February 2020 has seen the release of a plethora of projects from some of the hottest hip-hop artists in the game.
The month kicked off with the recently deceased Pop Smoke’s “Meet the Woo 2,” which dropped on Feb. 7, just 12 days before his untimely death. Pop Smoke, age 20, was riding a wave of success which began with his single “Welcome to the Party,” charting at number nine on Billboard’s Hot 100 over the summer.
Smoke rapped with a heavy Brooklyn accent over drill beats from UK producers like 808melo, creating a dark, gritty sound that was relatively new to mainstream rap.
“Meet the Woo 2,” Pop Smoke’s second and final mixtape, barring a posthumous release, is a continuation of the haunting drill beats coupled with aggressive and braggadocios lyrics Smoke was so well known for.
While the mixtape does not display any complex lyricism, and repeats the same themes of drugs, money, criminal activity and sex on nearly every track, it serves its purpose when the volume is cranked to the max and blasted through the speakers.
On the opposite end of the hip-hop spectrum lies Denzel Curry and Kenny Beats’s project “UNLOCKED.” This mini-album spans eight tracks over a total of 18 minutes and features some incredible production from producer Beats.
The project is accompanied by an animated short film on YouTube, which depicts Beats and Curry on a mission to recapture a CD of leaked songs, drawing stylistic inspiration from the TV series “Scooby Doo.”
The album features the detailed experimental production Beats is so well known for, coupled with the lyrical capabilities of Curry, who frequently invokes hip-hop legends like DMX and Ol’ Dirty Bastard throughout the project. It’s a refreshing change of pace from a lot of the popular, cookie cutter rap that saturates the market and lacks true thematic purpose.
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Another notable release this month is University of Wisconsin alumni Yung Gravy and bbno$’s “Baby Gravy 2.” The album is playfully funny, and doesn’t take itself too seriously.
I personally do not listen to Yung Gravy’s music on my own time, but I can acknowledge that he has created a niche audience who appreciate his unique style of humor and meme-worthy personality.
Finishing off the month, we can look forward to new projects from Louisiana rapper NBA Youngboy on Feb. 21, and Atlanta rapper Lil Baby on Feb. 28.