Welcome to The Rotation! Every week we drop a few albums that our writers have been bumping the most so that we can share our thoughts on stuff we might not get to review otherwise – Whether it be fresh drops, throwbacks, or underground gems.
SOB x RBE & Hit-Boy – Family, Not a Group (2019)
Consisting of Yhung TO, Slimmy B, and DaBoii (arguably the star of the group), SOB x RBE has been a consistently dope act out of The Bay. Very much a member of the new hyphy wave (consider Shoreline Mafia, 03 Greedo, Drakeo the Ruler, etc.), they bring tough trap lyrics and strong melodies. Family, Not a Group is fully produced by Hit-Boy who has been getting a lot of buzz lately for collabs with Nas, Big Sean, Benny the Butcher, etc. – But this is arguably his best project to date. He matches the Bay style perfectly, with bouncy bangers and some quirky percussion which still maintains his subtle, signature sound. Hit-Boy is certainly at his best when making harder beats, so to work with a group like SOB x RBE made for a really strong, quick listen.
The Musalini & 9th Wonder – The Don and Eye (Fresh)
Bronx rapper The Musalini has been around for awhile, but is best known for his work with Planet Asia and 38 Spesh (both of whom are featured on here) and he brings some of the coolest, most “meat and potatoes” raps in the scene. On The Don and Eye, he links with the legendary producer 9th Wonder for a small collab project. Musalini, extremely reminiscent of Ma$e or Hus Kingpin and backed by 9th Wonder’s simple mafioso beats, delivers a really enveloping pimp vibe on this album. From the pizzacato production, to his “I don’t give a fuck” flow, to the blaxploitation player themes, The Don and Eye is a really lowkey and fun listen for all the old heads.
Nardo Wick – Who is Nardo Wick? (2021)
Who is Nardo Wick? Well he’s one of the best and most promising young trap acts today. Coming out of Jacksonville Florida, he brings a unique, deep southern vibe to the typical trap formula – Including a distinct drawl and a flow which lulls behind (in an endearing way, not one which implies a lack of skill). On top of that, he has great, raw lyricism and a penchant for hooks. He definitely has a formula on some of these songs, where the hooks are similar but they have such great energy and are really catchy. His bars are straight up menacing and dirty, but also some of the most clever in the scene. This makes him a strong match for star studded features (Future, Lil Baby, Lil Durk, etc.) and contemporary Big30. The beats are synth heavy and epic sounding, mixing up the trap formula just enough. Overall, Who is Nardo Wick is an essential listen for any trap fan or looking for some refreshing talent.
Bilal – 1st Born Second
Bilal’s classic album 1st Born Second was the perfect bridge between neo-soul and hiphop. While some singers leaned heavier on R&B (D’Angelo, Badu, etc.), Bilal directly linked with contemporary Soulquarians, among others such as Dr Dre and Jadakiss even. Mos Def in particular delivers a heart wrenching, evocative feature on “Reminisce”. Bilal has some light raps himself, and a really old school, emotive singing voice which creates a great balance. The themes of blackness or simply love and heartbreak place 1st Born Second right there among other neo-soul essentials, and it all builds to the psychedelic closer which is an epic (both thematically and musically) statement of social and personal justice.
FKA Twigs – Caprisongs (Fresh)
FKA Twigs is one of the most unique and emotive artists in music today. Blending pop and R&B with glitchy electronic beats, she always pours her heart out and gets you down bad across really cohesive projects. Caprisongs generally keeps that vibe, but is a bit more casual than Magadalene, for example; It definitely feels like more of a mixtape, but that’s okay. It generally sticks to themes of romance and promiscuity, with some ear worm hooks despite how off kilter it can be. Another new idea on this tape are the British / Patois cuts where Twigs and some feature artists get grimy, Caribbean inspired sounds which she fits very well over. Overall, this might not be a masterpiece album like some of her previous work, but Caprisongs has plenty of fun cuts which we’ve been craving.