Tyler The Creator- IGOR (Album Review)

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Tyler Gregory Okonma otherwise known as “Tyler, the Creator” is surely living up to his Nom de plume. Ever since “Bastard” dropped back in 2009, each solo outing since then has been pushing the envelope and has been gaining fans with each subsequent release.  With “Flower Boy” being his most palatable release to date for pure Hip-Hop fans, many of them began to clamor for his subsequent projects to see if he would push the boundaries once more or give a more traditional offering. By the looks of things it seems as if Tyler went FULL alternative hip-hop with his latest offering “IGOR”.

The album starts off with an “opening credits” of sorts with “IGOR’S THEME”. A heavy synth, heavy bass, heavy percussion instrumental that when you listen could absolutely envision the names of  popular actors scrolling across the screen as you begin to binge watch season one of a new series on whichever streaming service you use. Words float in and out of the track in the form of refrains but it doesn’t detract from the overall instrumental. Oh and if you were wondering who all showed up on the track, yes that is Lil Uzi Vert with the assist to Tyler. Amazing opener.

“EARFQUAKE” the album’s proper first song is a musical roller coaster. There are many peaks and valleys as voices cascade in and out of another synth heavy instrumental.  Charlie Wilson, Playboi Carti and Jessy Wilson continue the trend of uncredited collaborations but it is an added surprise. This track shows our main protagonist Igor has become smitten with the idea of courting his love interest.

“I THINK” is a funky late 80’s reminiscent track that pairs Igor with Solange as they  whimsically dance throughout the song and ponder if “they think they are falling in love”  throwing all apprehension to the wind while declaring that  “they think this is for real.” Here’s to fresh book smell love.

“RUNNING OUT OF TIME” is minimalist at best in terms of the the initial instrumentation.  It’s merely a build up though because things kick into gear through the midway point of the track as we are treated to a sonic blast of music but only enough to to whet one’s appetite as it goes back to being sparse. Jerrod Carmichael pops up with some more uncredited dialog sending you directly into the next track.

“New Magic Wand”  has a frenetic pace but it flows greatly with the distortion effect that is on Tyler’s oops I mean Igor’s voice. It seems as if Igor is beginning to have reservations of his new found love. He doesn’t understand why he can’t be with or see her 100% of the time as opposed to whenever she can. It’s high key obsessive but when it’s that new book smell love or infatuation things can get a bit blurry. Santogold pops up as the love interest in question and it drives the song to a fitting conclusion.

“A BOY IS A GUN” is thematically brilliant, production wise its very reminiscent of  Mid-era Kanye, the influence is undeniable. Narrative wise it appears that Igor and his love interest are in the throws of a relationship that is teetering on the brink of break-up.  Petty arguments, past lovers popping up. It’s all bad, words are said, you know how it goes.

“PUPPET”  is the regret portion of the break up. You know the part of the relationship when you’re the first one to break and contact the other person first. Igor is at that point where he wants her back but doesn’t know how to correctly convey those feelings. With Kanye West playing playing the role of his conscious it’s about to be a 808’s and heartbreak kind of evening for the kid. Jerrod Carmichael sweeps back in as the voice of reason, essentially telling Igor to come to his senses.

“WHAT’S GOOD”  has Igor getting his “swag back” so to speak as he speeds off into the sunset after realizing that it’s truly over with him and his lady. In true bravo fashion, he spends the entire track being tough and boastful and ends up getting into a car accident.

“GONE GONE/THANK YOU” is the part of the grief  where Igor has to come to terms with the fact that they are truly no good for one another and must make peace with what was and what ultimately will never be. Although it is a “L” for him emotionally, there is a lesson learned.

“I DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE” is the final part of the closure that Igor is searching for and seems to have found. He realizes that yes it is okay to move on as there are definitely, other fish in the sea. It’s best to gather oneself, regroup, retool, and keep it pushing, its ok to love again in the future when the time is right. Right?

“ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?” Igor still wants to still be friends with the girl that broke his heart. Again this is a classic post break-up maneuver.  Unless its an amicable split, I do not recommend this. I repeat Do Not Do This, It usually doesn’t end well for any parties involved. If it was a clean break, consider that a blessing and move on.

In ending, “IGOR” as an album was a very enjoyable listen. As as a concept album the narrative stretched across two or three acts depending on how you want to look it at it.  It feel like it’s a spiritual precursor to 808’s and Heartbreak while simultaneously being a successor. The album ultimately achieves its overall mission of adding context to the stages of  relationships. It’s by no means a situation that everyone goes through or want to admit to going through but I’m sure at some point, we’ve all been there and we can all relate. Well done Tyler.

 

J Dilla’s Lasting Legacy

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James Dewitt Yancey was born on February 7th 1974.  What he was able to achieve in terms of musical progression in the 32 years that he was allotted on this earth was quite simply amazing. From original compositions and remixes in the mid to late 90’s to jaw dropping, mind-boggling soundscapes of the early 00’s, Dilla’s penchant for pushing boundaries is that something that is still lauded and awe-inspiring to this day, even 12 years after his death.

As as a youngster discovering sounds and more importantly Hip-Hop for the first time, I was introduced to J Dilla’s work long before I knew who he was. Listening to the likes of A Tribe Called Quest, The Pharcyde, Busta Rhymes, Erykah Badu, The Roots and D’Angelo I had no idea that many of the songs that I loved from these artists were in fact produced by him. It wasn’t until early in my college career that I discovered the man behind many of the songs that I deemed classics. If it wasn’t for “J.J.” I seriously doubt that I would have made those connections when I did, so for that I’m forever grateful.

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Once that light bulb went on however, I did my Due DILLAgence and began searching, scouring the net,  the brick and mortar stores and iTunes at the time for all things Jay Dee related. From there I really got into Madlib and Nujabes, the former is one who I strongly consider to be a direct contemporary. It was no coincidence that right after I had that thought, I came across “Champion Sound” which was sadly Jaylib’s lone collaborative project. It is a technical marvel in terms of sound and is rightfully considered an underground classic.

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Slum Village-Fan-Tas-Tic Vol.1

Slum Village was another important pickup for me while I was “digging” so to speak. “Fan-tas-tic Vol. 1” was the one that I gravitated toward, falling in love with the minimalist approach to crafting songs. “Welcome To Detroit” was yet another album that I have a ton of respect for. For me it sounded like more of what I was accustomed to in terms of the Slum sound and was a great addition to an already stellar catalog.  While listening to Slum Village, I was introduced to Elzhi and Black Milk.

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Khrysis and Elzhi are “Jericho Jackscon”

Even though most of Elzhi’s work was on subsequent Slum Village albums after Jay Dee’s departure from the group, there was still a bevy of material to sift through with Elzhi tearing apart Dilla Beats.  “Villa Manifesto” was the last time all four members of Slum Village were featured on a single project…Rest In Peace Baatin.  Even with the album pictured above that was released on February 23rd, 2018 the legacy lives on with Elzhi sounding as sharp as ever while Khrysis crafts beats that are reminiscent of  Dilla’s early work.

 

 

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Karriem Riggins- Headnod Suite

When “Headnod Suite” dropped on February 24th 2017, I declared then that if  J Dilla were alive today and dropped “Donuts 2”, It would sound exactly like this. From the chopped up loops, to abrupt breaks or “perfect mistakes” as I call them, It is abundantly clear that Mr. Riggins  has studied the techniques very closely and has arguably perfected the sound altogether. It’s also no coincidence that Karriem Riggins was entrusted with completing “The Shining” which was unfortunately only 75% completed at the time of Dilla’s passing.

 

Black Milk Fever
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As mentioned earlier, while listening to Slum Village I discovered Black Milk while reading through the liner notes. Determined not to make the same mistake I did with J Dilla, I immediately bought “Popular Demand” and was blown away.  Any album that he has dropped since Dilla has passed has felt like he picked up the mantle of pushing boundaries musically. Every album sounds and feels different sonically.  The “Fever” album also dropped on February 23rd, 2018 and I implore all of you to go give this album a spin, you will not be disappointed.

 

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In ending, The words above summarizes my senitments on J Dilla entirely, to quote Black Thought’s heart-felt and soul stirring voicemail from the song “Can’t Stop This” he states:

“My man, JD, was a true hip hop artist
… I can’t explain the influence that
His mind and ear have had on my band
Myself and the careers of so many other
Artists.
 The most humble, modest, worthy

And gifted beatmaker I’ve known. And
Definitely the best producer on the mic
Never without that signature smile and head
Bouncin’ to the beat.
 JD had a passion for

Life and music, and will never be forgotten
He’s a brother that was loved by me, and I
Love what he’s done for us. And though I’m
Happy he’s no longer in the pain he’d been
Recently feelin’, I’m crushed by the pain of
His absence.
 Name’s Dilla Dog and I can only
Rep the real and raw.
 My man, Dilla, rest in

Peace.”

As I sit here 12 years after J Dilla’s passing, I can’t help but wonder where he would have taken music had he still been with us. What new technique would he have invented that would have changed the landscape entirely. J Dilla did indeed change my life, he changed the way I heard and understood music. He made me study music theory just so I could have a better appreciation of 3 second sample from an obscure record placed at an unconventional section that would normally destroy the structure of a song. A practice that if done by anybody else during that time, I’m not sure that it would have been executed with such precision. James Dewitt Yancey was born on February 7th 1974.  He was truly a one of one the likes of which we will most likely never see again…Maybe in our next lifetime.

The RapNerd’s Lament…

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“A Sad Man” by Javi Velazquez

 

As a life long fan of Hip-Hop, I find myself at a point where I’m extremely conflicted. Although my love for the art form has not wavered, I have begun to question much of the content and intent that has pervaded the mass consciousness of general music listeners. The more I listen, the more I absorb, the more I begin to realize a harsh truth. A truth that many will often defend to the point of being obnoxious, ignorant, selfish or just flat-out wrong. The truth is that we as a Hip-Hop Community hates women, Women in general but Black Women specifically.

On The Diplomats song “Once Upon A Time” Cam’Ron rapped:

“Welcome back to the hallway loiterers
I made mills off the white girl, I exploited her
No disrespecting the ladies, word from my team (why)
That’s the reason Dame smacked Harvey Weinstein.”

By now we should all know about the monster that is Harvey Weinstein and he deserves every punishment that can be given to him. While what Cam rapped about was something commendable on Dame’s behalf, I couldn’t help but think about all the times I went crazy every time “Wet Wipes” or  “Suck It Or Not” was played back in 2007. In 2018 I looked back on those songs began to cringe profusely.  I began to wonder how many men in their early 20’s 10 years ago feel the same way now as I do. As the conversation shifts ever so violently toward women’s rights. I found myself pondering what role if any does Hip-Hop play in the sphere of Misogynoir.

For those of you that don’t know, Misogynoir is defined as; misogyny directed towards black women where race and gender both play roles in bias. To break that down further, Misogyny is defined as; the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women or girls.  Now when you take those definitions and apply them to the current landscape of Mainstream Hip-Hop (the most listened to genre of music in the world at the present day) There is a very serious issue that stands before us. How many times have we as fans been complicit in the systemic tearing down of black women?

Through the music we have allowed ourselves to fall victim to the politics of respectability. The medium of music videos has done more to marginalize black women. Entire social media and terrestrial media platforms have been created to further drive home that point. So much so, that we as consumers believe that any woman who is apart of these platforms is of low moral standing. We as a community has allowed this to happen.

Another branch of the misogynior tree is rape culture. To make it plain and simple, anytime a woman is forced, or coerced into sex without her consent is rape period. In a world where words or phrases like “thot”, “scrapes”, “stabs”, and “hoes” have become normal jargon, it can blind you to the fact that women, Black women are the targets of these words more times than not. When Rick Ross rapped:

“Put Molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it
I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it
Got a hundred acres I live on, you ain’t even know it
Got a hundred rounds in this AR, you ain’t even know it
Got a bag of bitches I play with, on cloud 9 in my spaceship”

he knowingly shared his tactics with us on how he beds women,and all we did was nod along and ran the song back.

There are varying degrees to which we as black men have been complicit with notions and concepts that are less than becoming or savory. Degrees that none of us are exempt from. As I sit here and continue to ponder, I ask myself, where did much is this originate from? On Kid Cudi’s song , “Make Her Say(Poke Her Face)” A song literally about receiving oral pleasure, Conscious Stalwart Common once implored women to “get their hair right and get up on this conscious dick”.  In that verse he answers a poignant question, while “Embodying everything from the Godly to the party” when he finally spit, “that’s the way I was raised in this Southside safari so….” That led me to believe that this has been passed down through generations as misogynoir normally is.

In ending, as I continue this mental exercise, I’m finding myself more confused than when I began. Where is the balance? How do I continue down this path of musical freedom while also being aware that Black Women continue to be marginalized? It’s literally coming from all sides. How do we raise this generation of young girls and boys? when is it the right time to expose them to the art form? While it is beautiful at its core, there is a bunch of muck that surrounds it. Muck that is profitable, Muck that is vibrationally frequent , Muck that is universal.

KayFabe and Hip-Hop

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In professional wrestling, kayfabe /ˈkeɪfeɪb/ is the portrayal of staged events within the industry as “real” or “true”, specifically the portrayal of competition, rivalries, and relationships between participants as being genuine and not of a staged or predetermined nature of any kind. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Doesn’t that sound like something that is enjoyed by billions throughout the globe? Yes my friends, I am talking about The Sports Entertainment world known as Hip-Hop. While the culture and essence of Hip-Hop is still very much intact, The advent of “beef for profit’ has been something that  many of the labels have sought after since the first Hip-Hop record was sold.

When Hip-Hop was in its infancy in the late 70’s and Early 80’s, the life blood of the art form was based widely on competition and crew rivalries(Factions). During that time battles took place within the boroughs to see who could lay claim to the proverbial throne. As Hip-Hop fought for acceptance and viability, it wouldn’t be long before labels came calling, seeking to cash in on what would later on become known as manufactured beef.

Much like Wrestling, Hip-Hop is littered with “BabyFaces” and “Heels”.  As early as the 80’s you had your “Face Rappers” like Will Smith and Young MC while “Heel Rappers” could be seen as Ice T and NWA. While the face rappers were radio friendly and safe for mainstream ears, It was the heel rappers that gave Rap its edge and street cred during that time. It was cool to root for NWO and DX…oops I meant NWA and Public Enemy.

On the T.I. track “Tell’em I Said That” he rapped:

Please pay attention to this part of the bull
One time got robbed got shot got shook
Got a job started rhymin’ came up with a hook
Got a chain and some tats came up with a look
Went and made it here
Workin’ talk tough in a book
F*** the image and perception they never tough as they look

This quote from the album “T.I. vs. T.I.P” succinctly describes the current era of  Hip-Hop. The “Image” is what the label heads are trying to sell the consumer on a daily basis as it churns out act after act. In true Kayfabe fashion, many of the artists don’t bother to separate fiction from reality instead they straddle the line. “Am I really this mega rich, doped up superstar?, Or am I just a actor?” Now some may view this as pure conjecture but to the impressionable, try telling them that wrestling…err..um..Rap is fake.

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When the Drake and Meek beef took place, both artists positioned and postured themselves with a story line that seemed like it was ripped straight from the WWE writer room. While Drake used the Titantron…Shucks I meant the OVOFest screen to get at Meek, Meek cut instagram promos like a true mid carder trying to get over and make it to the main roster. Was it good clean fun for those few days that it occurred, sure but how many of us really believed that any kind of real harm would come to either one of them during this spat.

 

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The Lil Wayne and Birdman situation is something I would liken to the “Montreal Screw Job”. Vince McMahon has been billed as a true heel in the industry and the way he treats his artists….I’m sorry I mean wrestlers… is something that is akin to Birdman. Weezy to me is The Brett Hart of the Rap game and was forced to put other rappers over while his own product suffered.

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2017 gave us another WWE like feud…and it even included microphones being tossed on the floor! Again it was mindless fun like an episode of  Raw or Smackdown but for some reason many of us thought there was a legitimate threat of  a real altercation. No Such luck, just more comedic fodder to create memes and music.

In Ending, there is much to love about about both mediums. Both have their merits and adversely both are not without flaw. The gangsters are hyper gangsters while the more gentle rappers are damn near priests on the mic. As the veil of mystery and secrecy has all but dissolved between artist and consumer, it seems to me that the Rap Kayfabe machine has gone into overdrive. We create hashtags out of catchphrases, we walk around in our favorite wrestlers (there I go again) rappers merch, and throw up their gang signs in our pictures. To be clear there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a good time connecting with our favorite artist but we must always remember to take a step back and see it for what it truly is…..Music Entertainment.

 

 

 

The 18 For 2018: The Antcipated

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2018 is looking like it’s shaping up to be another one for the record books. 2017 was an awesome year musically, but it felt like something was missing. I can’t fully place my finger on it but when compared to years like 2015 or 2012, there was a significant dip. 2018 to me feels like there will be much more of a balance and we’ll get stellar releases from Vets and Rookies alike…Below are 18 of the drops I’m looking forward to. Here’s to a most fire 2018!!!

 

1. Nipsey Hussle-Victory Lap

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Finalllllly!…..Nipsey is dropping arguably his most anticipated album of his career. I say arguably because this is literally HIS FIRST ALBUM of his career. Although he has given us a slew of stellar mixtapes and projects…This looks like it will shape up to be a most fitting end to the marathon.

 

2. Lupe Fiasco- DROGAS Wave

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2017’s Drogas Light  yielded mixed reviews from the supremely talented lyricist.  Admittedly he said that the release was purposefully “light” and that the follow up would be a lot more dense and would be what Lupe stalwarts have grown accustomed to. Either way you look at, I viewed Drogas Light as the warm-up and I’m expecting Drogas Wave to exceed expectations…Possible album of the year.

 

3.  Maxo Kream- Punken

 

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If  I was Dr. Jeykll, Maxo Kream would without a doubt be Mr. Hyde. I have often referred to him as my Rap Doppelganger.  Since 2013’s QuiccStrikes I’ve been down with the Kream Klicc so to speak and each release has gotten better.  Expect this album to rattle trunks sooner than later.

 

4. Black Panther: The Album 

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Marvel’s Black Panther has already been forecast as 2018’s First Blockbuster, making well over $100 Million dollars opening weekend. In Recent news, Kendrick Lamar and TDE have been pegged to curate/helm the soundtrack. Based on the sound of the first single “All The Stars” Black Panther will be a moment…An Epic Moment…I  Cannot Wait!

 

 

5. PRHYME- PRHYME 2

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DJ Premier and Royce Da 5’9 are PRHYME. When their eponymous debut came out in 2014, It literally took the year by storm and it was highly ranked in many year end lists. Its been a long 4 years since then so hopefully we’ll get this project sooner than later.

 

6. Travis Scott-Astroworld

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I am here for anything La Flame decides to give…Even the Huncho Jack offering with Quavo has grown on me. So with that being said…Astroworld is the place where The Birds in the trap sing McKnight.

 

7. Drake-TBD

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On Drake’s Playlist “More Life” he said “he’d be back in 2018 to give us the summary”.  Welp, who knows how far into 2018 we will get until we get a proper Drake album…Here’s hoping he comes back with and drops a classic.

 

8.  Judas Priest- Firepower

 

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I must admit I cackled when I saw this purposed cover art for the the forthcoming Judas Priest album…It does give me that feel of 80’s hair metal and that’s something I’m definitely here for. Don’t be surprised if you see me around town in full air guitar mode. It’s bound to happen so you’ve been warned.

 

9. BrockHampton- Team Effort

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After their breakout monster year, Hip-Hop’s first(?) boy band BrockHampton will drop their 4th album in a years time. Team Effort will look to further solidify the group as a true force in Music and satiate their ever growing rabid fan base.

 

10.  Jack White-Boarding House Reach

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Whew its been Four years since Jack White released Lazoretto…but I’m proud to say that the wait is now over. I’m honestly not sure what to expect from this upcoming album so that by itself has me intrigued.

 

11. Elzhi/Khrysis- Jericho Jackson

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2018 will also see the continuing trend of One MC/One Producer led projects. Khrysis who is fresh off his Grammy Nods for his work on Laila’s Wisdom will jump back behind the boards to give underrated wordsmith Elzhi some top notch beats to lace time and time again…Another early contender for Album of the Year.

 

12. Gucci Mane- Evil Genius

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There is no slowing down for La Flare. Fresh off of a normal year which saw 3 releases, Gucci Mane has already announced another album for 2018. I know I’m speaking for myself but I really enjoyed El Gato and I would not mind getting another offering from Guwop without any features.

 

13.  Kid Cudi-TBD

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Hey!, Mr. Raaager, Mr.Rager
Tell me where you’re going, tell us where you’re headed”

The rumor mills are churning with speculation that Kid Cudi and Kanye West are working on a album together. I don’t know about you but an entire project with Cudder and Kanye is going to be a must listen whenever it drops.

 

14. Lil Wayne-Dedication 6: Reloaded

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Dedication 6 showed flashes of the brilliance that still exist within Wayne and still gives me hope that his title of Greatest Rapper Alive remains. “Family Feud”  only further bolstered that notion for me and only brought up my anticipation factor to astronomical levels. If I get at least 10 “freestyles” like Family Feud, I’ll be more than comfortable saying Weezy is back.

 

15.  Cardi B-TBD

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2017 brought Cardi B her first number one song in the country. That momentum should carry her into 2018 with her Debut album that will probably drop late in the first quarter. I’m excited hear the growth and the content to see if she will be a mainstay in the mainstream for years to come.

 

16.  Key!-777DS5Rrv6VMAAbkjI

 

Fatman is back with some new material on the horizon. 2017 saw the release of  Two-9’s album along with frequent collaborations with the A$AP affiliate “AWGE”. It’s great to see Key! get much deserved shine and as of yet, He has not dropped one bad song.

 

17.  A$AP Rocky-TBD

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A$AP Rocky is primed and ready for another solo release.  Its been 3 years since his last solo outing and while it may be have been deemed too artistic for some. It was still lauded as a brilliant addition to his catalog. Look for something epic to drop soon.

 

18. Pusha T- King Push

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This is one of my main question marks for 2018. Along with Tha Carter V, King Push is the now long awaited 2nd LP from Pusha T. If this year comes and goes without this album dropping…I will officially cast it away to DetoxLand…Never to be spoke of again.