Compton, Calif. native Kendrick Lamar has been releasing music since his debut mixtape, 2003’s “Youngest Head Nigga in Charge.” Since then,
he’s dropped four other mixtapes and built some buzz from 2010’s “Overly Dedicated.” But it was his 2011 breakthrough, the independently released digital album “Section.80” that established Lamar as a fresh face and unique hip-hop voice.
The concept album explored several themes rarely discussed in modern hip-hop, ranging from racism and political oppression to sexual ambiguity and medication tolerance.
“good kid, m.A.A.d city” is the MC’s major label debut. The record features collaborations with Dr. Dre, Drake, Pharrell and a track with Lady Gaga that didn’t make the final album.
Lamar is a progression in hip-hop — power political lyricism paired with catchy and hard-hitting production. His debut should solidify his presence.
Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky emerged from the underground last year with style musically and visually all his own.
His debut mixtape “LiveLoveA$AP” was released last Halloween and, in retrospect, it’s kind of astounding the impact the MC has made in such a small amount of time.
Rocky’s music is a bit of a regional, historical and lyrical hip-hop hodgepodge. Despite being a New York rapper Rocky and his crew, A$AP Mob, incorporate synth-heavy soundscapes, low- and mid-tempo beats as well as chopped and screwed choruses, all of which draw heavily from Southern hip-hop.
Aside from his musical acclaim, Rocky has infiltrated the fashion world with an aloof swagger not seen since a young Kanye West.
He’s best friends with Alexander Wang, name drops Maison Martin Margiela and revived Jeremy Scott’s career all while proudly displays his cornrolls and gold teeth. But Rocky’s as a musician and “LongLiveA$AP” won’t disappoint.
The last year has been nice for Calvin Harris. The Scottish DJ made a name for himself stateside in 2011 with the single “Bounce” featuring
Kelis as well as the insanely catchy “Feel So Close,” which hasn’t stopped blasting across airwaves countrywide. It was his collaboration with pop’s bad girl Rihanna that made the 28-year-old a household name. “We Found Love” brought about a reinvented Rihanna, sounded like a lost 80s gay club anthem and became a No. 1 single in more than eight different countries.
Since then, Harris has been continuing his electro-pop-produced confections, teaming up with Ne-Yo on the single “Let’s Go,” English singer and rapper Example on “We’ll Be Coming Back” and baroque-pop goddess Florence Welch on “Sweet Nothing,” all from his upcoming third album 18 Months.
Six albums in seven years, 11 No. 1 singles, 18 Billboard Awards and five Grammys all before the age of 25; who else but Rihanna? Love her or
hate her, the Bajan bombshell has been the past decade’s biggest artist and shows no signs of slowing down. Since her 2005 debut “Music of the Sun,” the singer has released an album every year, excluding 2008 where she was involved in a highly publicized scandal with then boyfriend Chris Brown.
Since then, pop’s bad girl has dropped an album every November with “Rated R,” “Loud” and “Talk That Talk.”
It looks like 2012 can expect the same. “Diamonds,” the lead single for her upcoming seventh studio album “Unapologetic,” has already shot to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts and cracked the top 10 for the Billboard Hot 100, In the three weeks since its debut.
The song marks a notable musical change in an artist who is noted for her reinventions. It will be interesting to see how long before the Rihanna reign starts to let up.
Bad Brains is one of the oldest, unapologetic and most hardcore bands ever.
The band started in Washington, D.C. in 1977 riginally formed as a jazz-fusion ensemble under the name Mind Power, the sound quickly switched gears and established its eclectic combination of hardcore punk, funk, heavy metal, hip-hop and reggae.
The band’s race (black) and religion (Rastafarianism) set it apart from its peers. It didn’t hurt that the group is really freaking good. The band has released eight studio albums, broken up, gotten back together and a changed name Since their inception
“Into the Future” is the Brains’ follow up to 2007’s “Build a Nation,” an album produced by the band’s long time-friend and frequent collaborator Adam Yauch. “Future” is dedicated to the Beastie Boy and the first on, Megaforce Records the group’s new label.