5. Gucci Mane – Views From Zone 6
Gucci Mane got a thousand times more awesome this month with the release of his new eight-track EP. Not only is the project, which is titled Views From Zone 6, hilariously spun off of Drake’s forthcoming Views From The 6 album, but the guests featured on the EP are amazing! Stream the new Views From Zone 6 project here, which recruits the talents of Chief Keef, Andy Milonakis, Young Thug, Fredo Santana, 2 Chainz, Lil Reese, Quavo (Migos) and even Lil B The Based God. Views From Zone 6 may be featured driven, but the project as a whole is one of the better rap releases of the year.
4. Chief Keef – Sorry 4 The Weight
Although its a mixtape and parodies Lil Wayne’s Sorry 4 Tha Wait mixtape in its title, don’t sleep on Sosa’s DJ Holiday hosted Sorry 4 The Weight mixtape. Potentially his best project yet, Sorry 4 The Weight is full of quality records. ‘Ten Toes Down’ and ‘What Up’ are just a couple of the stand out tracks and the project as a whole demonstrates Chief Keef’s growth as an artists and especially his growth as a producer (with Keef producing a couple quality tracks on the tape). He may be living in a mansion now, but don’t expect his raps to be wealth driven like a modern day Jay-Z, because at the end of the day Chief Keef is still Chief Keef, whose drill raps are indicative of his everyday life and not lies to sell a certain sound.
3. Emile Haynie – We Fall
Rap fans know producer Emile Haynie from his work with Kanye, Kid Cudi and Eminem and many know him for his contributions on Lana Del Rey’s debut album Born To Die, producing some of its best tracks like ‘Blue Jeans’, ‘Born To Die’, ‘Off to the Races’ and more. And now with his We Fall album, some of the artists Haynie worked with in the past have returned the favor. One of the album’s stand out tracks is its Lana Del Rey collaboration, ‘Wait For Life‘, but the entire LP, which features Lykee Li, Randy Newman, Rufus Wainwright and more, is an amazing first effort for his debut album and one of the best releases of the month.
2. Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
Drake almost broke the internet in February when he “pulled a Beyonce” and dropped a surprise album, titled If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. If you take If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late for what it probably is, a mixtape (disguised as an album) to give fans a treat before the much anticipated Views From The 6, then it is hard to not enjoy it. Even the stand-out tracks don’t stand-out that much (there is certainly no ‘0 to 100’ on IYRTITL), but every song on the project is at the very least decent (and many are still great). The project is produced by some of rap’s top names and you can tell in the result, and Drake’s B or C-Game is still better than a lot of rapper’s A-game. Is it better than Nothing Was The Same? No. Is it worth a listen? Easily, and Drake is well beyond the point that anyone should go into a new Drake project wondering if Drizzy will deliver or not. Mixtape, album, or something in-between, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late delivers and is one of the best rap releases of the year, and although it’s only February, I expect things to stay that way by the year’s end.
1. Big Sean – Dark Sky Paradise
It’s fair to say Big Sean has been feeling some type of way lately. Glancing over the past couple years, one could pick out that his last album, Hall of Fame, was ironically average and commercially poor, and on top of it all, he endured a very public and bitter split with his ex-fiancee and Glee star, Naya Rivera. Lately though, not only has Sean rebounded with another tabloid-attracting lover in songstress Ariana Grande, he has signed a new management deal with music-juggernaut Roc Nation, but more importantly, he has been killing every feature or single released from him in the past few months. With this overflow of amazing music, not only is he making up for lost time and turning heads in the process, but he has managed to craft his best studio album to date in his latest effort, Dark Sky Paradise. Musically, Dark Sky Paradise is multi-dimensional without seeming random, and stays conceptual and cohesive when it needs to be. It might not be more than expected, but that doesn’t stop it from being excellent.