Just when the rap world were mourning the tragic death of DMX, one of hip hop’s finest yet most underrated icons, Def Jam Records posthumously released the highly anticipated Exodus, the eighth studio album from the late rapper.
The tenacious artist, Earl “DMX” Simmons, who openly shared his struggles with mental illness and substance abuse, has the last chapter of his fervent story inked within Exodus. However, it’d be more fitting to deem Exodus a tribute rather than the ultimate culmination of a legacy; an album sounding more pieced together than it is authentically told by DMX himself.
With DMX‘s passing shortly before the completion of what was intended to be a revival album, Swizz Beatz pulled through to finish the artist’s final studio album –
Executively produced by SwizzBeatz, while released by Def Jam Records, Exodus reins in an elite collective of voracious artists for a paramount force featuring JAY-Z, NAS, The LOX, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, Usher, Moneybagg Yo, Westside Gunn, Benny the Butcher, and more.
It’s been a couple of years since the Hip-Hop world heard from their favorite North Carolina son J. Cole. He has dropped a few teaser singles here and there but no major releases. Recently, he ended this hiatus and graced the masses with his sixth studio project aptly titled The Off-Season. The album’s release was accompanied by a documentary and a brief promotional stint via the LP’s “Interlude” track. Additionally, the twelve-track collective see’s the Fayetteville emcee embracing collaborations with guest appearances by the likes of: 21 Savage, Lil Baby, 6lack, Morray, and Bas.
“95 South” kicks things off with a bit of nostalgia and an undeniable energy. There is a word or two from veteran rapper Cam’ronand a Mario Brother’s reference that instantly became a fan favorite quotable. Pair all of that with the crunk ending courtesy of a snippet from Lil Jon and The East Side Boyz and a buzzing tone is set for the rest of the album. Another standout track early on is “My Life” featuring 21 Savage and Morray. The trio take listeners through their road to success and give a glimpse of the possibility of what their fates would be like if their talents hadn’t taken off. 21 really thrives on this record. Debates were even sparked as to whether or not he outshined his North Carolina peer. The momentum is definitely still going strong at this point.
About midway through Cole’s musical exercise to become his best self, we are hit with “Pride Is The Devil.” The track features Lil Baby and though not an official single, it has gained popularity amongst the people. The sleek instrumental gives way to a charismatic vibe that is complimented by a simple yet memorable hook. The content sees the two emcees speak on their personal dealings with one of the seven deadly sins as well as their struggles not to succumb to it’s grip. The production starts to slightly lose steam around this point, but the written is still hitting.
Promo single “Interlude” heads up the tail end of The Off-Season. The single runs on the shorter side but it gets the job done. Cole utilizes an infectious flow as he expands on a wide range of topics from street violence to his front runner status in the rap game, to religion, and more. Set to a groovy instrumental with soulful accents, the song serves well as a sample that leaves you wanting more from Cole. Great choice as one of the leading tracks.
The off season is typically the time for athletes to work on improving their crafts so that they come back stronger for the next season. J. Cole nails that concept with this album for sure. Now he’s just gotta work on his actual basketball game (lol).
North Carolina’s own Cordae came out swinging with his first release for 2021. It is a four track EP coined Just Until… that includes guest appearances from legendary rapper Q-Tip and eccentric rapper Young Thug. The EP also marks his first release since his debut project dropped back in 2019.
The collective opens on a reflective note with “More Life” featuring Q-Tip. The clean cut produced track takes the listener through Cordae’s thoughts on his past, present, and future regarding his art. Q-Tip takes on the hook which leaves a little to be desired but overall, it’s a dope opener. “Dream In Color” is the front runner for the project. The charismatic instrumentation paired with the personal transparent content from Cordae is a hit. There is a slight deviation from the more substance-based themes when we hit “Wassup” featuring Young Thug. But everything comes back full circle as the project closes out with a soulful family tribute courtesy of “Thornton Street.”
Just Until… makes for a great appetizer while fans await Cordae’sfull sophomore offering.