1. J. Cole- 4 Your Eyez Only– December 9
Hip Hop’s favorite average joe J. Cole certainly remained true to form with his latest album release 4 Your Eyez Only. Trust me the Carolina MC’s “average joe” tag is not a knock at all on his skillset or appeal, as Cole’s down to earth relatability is one of the key attributes that’s made him a star. Throughout the project whose title is inspired by Tupac’s classic All Eyez On Me, Cole touches on social ills such as black on black crime and racial discrimination. The smooth track “Neighbors,” sees the rapper tell a personal story of when his studio was raided by the SWAT team because neighbors in the affluent area assumed he was selling drugs to maintain his lifestyle. Also, on “She’s Mine,” Cole paints a vivid picture of love, fatherhood, and responsibility, over sonically minimalist production. In fact, the rapper/producer actually contributed his bass and guitar skills on 5 songs on the project which lacked features. 4 Your Eyez Only is not a classic by any means and is not even one of J.Cole’s top album releases, but it will serve greatly as another quality, consistent piece of work to tack onto the discography.
2. Ab-Soul- Do What Thou Wilt– December 9
“‘Do What Thou Wilt’ shall be the law of the land.” No these words did not originate from the mouth of the Black Lip Pastor, but find their birth from the rather eccentric, controversial, historical figure Aleister Crowley. The bold Englishman was known for his unorthodox, off beat views of spirituality and adoration of the devil. Yes the devil. However, despite his very odd views, especially for the time the charcater thrived in the early 20th century, the man was very influential in his promotion of individualism and self determination to the masses. Ab-Soul, as the mad scientitst of the Black Hippie/TDE collective was inspired enough by some of the man’s teachings that he decided to title his latest album after Crowley’s staple phrase. The project throughout maintains a bit of a darker tone reminiscent of classic Wu-Tang as Ab- Soul spits bars laced with esotericism and accompanied by a dash of social commentary, trees, and women. Features on the release include Schoolboy Q, Mac Miller, and Rapsody, along with several others. Additionally production on the release is handled by regular TDE in house producers Willie B and Sounwave, in addition to Mike Will Made It and more. Some standout tracks on this project are “Huey Knew,” featuring Da$h “Evil Genius,” featuring Teedra Moses and Javonte and “Lonely,” featuring First Lady of TDE SZA.
3. Dom Kennedy- Los Angeles Is Not For Sale Vol. 1– December 23
Dom Kennedy made sure to drop some more of his classic smooth vibes with his latest project Los Angeles Is Not For Sale Vol. 1. The album features the staple west coast blend of soothing melodies, whining synths, and heavy bass accompanied by lyricism perfect to just chill and enjoy a freshly rolled blunt to. Los Angeles Is Not For Sale Vol. 1 is definitely short on complexities, which have seemed to perturb more than a few, but Dom hs always seemed to place more of a focus on good vibes and simplicity and this project delivers. This album is light on the features as it only sees appearances from P-Lo, Ricky Hill, Troy Noka, and Niko G4 throught the entire duration of the 15 track project. Some cuts that standout on this project are “Dominic Pt.2,” “The 76,” and ” Since We’re Telling The Truth.”
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