Surprises and debuts — that's the anchor of this week's hip-hop releases.
Earlier in the week, Wale kicked things off with his surprise EP, his second for 2018, aptly titled Self Promotion. The solid four-pack punch features highlights such as the excellent "Salary Kaep," a cleverly written ode to Colin Kaepernick, and the summertime-ready "Body Body Body (Freestyle)." Closing out the week in similar surprise fashion now is Playboi Carti, who dropped his sophomore project Die Lit overnight, while Tee Grizzley makes his way with his anticipated debut album, Activated.
Which of these albums should impact your playlists? Check 'em out below.
Playboi Carti, Die Lit
Background: Just three minutes into his self-titled 2017 debut, released through A$AP Rocky's AWGE imprint, Playboi Carti diverted the cynicism on his content matter with a little song called "Magnolia." Boy, was it a smash hit. On immediate listen, the song turned the promising upstart into a white-hot star.
Why #PressPlay: Die Lit follows the same formula as Playboi Carti, as Young Carti's off-kilter and carefree flows ride over a series of pothole-rattling production (Yo, Pi'erre, you wanna come out here?!). Early highlights are easily the raucous "Shoota" with Lil Uzi Vert, which should blow the roof off at Rolling Loud Miami this weekend, as well as the hypnotizing "Lean 4 Real" with Skepta and "Poke It Out" with Nicki Minaj. The latter is a clear winner as far as first singles go.
Consider This: Despite the high moments though, Die Lit unfortunately runs into the issues that its predecessor luckily avoided. At 19 songs, and even with its multiple bangers, the monotony is just unbearable. Outside of that, these records just don't pack the same umph as the bright spots did on Carti.
Tee Grizzley, Activated
Background: Not only is Tee Grizzley a strong XXL Freshman contender, he's also the underdog that hip-hop needs right now. "First Day Out" arrived last year, collecting co-signs from every influential bigwig out there, from JAY-Z to LeBron James. The song, which also peaked at No. 48 on the Billboard Hot 100, generated enough momentum to land the Detroit native national exposure for his debut album, Activated.
Why #PressPlay: Like Meek Mill's line on 2012's "Dreams and Nightmares," Tee Grizzley had to grind like that to shine like this. At 18 songs, the Detroit relays this message as vividly as he can (see: "I Remember"). Refusing to shy away from his checkered past, Grizz uses his journey as a reflection to show how far he's come and why he belongs here. Activated is filled with many of those reasons, including candidacy for a strong rap debut in 2018.
Consider This: Halfway through the album, things get redundant—after all, that's what happens with lengthy albums like these. So the shining qualities, like Grizz's rap pattern over pounding 808s, start to grow thin. The 18 tracks could easily have been trimmed down to 12 at max, cutting out the unnecessary run-on appearances by Chris Brown and Lil Yachty, who respectively appear on two records apiece.
Rolling Loud 2018 is coming and REVOLT has you covered as the festival's exclusive livestream partner. Be sure to catch all of the action right here at revolt.tv/rollingloud from May 11-13, with an encore performance on May 14.