All eyes may be centered on Kendrick Lamar at the moment, given the releases of "The Heart Part 4," on which he taunts his fellow rappers to get their respective situations together by April 7, as well as his new video,"Humble," that dropped towards the end of March.
It's been two years since listeners were able to satisfy their audible hunger with the Compton native’s To Pimp a Butterfly, his critically acclaimed third LP that earned him Best Rap Album at the 2016 Grammy Awards. Naturally, a fourth album from Lamar was expected, and we will see some new material come forth throughout 2017 from his label mates. But there is absolutely one album from the house of Top Dawg that fans are dying for.
Formed in 2009, Black Hippy is a collective of emcees from TDE that consists of Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, ScHoolboy Q, and the aforementioned K.Dot - described as, in the words of Soul, "the dopest group ever with no album." The fanfare surrounding the quartet isn't without warrant. Each member has a distinctive voice that leaps lightyears beyond their contemporary peers, in partial to their solid technical skill in the craft of rapping. Their rhymes are realer than life, entertaining, and most importantly, sincere. Lamar may have shot into stardom, but to deny the quality work of his brethren is a mistake; the four have unitedly smashed the records they've appeared on together, namely "Black Lip Bastard (Remix)" and "Vice City."
With so much love and support from respective fans and the hip hop community as a whole, why haven't we received the Black Hippy album?
Over the years, plenty of silence has befallen those hopes. Whenever a sliver presents itself, should it be a question from an eager Twitter user, it is ultimately shunned. In July 2016, following the release of Blank Face LP, Groovy Q cited the group’s expansive solo careers as a reason why plans for an album never seem to come to fruition in an interview with HotNewHipHop. "Everybody in they own creative space now, back in the day we used to always be together all the time." As Q has identified himself as the driving force behind Black Hippy's inception, his perspective on the possibility is always one worth a read or listen. Back in December, Ab-Soul made his opinion of the crew very clear. During a Twitter Q&A session, Soul responded to a Black Hippy album inquiry, saying, "Stop asking me that. Fuck Black Hippy."
Despite the differing sentiments regarding the California-based crew, Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith also previously hinted at when the long-awaited Black Hippy project will see the light of day. In an Instagram post from February 2016, Tiffith posted a schedule that saw ScHoolboy Q, SZA, Isaiah Rashad, Ab-Soul, Kendrick Lamar, and Jay Rock set to debut new music throughout the year. And beneath a few john does (one being Sir's Her), read "BH (PRAYING)," the sole project underneath a list of 2017 possibilities. Rest assured Top Dawg isn’t alone in his prayers.
As we've entered the second quarter of 2017, and TDE is beginning to play their knight on rap's prestigious chessboard, the question again presents itself. Could we be getting a Black Hippy album? Now, it may appear to be redundant and the ever-evasive minds at the label refuse to give us a straight answer, but it never hurts to follow a few bread crumbs. Jay Rock's 90059 hit shelves in 2015, and although the eleven-track effort was outstanding, the Watts native has been relatively quiet in the time since. Lamar's untitled unmastered, a compilation of tracks that didn't make Butterfly, received much acclaim, as did Blank Face. Ab-Soul's Do What Thou Wilt further established the emcee's topical balance of religion and social matters, putting Soul back into the spotlight and effectively capping TDE's 2016 run.
The trail doesn't get cold just yet. As mentioned, K. Dot is back and ready to chin-check anybody (or somebody) that decides to step to him and that’s all we are left with on that front. Days away from the 7th, and not even a hint at his project’s title. Fair enough.
Yet on Saturday (April 1), Top Dawg took to Twitter to answer a few burning questions. "Yes," in response to SZA's CTRL seeing the light of day, and a "yasssssss," in regards to Jay Rock's third LP. Top also confirmed that Q's latest album will also drop this year, though that was revealed by the rapper himself during his promo run for Blank Face and isn’t too much of a surprise. As Top Dawg can be seen as a man with a game plan, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to think that he’s prepping his label veterans for a pristine reemergence into today’s playing field for the project we’ve all been waiting for. With Soul currently on tour, and Lamar’s album coming soon, that leaves Rock and Groovy Q as the remaining members of the group to join the year’s adventures that we now know will happen. In this rap music cinematic universe, Top Dawg is Kevin Feige and he’s dishing out the solo stories to build the hype for the Avengers… uh… Black Hippy album. There isn't any concrete evidence that supports the yearning, just a hypothetical question fueled on nothing more than he-say-she-say and Internet clues.
We take pleasure in saying "I can't wait for this album," or "I remember when it dropped," and Black Hippy certainly has enough manpower to blow a hole through the roof when it comes to impactful releases, and force listeners to reiterate those lines for years to come.