When it comes to music, some things are better left standing alone in its original form, but in hip-hop, there are aspects that do benefit from growing extra legs. Take for example a song series. Outkast’s Aquemini standout “Da Art of Storytellin’” is the pinnacle of a solid track sequence, starting in 1998, and ending nearly 10 years later with the fourth installation. There are plenty of modern-day rappers over the last two decades have made their marks in similar ways.
Since his early days, Meek Mill has been good for it. On Dreamchasers, the best mixtape of 2011, Meek hopped into his street storytelling bag with “Tony Story” and made two more parts over the next few years. On 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, he flipped the script and sparked up his “Cold Hearted” series, releasing the third part on 2021’s Expensive Pain.
NLE Choppa also has a mini project’s worth of records that follow the same premise. His “Shotta Flow” pack all about stick talk launched in 2019, as a debut single that sat on his EP Cottonwood. The track is now certified double platinum according to RIAA and diamond in the streets. Over the last three years, Choppa has dropped five additional parts, with the sixth being housed on 2022’s Me vs. Me tape.
On last year’s best-selling album Certified Lover Boy, Drake came through with yet another time stamp. What’s been apparent since he released “9am in Dallas” as a loosie in 2010 is that when there’s an a.m. or p.m. attached to the song title, "One-Take Drake" is in full effect as he harmoniously packs in quotable after quotable. The newest edition out of five, “7am on Bridle Path,” is no different.
Other respected spitters like Kendrick Lamar, Trippie Redd, fallen Chicago sergeant King Von and his big brother Lil Durk also have fire song series' in their catalogs. You can peep theirs below among others from recent times.
Drake’s AM/PM collection is a masterful display of his introspective excellence on the mic. In each of the five songs so far, Drizzy brings us into his world with nuances and experiences that come with being the biggest rapper in the world or previously, rising up to that point. In the chorus-less offerings, he bounces through the spry beats with bars about everything from becoming a father to his first-born Adonis to having more shooters on his team than the Golden State Warriors. Drake’s timestamps are flames all the way through. Some might even say that state-of-the-union Aubrey, depicted here, is the best version of his artistry.
Meek Mill's "Cold Hearted" Series
Meek Mill’s “Cold Hearted” gems are for the lion-hearted soldiers that are caught in a flurry of woes. On each of the three songs, Meek narrates the adjustment he’s had to make since leaving the hood and the new onslaught of problems he faces now as a lucrative artist. His words throughout are packed with stifling pain, though motivation is actually what translates by the time they conclude. Diddy’s sermon on the first installation, the sample of The Weeknd’s “I Was Never There” on the second and Meek’s soul-tickling flow on the third joint are all undefeated additions. What you get here is perfection from beginning to end each time.
Kendrick Lamar's "The Heart" Series
Over the last decade, Kendrick Lamar has dropped a song for each valve in his heart. Throughout the series, K-Dot bleeds his words onto the mic, sharing thoughts from his lens of climbing to G.O.A.T. status in the rap game, the impacts of Compton’s turf, the love he has for his TDE family and much more. The most impressive out the grouping is perhaps the fourth track, which features a quad of beat switches and enough shake-the-room claims to trigger an earthquake warning. All in all, this string of records doesn’t consist of album, party or radio hits. Rather, they’re deep cuts that speak to the unwavering combination of Kung Fu Kenny and his golden pen that are best heard in a state of meditation.
King Von's "Crazy Story" Series
If you’ve never been to the hood, King Von’s crazy stories will take you there. The slain Chicago artist and rising talent was neck-deep in his storytelling bag, detailing Grand Theft Auto-style missions that may or may not have taken place in real life. The second song in the series features a verse from his OG Lil Durk, though musically, not much is different from the first track. However, on the third record, new material surfaces with tales about hitting thots, licks and targets. For most King Von fans, these are the songs that upgraded them from fans to fully ventilated air conditioning systems.
Lil Durk's "India" Series
You can always count on Lil Durk to sing the praises of his wifey India Royale. This assortment of top-tier love songs bring listeners further in to their romance and why they’ve been known around social media as “couples goals.” Durkio always speaks about being a demon in the streets but here, he taps into his one and only soft bag, finding different ways to speak on how warm she makes his heart and how she’s helped him upgrade his status as a lover. Each of the records are catchy, too, opting for far more singing than rapping. These songs are potent enough for him to even perform at his own wedding if he wanted to. Grown man mentality at its finest. Fans love it.
Trippie Redd's "Love Scars" Series
The “Love Scars” records might truly be some of the best music that Trippie Redd has ever made. On these gems, Trippie stamps himself as a melodic avatar, dishing out lyrics about being a simp and player in the same breath. He also uses a kaleidoscope of pitches and voices to emphasize his words, something that fans have fallen in love with over the years since his inaugural SoundCloud run. There are a total of four tracks that are out now, but with Trippie’s anticipated A Love Letter To You 5 album set to drop any day now, a fifth will likely follow and share the same description as its predecessors: timeless.
Kid Cudi's "Solo Dolo" Song Series
Kid Cudi’s “Solo Dolo” series details his besetting feeling of solitude in both his reality and dreams. The trilogy, featured on each of his Man on the Moon albums, is mostly dark in terms of feelings and production. But Cudi’s singing about losing and then taking control of his life is calming and encouraging enough to challenge people to fight their demons rather than run from them. These tracks are perfect for tackling the issues you may be going through in life. And music is best when it’s helpful, as it is here. That’s Kid Cudi’s entire discography, precisely.
NLE Choppa's "Shotta Flow" Series
NLE Choppa’s “Shotta Flow” is touted as the track that started off his career. His virulent paintings on wax of set-repping and wig-peeling is what made fans gravitate towards him as an artist and NLE took advantage of that, releasing an additional five tracks in just a few years. The sixth one is his last and, according to fans, Choppa came correct with his season finale. This series is the definition of bangers on bangers. Warning: you just might mess around and catch a case if you play them back to back.
Rick Ross' "Maybach Music" Series
Rick Ross has been saluting his home team via the “Maybach Music” series for almost 15 years now. As expected, these tracks, equipped with the legendary MMG drop, sit comfy in the lane of luxury rap. Rozay details his come up, which to this day, he hasn’t run out of ways to make a compelling narrative of. The first one contains a feature from Jay-Z, but other superstars and respected musicians in Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Erykah Badu and more have made appearances throughout the years. This series stamps the true soundtrack of a boss.
J. Cole's "Dollar and A Dream" Series
If you’re ever in dire need of motivation to execute whatever your plan A is, look no further than J. Cole’s “Dollar and a Dream” song series. Prior to Jermaine earning his spot on rap’s Mount Rushmore, he redefined the grind, finding every way to get his demos in front of the right people. It paid off, as he ended up signing with Jay-Z's Roc Nation years ago. And this handful of songs details that experience leading up to it, powered by his pain, faith and the ruthless environment he hails from in Fayetteville, N.C. The most impactful message he sends here is that yes, we all have the same 24 hours, but what separates one person from the next is how that time is being used. This is a crash course on how to make millions out of your minutes.
Meek Mill's "Tony Story" Series
Meek Mill’s “Tony Story” series walked so that King Von’s “Crazy Story” gems could run. Meek set the tone, dating back to his breakthrough mixtape Dreamchasers with an expertise level of rapping about thug tales from the perspective of a hustler named Tony and the shooters he had around him. Every song in the trilogy could be made into a cinematic masterpiece with the right funding. If you’ve ever wondered just how conflicting it is to grow up in the streets of Philly, these records are a minuscule glimpse. Meek surely made his mark, notably speaking on the endless trend of violence in harsh environments.