non-Black icons like Jim Carrey and Steve Jobs. As one might expect, the album is named for Portland's 82nd avenue, and delves deeply into the artist’s Portland roots, going heavy on the references to Portland locations like Sandy Blvd, Kee's Loaded Kitchen, "the numbers," and his Madison High graduate status. The album also includes a bevy of protest sounds, like at the end of titular track “82ND,” which also plays on a Beastie Boys chant, and contains lyrics that go “82nd baby/Got these bitches going crazy/Hit up Kee’s on MLK/I need my chicken and my gravy.” The 10-track project has various nods to rock music, and includes previously released acclaimed singles “LOST ONES,” and the acoustic guitar-tinged “DON’T JUDGE” and “IT’S OK.” Other stand-out tracks include—well, all of it, but especially the sentimental, piano-driven "BOLD FACED TO THE SUN," “NOVACANE” and “SOMEBODY.”
The Off-Season, J. Cole
North Carolina rapper J. Cole may not be everyone's cup of tea (Pitchfork gave THE NEW ALBUM a measly 6.5), but his music is certainly my cup of tea, especially 2014's Forest Hills Drive. Spanning 12 tracks and 39 minutes, The Off-Season marks J. Cole’s sixth studio album, and the first one since 2013's Born Sinner that includes guest artists. This project is a departure from Cole's more narrative style (à la "Wet Dreamz,") in exchange for lots of clever wordplay and punchlines. Highlights from the track list include the ultra- lit album opener “95 south,” which uses a remarkably similar sample to Jay Z’s “U Don’t Know,” as well as the reflective and gospel-tinged “My Life” with 21 Savage and Morray, “Let. Go. My. Hand,” featuring Bas and 6lack, and final track “Hunger. On. Hillside,” also with Bas. You can watch the newly released music video for "Amari" below:
“Birthday Suit,” Duckwrth, Rayana Jay
Coincidentally, Duckwrth’s new single “Birthday Suit” with Rayana Jay was released on my actual Birthday, May 13. Like much of Duckwrth’s catalog, this new song is upbeat and danceable with a delicious pulsating beat, but the song’s content details a much more sensuous affair. Some of the saucy lyrics include Rayana Jay’s first verse, which begins “This ain't designer come slip inside it/Ain't gotta wear nothing at all/Say it's the tightest, perfect, a nice fit/Tailor-made, you can show it off.” Then, Duckwrth comes in at the end of Verse 1 with “If you put that cake on my face, I'll eat it all/Now the tеnsion's built up, come let me brеak the walls.”