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.
Nicholas Craven – Craven N 3 (Fresh)
Nicholas Craven is one of the absolute most talented producers in underground hiphop. Hailing from Montreal and most known for collaborative projects with Ransom, Mach Hommy, J.arrr, and Tha God Fahim, the Craven N series is where he gathers MCs to rip his beats on a little comp. The beginning run on here is particularly great, with features from Stove God Cook$, Boldy James, and Evidence going over such lush and light beats. Craven’s ability to make something sound so rich with keys and vocal samples – and often without drums – is amazing. He really should be one of the most sought after beat makers today, and the anticipation for his album with Your Old Droog is piqued.
Yeat – 2 Alivë (Fresh)
Yeat has had an astronomic rise in popularity just in the last few months. With a style akin to Playboi Carti or UnoTheActivist, he does some really weird stuff with his voice over bouncy, electronic, and hypnotic trap beats. His inflections are so unpredictable and high energy; He obviously hits the baby voice a lot, as well as some just ridiculous ad libs and inflections. The lyrics, though simple, can be surprisingly emotive and speak on serious issues such as addiction. Yeat is definitely an intense listening experience and an acquired taste, but he’s great at what he does.
Raekwon – Only Built for Cuban Linx pt. II (2009)
OB4CL2, as the sequel to what is inarguably one of the best hiphop albums of all time, somehow managed to fulfill its implied promise. Raekwon and co-host Ghostface Killah’s rapping aged with them like fine wine, with more decipherable bars and crime tales. The production lineup is the album’s greatest highlight though. With beats from legends such as Pete Rock, RZA, Dr Dre, and the late great J Dilla, Rae manages to have a varied, yet consistently phenomenal soundscape. There’s also “Surgical Gloves”, which remains one of The Alchemists best beats ever. There are even some more introspective moments for Rae such as “New Wu”, which speaks on the crew’s growth, and “About Me”. This is somehow a really slept on classic album.
Knxwledge – 家.V1 (Fresh)
We all know how overwhelming Knxwledge’s Badcamp can be; He has a Gucci Mane esque ability to drop little beat tape and remix comps on a more than monthly basis. Well as one of the most talented producers ever, its generally worth checking as much as you can. .V1 is definitely a standout, as it sees Knxwledge dabbling in house music. While there is a sad void of notable hip/house blending artists, this is a really fun listen. It certainly isn’t as wild as some IglooGhost, for example, as Knxwledge subtly maintains his warm, vintage hiphop vibes through these electronic and bouncy beats. Hopefully he continues to experiment with this style and is poised for some higher profile releases this year.
Young Dolph – Bulletproof (2017)
Until Young Dolph’s recent, tragic passing, he was bulletproof; The massive shootout he survived in 2017 is the stuff of legend, and he responded savagely with the new album, Bulletproof. A true middle finger to his enemies (especially with the track titles), this project is among Dolph’s best and most unique. The trap beats are somehow sparse, yet so epic and larger than life on here. The hooks are memorable and always give a stank face. The subtle autotune and Metro Boomin beat on “In Charlotte” / “But I’m Bulletproof” are a dope direction for Dolph. But it’s the intro, “100 Shots”, that remains a magnum opus in trap. With a massive, slow building beat and cold bars, Dolph cemented himself as an essential, untouchable figure in hiphop. “How the fuck you miss a whole hundred shots?”