With so many new rap albums, mixtapes, EPs and songs dropping every week; knowing which ones are worth your time can be a challenge. But no worries, we’ll help smooth out the process with “Now N’ Laters,” a column that highlights the hottest new releases of the week and the songs you’ll want to listen to now — and later.
With the New Year festivities a distant memory and the music industry getting back in the swing of things, this week’s slate of new heat is 2020’s most star-studded yet. With constant whispers of his fall from grace growing louder over the past few years, Eminem surprises listeners with his new album, Music to Be Murdered By, a loaded effort that features a bevy of star talent and finds the Shady one displaying a return to form. As fans and fellow artists continue to mourn him and celebrate his legacy, Mac Miller’s first posthumous effort, Circles, is liberated. On it, the late star teams up with Jon Brion, who produced the entirety of the album. And last, but not least, as the film dominates at the box office, Bad Boys For Life: The Soundtrack touches down with executive producer DJ Khaled rounding up artists from all genres to provide the mood music for Will Smith and Martin Lawrence’s antics.
With all three releases getting airplay and dominating the conversation, REVOLT shares our critics’ picks for the three songs from each album that stand a cut above the rest and should be in your heavy rotation now — and later. Be sure to let us know what your favorites are.
Eminem: Music to Be Murdered By
“You Gon’ Learn”
A sample of “With You I’m Born Again by Billy Preston” gets chopped and plastered across a brooding soundbed, where longtime partners in rhyme Eminem and Royce da 5’9” mull over the intricacies that plague themselves and society on the daily. Produced by Luis Resto, Eminem & Royce da 5’9’’, this inclusion includes a strong performance from newcomer White Gold, who lends his haunting vocals on the hook, which compliments the lyrical fire-power from his Motor City counterparts.
Two generations of midwestern giants collide on this number when Eminem gets reinforcement from Juice WRLD. The track is also the late rapper’s first posthumous appearance following his tragic death late last year. Produced by D.A. Doman and Eminem, this tune has the potential to become inescapable on the airwaves in short order, and finds Juice WRLD and one of his idols sharing air-time on one of the first blockbuster offerings of the decade thus far.
Pandemonium ensues when Em brings in a few of the most deadly wordsmiths in the game to play a friendly game of lyrical Russian Roulette on this frantic salvo. Featuring Royce da 5’9’’, Black Thought, Q-Tip, and dEnAun — with a pulsating backdrop scored by the latter — this epic posse cuts has all parties raining down potent stanzas amid sampled adlibs from Busta Rhymes, which take the proceedings to a whole other level.
Mac Miller: Circles
Flighty synths and measured percussion make way for Mac Miller’s heavy-handed croons on this enticing slice of electro-funk that finds him lamenting the unnecessary complications of life. When he muses, “Some people say they want to live forever/That’s way too long, I’ll just get through today,” the eerily prophetic observation is a reminder to enjoy the moment because tomorrow is never promised.
Jon Brion crafts a jittery soundscape for Miller to glide over with this infectious salvo, as the production inspires one of the Pittsburgh great’s most engaging performances on the album. From the vintage harmonies at the beginning of the track to the late MC’s birds-eye view of the world around him, this thumper is emblematic of Miller’s artistic prowess.
“Hand Me Downs”
Thoughts are spilled atop a sublime backdrop on this groove that captures Miller envisioning a lavish getaway with his romantic partner. Featuring Baro on the hook, this guitar-driven number showcases the young legend’s range, as he switches from delivering poignant couplets to purring silky vocals at the drop of a hat.
DJ Khaled: Bad Boys For Life Soundtrack
After creating magic with Anuel with the original version, Meek Mill locks in with Farruko for the sequel to “Uptown Vibes,” the rapper’s 2018 hit from his comeback album Championships. Produced by 808 Mafia & Papamitrou, stylistically, the track is in the festive vein of its predecessor, but is more refined and boasts a more riveting performance.
A soundtrack in support of a movie that’s set in Miami wouldn’t be complete without contributions from the home team, the most impressive being this boisterous banger from the City Girls. In one of her first appearances post-prison, JT shines, while Yung Miami continues to become a formidable force in her own right, as the pair coax the ballers and hustlers into hurling money stacks in their direction.
As the world awaits his long-anticipated third studio-album, Bryson Tiller pops up alongside Rick Ross on this lavish offering, which finds the Bawse taking inventory of the trappings of his decadent lifestyle. Produced by Beat Billionaire, who builds the track around a sample of Case’s 1996 hit “Touch Me, Tease Me,” this number pairs one of rap’s most consistent veterans with one of R&B’s most reclusive talents, but adds up to an undeniable heater.
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