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The 25 Best Hip-Hop Albums Of 2014 (So Far)

This time last year, albums from Kanye West, A$AP Rocky, J Cole, Mac Miller and Wale—with a Jay Z album right around the corner—had already dropped, providing hip-hop heads with plenty to talk about at the halfway mark of the year...

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Yesterday, Beats Electronics' $3 billion sale to Apple was confirmed after weeks of speculation—and maybe a little premature celebration—making Dr. Dre hip-hop's wealthiest artist, if not quite a billionaire. But another part of the deal which came to light yesterday was that Dre and his Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine—himself the co-founder of Interscope Records 25 years ago and until yesterday the chairman and CEO of Interscope Geffen A&M for more than a decade—would take executive positions at Apple. That means Iovine, the producer-turned-label chief who Billboard called the most successful major label industry head of the past quarter century, was to leave the label which became the longtime home to artists like Eminem, 50 Cent, Dre and Kendrick Lamar.

With such an extensive history in the music industry—especially in the hip-hop world, with affiliations with Death Row, Aftermath, Bad Boy, TDE, Shady Records, G-Unit, Star Trak and more—it's no surprise that Iovine is probably the most-referenced executive in hip-hop. As he leaves Interscope for the green pastures of the tech world, XXL has pulled together 33 hip-hop songs that name check the former Interscope chief. —Dan Rys
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33 Hip-Hop Songs That Name Drop Jimmy Iovine

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Smoke DZA, Joey Bada$$ And CJ Fly Rock SOB’s In New York City

Last night, SOBs in Manhattan played host to the album release party for Harlem's own Smoke DZA. The Kushed God dropped his long-awaited first official full-length project, Dream...

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Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of Nas' classic Illmatic, and the Queensbridge rapper has been everywhere honoring the record that put him on the map, releasing IllmaticXX, performing the album in its entirety at Coachella, and popping up to perform it again at last night's premiere of the Time Is Illmatic documentary. But with so much press surrounding Queens' finest, XXL is taking a different track today; we've asked eight rising New York rappers about Illmatic, their reactions to it and how it affected their lives. Some are younger than the album itself, most weren't old enough to understand it when it came out, but each developed their own affinity for it and took it to heart. From fellow Queens rappers Action Bronson and Chinx to Harlem's own Bodega Bamz, here are their stories. —XXL Staff
Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of Nas' classic Illmatic, and the Queensbridge rapper has been everywhere honoring the record that put him on the map, releasing IllmaticXX, performing the album in its entirety at Coachella, and popping up to perform it again at last night's premiere of the Time Is Illmatic documentary. But with so much press surrounding Queens' finest, XXL is taking a different track today; we've asked eight rising New York rappers about Illmatic, their reactions to it and how it affected their lives. Some are younger than the album itself, most weren't old enough to understand it when it came out, but each developed their own affinity for it and took it to heart. From fellow Queens rappers Action Bronson and Chinx to Harlem's own Bodega Bamz, here are their stories. —XXL Staff
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8 New York Rappers Explain Why Nas’ ‘Illmatic’ Is Important To Them

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Smoke DZA Says He Is The Best Rapper in NYC Right Now

Smoke DZA is riding high after dropping his Dream.ZONE.Achieve project earlier this month and has been on a heavy promo ever since. During an interview with VladTV, DZA had a lot to say about the current state of New York hip-hop

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Category: News Tags:
[Ed. Note: This was originally released on 4/8/2014 and updated on 4/30/14]

Today, the collaborative album between Game and UK singer Ed Sheeran was announced. This is the third big-name collaboration project in the last month following electronic mashup kingpin Girl Talk and former Roc-A-Fella soldier Freeway, Broken Ankles,  Freddie Gibbs and Madlib's Piñata March 18. But these producer/rapper combos aren't the only ones gearing up to hit the studio together; rappers such as Cam'ron, Young Thug, Action Bronson and Mac Miller are linking with other artists and producers for a number of collaborations and mixtapes that are rumored to be in the works or on the way. 

From long-awaited collaborations—Nas/DJ Premier, J. Cole/Kendrick Lamar, Big K.R.I.T./Yelawolf—to some of the newest guys on the scene—Young Thug/Rich Homie Quan, Chance The Rapper/James Blake—XXL has pulled together all the information you need to know about 19 of the most anticipated collaborative projects on the horizon. Whether it be a full-length album or a mixtape, a long time coming or a last-second idea, we've got you covered. Stand together. —Dan Rys and Eric Diep
[Ed. Note: This was originally released on 4/8/2014 and updated on 4/30/14]

Today, the collaborative album between Game and UK singer Ed Sheeran was announced. This is the third big-name collaboration project in the last month following electronic mashup kingpin Girl Talk and former Roc-A-Fella soldier Freeway, Broken Ankles,  Freddie Gibbs and Madlib's Piñata March 18. But these producer/rapper combos aren't the only ones gearing up to hit the studio together; rappers such as Cam'ron, Young Thug, Action Bronson and Mac Miller are linking with other artists and producers for a number of collaborations and mixtapes that are rumored to be in the works or on the way.

From long-awaited collaborations—Nas/DJ Premier, J. Cole/Kendrick Lamar, Big K.R.I.T./Yelawolf—to some of the newest guys on the scene—Young Thug/Rich Homie Quan, Chance The Rapper/James Blake—XXL has pulled together all the information you need to know about 19 of the most anticipated collaborative projects on the horizon. Whether it be a full-length album or a mixtape, a long time coming or a last-second idea, we've got you covered. Stand together. Dan Rys and Eric Diep
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The 18 Biggest Collaborative Projects Rumored To Drop This Year

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Smoke DZA And 183rd Release New EP ‘Ringside 2′

Are you still on a Wrestlemania high? Smoke DZA’s got you. Just moments after Wrestlemania concluded, the Harlem rapper and producer 183rd drop the second installment of Ringside...

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Category: News Tags: , ,
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Smoke DZA Remains Consistent And Nostalgic On ‘Dream.ZONE.Achieve’

One of the more talked-about threads in hip-hop over the last few years has been the resurgence of New York as rap music’s creative and commercial hub...

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Category: Music, Reviews Tags: ,
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Smoke DZA Featuring Flatbush Zombies “Bamma Weed”

Smoke DZA and Flatbush Zombies team up for “Bamma Weed.” With DZA’s Dream.ZONEAchieve out today, the Harlem rapper decides to give away an unreleased record that didn’t make the cut...

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Stream Smoke DZA’s ‘Dream.ZONE.Achieve’

Smoke DZA released his new album Dream.ZONE.Achieve today. The 21-song album features a plethora of spittas such as Cam'ron, Ab-Soul, Joey Bada$,CJ Fly, Wiz Khalifa, Curren$y and plenty more...

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