SiR has been relatively quiet since he dropped off his TDE debut, November, last year, but thankfully that looks to be changing here later this week. The Inglewood artist just announced that he’s releasing a new single with Kendrick Lamar this Thursday called “Hairdown.”
"#HAIRDOWN feat. @kendricklamar this Thursday! Drop a 🏷 in the comment if you're ready!” he captioned the Instagram post, while sharing the artwork and a teaser. “I been goin' silly for the Westside (Westside),” SiR effortlessly croons before the clip abruptly ends (see below).
The single will presumably be the first single off his upcoming sophomore album, which will be released later this year his new home at RCA Records.
“Thank you all for your continued support. Excited for the next step in my journey,” he wrote while announcing his new signing at RCA Records today. Check it all out (below) and look for the new K.Dot single to impact later this week. Who's excited to hear some new TDE from SiR & Kendrick?
ScHoolboy Q’s Albums, Ranked
Now that there’s been ample time to digest “CrasH Talk”, we’ve delved into Groovy Q’s back catalog to rate his projects in order of greatness.
ScHoolboy Q has always struck an intriguing balance between affability and intensity. Away from the studio, his social media presence provides a window into a life that’s typified by day-to-day family duties, a near-obsessive penchant for golf, and an infectious love of ridiculing everything and everyone in his immediate vicinity. But when it comes time to hit the booth, the fun and games recede and the pursuit for a new creative vein begins. During a recent visit to Sean Evans’ renowned internet talk show/culinary torture chamber Hot Ones, Groovy Q explained the impractical but effective refinement process that his music undergoes:
“My whole thing now with music is making sure that this album don’t sound like that album. That’s why I always do like two albums before I actually finalize an album and they’re always pretty trash. I think it’s the one I get on Twitter or something like ‘album coming soon!” Yeah right, that was the first album… then we go to the second album. Then I finally figure it out and that mother***r be like 3, 2 years later (laughs).”
Afflicted with the self-doubt and crippling indecision that comes with perfectionism, ScHoolboy Q’s career has followed a recurring year-long pattern of hypervisibility that soon transitions into an extended absence from the spotlight – the regeneration period. Save for sporadic features, Q is and always has been a rapper whose primary motivation is to be an album artist. Much like the vast majority of his TDE cohorts, the Figg street native has a keen understanding of why producing fully-realized anthologies is more conducive to a legacy than saturating the marketplace.
If history has taught us anything, the release of April’s CrasH Talk will lead to extensive touring before Q nestles back into the restorative comfort of hibernation for another couple of years. As a result, it’s a fine time to take a stroll back through Q’s tales of dope dealing and deep-seated duality from Los Angeles’ treacherous inner city and rank his albums in order of perennial greatness. In the interest of clarity, this article will look directly at his canon of major releases, and thus mixtapes such as Gangsta & Soul and ScHoolboy Turned Hustla are omitted from examination.
Rich Fury/Getty Images
5. Setbacks (2011)
Far more than an inconsequential album title, Setbacks is a characterization of Schoolboy Q’s journey from the outset. Whether fostered by his own ill judgment–such as the days where he was slacking on music in favor of veering back into hustling– or the untimely death of his “brutHa” Mac Miller, life has a knack of throwing cumbersome obstacles in the way of the Black Hippy stalwart. In a 2012 interview with Complex, Q explained his need to broach these issues head-on through his music and extricate any lingering self-pity from his psyche:
““The concept behind Setbacks was [to talk about] all the shit that’s the reason why I can’t rap. The reason I can’t accomplish what I want to accomplish is because I’m doing all this dumb shit. I put it all together on the album. Like, “Druggys With Hoes,” I’m out here drugging and I’m not even trying to fuck with hoes. “Kamikaze,” I’m not even trying to rap—keep going broke. Different shit like that, I sum it up all in one album.”
Prone to bouts of self-destruction but all too aware of the institutionalized traps that he’s falling into, ScHoolboy Q gives audiences the first no-holds-barred account of the mixed messages ravaging his mind. Split between the gripping lucidity of “Cycle”, “Kamikaze” and the K-Dot aided “Birds and The Beez” and the chemically induced escapism of “To THa Beat”, “IBETiGOTSUMWEED” and the inaugural Soulo team-up of “Druggys Wit Hoes,” Setbacks is a vivid portrait of a man stuck in a near-constant stage of confliction. An unhibited romp through the early 10’s hip-hop landscape, Setbacks is anchored by magnetic flashes of the superstar that he’d become in a mere matter of years.
Essential Tracks: Figg Get The Money, Kamikaze, BETiGOTSUMWEED, Druggies Wit Hoes, Cycle, Birds And The Beez
4. CrasH Talk (2019)
Three years can equate to the lifespan of an artist’s entire career. Thankfully for Quincy Hanley, his fanbase’s foundations go deeper than most. Declared as 90-95% done by Top Dawg way back in August of last year, audiences were on tenterhooks as they awaited the fifth batch of Groovy Q’s unflinching hood chronicles. Conceived as a way to “please yourself more than you please others” and dispense with appealing to reviewers, his fifth project is the sound of a contented Q, albeit one teetering a little closer to autopilot than we’ve grown accustomed to. The resulting CrasH Talk isn’t short on the substance or style that he’s so lauded for, but it remains hampered by notable lapses in focus. For those that flock to Q’s projects in search of frank ghetto reportage and dense, skulking production, tracks such as “Gang Gang”, “Tales” and “Die Wit Em” have you covered. Elsewhere, “Dangerous” and “Attention” find the Hoover Crip in contemplative form as he takes stock of his ascent to fame, rationalizing a new life where he’s getting praise from Nas and Jay.
CrasH Talk’s stumbling blocks come in the form of an overabundance of guest stars that cloud the record’s vision and leaves Q’s fifth project feeling a little out of whack. Although it’s by no means a bad project, the disappointment that many fans expressed was ultimately born from an overwhelming sense of post-Blank Face expectation that had been placed upon him. By the time he re-emerges again, it’s hard to imagine that there’ll be anything other than an uncontainable fire lit under Schoolboy Q that’ll debunk any accusations of complacency.
Essential Tracks: Gang Gang, Tales, Numb Numb Juice, Dangerous, Die Wit Em, Water, Attention
3. Habits & Contradictions (2012)
If Setbacks acted as the embryonic variant of the sound that would garner him worldwide acclaim, its spiritual and literal successor Habits & Contradictions is Schoolboy Q’s artistic coming-of-age. A strutting and imposing body of work that presented Q as a force to be reckoned with, it’s an album predestined for classic status when examined through a wide-range lens. Fashioned at the tail end of the cloud-rap boom, the production is a blistering mix of electronica-infused haziness and anthemic, trunk-thumping bangers, collectively sculpted by Mike Will Made It, Lex Luger, The Alchemist and TDE’s in-house team of sonic wizards. Wrought with emotion one moment and drug-induced bravado the next, his pull-no-punches lyricism and engaging delivery shows off a versatility only equaled by his sense of inner turmoil.
Where’d he’d previously been preoccupied with other concerns, Habits & Contradictions is the first time Q was locked in with the level of artistic single-mindedness that would come to evolve and shape his finest work. At over an hour in duration, there are moments where a shrewder outlook could’ve forced him to trim the fat, but the good vastly outweighs the bad. Poised at a crossroads between the music biz fame that he’d coveted and the malevolent allure of the streets, Q’s creativity seems limitless in the opening six-track salvo. Loaded with songs for the hedonists, the HiiiPowered, and the gang-affiliated, Habits & Contradictions set the pace that Q has been trying his utmost to keep ever since.
Essential Tracks: There He Go, Hands On The Wheel, Oxy Music, Sexting Druggys Wit Hoes Again, Blessed, 2 Raw
2. Oxymoron (2014)
Recorded in the year following Kendrick Lamar’s seminal Good Kid M.A.A.D City, Schoolboy Q freely admitted to HipHopDX that his TDE running mate’s universally acclaimed album forced him to double down and bring his A-game. “It’s competition,” he remarked, “I gotta be better than his shit or just as good. It has to be just as good or better. Kendrick, at the rate he doin and progressin’ in this music, is inspiring. It’s crazy. I’m glad he dropped [good kid, m.A.A.d city]. If he didn’t drop that album, there’s no telling how good my album woulda been.”
Declared to be a “better” album by none other than Mac Miller, ScHoolboy Q’s Oxymoron is the crown jewel of his trilogy on human duplexity. Brought to life by the chaotic “Gangsta,” Groovy Q had fans hook line and sinker from the jump, kicking off a record with many of the finest tracks he’s ever committed to tape. Where K-Dot dedicated an entire album to exploring his tempestuous upbringing, Q made his own autobiographical origin story in the sprawling seven-minute epic “Hoover Street,” proving that he could dabble in the same artfully-minded terrain as K-Dot, only with an added level of visceral realism on “Prescription/Oxymoron.” While the album provides us with unabridged memoirs of his descent into addiction and learning morality in a world where crime is seen as the only escape route, that doesn’t mean that he’s taken the foot off the gas when it comes to providing succinct bursts of high-energy gangsta rap.
Dripping in swagger and self-assurance, “Man Of The Year”, “Break The Bank” and the Jay Rock-assisted “Los Awesome” reaffirmed that he’s far more than the iconic adlib that had threatened to define him after GKMC’s release. “Fuck LA” “Blind Threats” and “The Purge” offer up forward-thinking gangsta rap far beyond a re-tread of what his Crip & Blood predecessors had laid out in a bygone era. Although most of the album’s duration finds Schoolboy Q at stratospheric heights of creativity, it is proscribed from the top spot due to the fact that its filler tracks such as “What They Want” & “His & Her Friend” are more listless than anything found on his magnum opus. But that said, most of the record’s tracklist portrays Q as a genuine top contender in the modern hip-hop realm. So, while Oxymoron fulfilled its purpose by any conventional metric, it didn’t quite meet the criteria of equalling what Kendrick accomplished on GKMC. Luckily for Q, his own entry into the pantheon of west coast rap masterpieces would arrive two years later.
Essential Tracks: Gangsta, Los Awesome, Collard Greens, Hoover Street, Prescription/Oxymoron, The Purge, Blind Threats, Break The Bank, Man Of The Year, Fuck LA.
1. Blank Face LP (2016)
Left bedraggled by a year’s worth of living out of airplanes and tour buses, Quincy Hanley found himself questioning his priorities. Fearful that the globe-trotting alter-ego ScHoolboy Q was beginning to seize the controls from the man with real-life responsibilities, he told MTV News that he was on the cusp of calling it quits in favor of a humbler life. “I stepped away from music for a little bit,” he recalled. “I toured a whole year. When I came back, my daughter was doing different things, talking different. I’m at the crucial years of her life — she’s only seven years old, so every time I’m gone for a certain amount of time, I come back, she’s doing something new. I got kind of tired of missing that. I almost quit rap. Almost. It almost happened.”
Thankfully, Q found it within himself to clamber from the funk and head back into the trenches, yielding the finest project of his career to date. Simply put, 2016’s Blank Face LP is ScHoolboy’s ultimate gangsta rap symphony, and could easily stand alongside the best albums the sub-genre has ever produced. At a time when a new creative purple patch in hip-hop was gathering steam, a former honor student turned drug pusher crafted a conceptual piece free of eye-roll-worthy pretension or needless esoterica. Over the course of 18 tracks, ScHoolboy Q uses his own transgressions as allegories that allowed the audience to see themselves in both his struggles and triumphs. Whether you were raised in Q’s backyard or spent your whole life in the picket-fenced splendor of suburbia, The Blank Face LP took you into the darkest corners of his mind and allowed no-one to leave unscathed or any less than entertained.
While it took his usual thematic underpinning to newfound levels, Q’s directness remains undiluted on cuts such as “Groovy Tony/Eddie Kane”, “Tookie Knows Pt 2”, and the mesmerizing “By Any Means.” Backed up by fellow Crip alum Vince Staples on the colossal “Ride Out,” Q’s well-documented belief in humanity’s paradoxical nature allows him to make an earnest cry for a ceasefire on “Black THougHts” without coming across as anything less than sincere. Elsewhere, Q uses the record to build inroads between generations by bringing the Dogg Pound aboard for the Tyler, The Creator produced “Big Body” before himself and the Bay’s E-40 trade slang on “Dope Dealer.” Whilst Kanye’s feature on “THat Part” and the Miguel & Justine Skye team-up of “Overtime” feel like they primarily exist to appease the label’s need for singles, these are small concessions to make when Q is treating the audience to tracks that are as wholly sublime and unfalteringly brilliant as “Str8 Ballin”, “Neva Change” and the sensory bombardment of “JoHn Muir.”
Across 72 captivating minutes, Groovy Q provides us with a sonically and topically diverse showpiece as seminal to the streets as it is to critics of all creeds and denominations. An album that feels as vital today as it did upon first playthrough, Q could spend his whole career without surpassing this project and it wouldn’t feel like a waste.
Essential Tracks: Lord Have Mercy, Groovy Tony/Eddie Kane, Ride Out, By Any Means, Dope Dealer, JoHN Muir, Big Body, Neva CHange, Str8 Ballin, Black THougHts, Blank Face, Tookie Knows Pt II.
What’s your favourite Schoolboy Q album? Sound off below:
Quiz: Which Black Hippy Member Are You?
Find out if you’re more like K. Dot, Groovy Q, Jay Rock or Soul Brotha #2.
Black Hippy is one of the most eclectic quartets in hip-hop. It’s what made them such a strong unit when they first came out the gate in the 2000s. Everyone has their own type of energy and ultimately has their own role within Top Dawg Entertainment. Of course, Kendrick Lamar leads the pack as the most commercially successful artist but that wouldn’t have happened without Jay Rock opening the gates early on. Ab-Soul and ScHoolboy were later additions to the crew but not only did they bring new energy to the label, but to the rap game as a whole.
Each member of Black Hippy is an entity of their own right. They have their own distinct personalities which established them as solo artists but when they come together, they become a force to be reckoned with.
We’ve created a quiz for you to find out who in TDE you are. Peep the quiz below.
Reason Talks "Dreamers 3" Ruthless Cutting Process & Reveals Favorite Verse
"There's gon' be some n***as that were there for ten days who not on the project."
Top Dawg & some Dreamers, can't believe it, we surprise-prised. By now, you've likely heard "Lambo Truck," which finds Cozz and Reason waxing poetic about robbing J. Cole. The product of Revenge Of The Dreamers 3, the single served as the album's third track, emerging as a highlight for many. Now, Reason took to Twitter to open up about his experience at the legendary sessions. "It's real weird when the top men walk in," he reflects. "When T.I, when Ross walk in. When Wale walk in. Shit like that. It's weird, you got n***as in these studio sessions with 2,000 followers, legitimately working with n***as that got three million followers." He laughs, rubbing his growing-beard. "I was in there working. This 'divorce look' l got here, this was my shit I was on."
When asked how a rapper might find their way on a given track, Reason sheds some light on his experience. "To be honest, that was the dopest part of competitive nature," he explains. "A beat would go on, and honestly, the first n***a that finish a verse get the verse. It still gotta be quality." When asked if he ever had a verse taken off, he claims he hasn't - at least, not to his knowledge.
And while the final album only featured a single Reason contribution, the man clearly used his time wisely, emerging from the Dreamers 3 sessions with heat in the stash. "Me and Wale did two joints," he reveals. "I did a lot of records, bro. I probably never rapped that much in a short period of time." One of his crew asks which rapper went on to steal the show, prompting Reason to show some love to the big homie Bas. "Probably Bas, on this record ["Down Bad"]. Bas came on, on this record that was all Dreamville n***as. Bas came on this bitch snapping. That's the energy it was on. Just competitive. You had to show up with shit...there's gon' be some n***as that were there for ten days who not on the project."
He doubles down, emphasizing the high bar for quality. "Most n***as that was there for ten days not going to be on the project!" he says. A woman asks him what he might have done, had he been excluded from the final cut. For Reason, the answer is simple: "diss records might fly."
SZA Steals The Show With Summery Bikini Photos
SZA flexes her summertime goals in a checkered bikini.
We’re hoping that we get a new SZA album before the end of the year and although that’s not looking entirely likely, we’re still getting periodical updates from the star. The TDE singer absolutely blew up after the release of CTRL and since then, she’s been following up on her success, teasing A from time to time. SZA has hinted in the past that her next album will be her last and while we don’t want her musical career to come to an end, we’re craving some new tunes from the superstar. She made sure to update her Instagram page with recent photos of herself, proving that she’s in good spirits and thinking positively.
Last week, the songstress took a trip to a waterfall, lounging in the water and enjoying life. “MENTAL HEALTH AND FAMILY ABOVE ALL THINGS,” she wrote on one picture, posing by the rocks. Her trip appears to have been refreshing with her latest upload coming today. She posted an image of herself in a checkered bikini, another waterfall pic and a video of one of her family members doing a backflip into the water. Hopefully, SZA feels confident and can continue to blow us away with her incredible vocals.
Are you hoping for a new album this year?
Dreamville’s "ROTD3" Brought Out The Best In Every Artist On The Project
One could arguably say that the age of record label loyalty is either on the decline or is just over altogether. There were days in hip hop history where artists would “ride or die”—quite literally—for the labels who represented them musically. Death Row, Aftermath, Bad Boy, Ruff Ryders, Shady, Roc Nation, and countless others paraded star-studded rosters of chart-topping, incredibly talented artists that they flaunted to the world. These labels are more than music. They are families.
However, the advancement of the internet and social media culture has made it easier for artists to reach the masses without the backing or approval of a record label. Of course, many of the labels aforementioned still exist and are thriving, but Soundcloud and Instagram artists are becoming famous without help from managers or music executives as they rake in millions of streams and stacks of cash. As wonderful as that is for artists as they take control of their own careers, there is still something about being apart of a team, especially one that’s led by a visionary, in the music industry.
Take Dreamville, for example. They aren’t the only record label with an increasing stronghold in the game (TDE, anyone?), but label head J. Cole is making sure he carefully crafts a roster that is weighted with substance. Because his personal reputation is rooted in witty lyricism, quality productions, and navigating his place in the hip hop industry with precision and respect, Dreamville was already alluring. The fact that Cozz, EarthGang, Ari Lennox, Omen, Lute, J.I.D, and Bas just happen to be uniquely skilled in what they do is the icing on the cake.
Revenge of The Dreamers III may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it would be hard-pressed to find someone who wasn’t impressed by Dreamville’s latest effort. DaBaby has been living his best life as “Suge” has topped the charts, but he came out like a beast on his verse on “Under The Sun” (dd you also catch K.Dot’s addition?). Cozz and TDE’s REASON linking up on “LamboTruck” was an unlikely match due to the light-hearted rivalry between the labels, but the fact that Cole was the lyrical target let it be known it was all in good fun. Tracks like “1993” and “Rembrandt…Run It Back” switched up how rappers trade verses so things aren’t as linear and conventional. “Sunset” shows that just because Cole and crew are more lyrics-focused and tend to be considered “underground,” they can still infuse a slight trap sound that’s the main influence of the rap game at the moment.
Revenge of The Dreamers III delivers a little something for everybody, so let us know what track is your favorite and which artist upped their game on the collaborative project.
Happy Birthday Kendrick Lamar: "Pulitizer Kenny" Turns 32
One of hip-hop’s all-time best writers gets a little wiser.
Is there anyone who might have predicted the artistic evolution of Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, when he first began making an impression upon the game? A deftly-tongued lyricist, capable of keeping pace with the homies by night and penning thoughtful reflecting on society by day. From lusting after music’s baddest on “Black Lipped Bastard Remix” to imbuing Drake‘s Take Care with his scene-stealing presence. From waxing poetic alongside Gunplay on “Cartoons And Cereal” to crafting an elaborate and non-linear conceptual masterpiece in Good Kid Maad City. From earning the coveted Dr. Dre co-sign and celebrating the simple pleasures of “women, weed, and weather” to playing an integral role on Dre’s third studio album Compton, like Snoop once did on The Chronic.
Santiago Bluguermann/Getty Images
To Pimp A Butterfly proved that Kendrick’s musicality was second to none, bringing forth a variety of styles in one thematically cohesive package; how does free-form jazz co-exist so effectively alongside the slick g-funk of “King Kunta?” Under Kendrick’s watchful eye, it simply does. From the aqueous flowing “You Ain’t Gotta Lie” to the underrated bar-fest “Hood Politics,” To Pimp A Butterfly stands as Kenny’s creative opus; challenging on damn-near every level and aging like the finest of wine. Even Untitled Unmastered revealed an additional layer to his visionary status, proving him capable of making hard-cuts in favor of telling a story in its purest form.
From putting the game on watch with his monumental “Control” verse to crafting another chapter of his top-five discography in DAMN, the scope of Kendrick’s pen remains unbound by limitation. Which other albums can pair instantly accessible bangers like “Humble” and “DNA” with genuinely emotional ballads like “Love” and “Pride?” Whether he’s steering the ship alongside Black Hippy on the eerie banger “Vice City” or making history as the first rapper to win a Pulitzer Prize, Kendrick Lamar has established himself as one of the greatest writers of our time. In honor of Kenny’s enduring, and still-ongoing legacy, take a moment to celebrate his thirty-second birthday. Enjoy the day, Kendrick!
Jay Rock Vs Kendrick Lamar: Who Had The Better Verse?
As we wait for the next release from the TDE camp, let's delve back into the back catalog of two of its most respected veterans.
In some far-off alternate reality, the power rankings of Top Dawg Entertainment is unrecognizable from what we’ve come to accept. Once thought of as the fledgling label’s flagship export, the embryonic stages of TDE were practically structured to allow Jay Rock to rise to the top of the hip-hop mountain. Granted the unique distinction of being the first artist to release music on the label with the Lil Wayne and Will.I.Am aided “All My Life (In The Ghetto), his position as the colonel leading the charge has meant that many of the signees that followed were meant to file in behind him. As Kendrick was finding his feet as an MC under the TDE umbrella, one of the ways in which he cut his teeth was in the role of Jay Rock’s onstage hype man during the Follow Me Home era and beyond. Fast-forward to the release of Good Kid M.A.A.D City in 2012 and, in one fell swoop, Kendrick requisitioned any hope of Jay serving as TDE’s standard-bearer in a commercial or critical standpoint.
Blanketly overlooked by the casual rap fan for many years, the aptly named Redemption from last year finally gave TDE’s OG a chance to claw back some of the shine that had been deflected onto his fellow Top Dawg stablemates such as K.Dot, Q and SZA. For hardcore hip-hop fans, the upswing of praise that he’s received in terms of chart performance and even a Grammy nod was nothing if not agonizingly overdue.
Impactful upon nearly every appearance, the long-term misrepresentation of Jay Rock is something that has skewed public perceptions to portray him as a lesser calibre MC than Kendrick. But as he’s proven on numerous occasions, his trademark bluntness can occupy the same space as Kendrick’s lyrical abstractions without registering as a conciliatory add on.
One-time Bar-for-bar sparring partners during a long-form homage to the opposite coast known as No Sleep Till NYC from 2007, it’s time to pit their more celebrated collaborations head-to-head in order to establish if any major deficit between the two has emerged of if they remain at a comparative level of skill and rhyming ability.
Quiz photo credits:
Jay Rock: Lisa Lake/Getty Images
Kendrick Lamar: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Among a sea of standout tracks that will go down in the annals of hip-hop history, Good Kid M.A.A.D City’s “Money Trees” still sounds as fresh and wholly essential today as it did when Kendrick first unveiled his breakout project. A sunkissed embodiment of the hustler’s mindset, this tale of come-ups and clandestine operations may be known for K.Dot’s laid-back cadence or its refrain of “Ya bish” but it ultimately falls short of the clinic that his Compton cohort provides.
Speaking to Genius, it’s clear that Jay went in with the intention of leaving his imprint on the album and that’s exactly what he did:
“I first heard the record before it dropped, riding in the car with Top Dawg listening to the whole album. I was like, “Okay, I want to hit this shit hard and rock this.” So one day I was just at the studio and Top came in and K Dot was like, “Man, jump on it. Just do a verse.” I wrote two or three versions before I could get writing. I didn’t want to put just anything on there—I’m going against Dot. I wanted to go in for the homie.”
A true document of Jay Rock’s dynamism and the resonance of his flow, every single syllable drips with the authenticity of a man that’s been there, done that and escaped to tell the tale.
Imagine Rock up in them projects
Where them n***as pick your pockets
Santa Claus don't miss them stockings
Liquors spillin', pistols poppin'
Bakin' soda YOLA whippin'
Ain't no turkey on Thanksgivin'
My homeboy just dome'd a n***a
I just hope the Lord forgive him
Winner: Jay Rock
Whilst it may not be an official release, TDE’s Bet Cypher is more than worthy of inclusion on a list that’s fixated on verbosity and technique. Above that, it’s also regarded as a pivotal moment in the label’s history where their eminent greatness came roaring into focus for the world to see. Burdened with the daunting feat of attempting to do Havoc’s iconic production on Shook Ones Pt II justice, Jay Rock provides an absolute instructional lesson on verbal mean mugging but Kendrick’s concluding verse couldn’t be outdone no matter what he pulled out of the arsenal.
Alongside its role in parading Isaiah Rashad in front of viewers that hadn’t had ample time to get acquainted with TDE’s latest charge yet, Kendrick’s climactic diatribe was a chance for him to position himself in contention for rap’s hall of fame and that’s exactly what he did.
“You either corny or an opportunist
I let you eat, now go back to church and steal crackers at communion
What I been doing?
I'm about to crack the Da Vinci Code
Yeah and nothing's been the same since they dropped "Control"
And tucked a sensitive rapper back in his pyjama clothes
Ha-ha, joke's on you, high-five
I'm bulletproof, your shots'll never penetrate
Pin a tail on a donkey, boy, you been a fake
I got my thumb on Hip Hop, and my foot in the back of your ass
Aftermath get the last laugh”
Widely popularized by GTAV’s Radio Los Santos, “Hood Gone Love It” is one of numerous choice cuts that would’ve had a larger impact upon its release had Jay Rock’s debut album not been marred by Warner Bros’ perceived mismanagement. In a way, its status as an overlooked record befits the theme of rallying against the grim prospects that had been placed in front of you and few songs capture this spirit quite like “Hood Gone Love It.” A rejection of the mainstream in favour of catering to the inhabitants of the world that moulded them, this West Coast classic in waiting may be a hotly contested race for the spoils but Jay is ever so finitely edged out by Kendrick on this outing. As if the subversive flow that he adopts on this track wasn’t enough, its significance grows in leaps and bounds when you consider that its final stages almost read like a prophecy for what was to come.
Lions, tigers, bears, oh my
Hear the siren, walk up, [pow pow] drive-by
Shooters, looters, federal fed intruders
The engines on back of scooters
The real can recognize real
And we need to know just who you are
You are in the presence of many presents
Kendrick the gift for the future, oh yeah, I said it
Perhaps best remembered for the absurdity of Future’s raspy delivery, there’s plenty of reason to revisit the Black Panther OST favourite for fans of TDE at their most joyfully hard-headed. What’s more, this track is enthralling in this competitive viewpoint as it’s ultimately a game of two halves, Whilst Kendrick came through on the hook, the sheer singlemindedness of Jay’s proclamations of “I gotta go get it” would’ve ordinarily allowed him to romp home with the victory. Due to the incisiveness of his flow, Jay Rock was almost predisposed to lay waste to this beat. However, the sheer personification of “Killmonger” and the volatile rage that Kendrick pulls off post beat switch leads us to reach an impasse and declare it a tie-game.
Jay: “I've been ready, my whip been ready, My bitch been ready, my clique been ready, My shit's been ready, my check's been ready, My shot's on full, that's Armageddon, I got pull, I hope y'all ready, My tank on full, you know, unleaded, I gotta go get it, I gotta go get it, I gotta go get it, I gotta go get it.
Kendrick: "Tee off the day, know we off the, be off the, eat off your plate, Throw me off, I be, "Off ya head", Well ate, on C4, I'm way off the edge, Fuck integrity, fuck your pedigree, fuck your feelings, fuck your culture. Fuck your moral, fuck your family, fuck your tribe, Fuck your land, fuck your children, fuck your wives, Who am I? Not your father, not your brother, Not your reason, not your future.
Recorded during a whirlwind trip to Vegas, the fact that “The Heart Pt 3 (Will You Let It Die?) was constructed three days prior to GKMC’s release gives it a sheen of added significance as it marks the last time that they’d enter the studio together and be viewed as peers in a commercial sense. For all that his role in the track is ultimately small, Jay Rock proves his sheer acuity and presence of mind by saying a lot more in 5 bars than some rappers can say across an overloaded 20 track album. That said, there’s little more compelling than Kendrick in the booth whilst fraught with emotion and that’s exactly what we get before us on the eve of his ascendance to superstardom. Plagued by insecurities and self-doubt, K.Dot’s bittersweet verse gives some historical foundation to his rise that makes it all the more well-earnt.
As I lay in this four corner room staring at candles
Thinking, "How can I make an example for this generation of Compton?"
My biggest fear is not feeling accomplished
Or turning back to that same accomplice
My past life was a child with no act right
Trying to smile in a room of killers, turn into a crash site
Influenced by niggas that spoke the gang culture fluent
Assuring that some blossom early and some truant
Thank God for the album I idolized
It's dark and plus hell is hot, that's the start of this crazy ride
Doused in a healthy coat of melodrama from Chantal Krezuk, the energy of “Pay For It” isn’t what you’d expect from what’s ostensibly a loose track. Instead, it has the energy of a big fight feel between two of the perennial greats slugging it out for dominance. Imbued with the spirit of Pac at his most contemplative, Jay Rock delivers the goods across both of his verses and shows the resilience that would eventually lead him to the successes of 2018. However, it’s hard to deny Kendrick is firing on all cylinders and the all-out grandeur of this Sounwave production is the perfect outlet forhis rhythmically elaborate and lyrically high-minded attack.
This ain't no warnin' shot, this a relevant henchman
See my opponent, then — cease your existence
Endin' our friendship, baby, I'd rather die alone
Your diaphragm is dietary, what you eatin' on?
Capture your audience with these words, boy
The holy Chapel, the tabernacle, the book of Matthew
And Jesus starin' at you, take your turn, boy
Despite murky production that is almost impenetrable in its darkness, “Vice City” has given unending joy to TDE’s devout followers around the world. Complete with verses from each and every Black Hippy member, their explosive creative chemistry gave way to an off-kilter flow that makes the track into even more of an anomaly than the sight of all four of them on a track together already is nowadays. A proven chameleon when he needs to be, no-one takes to this structural abnormality quite like Jay Rock and it earns him yet another point.
She reel me in with some chicken wings
And some collard greens, that shit was brackin'
Just cracked me a new bitch
Bust new nut on her n***'s jersey
My bitch get off at 9 o'clock
So I had to shake her 'round 7:30
105, I'm stomping fast
With these big guns, I'm hella dirty
Get caught with this shit
I ain't comin' home 'til like 2030
Winner: Jay Rock
For many hip-hop heads, Black Hippy’s rework of Rocko’s U.O.E.N.O doesn’t just surpass the original but is heralded as the definitive version of the track and with good reason. Over 5+ minutes, TDE’s core battalion take on all comers and reiterate why they are arguably the foremost crew of the past decade. On top of that, each member’s verse is a blistering exhibition of their skillset and dispels the myth of superiority that has hung around Kendrick’s name for the longest time. No matter how fluid his verse is, there was just no stopping Jay Rock as he bulldozered his way through this beat with a cavalcade of undiluted gangsta rap that would make The Westside Connection proud. Not just an essential track for any TDE completist but one of Jay Rock’s finest hours.
No prescription, I'm flexing
Suplex a pussy, I've been off the edge
Too late to push me, n***a I ain't fell off
Used to move Frosted Flakes like Kellogg's
Pull up to the bank, count paper like tellers
Top Dawg, Money Gang, bitch, we've been on
Clothesline the beat, n***a John Cena
Been having stripes, can't walk in my Adidas
Kicked in the door, hand on the Nina
Black Hippy shit, rock gon' bleed 'em
Winner: Jay Rock
Unveiled as a supplementary offering just as his Blank Face LP, the tenacity of Q’s verse on the Black Hippy Remix of “That Part” would’ve taken the bars of a lifetime to overshadow. Emboldened with righteous anger in the wake of Alton Sterling’s heinous murder, Groovy Q dispensed with any light-heartedness and fired back at the unjust world that he and his daughter are forced to subsist in. However, Q squaring off against his confidants is a matter for another day. As far as how Kendrick and Jay stack up on this final and deciding battleground, it’s nigh on too close to call. But in fear of copping out, a victor must be crowned and at present, that victor is K.Dot. Sure, Jay’s verse comes with that ice-cold demeanour that we love so much and no shortage of fantastic lines but the sheer feats of lyrical manipulation that Kendrick pulls off here is too much to overcome. An extremely hard-fought victory, but a victory nonetheless.
My ID say my eye don't rest
My IV qualify T-rex
Society kept my IQ vexed
Denyin' me from an Ivy school
Applyin' me to the street I slept
I quietly had to hold this tool
Reminding me of the block I repped
The turf I stepped, the church and the earth I blessed
The first I guessed the alert was the murk I chef
For all that an answer has been given, the battle between Jay and Kendrick is open-ended and either victor wouldn’t be a miscarriage of justice. Where other instalments in this series have a more conclusive winner, this square off between TDE’s veterans ultimately comes down to a simple equation of personal preference between unabashed directness or the more highfalutin technical ability and metaphoric world that K.Dot creates. Where Kendrick will leave you dumbfounded without breaking a sweat, Jay Rock will aim for the jugular and implore you to sit up and grant him your full attention. Whatever side your allegiances lie on, let’s just hope that they never let this tradition of on wax hook-ups elapse.
Jay Rock: 3
Ab-Soul Shares Update On Next Album
Ab-Soul's in the studio cookin' up.
It's been a hot minute since we heard any new music from Ab-Soul but that could change by the end of the year. The rapper released his last album, Do What Thou Wilt in 2016 and in 2017, he teased a secret album by TDE, although there hasn't been much information pertaining to that. Anyhow, Ab-Soul took to Twitter to give fans a brief update on his next project.
James W. Lemke/Getty Images
Ab-Soul appears to have given fans a promising update on his new album. The rapper simply wrote, "70%" on Twitter which seems to a good sign that he's referring to his album. It was revealed he began working on new music last summer. Around the same time, Top Dawg announced that he wanted to get out four albums from the TDE camp before the year's end.
Since the release of Ab-Soul's last project, we've essentially received projects from every other member of the Black Hippy crew. Kendrick released DAMN. and also curated the Black Panther soundtrack that dropped at the top of 2018. Jay Rock released Redemption which included the Grammy-award winning single, "King's Dead." Most recently, ScHoolboy Q dropped off his latest album, CrasH Talk about a month ago.
We could only hope that Soulo drops off a new album before the end of the year. The game is in need of it.
Reason Trolls J.I.D. Over "TDE Vs. Dreamville" Rivalry
Get Top on the phone.
Over the years, many fans have come to pit Dreamville against TDE in a spirited "what-if" scenario fuelled in large part by healthy competition. The narrative has occasionally been teased by some of Dreamville's own artists, including J.I.D, who straight-up alluded to the competition during a recent interview. Yet that's not to say alliances haven't been forged. New TDE signee Reason was recently an honored guest during the Revenge Of The Dreamers 3 sessions, contributing to more than his fair share of bangers.
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Now, with his own official TDE debut on the way, Reason has once again trolled his Dreamville rival slash real-life homie J.I.D. Upon revealing that his beard would remain unshorn until Top Dawg provided him with a release date, Reason revealed that some of the featured verses were already flooding in. When asked whether a JID verse was among them, Reason joked "It would be JID but JID doesn’t write verses for TDE artists CLEARLY. Yes you can tag JID in this lol."
The response prompted JID to chime in, promising a verse and hook would be sent his way in the imminent future. Reverse-psychology achieved. Well played, Reason. Are you excited to hear a new collaboration between the pair?