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Ever since he swiftly levitated into the mainstream hip-hop discussion back in 2011, Big Sean has always been a commanding artist who seems to consistently shift the limelight toward his direction. Not because of any glorious lyrical ability or ingenious concepts; it was Sean’s knack for smash records (“Dance”) and show-stealing features (“Clique” and “Mercy”) that demanded our attention. But despite a quick rise to fame for the Detroit rapper, Big Sean’s first two solo efforts left more to be desired and are not considered to be groundbreaking bodies of work. And while it is a valid claim to state that Dark Sky Paradise is Big Sean’s best album yet, the LP still suffers from his previous undoings and these repetitive weaknesses unfortunately cast a shadow over the multiple high points of the LP.

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At any given time in the world of hip-hop, spirited debates occur when the classic question of ‘who is the best rapper out’ arises. It is an immortal discussion, a topic that draws us in to the point of no return and is as consistent as the changing of the seasons. While there are several legitimate sides one can support in this matter, there is no denying that Drake is the most influential (aka the ‘hottest’) artist in the game. In a span of about 5 years, Drake has morphed from Lil Wayne’s potentially profitable investment to a well-rounded musician capable of monumental bodies of work such as Take Care and Nothing Was The Same. When we fast-forward to present day, Aubrey has immortalized himself as the ‘6 God’ and his devoted fans are living in the midst of the Views From The 6 era. But before Drake decides to unveil his official album, the Toronto icon fulfilled on the well-informed rumors that he would be dropping a project before VFT6. And while If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late may have surprised the general public, Drake previously declared he would have ‘spring of 2015 poppin’ on his Grammy-nominated one-off “0 to 100”, and there is nothing wrong with being early to the party.

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The first sound you hear when listening to Joey Bada$$’s highly anticipated debut album B4.Da.$$ is an electrified crowd chanting his name. This introduction is a fitting one when we look at the early career trajectory of the Pro Era leader, who became a New York hip-hop prodigy of sorts when he burst onto the scene in 2012 with his acclaimed mixtape 1999. Disciples of the classic 90s golden-era style proclaimed Joey Bada$$ as their modern-day savior, a young Brooklyn-bred emcee who could flow over J Dilla/Lord Finesse/MF Doom beats with supreme ‘third-eye open’ lyrical precision. And while Joey’s most recent mixtape/free album Summer Knights fell short of the standard he set for himself, B4.Da.$$ proves to be his most polished and refined body of work to date, with Bada$$ simultaneously sticking to his rugged roots yet also displaying prominent indications of branching out beyond the streets of Bed Stuy.

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The story of Lupe Fiasco can be classified as one interesting adventure; a journey filled with celebrated musical memories as well multiple stretches of controversy. During the Food & Liquor/The Cool era, Lupe was the cool alternative choice if someone asked you who your favorite rapper was. But in recent years, Fiasco has fallen into a trap of label woes with Atlantic, becoming more known for his overly opinionated antics rather than his music. The album rollout for Fiasco’s new LP, Tetsuo & Youth, has been unorthodox to say the least with several delays, supposed singles that were all left off the final track-listing, as well as an e-threat from hacker group Anonymous to Atlantic Records- essentially forcing their hand in giving the album an official release date. Despite the questionable series of events, Tetsuo & Youth is a step back in the right direction for Lupe and a more than worthwhile listen if you choose to give it the attention it requires.

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