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.
Mos Def – The Ecstatic (2009)
With news of the long awaited new Black Star album, it has been the perfect chance to return to Yasiin and Talib’s exalted classics. The Ecstatic was a great comeback for Mos and a sadly forgotten classic due to how hard it is to track down. His flow and lyrical style were a bit changed over the years, gaining some quirk and opting for less traditional songwriting. Even with a legend like Mos on the mic, production is a highlight with beats from the likes of Madlib, J Dilla, Preservation, and The Neptunes. They take you on a world tour of Afrocentric sounds which are the perfect match for Mos’ spiritual, conscious themes.
Vince Staples – Ramona Park Broke My Heart (Fresh)
Vince Staples has been on a generally downward trajectory since 2017’s Big Fish Theory. His new album is a bit more inspired, even if it’s not the raw rap classic that many feel he has the potential for. Vince instead opts for very melodic, soul infused songs which bleed together and create a pretty unique West Coast vibe. They sound like love songs, but really are all about his gangster ways and the way the hood affects us. If nothing else, Ramona Park Broke My Heart is a step in the right direction for Vince, with him sounding inspired again.
Raz Fresco – Boulangerie (Fresh)
Yet another sign of growth and diversification for Raz Fresco, Boulangerie sees him teaming with Nicholas Craven for nearly an entire album. An exclusive to his website and with a more lush, light sound than some of his other recent projects, Boulangerie is just another opportunity to hear from one of the hottest producers in the scene with the raw raps and playful flows you love Raz for. There isn’t so much of a comic book aesthetic either, so it’s good to hear him show some variety and a step towards crafting something special.
Elucid – Save Yourself (2016)
Too often written off as a sidekick of Billy Woods, Elucid actually has some phenomenal, distinct work of his own. His self production on Save Yourself is so beautifully grating and industrial, something one might not expect from a guy often associated with that boombappy “art rap” scene. His deep voice and freeform flow contrast with surprisingly empowering messages of black empowerment, new opportunities, and spiritual growth and rebirth. Elucid deserves some love as more than a filler verse artist, you just have to dig in and click with his grating style.
Trick Daddy – www.Thug.com (2001)
With Florida surprisingly short on hiphop legends, Trick Daddy really should be acknowledged more for his influence and popularity. His biggest and best album www.Thug.com, while certainly a product of the early aughts, is still a really fun listen and all about that deep south thug sound (a la Plies). With hits like “Nann N—a” with Trina, some slower introspective cuts, and appearances from the likes of Too $hort and Scarface, its a diverse, big moment for Southern hiphop. You know Trick isn’t afraid to get way too nasty with it too.