The Biggest Rap Albums of 2015 So Far

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What’s up music lovers?! We are officially one third through the year, and music album releases–particularly in hip hop–have been high in both quantity and quality. The amount of ‘surprise’ drops we’ve seen already has been something special, and it can honestly be hard to sift through it all. That’s why we here at WUD Music have done our best to highlight some of the most prominent releases from 2015, with special commentary on our favorites. The following are listed in order of their release. Let’s dive in.

Rae Sremmurd – SremmLife

I heard “No Type” for the first time in a while last night, and it was glorious. A mood booster in any situation, Mike WiLL Made-It’s beats are designed to turn people up. While the duo known as Rae Sremmurd (‘ear’ and ‘drummers’ backwards)  are new to the bigger stage, don’t be deceived. These guys have an energy unlike many of their older rap colleagues, and this album reflects that energy.

Joey Bada$$ – B4.DA.$$

You can check my review of B4.DA.$$ for Jonk Music by clicking this long ass link here.

Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late

Year after year, Drake earns a bit more of my respect. With his shotgun drop of IYRTITL, he has finally been established in my personal lens as a legitimate hitmaker MC. Right from the opening track, “Legend” Drake uses this mixtape-album-hybrid to showcase the most boastful rap I’ve heard in recent memory. It’s confident, carefree, and chock full of lyrics ready for candid use at social gatherings (not necessarily because they’re appropriate, but because they’re fun to say). If you haven’t told someone you’ve been running through (insert your city of residence here) with your woes, you need to stop sleeping now.

Big Sean – Dark Sky Paradise

I don’t really fuck with Big Sean (as he doesn’t fuck with me, apparently), buuuuut he appears to have strung together enough songs to have a notable album in 2015.  Features from Kanye, Drake, and Lil Wayne with production credits from DJ Mustard, Boi 1-da, and Mike WiLL Made-it aren’t too shabby either. I haven’t listened to it too much, so I requisitioned the opinion of a friend for this one:

Sam would also like you to know how game-changing the extended version of “Paradise” is. Sean goes in.

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly (By Joe McAsey)

Everyone has likely heard about Kendrick Lamar’s new record To Pimp A Butterfly, and that it is already in contention for album of the year. Any review that I can give for it would never be able to do it justice, but I hope to pinpoint at least some of the reasons why it could stand as one of the best hip hop albums of decade.

One aspect of this album that makes it so important is its cultural relevance in terms of lyrical content. With an increasing number of publicized incidents of police violence against black people, race has become a huge topic. Any given song off of the album addresses race in some way. You’ll find that Kendrick has quite a bit to say about race issues in society today.

Another interesting dimension of the record is its place in Kendrick Lamar’s discography. After releasing a classic such as good kid m.A.A.d city, it is nearly impossible to follow up and deliver. The album contains a strong funk influence, which reconnects with the some of the roots of black music and black pride. The genre also places Butterfly in a completely different realm from from his previous record. He does not try to recreate good kid m.A.A.d city, although some of the important themes carry over.

I haven’t even scratched the surface of the meaning within the album, but if you have not listened to it much or at all, you need to hear it. Even if you don’t enjoy the music itself, the lyrics say a lot about society today. If you are interested in reading more, you can check out my track breakdown off of the first song on the record “Wesley’s Theory.” This track manages to pack the major themes and metaphor of a “pimped butterfly” in under five minutes.

Thanks to Joey for this contribution. You can check out more of his stuff at Cup O’ Joe Music.

Action Bronson – Mr. Wonderful (By Brennan Haelig)

Back in March, gourmet chef-turned-MC Action Bronson released his major label debut LP Mr. Wonderful on Atlantic/Vice Records. After just the first few tracks, it’s clear that Bronson wrote the album as more of a cohesive project rather than focusing on individual tracks, even stating that “I don’t care about individual tracks, I’m trying to create a complete, classic project”. Overall the album favors production from live instruments over computerized beats. With production credits from Mark Ronson (of “Uptown Funk” fame) and Alchemist to Statik Selektah, Mr. Wonderful takes listeners on a journey through a variety of soundscapes. Most of the instrumentals are laced with influence from jazz, funk and blues. The lead single “Baby Blue” (featuring Chance The Rapper) stands out as one of the album’s most intricate tracks. Action Bronson tells a story of love lost, and makes his singing debut on the crooning chorus of the track. The album features various interludes and instrumental sections that add a nice flavor to the LP, seguing seamlessly from track to track. The lyrical content encompasses a lot of the same material we’ve heard from Action before, from lavish adventures to boastful metaphors, sprinkled with a fair share of references to marijuana and gourmet cuisine. The project concludes with “Easy Rider”, Bronsoliño’s bad-boy anthem to debauchery and the rock star life (“who gives a fuck? I’m a sinner”). The track sets the mood perfectly for Mr. Wonderful to “ride the Harley into the sunset”, closing out the album in true Action Bronson fashion.

Props to Brennan for this review. You can find him on Twitter.

I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt
(by Laura Oberwetter)

2 years after the successful release of “Doris”, Earl Sweatshirt is back with the darkly minimal I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside. Doris was by no means the feel good album of the year, but it’s amusing samples and features, quick verses, and lighthearted beats are now almost completely gone. I Don’t Like Shit is a deep, grim motion of poignant maturation for Earl.

The opening track, “Huey”, is as lively as the album gets with its carefree organ and bright sound effects. Following the relatively cheerful “Huey” are songs like “Grief” and “Faucet”, laden with somber and distorted noise; the tempos lumber along so slowly that it feels like these tracks could fall apart at any moment. It’s stripped down, letting Earl and his verses take the front seat before wobbling and wavering melodies. The gloomy, bare music only makes sense paired with the lyrics. Earl Sweatshirt isn’t a “pop that molly” lyricist anymore. He talks about self-medicating to cope with the loss of his grandmother, the shadows of addiction, longing for solidarity while surrounded by people he mistrusts, and the trouble that fame and attention have brought him. It’s intimate, almost to the point of discomfort.

Although it’s a move in a new direction from his past work, this may be a more accurate representation of Earl as an artist. In at interview for NPR’s Microphone Check, Earl Sweatshirt says,“[I Don’t Like Shit I Don’t Go Outside] is the first thing that I’ve said that I fully stand behind”. It may take fans a couple listens to readjust their vision of Earl’s style, but the honesty and effort put into this album is salient, and likely well received. Some artists can’t pull off a dramatic shift in style; evidently, Earl Sweatshirt is not one of those artists.

Props to Lauren her contribution. She too, is on Twitter.

Tyler, the Creator – Cherry Bomb

Announced soon after fellow Odd Future friend Earl Sweatshirt’s album, Cherry Bomb is the most recent “surprise release” we’ve seen. What’s not a surprise is how Tyler’s sound continues to evolve, slowly shifting from internet rap to heavily jazz-influenced pieces. Tracks like “FIND YOUR WINGS”, “2SEATER”, and “FUCKING YOUNG/PERFECT” showcase Tyler’s jazzy style, while the album’s self-titled track and “DEATHCAMP” show the rapper can still exude the DGAF attitude he’s been known for. It’s wide-ranging project, so it definitely takes a more open mind to enjoy.

Hope this puts y’all on to some new stuff. By NO means is this a comprehensive list, so if you’re looking for more I would check out Wikipedia. Brennan would have you know that list does not include MOD SUN, and I would have you know it doesn’t include CRASHprez. Until next time, enjoy the Hip Hop.

THIS FRIDAY: Dizzy Wright in Union South – FAQs

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Hey there music lovers! If you haven’t heard yet, we are having a ticketed show to end our Fall semester with a bang. Independent rappers Dizzy Wright and Jarren Benton are coming to Union South THIS FRIDAY, December 5th, and tickets are still on sale!

I’m sure a lot of you have a lot of questions about the show overall, so we’re here to lay everything out for you (in FAQ form), so when all your friends are hearing about this show last minute and grilling you with questions, you will have the inside scoop from us and be the cool friend for knowing what the hell is going down on campus. Without further ado, here are the facts:

I hate reading unless it’s on Facebook. Where else can I find this info?

You can join our Facebook event and find most everything you need to know, but the best tidbits are below!

When is this show? Where is it?

Again, this show is Friday, December 5th. It will be taking place in The Sett in Union South. If you need to utilize Mapquest or another service to find the venue, the address for Union South is 1308 W. Dayton Street, 53715.

Wait a second. WUD Music shows are normally $FREE.99. Why do I have to pay for this one?

While we here at WUD Music strive to fulfill our mission of booking great free music every weekend, on occasion we will book an artist that takes a little more out of our budget than average. Selling tickets for these special shows allow us to present the artist to you for a price that is affordable for both you and us.

So how much are tickets?

Tickets are $15 today through Thursday. The price increases to $18 on Friday (the day of the show).

Am I eligible to purchase a ticket?

Tickets are available for purchase by any and all students in the Madison area with Student ID. UW-Madison, Edgewood College, MATC, Madison Media Institute, you name it. Members of The Wisconsin Union can also purchase tickets.

Awesome, I am eligible! So where can I purchase these tickets?

Tickets are available for purchase at the Memorial Union and Vilas Hall box offices. The MU box office is located in the newly renovated West Wing, and the Vilas box office is attached to VIlas Hall and can be entered on East Campus Mall.

You can also purchase tickets online (with fees) at http://bit.ly/DizzyTix.

Crap. I am not a student, nor am I am Union member. But I REALLY wanted to see this show! What can I do to get in?

Fortunately for you, Mr./Ms. Ineligible, there are ways to attend this show if you are not currently a student or Union Member. You can join The Wisconsin Union here, and become a Union Member today! Trust us, there are more benefits to becoming a member than just this show.

Eligible purchasers are also able to buy up to two tickets, so they can bring a guest (eligible or not) with them to the show!

What the hell? I’m trying to buy tickets online and I can’t print them off! What’s up with that?!

Because of our guidelines for who is allowed to purchase tickets, we have to check for student IDs or Union membership cards regardless of whether you purchase in person or online. All tickets ordered online can be picked up at will call the day of the show.

Where is this “will call” you speak of?

You can pick up will call tickets at the Union South box office, which is near the Daily Scoop on the first floor of the building.

Can I purchase tickets the day of at the Union South box office also?

Yes, you can! Remember though, tickets are $18 day of show, so get your rear in gear and save yourself some money! The Union South box office will be open the day of the show from 5:30PM to 10:00PM.

When is Dizzy Wright ACTUALLY going to go on stage?

The doors to The Sett will open at 8:00PM and the show starts at 9:00PM. Follow us on Twitter, to get these details of set times the night of the show. Hope this helped everyone. Thanks for reading!

Wait! What if I don’t like hip hop and still want to see something cool?

Oh, we’ve got you covered. Vinyl Theatre is showing off their indie pop sound in Der Rathskeller in Memorial Union. The show starts with The Millennium at 9:00PM. Join our Facebook Event here!

Again, thanks for reading, and hopefully this answers all your questions. If you have any additional questions, hit us up on Twitter or the Dizzy Wright Facebook event. Peace.

TRAP SHOW IN THE PLAY CIRCLE – DJ Sidereal w/ Soundkill3r and Zendro

Do you like hard-hitting, loud, bass-in-your-face trap and hip-hop? Then don’t miss out on this Saturday’s show in the Play Circle Theater! This weekend we have DJ Sidereal along with Soundkill3r and Zendro playing a FREE trap show that’s sure to get the whole building crackin’.

At just 18 years old, Minnesota native DJ Sidereal is taking the world of hip-hop by storm. Having survived brain surgery at the age of 11, Sidereal turned to his passion for music and has been relentlessly pursuing his dreams ever since. Opening for rappers Macklemore, B.o.B, Mike Stud, G-Eazy, Waka Flocka Flame and many more has earned him a reputation as one of hip-hop’s most exciting DJs to watch. Sidereal brings a wild energy to every single show; known for crowdsurfing, confetti cannons and spraying champagne on stage. Playing at every major venue in his home town of Minneapolis has given Sidereal the chance to prove himself as a top-notch performer, earning him a spot on the Paid Dues tour and at Rock The Bells in 2012 in San Bernadino, CA. This exposure has earned him sponsorships from both G-Pen and Young & Reckless, along with the release of his clothing line and a number of hit singles that have reached the top 20 on the indie hip-hop charts. Check out his new mini-film about his journey from Tragedy to Triumph:

 

 

Don’t forget to arrive at 8pm to catch Soundkill3r and Zendro! Both student artists here at UW, these DJs are bringing their A-game along with sets full of hard-hitting trap to get the crowd turnt up. Soundkill3r has been producing electronic music since his teenage years, earning him opening slots at Segredo for artists like Cedric Gervais as well as a headlining his own club shows. He’s known for expertly mixing various genres of EDM, crafting sets that get crowds off their feet and lost in the music. You don’t want to miss Soundkill3rs live show this weekend! Head over to his facebook page and hit that like button! https://www.facebook.com/Soundkill3r

 

 

Zendro will be getting the night started with a set full of heavy trap beats that would make Gucci Mane quiver in fear. Also a student at UW, Zendro has been honing his production skills for a number of years. If you like heavy bass and trap, get to the show at 8pm to catch Zendro! Check out his page here: https://www.facebook.com/Zendro

 

 

TRAP SHOW IN THE PLAY CIRCLE

Saturday, November 15th from 8-11:30pm

DJ Sidereal with Special Guests Soundkill3r and Zendro

Located in the Frederic March Play Circle Theater on the second floor of Memorial Union

ITS FREE!!

Saturday in Der Rath: No Bird Sing w/ deM atlaS & Max Meridius

No Bird Sing Cover Photo

 

* The start time of this show has been pushed back from 9:30 to 10 PM.*

If you’ve spend any amount of time with me (on the blog or in *GASP* the real, live, actual world), you’ve probably figured out that I’m slightly obsessed with midwest hip-hop. So naturally, this Saturday is an exciting one for me.

No Bird Sing is making their triumphant return to Madison, this time playing at Der Rathskeller after opening for Dessa at the Sett this past fall. They’re a socially conscious hip-hop group consisting of a drummer/producer (Graham O’Brien), a guitarist/producer (Robert Mulrennan), and an emcee (Joe Horton), repping the FIX Artist Collective out of Minneapolis. Most recently, they’ve been on the road with Atmosphere, Strange Famous labelmate Toki Wright, and the newest addition to the Rhymesayers roster, deM atlaS (more on him later), on the Welcome to Minnesota tour, where they got the chance to exhibit their unique style to packed houses across the frozen north.

Their sound, “ranging from stark minimalism to lush expansiveness”, cuts through crowds with an intense, concentrated power that makes people shut up and listen. Their newest album, Definition Sickness, dropped November of this year, featuring guest spots from FIX cohorts (Kristoff Krane), SFR artists (Sage Francis), and other acclaimed Minneapolis musicians (Aby Wolf and Sadistik).

And speaking of acclaimed Minneapolis musicians, deM atlaS. After signing to Rhymesayers this fall and immediately joining the Welcome to Minnesota tour, he’s generated some considerable buzz, and for good reason. After dropping his Charle Brwn EP in early 2013, everyone took notice of his fast paced, wildly energetic delivery and lyrics describing his feelings of kinship with cartoon character Charlie Brown.

UW’s own Max Meridius will open the show up. Check out his newest single, Heir on iTunes, or Olympians, a cut from his upcoming Elysium mixtape, featuring campus favorite CRASHprez.

Call it a brain trust, call it a party, call it a rap show, but whatever you call it, you’re going to want to get to the Ratheksller on Saturday to see of some of the midwest’s best hip-hop. Show starts at 10 PM and as always, IT’S FREE.

If you want monthly updates on FREE live shows in Madison, click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Saturday Night on the Terrace: El-P and Killer Mike w/ Despot, Kool A.D.

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Tonight, WUD Music is presenting what is arguably the biggest rap show it has ever produced on the Memorial Union Terrace. Rappers El-P and Killer Mike have both gained mad respect over the years in the alternative and dirty south hip-hop scenes, respectively.

El-P is a former member of the underground group Company Flow, has produced music for a plethora of artists, and is the co-founder, owner and CEO of New York record label Definitive Jux.

Killer Mike has been in the game since he met Outkast rapper Big Boi in his college years, and has been on the grind ever since. While releasing six solo albums, he was also featured on a handful of songs in the early 2000s, most notably Outkast’s Grammy-winning single “The Whole World”.

Tonight, these decorated MCs come to you as a newly formed hip-hop duo, Run the Jewels. Their self-titled album can be downloaded for free here, and trust me when I say it is more than worth the time spent to acquire it. Clocking in just under 33 minutes, the duo brings 10 tracks with unique, hard-hitting beats and verses that seem effortlessly crafted. When El-P’s faster staccato bars mix seamlessly with Mike’s smooth dirty south flow, it leaves the listener more than satisfied. But my words alone can’t justify the album. Listen for yourself.

El-P and Killer Mike will be supported by Despot, a New York underground rapper with over a decade of experience, and Kool A.D., a former member of the New York group Das Racist.

Saturday, July 20, 8:00PM, Memorial Union Terrace
Admission: FREE

Friday Night in the Sett: Dessa w/ First Wave Performers, Co-sponsored by the Campus Women’s Center

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Guys, I have a confession to make. I am more than a little bit obsessed with the artist I’m currently writing about. Some have called it a Level 3 girl-crush…Whatever. Basically, THIS is the blog post that I’ve been waiting for. Friends, WUD-ians, countrymen, lend me your ears. I’m going to tell you a tale. A tale that begins far, far away in the land of Minneapolis.

Dessa’s unique combination of musical talent and smart, biting lyricism first arose from participating in slam poetry competitions in college at the U of M. While living and working in Minneapolis after graduation, she befriended members of the Doomtree rap collective, and when they discovered her incredible talent for writing, they  asked her to join the group. She has since gone on to basically conquer the world, releasing four albums with Doomtree, writing and publishing a book, developing her own lipstick color with The Elixery in Minneapolis, and releasing two solo albums with one more, Parts of Speech, on the way on June 25th. Parts of Speech is being hailed as Dessa’s best work yet, with a wealth of different genres, beats, and instruments weaving together into a beautifully cohesive album that has critics falling over with pure excitement. The first single, Warsaw, was described by one reviewer like this: “The track boasts a beat like Azealia Banks playing Pacman, which provides a background for our emcee’s confident, hypnotic flow.” Couldn’t have said it better myself. You can listen to that here.

Dessa’s style is truly exceptional. It’s rare to encounter a rapper who makes amazing music without conforming to the genre’s stereotypes, but she accomplishes it, refusing to be put exclusively into the box of “singer,” “rapper,” or “writer.” She’s not shy about calling out the sexism and hypocrisy present in the world of hip-hop, with lyrics like “I found your steel ladder/Now your ceilings don’t matter/Check me out now I got glass floors.” Dessa will make you think. She will grab you by the collar and make you listen to her lyrics. She will change how you think of women in rap music.

She is what I listen to when I’m blissfully happy, and what I listen to when I’m so angry that I want to punt strangers through the Camp Randall goalposts. Dessa is an incredible artist, and a role model for women everywhere. Not just those in the music industry, but all the women who deal with sexism and stereotyping in their lives and work.

Of course, this night would not be complete without the incredible talent of an all-female group of First Wave performers, in honor of this event’s co-sponsorship with the Campus Women’s Center. For those who don’t know, First Wave is a multicultural coalition of artists who are also students here on campus. They perform spoken word and hip-hop, polishing their skills and showcasing their talents all across campus, the city, and the country. Anyone who has seen First Wave in action before knows that they consistently put on an energetic and passionate show, and will be the perfect intro to a night full of strong women with mad talent.

And as a final quick plug, the Campus Women’s Center does amazing work on this campus, and we are very proud to be working with them to put on an incredible show that honors and promotes female artists and their accomplishments. This show is going to be ridiculously awesome. Get there.

Friday 4/19, The Sett, 9:00 PM

Here’s some videos, to get you pumped.

Freddie Gibbs FREE Ticket Distribution

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In light of what happened at the Joey Bada$$ concert last weekend, we want to make sure our crowd has the best experience possible. So, for the upcoming Freddie Gibbs concert on April 27 in Union South: The Sett, we will have a free ticket distribution.

UW Madison students, faculty, staff and Union members will be able to pick up two tickets at the Vilas Hall Box Office, beginning on Thursday, April 18. You must show your ID, but you are allowed one guest with your tickets (meaning, of the two tickets you pick up, one can be for someone who is not a student, faculty or staff member).

Tickets will not be sold online or through phone calls, they must be picked up in person at the Vilas Hall Box Office. At the concert, you will exchange your ticket for a wristband upon gaining entrance to The Sett.

Vilas Hall Box Office hours:

Weekdays 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

GO GET ‘EM (…when they go on sale)