A bunch of new artists make debuts this week, while a pair of veterans continue to certify themselves within their given niches. Meanwhile, a fallen heroine makes a posthumous comeback, New York drill continues to establish its foothold, and the new wave of LA party rap favorites expands its influence.
Here is the best of hip-hop this week ending February 19, 2021.
CJ — Loyalty Over Royalty
Staten Island drill newcomer CJ arrived with a splash last year thanks to his hit single “Whoopty.” He followed up earlier this year with “Bop,” proving he wasn’t just a one-hitter quitter. Now, he’s got a deal with Warner Records, and the eyes and ears of the world firmly focused on this debut EP to see if he can really stick.
Ghetts — Conflict Of Interest
UK grime mainstay Ghetts is on his third studio album, released under Warner Records. Featuring fellow British superstars Dave, Giggs, Skepta, Stormy, and Wretch 32 — talk about “star-studded” — his latest album is his most earnest and personal to date.
Lexii Alijai — Come Back Soon
After passing away last year at just 21 years old, Lexii Alijai’s posthumous project arrives with much less fanfare than some other late, rising stars’ debut albums, but it’s just as appreciated by fans of her work, which included appearances on two Kehlani albums. Kyle Banks, P-Lo, and Wale make appearances to give a fond farewell to a powerful talent taken far too soon.
Lil Zay Osama — Trench Baby
Balancing tough trench talk and plainspoken vulnerability, Lil Zay Osama’s major-label debut (he signed to Warner in 2019) is replete with respected guest stars but offers a self-confident look at an artist who already has a strong sense of who he is and where he’s going. While Doe Boy, G Herbo, Jackboy, and Lil Tjay provide poignant counter perspectives to Osama’s, the story belongs to him alone.
Nef The Pharaoh — SINsational
At this point, Nef The Pharaoh album releases have become an annual occurrence, as the Bay Area rapper maintains the consistency of his Vallejo mentor E-40. Here, he continues to walk the line between late-night function background music and truculent fight tunes.
Trippie Redd — Neon Shark vs Pegasus (Deluxe: Presented by Travis Barker)
Trippie wants to be a real rockstar and with the monstrous deluxe version of his already massive album Pegasus dropping today, he’s as close as he’s ever been. That’s thanks in part to Travis Barker, who produces the rock-heavy first half of the album, giving fans 14 all-new songs along with a pair of appearances from fellow Ohioan rapper turned rocker Machine Gun Kelly.
24kGoldn — “3, 2, 1”
After going to No. 1 on the Hot 100 with “Mood” in 2020, San Francisco sing-rapper 24kGoldn sets his sight on the chart once again with another bouncy, catchy, borderline schmaltzy tune designed to appeal to teenage emotions everywhere. Personally, I like a little schmaltz, and what 24k may lack in lyrical depth, he makes up in a gift for melody and genre-blending with a cross-demographic appeal.
BlueBucksClan — “Horace Grant”
Los Angeles party rap at its disrespectful, conversational, beat-jumping finest. The duo has rapidly developed up a reputation for turning things up and they live up to it here.
CJ — “Politics”
Smartly dropping another new single on the same day as his debut EP, Staten Island’s newest star continues to excavate new pockets for drill, filling them up with his slickly-worded boasts and distinctive, perfectly modulated voice.
Dusty Locane — “Intro 2 Me, Pt. 1”
If CJ is competing for drill’s still-vacant throne, Dusty might be his number-one rival, thanks to his polished storytelling and his voice, which is frighteningly similar to the throne’s former occupant’s. That voice is the primary draw on this drumless production, that lets him introduce himself clearly and concisely.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.