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Essential Hip-Hop Releases From The 2010s: Ye, Cardi B, Kendrick Lamar & More

The 2010s saw an expanded media landscape that broadened the sound and impact of hip-hop at large. In continued celebration of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, read on for 10 crucial songs and albums that defined the decade.

GRAMMYs/Jul 26, 2023 - 03:10 pm

Few genres have evolved as remarkably as hip-hop over the past five decades, and the eerily recent, yet, distant 2010s saw the genre at its most progressive. Legendary acts and fresh-faced stars pushed rap’s cultural and musical bounds, opening a pathway for a new class of artists to emerge, and for overlooked regions to gain their deserved recognition. 

With the expansion of hip-hop’s mediasphere, artists that would’ve been confined by their locale crossed the invisible barriers of rap music to establish themselves as mainstream success. Canada-born stars PartyNextDoor, The Weeknd and Drake took over rap the same way the Brits took over rock music in the 1960s, and it was made possible by the boundless nature (and unprecedented sonic access) of today’s rap fan. 

The emergence of SoundCloud elevated lesser-known talents including Playboi Carti, Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage, the late Juice Wrld to superstardom at a rapid pace. The era also marked a sonic turn in the industry, which saw artists merge their styles with those of other regions. That’s why artists like Asap Rocky adopted elements of Houston’s chopped-and-screwed sound in his early discography, despite his Harlem origins. 

Legacy acts like Jay-Z, Kanye West, Eminem, and Nicki Minaj continued their reign as rap heavyweights, with record sales and award wins showcasing their influence. The period also saw the emergence of hip-hop’s three horsemen – Drake, J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar – who carved their legacies with chart-topping hits and groundbreaking albums throughout the 2010s. Their contributions, as well as those from Future, Big Sean, Travis Scott, and Chance the Rapper, set the stage for the decade. 

Read on for 10 of the most consequential releases of the 2010s.

Ye - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)

Just a year removed from interrupting Taylor Swift on stage during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, Kanye West, now known as Ye, produced arguably the best rap album of the decade, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. 

It was a career turn that’s more familiar to rap fans in recent years, but the Chicago rapper snapped back with a glossy, epic-level album that was a culmination of his best work to that point — or maybe ever. From "Dark Fantasy" to "So Appalled" and "Gorgeous," West was at the peak of his lyrical powers, with the rapper-producer exchanging sharp-tongued lyrics with wordsmiths like Pusha T, CyHi The Prynce and Raekwon.  

The album also set the stage for one of the best collaborations of the year, with West, Rihanna and Kid Cudi merging their creative powers to create the wondrously rhythmic, GRAMMY-winning hit, "All of The Lights. And Nicki Minaj fans still reference the star’s verse on "Monster," which saw the Jamaica Queens native rise above rap titans Jay-Z and Rick Ross on the smash-mouth track. 

Wiz Khalifa -"Black and Yellow" (2010)

After making his name in the mixtape circuit with classic projects Kush & Orange Juice and Flight School, Wiz Khalifa’s  mainstream breakthrough came in the form of 2010’s "Black and Yellow." The hit song bolstered the Pittsburgh rapper’s profile in time for his debut studio album, Rolling Papers, and put his hometown and Taylor Gang crew on the hip-hop map.

With the Pittsburgh Steelers making it to the Super Bowl in 2011, the Stargate-produced hit became the team’s unofficial anthem and spawned other remixes in the same vein. "Black & Yellow (G-Mix)" featuring Snoop Dogg, Juicy J, and T-Pain, Brooklyn rapper Fabolous honored the New York Yankees with "White and Navy" and Lil Wayne paid homage to the Green Bay Packers with  "Green and Yellow."

The success of "Black and Yellow" opened the doors for Khalifa and his stable of Taylor Gang talent to flourish, namely artists like Ty Dolla $ign, Chevy Woods, and Three 6 Mafia legend Juicy J. The song also placed a brighter spotlight on Rostrum Records and recent signee Mac Miller, who was months removed from releasing his acclaimed K.I.D.S. mixtape and would later become a star before his unexpected death in 2018. 

Chief Keef - "I Don’t Like" (2012)

The city of Chicago was set ablaze with the release of Chief Keef’s "I Don’t Like." The Young Chop-produced track popularized the city’s drill sound, which established a new influx of talent bred from the Windy City and a subgenre later adapted by UK and New York rappers like Fivio Foreign and the late Pop Smoke

The impact of the street hit led to its inclusion on the G.O.O.D. Music compilation project, Cruel Summer, featuring artists Pusha T, Kanye West, Big Sean, and Jadakiss. "I Don’t Like" was later placed on Keef’s debut release, Finally Rich, helping further catapult the Chicago artist to mainstream notoriety. The song is still credited as the launching pad for the drill movement, with Keef viewed as the forefather of the subgenre as a whole. 

Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid, M.A.A.D City (2012)

For many hip-hop fans, Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D City reestablished the West Coast’s grip on the rap game, which for years, was singularly held by The Game. 

After the release of Lamar’s independent album Section.80, his second turn took more of a mainstream approach while chronicling his teenage years in the gang and crime-ridden streets of Compton. He enlisted artists like Drake for the flowy, Janet Jackson-sampling hit, "Poetic Justice," and drew in legends like Dr. Dre for "Compton" and Jay-Z for "Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe - Remix." 

The multi-platinum project was produced by Dj Dahi, Sounwave, Hit-Boy, Scoop DeVille, Just Blaze, and others, who delivered atmospheric and tight-bass beats for Lamar’s narrative-driven concept album to flourish. Good Kid, M.A.A.D City earned Lamar four GRAMMY nominations at the 2014 GRAMMY Awards, including Album Of The Year. And while he didn’t take a gramophone home during that night, his major label made him the face of West Coast rap for years to come. 

Future and Drake - What a Time to be Alive (2015)

After cranking out moderate hits like "Tony Montana" and "Never Satisfied," Drake and Future linked up for an Avengers-level collaboration, which culminated into 2015’s What a Time to be Alive

The project came together after Drake met with Future in Atlanta for six days. Their first recording was "Digital Dash," and from there, the two artists merged their respective sounds together for a hyper-trap mixtape filled with hits like "Jumpman" and "Big Rings." On the production side, What a Time to be Alive was largely handled by executive producer Metro Boomin, who produced or co-produced eight of the project’s 11 songs, alongside fellow beatmakers Noah "40" Shebib, Allen Ritter, Southside, Boi-1da, and others. 

The 2015 release also foreshadowed Future and Drake’s later collaborations. Future enlisted artists like fellow Atlanta rapper Young Thug for Super Slimey and Lil Uzi Vert for Pluto x Baby Pluto, and Drake linked up with 21 Savage for 2022’s Her Loss.  

Rae Sremmurd - "Black Beatles" (2016)

After scoring hits like "No Flex Zone" and "No Type,"  brothers Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi literally had the world in suspension with the 2016 hit "Black Beatles" featuring Gucci Mane.  The "SremmLife 2" single sparked the viral mannequin challenge, which saw social media users stand frozen in time as a camera filmed their surroundings with their song playing in the background.  

Internet trends aside, the song was a massive hit that landed the group and Gucci Mane their first No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100. The Mike Will-produced track also pushed additional sales of the duo’s second album, which went from selling 30,000 equivalent units in the first week to eclipsing one million sales by November 2017. 

Jay-Z - 4:44 (2017)

With a resume as stacked as Jay-Z’s, his claim as the greatest MC of all time was viable long before the release of 4:44. But the late-career release did more than just add to his illustrious discography; it was one of the most complete and transparent bodies of work Hova has ever produced. 

On tracks like "Kill Jay-Z," the Brooklyn rapper stripped his ego-fueled moniker to give listeners a snapshot of his upbringing and past failures as Shawn Carter the man. He takes a step back to reflect on his mother’s sexuality on "Smile," and the challenges he faced in his marriage to Beyoncé on the title track. 

While many viewed 4:44 as a response to Bey's Lemonade album, the project also touched on the importance of shared success on "Legacy" and the push for generational wealth on "The Story of O.J." 4:44 garnered three nominations at the 60th GRAMMY Awards, including Song Of The Year and Album Of The Year. 

Migos - "Bad and Boujee" (2016)

During the 2017 Golden Globe Awards, rapper and Emmy-winning actor Donald Glover had a confession: Migos’ "Bad and Boujee" was the "best song ever." By then, the 2016 single was already a popular viral hit, with memes surrounding the lyrics "rain drop, drop top" bubbling up online. But Glover’s shoutout helped the G Koop and Metro Boomin-produced hit to reach the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100, a first for the Georgia-born rap group and featured artist Lil Uzi Vert.

"Bad and Boujee" established the Migos as the hottest rap group of the era, and spearheaded each member’s solo projects and business ventures. The multi-platinum single was even nominated for Best Rap Performance at the 2018 GRAMMY Award. 

Drake - "God’s Plan" (2018)

With countless across the 2010s, it’s hard to choose which Drake record made the biggest splash during the era, but 2018’s "God’s Plan" has a case when it comes to global reach. Produced by Cardo, Young Exclusive, Boi-1da, and long-time collaborator Noah "40" Shebib, the GRAMMY-winning single topped the charts in 14 countries while posting record-setting streaming numbers.

Though the pop-trap hit was met with mixed reviews upon its release, "God’s Plan" shattered Apple Music and Spotify first-day streaming numbers with 14 million and 4.3 million, the most of any song that year on both platforms. By the first week, the song climbed to 82.4 million total streams. 

"God’s Plan" was the lead single for Drake’s EP Scary Hours and fifth studio album Scorpion, and notched the Toronto artist Best Rap Song at the 2019 GRAMMYs. The song’s music video, which showed the rapper giving out a million dollars to people in Florida, also made waves online, amassing countless social media memes and over 1.5 billion views on YouTube as of July 2023.

Cardi B - Invasion of Privacy (2018)

The story of Cardi B, who rose from reality TV star to GRAMMY-winning artist, proved there could be more than one Queen ruling over the rap game. And her groundbreaking debut, Invasion of Privacy, inspired a new legion of women artists with dreams of occupying their own respective thrones. 

With street anthems like "Bodak Yellow," "Bartier Cardi," and the reggaeton-inspired "I Like It" featuring J Balvin and Bad Bunny, Cardi showcased her knack for catchy hooks, sharp lyrics, and the colorful personality found beneath the brash, aggressive flow. Producers DJ Mustard, Allen Ritter, Benny Blanco, Boi-1da, and others elevated the project to album of the year consideration. 

Along with winning Rap Album Of The Year at the 2019 GRAMMYs, Invasion of Privacy took the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 upon its release, making Cardi only the fifth female rapper to reach the top of the charts at the time. Even in the years after its release, the album continues to make history for the "WAP" artist, who became the first woman to have all of her album’s songs reach platinum status when Invasion of Privacy reached the milestone in 2022, according to Billboard

Essential Hip-Hop Releases From The 2000s: T.I., Lil Wayne, Kid Cudi & More

Metro Boomin Performs at Future & Friends' One Big Party Tour in 2023
Metro Boomin performs during Future & Friends' One Big Party Tour in 2023

Photo: Prince Williams/Wireimage 

list

Metro Boomin's Essential Songs: 10 Must-Know Tracks, From "Creepin" To "Like That"

The 2024 GRAMMY nominee for Producer Of The Year is one of hip-hop's most in-demand minds. Between his collab albums with Future and some highly debated beefs with rap's biggest stars, it's the perfect time to revisit the Metro-verse.

GRAMMYs/Jun 4, 2024 - 01:38 pm

Metro Boomin has spent more than a decade redefining rap music. The gloomy, 808-induced trap beats that flood radio airwaves and blare from nightclub speakers are a symbol of his influence. But now, the Atlanta-based superproducer is on one of his biggest musical runs to date.  

In April, Metro released the second of two joint albums with Future, hinted at a third release this year, sold out a concert at the Kundalini Grand Pyramids in Egypt, and clinched the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 with "Like That" featuring Kendrick Lamar. He also delivered a first-of-its-kind instrumental diss aimed at Drake called "BBL Drizzy," accusing the Toronto rapper of going under the knife.  

The diss was in response to Drake’s "Push Ups" and subsequent disses toward Kendrick Lamar. "Metro shut your hoe ass up and make some drums" he rapped. The verbal blow inspired Metro to release the hilarious instrumental, which he encouraged fans to rap on for a chance to win a free beat.  

Months before the feud, Metro celebrated two nominations for Best Rap Album and Producer of the Year, Non-Classical at the 66th GRAMMY Awards. While he didn’t take home a coveted golden gramophone, the momentum has elevated his career to new heights.  

Before the St. Louis-bred producer kicks off the We Trust You tour with Future on July 30, revisit 10 of Metro Boomin's biggest releases.  

"Karate Chop" (2013) 

A 19-year-old Metro crafted his first charting single right before making a life-changing move to Atlanta. With piercing synths and bubbly arpeggios, the song was the lead single for Future’s highly anticipated sophomore album, Honest. 

But Metro, a freshman at Morehouse College at the time, wasn’t sold on its success. "I never really like it," Metro told XXL. "Then every time people would come into the studio, he would always play the record and I was like, ‘Why are you so stuck on this s—? We have way harder records.’"  

But after cranking out a new mix on the original track, "Karate Chop" went on to become his first placement on a major label album. The remix with Lil Wayne further elevated the record and, by virtue, Metro’s profile as a musical craftsman.  

"Jumpman" (2015) 

 Metro mastered the late-summer anthem in 2015 with "Jumpman." The song was the most notable hit from Drake and Future’s collaborative mixtape, What a Time to Be Alive, and went on to shut down bustling nightclubs and obscure strip joints. And while the record didn’t perform as well as other songs on this list, it secured Future his first Top 20 hit.  

The song — which features Metro’s signature bass and a screeching raven sound effect — also saw a streaming boost after an Apple Music commercial featuring Taylor Swift rapping to the song. According to Adweek, the campaign helped generate a 431 percent increase in global sales 

 What makes "Jumpman" even more special is that a collab between Future, Metro, and Drake may never happen again. Reportedly, the duo is at odds with Drake because the OVO artist decided to link with 21 Savage on Her Loss instead of doing a follow-up project with Future.  

"Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1" (2016) 

"Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1" is the song that set Kanye West’s album, Life of Pablo, ablaze. Opening with a clip of gospel musician and singer T.L. Barrett’s Father I Stretch My Hands,” Metro’s signature producer tag kicks the record into full gear. The pulsating synthesizers and bouncy percussion match West’s raunchy and sexually explicit lyrics.  

Metro’s production received significant praise, with several publications pointing to his contributions on end-of-year listings. And in the eight years since its release, "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1" has been certified six times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, making it one of Ye’s most-sold records of all time. 

"Congratulations" (2016) 

After the success of "White Iverson," a young Post Malone was on the hunt for the hottest producers in the rap game. He managed to land Metro, who worked with fellow producers Frank Dukes and the prolific Louis Bell on the triumphant trap record "Congratulations."  

On a 2022 episode of the podcast "Full Send," Metro revealed that the celebratory song was made after watching the world’s greatest athletes eclipse historic feats of their own. "I remember the Olympics was on TV, and just how the music was sounding, it sounded like some champion s—," he said.  

"Congratulations" marked Post Malone’s second Top 20 hit following his debut, "White Iverson." The song was certified diamond after totaling more than 11 million combined sales. Today, it remains one of Metro’s biggest achievements.

"Bad and Boujee" (2017) 

Fueled by virality and a shoutout from Donald Glover at the 2017 Golden Globes, the Migos and Lil Uzi Vert’s "Bad and Boujee" landed Metro Boomin his first No. 1 Billboard hit as a producer.  

The song has every element Metro fans have grown to love: moody keys, hard-hitting bass, and plenty of room for the artists’ adlibs to pierce through the track.  

Two months before its eventual ascension, the song had a steep hill to climb atop the Billboard charts. But Metro’s production and the chemistry between Quavo, Offset, and Uzi helped the record shoot up to its rightful place. It continues to garner praise In the years since its 2016 release, too. It was ranked No. 451 on Rolling Stone’s "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" list 

"Mask Off" (2017) 

When "Mask Off" dropped in 2017, it scorched the Billboard charts. Hip-hop was flirting with flutes (as heard on songs like Drake’s "Portland" and Kodak Black’s "Tunnel Vision" — another Metro-produced beat) — but "Mask Off" stands out as the biggest song of the short-lived era.  

Metro infused jazz-like undertones to perfectly meld the flute lick into the dark and mystic beat. The record led to the remix with Kendrick Lamar, with his verse breathing new life into the already-seismic hit. It’s now certified nine times platinum.  

Years after the song’s release, Future said "Mask Off" initially put radio programmers in disarray. In his East Atlanta rapper’s Apple Music documentary The WIZRD, he revealed that the song dropped before Carlton WIlliams’ "Prison Song" sample was officially cleared. "Out of all the songs, ‘Mask Off’ wasn’t even legit," he said. "The s— was on the radio, they’re thinking it’s not a sample, but it got so big they were like, ‘It’s a sample.’" 

"Heartless" (2019) 

The Weeknd's "Heartless" is a pop and electro-clash classic that fires on all cylinders. The visuals are atmospheric, the lyrics are ultra-stimulating, and the production — partly handled by Metro — makes for a lasting club banger.  

The leading single for The Weeknd’s fourth studio album, After Hours, topped the Billboard charts. It marked the Toronto-born crooner’s fourth No. 1 hit and unveiled the depths of Metro’s musical arsenal.  

Metro produced four tracks on After Hours: "Faith," "Escape from L.A.," "Until I Bleed Out" and "Heartless." On the latter and in his other collaborations with The Weeknd, James Blake, and Solange, Metro’s creative sorcery was tested. He proved, once again, that he could generate a hit outside the confines of trap music.  

"Creepin" (2022)

After a solid outing on his first album Not All Heroes Wear Capes, Metro returned with another series of hard-hitting records. His second solo venture, Heroes & Villains, featured John Legend, Don Tolliver, Travis Scott, and other premiere artists. But the biggest song to come out of the star-studded lineup was "Creepin’" featuring 21 Savage and The Weeknd 

The only single to Metro’s second solo album struck sonic gold. The Weeknd’s flowy vocals overlay the silky and harmonic record, which transitions to a more trap-induced beat once 21 Savage’s verse kicks in. The remake of Mario Winans’ "I Don’t Wanna Know" was a notable departure from Metro’s past singles, which heavily lean on his trap roots. But it still managed to connect with his audience – and even beyond it. "Creepin" peaked at No. 3 on Billboard, which was Metro’s highest-charting solo record up until that point.

Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse (2023) 

Following the success of "Creepin’" and his other smash singles, Metro extended his creative powers to the film world. He was given the green light to executive produce the soundtrack for Sony’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. 

Metro Boomin told Indie Wire that he crafted songs from rough animations and selected scenes "just to get in the world and the story of Miles [Morales] and what he’s going through," He even exchanged phone calls and texts with the film’s composer Daniel Pemberton to ensure the soundtrack and score were on the same accord.  

From the classical serenade "Am I Dreaming" to the Latin swing of "Silk & Cologne" and the Timbaland-stomping "Nas Morales," the result was an equally transformative musical experience. Each record ranged in musicality and tone while beautifully complementing the vibrant animated superhero flick.

"Like That" (2024) 

"Like That" is easily one of the best beats in Metro’s catalog, and may end up being one of the most memorable. Samples from Rodney O & Joe Cooley’s "Everlasting Bass" and Eazy-E’s 1989 classic "Eazy-Duz-It" shaped the bouncy trap beat, sinister synths, and spine-chilling baseline. But Kendrick Lamar’s verse turned it into a heat-seeking missile.  

With the song’s thunderous bass and rapid hi-hats in the background, Kendrick dissed J. Cole and Drake for their recent claims of rap supremacy, particularly on 2023’s "First Person Shooter." The lyrical nuke sparked the Civil War-style rap feud, which led to a seven-song exchange between Kendrick and Drake.  

The initial musical blow made the genre stand still. It also led to the massive success of the record, which notched Future and Metro another No. 1 hit song. It also helped the pair’s album, We Don’t Trust You, claim the top spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart.  

Inside The Metro-Verse: How Metro Boomin Went From Behind-The-Scenes Mastermind To Rap's Most In-Demand Producer 

Chief Keef press photo 2024
Chief Keef

Photo: Casimir Spaulding

interview

Chief Keef On 'Almighty So 2,' His Long-Awaited Return To Chicago & Why He's "Better Now Than I Ever Was"

More than a decade in the making, Chief Keef unveiled the second installment of 'Almighty So.' The rapper details why the new album is not a sequel to his 2013 mixtape, but rather another symbol of his artistic evolution.

GRAMMYs/May 14, 2024 - 02:51 pm

Chief Keef fans have been awaiting a sequel to his influential mixtape Almighty So since he released it in 2013. The project came out in the midst of a magnificent and experimental run for Keef, when he was changing his style seemingly at will from Almighty's almost avant-garde soundscapes to woozy, autotuned melodies (Bang Pt. 2) to stoic street tales (Back From the Dead).

Keef, now 28, has been well aware of the anticipation for a follow-up to Almighty So, teasing the project since 2019. Five years later, it's finally here — but it might not quite be what fans were expecting.

In keeping with Keef's mercurial and exploratory artistic nature, Almighty So 2 has very little to do with its predecessor, save that comedian Michael Blackson does skits on both. In fact, Keef tells GRAMMY.com that the title of the project does not mean that he views it as a sequel to Almighty So.

"There's no connection at all," he asserts. Almighty So is his nickname, and one of his many alter egos; it stems from "Sosa," the Scarface-inspired nickname he's been using since the beginning of his career. The title, he says, "is not just a project that I dropped years ago. It's me. I'm still almighty."

Almighty So 2, released May 10, is indeed very different. It boasts a Keef who is nearly free of vocal doublings and ad libs, ready to let his voice clearly be heard on a wide range of subjects, including some introspective and emotional looks at himself, going all the way back to his childhood.

Several days before the project's release, GRAMMY.com caught up with Keef while he was at home in Los Angeles. Below, the Chicago-born rapper breaks down the album's lyrics and music, its most surprising guest appearance, how he views his own legacy, and his return to his hometown for the first time in over a decade.

This conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

You've been talking about this record since 2019, and originally you were saying it's going to have a lot of melody. The album I heard is very different from that. Can you tell me how and why the vision changed?

I just wanted to do something I never did. A couple of songs is stuff that you probably would never hear me do.

What's different about those songs?

Just more rapping about real things instead of flexing or talking about cars and weed. I'm rapping about real stuff in my life — in life, period.

"Believe" is like that. 

Oh yeah, "Believe," I forgot about that. You really know these songs. Okay, that's dope.

I heard that song as being about wanting and trying to change. Can you tell me about writing that and deciding to open up a little bit?

When I was making that beat, it gave me that feeling of, let some stuff out. That's all.

There's a line on there that really grabbed me. You're talking about growing up and you say you had to be an "evil kid." The word "evil" really struck me. What do you mean by
"evil"?

Because I was always smart — brilliant, intelligent. My circumstances had to be different, though. There wasn't a way for me to really show…I had to do the streets thing. I had to be a gangbanger. I had to grow up doing all that stuff instead of my potential that I know that I have, that I'm using doing all this stuff like designing. I can do everything. Really, literally. I probably could fly a plane, too.

Before I get into my ideas about it, what's different about your rapping on this album?

I feel like I'm just old. I'm 28, I'm finna be 29 now, man. I'm not the same young boy that grew up in Chicago on 54th and 61st. I guess you can call it growth.

I still got some stuff on there like the regular Sosa — the turn up, the fight-in-the-club or whatever you want to call it. Jump around, mosh pit music. I still got that. 

I was thinking more about just the sound of your rapping. There was almost no doubling, almost no ad libs. Your voice is very clear. Can you tell me about that creative decision?

I haven't been doubling like that. I don't know why I stopped it. You're right, I wanted to be more clear. 

Once I do a song, if I didn't do the ad libs, it must have not needed ad libs. When I do ad libs, it's like, I gotta do these ad libs. And if a song doesn't have ad libs on it, probably I can't really say the stuff that I want to say on the ad libs, or I didn't know how to put it. So I just said, scratch the ad libs and it's good like that. It's perfect. You don't need it, or the doubles. 

You have two songs on this record, "Runner" and "1,2,3," where you do that Dipset thing of talking back to the vocal sample. Why'd you do that?

I grew up on Juelz [Santana] and Cam'ron and Jim Jones. On 61st, we was a clique called Dipset, which comes from them. That's where I come from, so that's what I know. I guess I'm still living that right there.

Tell me about making beats for this album. There was some sampling in there, which is something you haven't done too much of.

I started sampling in probably 2019, 2020, or something like that. A lot of my producer friends, even my rapper friends, be like, "I love the way you sample. Damn, how do you sample like that?" Even though sometimes, I'll just let a sample play — it won't even be a chopped-up sample. 

If you get a beat from someone else, do you go in and add stuff to it?

Yeah. I can't take a beat and not put my stuff on it. Because it might be a dope beat, but if I feel like it need a couple more snares or a snare roll or some extra high hats or a bridge, I'll add my stuff in.

The album has some introspective lyrics, but it's also very funny.

I want to have some fun with it. A lot of people just drop projects and be regular degular. I wanted to do different. 

Like one song on the album, it takes four minutes to come on. It's just a beat and there's a skit playing of a dude in heaven talking. It's for car rides or trips. I don't know, I just wanted to do something different than what's regularly done all the time.

What's the connection between this album and the first Almighty So? Why call it Almighty So 2?

There's no connection at all. It's just, Almighty So, that's me. It's not just a project that I dropped years ago — it's me. I'm still Almighty So. I might not call myself that all the time, but it's forever me because when I did come out, it's something that I made and I stuck with it. 

It's just a name that everybody know. It's going to go down in the books. Forever, I'm Almighty So. I just had to do a number two, as in growth. It's the growth version of me.

I'm trying to display that I'm not the same 16, 17, 18-year-old that was running around Chicago with a gun on his hip. I'm far away in Los Angeles, California in a big, stupid-ass house with nine bathrooms and eight bedrooms. I got 12 cars outside my house, and they all mine. I don't have to have that gun on my hip. I ain't gotta watch my back all the time. 

I'm not the same. I'm a different guy. I feel like I'm better now than I ever was. I'm a better individual: the way I think, the way I talk. I'm more talkative now. At first, I wasn't even f—ing talking, bro. At first, you couldn't get me to say s— but a couple words.

When was the last time you listened to the first Almighty So?

I don't listen to that thing. Everybody else around me do. From friends to fans, everybody still listen to it, but I don't listen to it, barely ever. Every blue moon, I might end up playing it somehow. Because don't forget, I was listening to that s— nonstop when I made it. And I had to perform a lot of it too. So I know it by heart. I don't need to listen to it.

You have your first performance in Chicago in many years coming up at the Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash in June. How are you feeling about it?

It's been a while, man. I ain't gonna lie, it's gonna be like I'm a tourist when I go there. 

It's been a long, long time. It's been like 11, 12 years since I touched the pavement in Chicago, or Illinois, period. I'm ready. I know it's going to be a big thing. A lot of new people probably think I'm a ghost. There probably be teachers like, "Yeah, he went to this school," [and the students will be like,] "No, no, he ain't real." 

So a lot of people are going to be excited, just knowing I'm from there and I ain't been there in so long. People that's not in even Chicago — all them surrounding cities gonna show up [too], because Sosa has not been home. And they know it's gonna be big.

Given what happened back in 2015, when the cops shut down your hologram's concert, are you worried that the authorities will be looking for an excuse to shut it down?

Hopefully they won't shut it down. I ain't been there in 11 years. I ain't done nothing to no-motherf—ing-body, man. I ain't in no cases, no RICOs, no murders, none of that s—. Leave me the f— alone, man. 

I've been chilling, making clothes and making music. Don't shut me down. And even if they did, I don't care. I'm going home. Back to L.A. I go. At least y'all know that I tried.

From the beginning of your career, you've had this association with the word "turbulence." You use Turbo as an alter ego.

[Laughs] How do you know all this? This is some Nardwuar s— right now, man.

When did that start? Do you remember the first time you were like, "Oh, that word, that's me?"

You said, when did it start? It's my alter egos I just make in my damn head. That's all. I'm versatile, so I never make the same sounding s—. Every song you listen to of mine, it's not going to be like, "That sounds like the last one I just played."  

I just got my alter egos, and I just make names. And then Turbulence, Turbo, that just came with one of my alter egos from 2017. Every other year I got a new name and a new ego.

Lately I haven't done it, though. I've been chilling, on some grown man ish. I feel like [making alter egos is] more the young Sosa. Like I said, this was in 2017 when I made that name. I haven't really been doing it lately. No new aliases.

You talked earlier about designing clothes and doing other creative stuff. When you're making art or graphics, or designing clothes, what feels the same as making music to you, and what feels different?

It's the exact same thing. S—, just like I make a beat, making a shirt takes the same creativity. It's just in a different form. Instead of melodies, you're using pictures and s—. You're drawing stuff. Instead of drawing that melody in FL Studio, you're drawing an angel for a shirt.

It's the exact same thing. Even the colors. The colors are like the EQ on the beat or on the song — it brings out the light in the stuff. 

So yeah, it's actually the same thing to me. And I've been doing this same s—. All the clothing, the beats, I've been doing the exact same thing that I'm doing now since 2008. How many years is that? That's a long time.

Like the Glory Boys logo: I made that logo in late 2009. I was what, 13, 14? I was doing this s— since I was 10, 11. It started when my momma bought me a computer. She bought me a computer when I was like 6. And then I was doing unbelievable things, unimaginable things. 

When I was doing that, I knew that this is my calling. Like, you real good with computers, if you're not good with nothing else. Anything with a screen, I could do it my sleep. If I show you the s— I can do, you'd be like, what in the f—? I'm talking coding — I can code some s— up. Your mind would be blown.

One of the things that does connect this album to the first Almighty So is you have Michael Blackson come back. Why?

Because he was on the first one. I'm just like, I got a skit or two for him. I got a couple of different skits from a couple different people. I got Fabo from D4L on there. He's on "Almighty" the song, talking. I got Donterio from my city, a funny dude I mess with. He be like, "On baby, on baby" — he famous for saying that. 

I got Michael Blackson. I wanted to make it fun and funny, so it ain't just like you're riding around listening to regular music. I wanted to make it a type of movie, but just in the music form. 

One of the guest appearances that really got my attention was Tierra Whack. I thought she was great.

Yeah, me and Tierra, we're real friends and we talk. And I love the way she do everything, so I had to put her on my s—, man. Just on some random s— — like, they won't expect no damn Tierra Whack, you know? So I had to do that. And I got my little weird ways, I'll tell you that.

I wouldn't have guessed she would be on this album.

Yeah, I know you wouldn't. Nobody would. Chief Keef and Tierra Whack? How and where and when? I wanted her to do something different than what she do. I was like, "I got this song I want you to do, but it ain't nothing like you always do. It's different." And she's like, "Hell yeah, come on, let's do it." That's my dog, for real for real.

A lot of critics talk about how influential you are. Are you aware of people saying that stuff about you?

Everywhere! If I had 500 M's every time [I heard that], I'd be Jeff Bezos. The f—? I think I'd probably be bigger. I would be more rich!

I be hearing that a lot, though, man. I be tired of hearing that s—. I be like, we know. Me, you, and God know that. It's okay. Let people do what they do, man. I was a big fan of Gucci [Mane] and Lil Wayne. Still am. So if I got people who love me like that, s—, man. 

I used to get mad about it, but I don't give a f—. I'm a big fan of those two boys I just said. Even to this day, we still ride around listening to the old Gucci. If you get in our car and we on tour, all you going to hear is Gucci Mane from 2006, 7, 8, and 9, 2010, 2011. And we still even sometimes take our raps [from that]. The old Lil Wayne, I still even rap like that. If you listen to "Jesus," I got his flow — some Lil Wayne, the old Wayne, inspiration. So I guess I inspire, the way they inspire me.

Are you still determined to change your style frequently? That used to be a thing about you: every year you'd have a whole new approach to music.

You hip, bro. You smart as hell, I ain't gonna lie. That's why I'm talking to you like I am. But anyway, you're right, I don't necessarily. 

How I am, though, I never do the same s—, like I told you. You'll never say, "This sounds exactly the same as the other one." I probably got, like, two songs [that sound alike], and that's just if I'm messing with the same producer. 

So I can't say that every year I take that approach. But I guess every day I take that approach, or any time I pick up the damn microphone. I'm just trying to think, I want to do something different, or at least try.

Do you think of yourself primarily as a rapper? A producer? A person who's good with computers?

What I say is I got angles like Kurt. You know Kurt Angle? Jack of all trades. 

Call me Jack, don't call me Sosa. I guess I got a new alias today — we made one.

50 Artists Who Changed Rap: Jay-Z, The Notorious B.I.G., Dr. Dre, Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem & More

Rico Wade
Rico Wade at The Dungeon II Studios in Atlanta, Georgia in 2002.

Photo: Julia Beverly/Getty Images

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Remembering Producer Rico Wade, Helped Define The Sound Of Southern Hip-Hop

Rico Wade, legendary producer and one-third of Organized Noize, who helped forge the sound of Atlanta hip-hop and propelled artists like OutKast, Ludacris, and TLC to fame, has died at 52.

GRAMMYs/Apr 17, 2024 - 08:08 pm

Hip-hop has lost another legend. Rico Wade, an integral part of the bedrock of Southern hip-hop, the godfather of modern Atlanta rap, and one-third of the production crew Organized Noize with Patrick "Sleepy" Brown and Ray Murray, has died. He was 52. 

Wade was a force that helped launch the careers of OutKast, Goodie Mob, Ludacris, and Future, and produced and co-wrote hits for artists including TLC's "Waterfalls," as part of a mid-'90s Southern hip-hop renaissance. The epicenter of this revolution was the Dungeon, his mother's basement in East Point, Georgia. The location built a reputation as a haven for Dungeon Family artists like André "André 3000" Benjamin and Antwan "Big Boi" Patton among a generation of ATL creatives formulating their own flavor of Southern rap. 

"We're deeply saddened by the passing of Rico Wade, one of Atlanta’s most prolific music producers," said Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. "Rico's influential contributions to the Atlanta music scene beginning in the 1990s helped foster the rise of some of hip-hop’s most prominent artists and played a pivotal role in shaping the genre as we know it today. Our hearts go out to his family, friends, and all those whose lives he influenced.” 

Wade was nominated for two GRAMMYs during his lifetime including Record Of The Year for TLC's "Waterfalls" and Album Of The Year for OutKast's Stankonia. 

“Rico left an indelible mark on music and culture around the world and for that, the South will always have something to say,” said Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens in an issued statement echoing the famous battle cry of André 3000's 1995 Source Awards Best New Artist acceptance speech

It's been more than 30 years since OutKast dropped their first-ever single "Player's Ball" in 1993 and on that track Wade's voice is the first. He sets the tone for the legendary duo's entire career and Southern hip-hop at the same time with the introduction: "Man, the scene was so thick/ Lowriders, '77 Sevilles, El Dogs/ Nothin' but them 'Lacs/ All the players, all the hustlers/ I'm talkin' 'bout a Black man heaven here/ You know what I'm sayin'?"

"Rico Wade brought us to his house studio, where I heard the most interesting music production I'd ever heard from Atlanta," André 3000 told the Recording Academy in a 2019 interview reflecting on his experience working on OutKast's debut album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. "It was Rico, Ray, and Sleepy's vision to make sure [OutKast would put] Southern lifestyle first. I was just playing my part the best I could."

Outkast's Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik would go on to sell 500,000 records and became certified platinum within a year. "When we were working on the OutKast vibe, even though there were two members in the group, we all considered ourselves OutKast at the time — including all of Organized Noize and the Goodie Mob members who appeared on the album," Murray told the Recording Academy in 2019. 

Read more: OutKast Examine Their Southern Experience On 'Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik'

Organized Noize signed a publishing deal with L.A. Reid and Babyface's label LaFace Records in 1993, setting the foundation for their work on OutKast's seminal "Player's Ball" single. It was a lasting connection that would serve the rest of Wade's career.  

Wade would continue to work with Reid during Reid's tenure as chairman and CEO of Epic Records from 2013 to 2017, building a hub for hip-hop artists at the label including Wade's cousin, Atlanta rapper Future. Future would become the first artist ever on the Billboard charts to debut back-to-back albums at No. 1 with his 2017 release HNDRXX. In March, Future and Metro Boomin jointly released another No.1 album, We Don’t Trust You

Wade nurtured Future's talents through his Dungeon connects. The two didn't meet until Future was well into his teens, but once they did Wade quickly put his cousin's clear drive and talent to use, introducing him to the Dungeon Family and bringing him into the studio to work on in-house production projects including Ludacris' "Blueberry Yum Yum" (Red Light District), which earned Future a songwriting credit in 2004.

“That's how he ended up writing the record for Ludacris, becoming part of a group that could make music, and getting a record deal,” Wade told Complex in 2013. “It showed him that the music industry money is real."

Inspired by his cousin, Future studied the industry through the in-roads made by Wade. “I took everything I learned from him and applied it to my everyday craft from being in the studio,” Future told Complex. "Just knowing how to feel records so I know how to make songs and write for people to keep around and go to the next level.” His devotion to Wade's tutelage and legacy is apparent in the Olde English script tattooed across his arms that matches Wade's own markings — "DUNGEON" appears on the right and "FAMILY" on the left. 

Killer Mike, a constant collaborator who worked with Wade on his latest album Michael which swept the 2024 GRAMMYs rap categories with three wins for Best Rap Album, Best Rap Song, and Best Rap Performance, announced Wade's passing in an Instagram post on Sunday. "I don't have the words to express my deep and profound sense of loss. I am Praying for your wife and Children. I am praying for the Wade family. I am praying for us all," Killer Mike wrote. "I deeply appreciate your acceptance into The Dungeon Family, mentorship, Friendship and Brotherhood. Idk where I would be without ya'll." 

How 1994 Changed The Game For Hip-Hop

(Clockwise from top left): Metro Boomin, Taylor Swift, Bryson Tiller, Sinkane, St. Vincent, Tori Kelly, Future, TXT
(Clockwise from top left): Metro Boomin, Taylor Swift, Bryson Tiller, Sinkane, St. Vincent, Tori Kelly, Future, TXT

Photos: Taylor Hill/Getty Images; Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy; Joseph Okpako/WireImage; Chloe Morales-Pazant; Mike Coppola/WireImage; Sasha-Samsonova; Prince Williams/WireImage; Peter White/Getty Images

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15 Must-Hear Albums In April 2024: Taylor Swift, Vampire Weekend, St. Vincent & More

April promises to shower listeners with heavy-hitting hip-hop, pop, country and rock releases. From Metro Boomin and Future's upcoming collab, to TOMORROW x TOGETHER's new minisode, get your April 2024 playlist ready with 15 exciting new releases.

GRAMMYs/Apr 1, 2024 - 01:24 pm

This year, April brings more than just showers to beget May flowers. Instead, there must be something in the stars: In the fourth month of 2024, four artists are releasing their fourth studio albums. These are pop-rock band X Ambassadors’ Townie, R&B singer Bryson Tiller’s Bryson Tiller, rapper PartyNextDoor’s P4, and Irish rockers Picture This’ Parked Car Conversations.

Numerology aside, April will also contemplate exciting new works from pop masters Taylor Swift, whose The Tortured Poets Department drops mid-month, and St. Vincent’s All Born Screaming, country star ERNEST’s Nashville, Tennessee, jazz master Kenny Garrett and electronic producer Svoy’s What Killed AI?, and — allegedly — the second part of Future and Metro Boomin’s first joint-effort, We Don’t Trust You.

There’s music for all tastes ready to fill your playlists for the rest of the year. Read on for 15 of the most exciting albums dropping in April 2024.

TOMORROW X TOGETHER - minisode 3: TOMORROW 

Release date: April 1

Luckily, fans of the K-pop quintet TOMORROW X TOGETHER (TXT) rarely have to wait for new music. Six months after releasing their third studio album, The Name Chapter: Freefall, the group is gearing up to release minisode 3: TOMORROW.

The seven-song EP is fronted by upcoming lead single "Deja Vu," which is said to mix trap, rage, and emo rock into their signature emotional intensity, as per a press release. The other tracks continue to expand the group’s versatility, experimenting with pop rock, house, and acoustic guitars. 

As usual, the concept of the album is connected to TXT’s overarching lore, and features several references to their past works — track "- --- -- --- ·-· ·-· --- ·–," for example, evokes their debut era where Morse Code was used in teasers and in the single "Crown."

TXT will embark on their Act: Promise World Tour starting May 3-5 in Seoul, South Korea, and then head to the U.S. for 11 shows across the country, including two dates at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Conan Gray - Found Heaven

Release date: April 5

Gen Z popstar Conan Gray has Found Heaven. After 2022’s Superache, his upcoming third album was co-produced by legendaries Max Martin, Greg Kurstin, and Shawn Everett, among others.

Gray had been teasing the 13-track record since last year with a slew of buoyant, '80s-tinged singles ("Never Ending Song," "Killing Me" and "Lonely Dancers") and poignant, Elton John-esque ballads ("Winner," "Alley Rose"). "When I was making the album, I was really obsessively listening to music of that era," he explained to NME. "I think also, because it was a deeply emotional time, I was almost hiding from reality. I didn’t listen to a song from the 2020s during the making of this album."

To celebrate this new, holy era, Gray will be touring Australia in July, North America in September and October, and Europe and the UK in November. "I want people to know that I was having fun and goofing around, and I want you to smile and I want you to feel like you can just be yourself," he added. "I just want the album to be a reminder to people that you can be so many things all at once."

Sinkane - We Belong 

Release date: April 5

Ahmed Gallab, the Sudanese American multi-instrumentalist behind Sinkane, has built his discography resisting musical genres. We Belong, his upcoming eighth studio album, is no different: it combines pop, funk, electronic, afrobeats, disco, and more into "a love letter to Black music," per a press release.

Sinkane’s first album since 2019’s Dépaysé, We Belong features 10 tracks and participations by Bilal, Money Mark, STOUT, and others. Each song tells the story of a different era in Black music and history, laced with love and hope for the future: the disco groove of "Come Together," the gospel choirs of "Everything Is Everything," the funky bassline of "How Sweet is Your Love."

Along with live band the Message, Sinkane has announced a select 10-city tour in the U.S., starting May 3 in New York City and wrapping up on June 9 in Pioneertown, California.

X Ambassadors - Townie

Release date: April 5

**Pop rock trio X Ambassadors dive deep into nostalgia for Townie, their fourth studio album. The record was inspired by their experience of growing up in the small city of Ithaca, New York, and how it shaped who they are.**

"As a grown man, I’ve fallen back in love with upstate NY, and I oddly feel blessed to have had something to rally so hard against/fight to escape from as a kid," vocalist Sam Harris said in a statement. "No Strings," the first single off the project, is an anthem for that restless feeling, and anchors their concept in a haunting, propulsive melody. "Your Town" and "Half-Life" continue the journey, although taking more melancholy tones.

X Ambassadors first set off their Townie tour in Europe and the UK during February and March. On the day of the release, they will begin the North American leg of the tour in Vancouver, Canada.

Vampire Weekend - Only God Was Above Us 

Release date: April 5

Five years after releasing their latest record, 2019’s Father of the Bride, indie band Vampire Weekend will drop their fifth studio album, Only God Was Above Us.

According to a press release, frontman Ezra Koenig wrote most of the songs in 2019-2020, and spent the last five years refining them with bandmates Chris Baio and Chris Tomson. The result is a collection of 10 "direct yet complex" tracks, "showing the band at once at its grittiest, and also at its most beautiful and melodic," as seen in singles "CAprilicorn," "Gen-X Cops," and "Classical."

In addition to a sold out performance in Austin, Texas that will coincide with the total eclipse on April 8 and a headline show at Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona, Vampire Weekend has announced an extensive North American tour throughout summer and fall.

Bryson Tiller - Bryson Tiller

Release date: April 5

Grab your tickets to Bryson Tiller’s upcoming tour while you can: he might go on a hiatus right after. That’s what the R&B singer and rapper told Complex, alleging that his number one passion is actually video games. "I've been designing a game for the past three years; been looking into internships for different companies. That's what I want to prioritize after this album comes out."

The album Tiller refers to is his eponymous fourth LP, a 19-track collection that includes a feature by Victoria Monét, and is described as "seamlessly blending R&B, dancehall, pop, drill, trapsoul, neo-soul, and hip hop" in a press release. "Bryson Tiller is not just an album; it's a declaration of artistic independence and a tribute to the relentless pursuit of greatness."

The project’s three alluring singles ("Outside," "Whatever She Wants," and "CALYPSO") exemplify how Tiller pushed the boundaries of R&B even more, and solidified his identity as one of music’s most singular artists. "My No. 1 goal with this album is just for everybody on Earth to hear it one time," Tiller also told Complex. "My guarantee is that they'll love [at least] one song."

Tori Kelly - TORI.

Release date: April 5

"You think you know who Tori Kelly is, but this album will prove that maybe you didn’t," said the YouTube-star-turned-singer in a NME interview about her fifth studio album, TORI. "I feel like I’m stepping into my power and owning my craft."

Her first LP since 2020’s A Tori Kelly Christmas, TORI. took inspiration from '90s and early aughts R&B and pop, as heard on singles "Missin U" and "Cut." "I was trying to create this world of nostalgia, but also there’s that balance with [TORI.] feeling fresh and new," she said. Comprising 15 tracks, it also includes participations by Ayra Starr in "Unbelievable," LE SSERAFIM’s Kim Chae-won on "Spruce," and Jon Bellion — who co-wrote and produced the album — on "Young Gun."

During the creation process, Kelly told Bellion that her guidelines were to be able to "belt out [songs] in the car" and "dance" to them, like one can do in the powerful "High Water." As far as it goes, it looks like they accomplished their mission.

Kelly will kick off her Purple Skies North American tour on April 12 in Ventura, California, and conclude it on May 3 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Future & Metro Boomin - TBA / We Still Don’t Trust You 

Release date: April 12

Rap titans Future and Metro Boomin have been personal friends and work peers for over a decade, but their first collaborative album is only coming out now. We Don’t Trust You, the first installment of a double album, dropped on March 22, while the second part — titled yet to be announced — is slated to release on April 12.

In We Don’t Trust You, the duo showcased their flawless chemistry with grandiose tracks, haunting trap beats, and star-studded features, such as "Like That" with Kendrick Lamar, "Young Metro" with The Weeknd, and "Type S—" with Travis Scott and Playboi Carti. As Metro defined in an interview with Complex, "it’s the classic Future and Metro, but just updated."

So far, no further details have been shared about the second album, but expectations remain high for the duo to outdo the first effort.

girl in red - I'M DOING IT AGAIN BABY!

Release date: April 12

"I wanted to sincerely apologize for the events that happened directly after the release of my second album, I'M DOING IT AGAIN BABY!" prefaced Norwegian singer girl in red — real name Marie Ulven — on a solemn social media video last month. But while viewers caught their breaths, she revealed it was all a witty joke: the album will only come out on Aprilil 12.

"This is a big year for me. 2024 is, like, my year," she added in the video. I'M DOING IT AGAIN BABY! follows Ulven’s 2021 debut If I Could Make It Go Quiet, but feels "more fun and more playful, and a little bit more confident," as she told Billboard. Lead track "Too Much" brings that novelty heads on, while singles "Doing It Again Baby" and "You Need Me Now?" with Sabrina Carpenter prove that Ulven’s powerful pop is only getting better.

Ulven will kick off her Doing It Again tour from April 16-June 2 in North America, and from Aug.27-Oct. 5 in Europe.

Kenny Garrett & Svoy - Who Killed AI?  

Release date: April 12

For his first electronic foray, NEA Jazz Master and GRAMMY-winning saxophonist Kenny Garrett enlisted the acclaimed producer-musician Svoy. The result is Who Killed AI?, a seven-track daring exploration of jazz and pop culture.

"The first two songs are really reminiscent of Miles [Davis]," Garrett shared in a statement. "The way I’m stretching the melody — that’s how I played with Miles." The opener and lead single "Ascendence" is a strong preview of what’s to come: distorted synths and drum and bass beats fused with Garrett’s fun and brilliant lines, a compelling portrait of what the future of music can be.

Later in the year, Garrett plans to take the album on a live tour. "I think my fans will find this interesting," Garrett shared in a statement. "Some people forget that my teacher was Miles Davis. So for me, it’s not that I have to do something different. It is just something that I do. All you have to do is present the music and let them take the journey." 

ERNEST - Nashville, Tennessee 

Release date: April 12

Early in March, singer/songwriter ERNEST announced on social media that he would be running for mayor in order to "legalize country music." Of course, fans started to get their hopes up for new music — and they were right. The plot was just part of his promotion for the newly announced Nashville, Tennessee, out April 12.

A tour de force with 26 tracks, the record features a bevy of guest stars: from Jelly Roll ("I Went To College, I Went To Jail"), to Lainey Wilson ("Would If I Could"), and ERNEST's two-year-old son, Ryman Saint. It also includes a bluegrass cover of Radiohead’s "Creep" with HARDY, and a cover of John Mayer’s "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room."

In addition to "I Went To College, I Went To Jail," four other advance tracks have been shared: "Why Dallas" with Lukas Nelson, "Ain’t As Easy," "Ain’t Too Late," and "How’d We Get Here."

Taylor Swift - The Tortured Poets Department 

Release date: April 19

On the same night that she won her  lucky 13th GRAMMY for Best Pop Vocal Album with 2022’s Midnights, Taylor Swift also announced her 11th studio album, The Tortured Poets Department. Coming out April 19, the record will feature 16 tracks and collaborations by Florence + the Machine on "Florida!!!" and Post Malone on "Fortnight."

"I needed to make it, it was really a lifeline for me, it sort of reminded me why songwriting gets me through life," Swift said during her The Eras Tour show in Melbourne. "I've never had an album where I needed songwriting more than I needed it on Tortured Poets."

Along with the statement, Swift also shared an alternate cover for the physical album, titled after and including bonus track "The Bolter." Later on, three other versions named "The Manuscript," "The Albatross," and "The Black Dog" — all including an eponymous bonus track —  were also made available for purchase.

For the rest of the year, Swift will be touring through Europe and North America. As usual with the singer, more surprises are likely to come soon.

PartyNextDoor - PartyNextDoor 4 (P4)

Release date: April 26

**Canadian hitmaker and singer PartyNextDoor will make his long-awaited return this month. PartyNextDoor 4, also dubbed P4, is his first full-length work since 2020’s Partymobile, and continues his eponymous albums series after 2016’s P3.**

"This is the hardest I’ve ever worked on an album. This is the proudest I’ve felt," Party told Billboard for his March cover story. "I’m excited to grind even more for the next [one]. I’m in love with how hard you should work for it." 

He also explained that love is the reason why he takes so long to release new stuff. "I get into relationships and then music becomes second," he said. "I think I’m going to take a break from relationships, a long break, and just get back to making music."

In support of the release, Party shared moody, intimate singles "Resentment" and "Real Woman" — inspired by the same relationships that kept him off stage.

St. Vincent - All Born Screaming

Release date: April 26

In an interview with Mojo, St. Vincent — also known as Annie Clark — defined her upcoming seventh album, All Born Screaming, as "post-plague pop." Since its creation started right after the release of 2021’s Daddy’s Home, the years of seclusion and adjustment due to the COVID pandemic were a prominent influence in her new work.

"That kind of isolation breeds paranoia and loneliness, and loneliness can breed violence," she said. "It’s been a time of loss collectively and personally. [But] loss and death are very clarifying things, they make everything that doesn’t f—ng matter go away."

Comprising 10 tracks and features from Dave Grohl, Cate Le Bon, and Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa, All Born Screaming is St. Vincent’s first entirely self-produced set, and an attempt at showcasing what does matter. "This record is darker and harder and more close to the bone. I’d say it’s my least funny record yet. There’s nothing cute about it," she added.

Clark released two singles off the album, "Broken Man" and "Flea," and is gearing up for a North American tour starting May 22.

Picture This - Parked Car Conversations

Release date: April 26

"Parked Car Conversations is by far the most personal album we have ever created," said vocalist and lyricist Ryan Hennessy in a press release about Picture This’s upcoming album. "It is an album about everything involved with being human. Love and loss and hurt and euphoria and all of those other complex emotions that flutter in between."

The album consists of 15 songs, but a third of it can be previewed through bittersweet, soaring singles "Get On My Love," "Song To Myself," "Leftover Love," "Call It Love," and "Act Of Innocence." Overall, Parked Car Conversations is a soundtrack "not to a movie, but to life," and aims to convey "the ups and downs of living" through ballads and anthems alike, according to Hennessy. 

Coming almost three years since the Irish band’s last release, 2021’s Life in Colour, the new record will be celebrated in high spirits with an Europe and U.K. tour, starting April 21 in München, Germany.

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