Much like Outkast and Little Brother, J. Cole helped reshape the narrative surrounding the lack of lyricism from southern rappers.

The Fayetteville, North Carolina native raps with the technical brilliance of New York City rap titans like Nas and Jay-Z. His sincere take on the Black Experience makes him a leading voice in Hip-Hop.

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Music Lists

15 Songs to Sing While You Wash Away Coronavirus

We've all been taught to sing "Happy Birthday" twice, but times are tough, and we need a change.

Since the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak reached the U.S., a number of states—including Washington, New York, and California—have called a state of emergency and canceled large gatherings.

Originally scheduled to take place this week, Austin's South by Southwest was canceled for the first time in its 32-year history. Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden both just called off rallies in Ohio due to fears surrounding the virus, while Coachella is in talks to be rescheduled for October. As the number of confirmed cases climbs, more and more employees are working from home. Harvard University is evacuating its dorms for the remainder of the semester. Times are tough.

Still, experts assure us that as long as we're generally healthy, we don't need to worry so much about coronavirus. But with so much media coverage and the reality of quarantine feeling more imminent, what better way to help us through the crisis than with song?

Health officials maintain that the best way to ease the spread of coronavirus is to avoid touching your face and, of course, wash your hands thoroughly–for at least 20 seconds. Singing "Happy Birthday" twice is a tried-and-true method, but times are changing. It's 2020. We need better songs to wash our hands to.

So, here are just a few options to sing to yourself while you get your hands squeaky clean. Go ahead and sing them out loud. We won't judge.

"Sugar, We're Goin' Down" by Fall Out Boy

Am I more than you bargained for yet?
I've been dying to tell you anything you want to hear
'Cause that's just who I am this week
Lie in the grass next to the mausoleum
I'm just a notch in your bedpost
But you're just a line in a song

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MUSIC

"Jesus Is King" Will Never Come Out: A List of Hip-Hop Albums That Never Dropped

With Jesus Is King's release date changed once again to this Friday, let's take a look at hip-hop's other infamous releases that never materialized.

ABC News

Chances are October 25 will come and go without a new album from Kanye West.

We've come to expect being disappointed by Kanye. And despite his recent official "announcement" about the release of his album Jesus Is King via Twitter, fans were quick to troll and dismiss the tweet as a false promise. It's been a rough road for Kanye fans in the last year. His recent "Sunday Service" performances have disturbed the masses. Some believe they affirm Kanye's long-held God complex, while others view his latest post-MAGA obsession to be more of a manic episode. Some believe he's simply spreading the gospel and that he's truly been "saved." Regardless, it's all cast Jesus Is King in a puzzling light, and fans truly don't know what to expect, or whether to expect anything at all. The one thing we know for certain is that the guy is a total pr*ck to his wife these days.

Will Jesus Is King become the next Fear Inoculum? Probably. It would be quite like Kanye to be his own hype beast. In the meantime, let's take a look back at a few of hip-hop's other notorious unreleased projects, all of which are, honestly, more likely to be released in 2019 than Jesus Is King.

MC Hammer and 2Pac's ​"Too Tight​"

MC Hammer signed with Death Row in 1995, but his highly-anticipated label debut, Too Tight, never saw the light of day. The project was much anticipated because of Hammer's alleged collaborations with Tupac Shakur on the project. The former left the record company shortly after the death of the latter. He later explained in an interview his concerns over the circumstances surrounding Tupac's death. He spoke to the rapper right before he died, and he was in Las Vegas the night of the shooting. Hammer later released "Too Late Playa," which featured the late Shakur as well as Big Daddy Kane and Danny Boy.Too Tight probably would have been amazing.

MUSIC

Popdust's Spooktacular Halloween Playlist

Are you tasked with hosting a Halloween party this year? Let us help you with the music.

Howl you doing boys and girls? What's up, my witches?

Spooky season is drawing nearer, and with Halloween falling on a Thursday this year, it means that there is only one weekend to curate a spooktacular party playlist, and one opportunity to throw a fa-boo-lous Halloween party. It is no easy task, but if you want your guests to shake their BOOty, eat, drink, and be scary all night long, Popdust has just the playlist that will give your friends pumpkin' to talk about.

Itsy Bitsy Spider by Carly Simon

Have you ever heard such an elegant and moving interpretation of this spooky nursery rhyme? In this version, I wasn't rooting for the rain to "wash the spider out"; instead, Simon's mash up of the nursery rhyme with her hit "Comin Around Again" paints a darker picture. "I know nothing stays the same, but if you're willing to play the game, it's coming around again," Simon sings. The Spider's journey is a complex one: He is tenacious in his dream of scaling the water spout and is an inspiration to us all. "Nothing stays the same," little Spider, keep climbing. One day, you may just turn your dream into a reality. It's a reminder of our mortality and serves as the perfect song to kick off the night as your guests eat hors d'oeuvres and pour their first cup of spiked punch.

Follow the playlist on Spotify!

MUSIC

Big K.R.I.T. Transcends Time and Space on "K.R.I.T. Iz Here"

The Mississippi-born rapper and producer strikes a balance between his roots and the future of rap on his latest album.

Between the years of 1997 and 2007, southern rap was unavoidable.

In the wake of a bloodsoaked war for hip-hop dominance between East and West Coast rappers, Southern artists quietly rose to prominence. As tensions escalated, Tupac Shakur was gunned down in Las Vegas on September 7, 1996. He died from his wounds six days later. A little over a year afterwards, on a chilly March morning in 1997, The Notorious B.I.G. was murdered in Los Angeles, behind enemy lines. Following these back-to-back tragedies, many feared that the very foundation of hip-hop might crumble. In a 2014 interview for Music Times, Nas reflected on the culture's darkest age: "Those two things hit me real hard, because I knew both of them [...] what they meant to the art form can never be redone, can never be replaced [...] And when those two guys passed away I thought [it] was the end of rap."

Meanwhile, two little-known emcees in Atlanta were poised to change the game forever with their refreshingly fun and funky Southern sound. Not only did Outkast keep lit the torch of hip-hop in its hour of direst need, they also contributed greatly to redefining the genre's increasingly polarized sound—which, for the majority of the '90s, existed in two extremes: the gritty street griots of NYC and the G-Funk stylings of gangsta rap artists from South-Central LA. They offered something brand new by laying out the blueprint for another regional sound in hip-hop, that of the Dirty South. In the years to follow, radio waves were bombarded with new and unique artists like T.I., Ludacris, Lil Wayne, Master P, Trick Daddy, Three 6 Mafia, and Mystikal, as well as (more recently), J. Cole, Killer Mike, and Big K.R.I.T.

K.R.I.T., however, found his beginnings at the tail end of the Dirty South's commercial reign. His 2006 mixtape, Hood Fame, garnered him some well-deserved recognition, prompting some high-profile guest spots on albums like Curren$y's major label debut, Pilot Talk, as well as Wiz Khalifa's critically acclaimed mixtape, Kush & Orange Juice. From there, K.R.I.T. quickly rose through the ranks of rap as an emcee and producer, often praised for the ways in which he rapped like T.I. (raw, lyrical, and quintessentially Southern), yet his beats were reminiscent of the late Pimp C (heavily rooted in '70s funk grooves and trap drums).

Big K.R.I.T., unlike some of his Dirty South contemporaries, has been able to adapt and evolve in order to survive the modern hip-hop landscape, which is seemingly always in flux. And his latest album, K.R.I.T. Iz Here, is yet another testament to that rare propensity for longevity.

In terms of production, K.R.I.T. Iz Here is a far cry from his early work. There are certainly elements of that iconic Dirty South vibe thrown in throughout, particular on songs like "M.I.S.S.I.P.P.I.," a horn-driven ode to his roots (and succeeding despite great adversities), On this track, K.R.I.T. raps, "Daddy worked up on a train / Momma always had brains, she a teacher now / You knowin' how we get down / So stop with all them bullshit moves about where I come from…"

He raps about fighting his way out of poverty so he could help his parents and his community find reprieve from struggle, demonstrating all the while a wealth of lyrical growth since the days of Hood Fame, skillfully bobbing and weaving through rhymes with the grace and patience of a veteran boxer. "Proud parents, black parents, my parents," he rhymes, "They standin' on the same steps that they supposed to / In the same place that they supposed to / And I'ma keep raisin' 'em higher and higher / And the biggest house I can find, I'ma buy it and buy / I'ma keep tryin' and tryin' to make 'em proud and all."

Other standout moments on K.R.I.T. Iz Here, though, see the rapper and producer solidifying a new voice—one for which he began laying down the foundation with 2017's critically acclaimed, 4eva is a Mighty Long Time. On much of …Iz Here, K.R.I.T. has traded in that signature Dirty South sound for beats that could be characterized as echoing that classic late '90s/early aughts East Coast aesthetic. Songs like "K.R.I.T. Here," "Make it Easy," and "Everytime," for example, rely heavily on smooth and flourishing soul samples—which make for unexpected and interesting backdrops to K.R.I.T.'s Mississippian, drawling flow.

There is a third ingredient, too, in this eclectic mix of hip-hop's multifarious and ever-shifting sounds. Songs with a more contemporary trap feel are darkly synth-laden and pummeled with speaker-shaking 808s; bangers like "I Made It" (featuring Yella Beezy), "Believe," "Prove It" (featuring J. Cole), and "Addiction" (featuring Lil Wayne and Saweetie) all showcase K.R.I.T.'s ability and eagerness to put his own spin on not only where rap has been, but also where rap appears to be headed.

Like Outkast did before him, Big K.R.I.T. is bridging a chasm in rap—again at a time where the culture is fractured and segmented, albeit to a much lesser degree. At a point in hip-hop history when the Dirty South has all but faded from the conversation, Big K.R.I.T. is here to keep it from disappearing, to open the doors for the Southern emcees and producers of tomorrow to bring their roots into whatever new terrains hip-hop traverses in the years to come.

K.R.I.T. IZ HERE


Kendrick Lamar To Pimp a Butterfly

These are the albums you should put your kids onto out of respect.

You know when you play a Playboi Carti song in front of your grandmother and her face contorts into a pretzel because 1) she can't understand anything that's being said, and 2) it's too vulgar for her despite her not comprehending the slang. It's a very different face then when you play a Kendrick Lamar song in front of your grandmother and she slightly nods and goes, "He is a very talented man." Rap isn't for everyone and every grandmother, and not all rap albums are made equal. Some albums show more merit than others and some are just really good for frat parties. Here are ten essential hip hop albums every music lover should know.

10. Nas Illmatic

Any good intro into the rap/hip hop genre should start or lead to Nas' Illmatic, a landmark album that put east coast rap on the map. (See, I'm already making those bars.) Nas crowned himself the king of New York and subsequently every rapper after him would attempt to claim the throne. Illmatic is a poetic mix of solid production and exceptional lyricism detailing the drug underworld in New York and Nas' personal struggles navigating manhood. Quality beats, lyrics, and sharp storytelling make Illmatic an essential hip hop listen.

9. Dr. Dre The Chronic

Dr. Dre The Chronic

Priority Records

You have to give credit to the west coast. Dr. Dre made gangsta rap palatable to a commercial audience. The Chronic propelled the career of Snoop Dogg and gave us G-funk. Featuring some of Dr. Dre's best production and bars, The Chronic is a sexy, violent look at gangster culture and the crazy stories that come with it.

8. A Tribe Called Quest The Low End Theory

Any one of their albums will do. Midnight Marauders is excellent too. Conscious, intelligent rap with jazzy, soulful beats, A Tribe Called Quest showed that rap could be enticing and still smart. Tackling race, politics, and sex, The Low End Theory (and most of their albums) provided an alternative sound and perspective in hip hop.

7. OutKast ATLiens

Andre 3000 is at his prime on this album. A true gem of southern rap and southern culture, ATLiens shows OutKast in refined form.

6. Danny Brown Atrocity Exhibition

Danny Brown is one of the most underrated lyricists in rap. Witty, vulgar, and quick he can often overwhelm the average listener. Atrocity Exhibition is the definition of a performative rap album that displays the aesthetic and intensity of its subject matter. Detailing Danny's battle with addiction, the album is a claustrophobic look into the psyche of a man enabling his worst inclinations.

5. Tyler the Creator Flower Boy

You either love him or hate him, but Tyler the Creator made something special with Flower Boy. Not too many mainstream rappers would explore their sexual identity on record or even admit to their femininity and insecurities as openly as Tyler. Intimate, sweet, and genuine, Flower Boy is a queer rap album from an artist that has grown and expanded since his debut. Wonderful, bouncy, colorful production backs up some of Tyler's most confessional and enduring work.

4. Lauryn Hill The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

A feminine critique of love, self-respect, and community, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill stands as one of the most enduring hip-hop albums ever. Lauryn Hill showcases the fearless voice of a woman in a male dominated space and sets the record straight that you can be complex and strong and still feminine.

3. Madvillian Madvilliany

Madvilliany

Stones Throw Records

MF DOOM rhymes paired with Madlib's unconventional production make for an entertaining and refreshing rap album. Funny at times, pessimistic in others, Madvilliany is a cartoon-esque masquerade filled with hysterical samples and clever rhymes.

2. Erykah Badu New Amerykah Part One (4th World)

Poetic and performative, New Amerykah is a beautiful look at politics and Black identity. Incorporating funk, soul, and hip hop sounds, the album is a dense exploration of hip hop's impact in music and Black culture and the healing qualities of storytelling. Touching on topics of slavery and the exploitative nature of fame, New Amerykah is a sincere love letter to Black art and Black history.

1. Kendrick Lamar To Pimp a Butterfly

A masterpiece and exceptional achievement in hip hop, To Pimp a Butterfly revived conscious rap at a mainstream and commercial level. Kendrick gets deep and personal with the help of jazz, soul, and funk sounds. Cinematic and visual, To Pimp a Butterfly is a sharp critique of American race relations and celebration of Black culture. Featuring spoken word, audio recordings, and an interview with Tupac, the album is a conversation about self-love, community, history, and freedom.


Shaun Harris is a poet, freelance writer, and editor published in avant-garde, feminist journals. Lover of warm-toned makeup palettes, psych-rock, and Hilton Als. Her work has allowed her to copyedit and curate content for various poetry organizations in the NYC area.


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