5 Relaxing Rap Albums to Get You Out of Your Head
Stay calm in post-election season with these transporting albums
Music impacts us differently these days.
The albums we usually listened to on our daily commutes suddenly bring us pangs of bitter nostalgia now that there's nowhere to go. Bright optimistic tunes suddenly sound hollow, and we can't help but feel especially resentful towards songs that make us wanna dance and party.
Quarantine is relentless in its monotony—not to mention the added stress of election season and the impending winter weather. But on the bright side, this all gives us an opportunity to dive deep into some gritty new music. Tension and anxiety are at an all-time high, and rather than seeking music that motivates us to get up and go, we turn towards the amazing introspective artists that'll instead inspire us to breathe and just listen. Captivating in their minimalism and dense in their storytelling, these hushed efforts below are transporting and will undoubtedly soften the edges of our monotonous existence. Here are a few albums to help get us out of our heads.
Feet of Clay by Earl Sweatshirt
Thebe Kgositsile's fourth project as Earl Sweatshirt is a thematically dense, albeit brief, collection of cynical poetry. The 15-minute project takes the Lo-Fi/Avant-Garde Jazz offerings of Some Rap Songs and mutates them, grading them down into woozy, reticent fragments that feel as if they're strung together by a shoestring. Sweatshirt unapologetically yanks us into a hallucinatory world and spits us out at the other end with very little clarification as to what just happened. From quarantine, Sweatshirt's withdrawn distortions are more palpable than ever. Kgositsile described Feet of Clay as "a collection of observations and feelings recorded during the death throes of a crumbling empire," which feels eerily fitting for the current climate.
NEGRO by Pink Siifu
Alabama-based polymath Pink Siifu has captivated the underground in the last few years with his enigmatic collections of hazy lo-fi and hushed storytelling, but on NEGRO, Siifu's rage boils over. Siifu rages against the machine, screaming with unabashed fury at the police and his experience as a black man in America. "White man tryna take my sh*t," he howls through suffocating white noise on "SMD." "Landlord tryna take my sh*t! Tell the police he can eat a d*ck!" As the anger for our current political climate boils over, Siifu's NEGRO is a perfect outlet for all that pent up rage.
FOTO by KOTA The Friend
KOTA The Friend thrives on good vibes. Backyard barbecues, bagel dates, looking through photographs–the emcee helps us focus on the little joys that life has. "F*ck an umbrella, cus I like it when it rains," he raps with a shrug on "Sedona." On KOTA's wholesome debut, FOTO, the rapper steers away from any negativity and over 19 tracks nostalgically reminisce about growing up in Brooklyn and all the emotions that come with growing up. "Love is everything and everything is love," he says on "Chicago Diner." FOTO is like a burst of Vitamin C on a cloudy day.
Pray For Paris By Westside Gunn
Westside Gunn has had one of the most unlikely glow-ups in Hip-Hop. The grimy Buffalo-based emcee and his Griselda constituents are a product of no-frill rappers like Mobb Depp and Method Man. Their production is kinky and rough, their swagger is timeless yet malicious, and their lyricism is merciless. "Ain't no eye for an eye, you take an eye we take your whole head," Gunn says on "Party with Pop Smoke" with his rugged, confident vibrato. On Pray For Paris, Gunn aims to ditch the niche underground aesthetic of Griselda's past efforts and establish them instead as an act of sophisticated grandeur. The album cover was designed by Virgil, the introductory adlib an excerpt from the record-breaking sale of Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi. The self-proclaimed high stakes make for a transporting journey, with Westside Gunn and his friends offering some of the best bars of their careers. To indulge in Pray For Paris is to indulge in high art.
The Price of Tea In China By Boldy James
Complex and arresting, The Alchemist's cinematic instrumentals are enhanced by Boldy James' captivating storytelling. Written by one of the most underappreciated lyricists in modern-day hip-hop, The Price of Tea In China is an enthralling journey, with James' mid-tempo narrative flow guiding us through the streets of Detroit in explicit detail. "Jail tats that linger from teenage years, insomniac drives down to Kentucky," wrote Pitchfork. "Gloved hands clutching guns...Pyrexes full of dope that looks like oatmeal." The emcee's web of details make for a remarkably visual listening experience, and James' provocative images are only enhanced by The Alchemist's technical prowess.