What a fucking week. Sure, there was a lot of music news and things going on in our insular world of hip-hop, but there was a lot of more-important things going on in our world these past few days. On Monday, Boston came under attack when several bombs went off at the city’s annual marathon, injuring many and killing some, including an 8-year-old boy. At XXL, as much as we try to stay focused and strapped in to our distinct world, it’s moments like these that force us to zoom out and try to get a grip on a “bigger picture,” whatever that may be. Whether the guys they caught last night/today are the guys responsible for the bombing or not, we want to wish the best to everyone in Boston, and to everyone who’s scared of something like this happening to them or their loved ones. All we can do is maintain, and when it feels okay to zoom back in to our day-to-day, focus on distractions like music.
So, in music news – the Internet got constipated with anticipation over Daft Punk’s new single, which features Nile Rodgers groovily playing guitar and Pharrell singing in a falsetto. The french duo teased the song with a few trailers, and since us anxiety-riddled humans apparently couldn’t wait like three days to hear the studio version, a bunch of shiesty “DJ’s” made bootleg versions of the song by splicing together commercial snippets, managing to troll Rolling Stone, Complex (twice), and like every music blog out there. You can hear the final, final, real version here. In other news – Jay-Z is actually selling his stake in the Brooklyn Nets, and we still don’t know how we feel about it; Chief Keef continues to be slightly ignorant, recently posing with a pistol for an Instagram photo; we compiled a hypothetical list of 1998′s XXL’s Freshman (you can also see 1993′s list here); and today we celebrate the gloriously creative and productive life of hip-hop legend Guru of Gang Starr, who passed away three years ago.
In our weekly column called In The Cut, the diversely-opinionated XXL staff celebrates another lively week in hip-hop and picks some of their favorite releases from the past week. Until next week – keep it trill (and safe),
De La Soul ft. The Spirit of the Wu – “Get Away”
De La Soul shows some love to the newly-reunited Wu-Tang Clan on the latest single from their upcoming album, You’re Welcome. As a die-hard fan of both groups, it’s touching to see the Long Island MCs so openly acknowledge their love for their Staten Island brethren in flipping the same sample from the intro to the second disc of Wu-Tang Forever. Wu-Tang/De La overlap aside, “Get Away” is simply an amazing song. Even after nearly 30 years in the game, the trio maintains an energy and lyrical assurance that makes them as captivating and entertaining as ever.—Sean Ryon, News Editor
DJ Khaled ft. Drake, Lil Wayne & Rick Ross – “No New Friends”
I don’t really know what to expect from DJ Khaled anymore, but it’s definitely not this. After teasing this song with a ridiculous “movie,” Khaled finally unleashed this single, which reinterprets a lyric from Drake’s “Started from the Bottom” and turns it into a bossy tale of luxury, lust, and loneliness—the three essential tenets of any song Drake and Khaled collaborate on. Drake’s riding high here, singing breathily in the intro before tea-bagging all haters with lines like, “All my bitches love me, if I had a baby mama she would probably be richer than a lot of you n*ggas.” That’s luxury, dawg. Also, Rick Ross doesn’t sound too fazed by the date rape hoopla here, spitting, “Strip club, like every night.” That’s real. Finally, Weezy Wee caps off the song by admitting, “I’m too high to be friendly,” which is really a line that anybody who’s gone to a frat party in Miami after facing a blunt can relate to. Somehow, Khaled’s done it again.—Dan Buyanovsky, Associate Editor
Drake ft. James Fauntleroy – “Girls Love Beyonce”
I can’t front, before I even listened to this song, the title alone had me kind of skeptical. Not skeptical in the sense that I doubted how good the record would be (I mean, this is Drake we’re talking about) but rather, what the song would be about. And of course after listening, this slow and mellifluous joint is clearly another win for the boy Drizzy. On the song, his love life appears to be a mess (“These days it’s hard to meet women/Feel like my love life is finished”), but in the end you realize that it’s his problems, trials and tribulations that make for his most powerful and beautiful music. He’s sort of hip-hop’s Charlie Brown, but a much cooler one who also apparently doesn’t care for new friends [insert DJ Khaled voice here].—Ralph Bristout, Lifestyle Editor
Ludacris ft. Young Jeezy – “Raised in the South”
Ludacris has recently released a few singles that were hit or miss, but redeemed himself with “Raised in the South,” featuring Young Jeezy. The two ATL all-stars do damage on Metro’s street-ready banger, warning their enemies to keep their names out of their mouths. The menacing track is a proper change of pace for Luda, and it’s something that a lot of fans have wanted to hear from him for a minute. Check for this track on Luda’s upcoming DTP Records Presents: I Don’t Give a Fuck mixtape.—Eric Diep, Assistant News Editor
GrandeMarshall feat. Asaad – “Boathouse Row”
This Philly kid GrandeMarshall rides on this smooth cruiser backdrop, that fans can associate with Curren$y. While his references and slurs aren’t signature like Spitta’s—at least not yet—it’s clear this THC-powered, Fool’s Gold signee holds a lot of talent bottled up in his vaporizer. Off his latest project Mugga Man, “Boathouse,” anchored by a cinematic sample, leads the listener into a wild range of stream-of-conscious imagery that can easily be mistaken as a one-off, but it’s very tastefully executed, garnering repeated listens.—Jaeki Cho, Senior Online Editor
August Alsina ft. Curren$y – “Let Me Hit That”
August Alsina is a Radio Killa/Def Jam signee who was first described to me a few months ago as “a grittier and more street version of Jeremih.” The-Dream also once told me that he was planning to retire off of him. LOLs aside, August is certainly a talent – his single alongside Trinidad Jame$, “I Luv This Shit”, impacted urban radio earlier this week and he’s got a mixtape coming next month. It’ll likely be home to this collaboration with Curren$y that surfaced on Monday. Spitta rarely does R&B collabs, usually opting to slowly moan his own hooks repeatedly, but when he does, it works (see “That’s The Thing” with Estelle from The Stoned Immaculate). “Let Me Hit That” finds similar success.—Neil Martinez-Belkin, Music Editor