href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/trentfitzgerald/” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: September 21, 2021Jerry Carnation / Pascal Le Segretain, Getty Images

XXXTentacion and Lil Peep are being sued by a singer-songwriter who claims the two late artists copied his song for their 2018 posthumous joint song "Falling Down."

According to documents obtained by XXL, Richard Jaden Hoff, formerly known as K.R.I.O., filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the late rhymers, claiming that a guitar riff from his song "Under My Breath" was sampled by production team Invisible Men or IIVI (producers Jason Pebworth, George Astasio and Jon Shave) as well as Mike WiLL Made-It and John Cunningham, who are all named as producers on the track "Falling Down." Cunningham is XXXTentacion's longtime producer and friend.

Hoff claims that on June 13, 2018, he posted his song "Under My Breath" on SoundCloud and three months later, on Sept.19, 2018, "Falling Down" was released and the alleged sampled guitar riff was featured on the track. Hoff claims his guitar riff was sped up, filtered, looped and equalized, but the riff still sounds similar despite it being altered.

The lawsuit states that "Falling Down" was a commercial success garnering 21 million views on YouTube and 20 million plays on Spotify as well as a top 20 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song also appeared on Lil Peep's second studio album, Come Over When You're Sober, Pt. 2. Additionally, the single also reached gold status in November of 2018.

Strangely, in the lawsuit, Hoff mentions XXXTentacion and Lil Peep as if they are still alive, claiming defendants are receiving royalties for the song without contacting him and stating they live in California. Interestingly, Hoff is not suing the rappers’ estates.

Hoff is seeking an injunction on the song and monetary damages for the infringement as permitted by law. He also wants the defendants to cover his legal fees. Richard Hoff is represented by W. Christian Krankemann of Krankemann Law offices.

XXL has reached out to Lil Peep’s team, XXXTentacion's team and the attorney for Richard Hoff for comment.

Listen to Lil Peep and XXXTentacion's "Falling Down" and K.R.I.O.'s "Under My Breath" below to compare them for yourself.

These Are the Origin Stories of Names of Rappers From the SoundCloud EraCheck out the origin stories of names of some of the SoundCloud Era’s biggest rappers.Filed Under: Lil Peep, XXXTentacionCategories: News


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/trentfitzgerald/” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: September 16, 2021Robert Kamau, GC Images

Reps for Twitter are denying Nicki Minaj’s claims that her account was suspended. To add fuel to the fire of the negative headlines she's received this week, the White House has also refuted her admission that she was invited to the presidential residence.

Last night (Sept. 15), Nicki jumped on her Instagram page to inform her fans that she was locked out of her Twitter page for her COVID-19 vaccine tweets. “I’m in Twitter jail y’all,” she wrote on her Instagram Story. “They didn’t like what I was saying over there on that block, I guess my poll was gonna be asking questions is OK…I like being fking dumb. Then boom. Can’t tweet.”

However, a few hours later, a Twitter spokesperson sent XXL the following statement regarding Nicki’s Twitter account: “Twitter did not take any enforcement action on the account referenced.”

Nicki's comment comes after she shared a video on her Twitter page from Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show, in which the host suggested that Democrats are “bullying” her over her vaccine tweets. In her tweet, the Queens, N.Y. rapper added a dart emoji to imply that she agreed with Carlson’s statements.

Meanwhile, the White House has also denied Nicki’s claims that she was invited to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to talk about her vaccine hesitancy.

According to a report by Mediaite, published on Wednesday (Sept. 15), a White House spokesperson told the outlet that it had offered to speak with Nicki via phone. “As we have with others, we offered a call with Nicki Minaj and one of our doctors to answer questions she has about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine,” the rep reportedly said.

However, the Queen Barbz insisted that the White House did offer an invitation.

"Do y’all think I would go on the internet and lie about being invited to the fucking White House. Like what? Do you guys see what is happening right now?” she stated in her 14-minute IG video.

Nick added that her manager and her publicist for Republic Records were on the phone call when the invitation was granted.

“We’d like to offer Nicki an invitation to come to the White house to speak with two people, the two names, um, what is that man’s name Dr. Fauci and with the surgeon general,” she continued. "And do you know what I said? I said, ‘Well, I would rather not have to travel, can we do something like a [Instagram] Live’ and they said that they’re open to me to choosing a platform to do a Live but they never have taken that off the table for me to come to the White House."

Meanwhile, during a chat on Instagram Live, Nicki said that she will no longer use Twitter. "I will never used Twitter again," she added. "First of all, I never give any facts about any vaccine. I didn’t give any facts about anything."

All of this began three days ago, when, during an impromptu Q&A on Twitter, Nicki spoke with her Barbz on Monday (Sept. 13) about why she didn't attend the the MTV Video Music Awards this past Sunday (Sept. 12) and the Met Gala on the following day. The rap veteran revealed that she contracted COVID-19 while filming a video and shared her thoughts on the coronavirus vaccinations.

You can watch Nicki Minaj talk about her conversation with the White House and more in her Instagram video below.

See the Times Rappers Faced Backlash for Wild Things They Said in 2020Filed Under: Nicki MinajCategories: News


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/trentfitzgerald/” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: September 15, 2021JOCE/Bauer-Griffin, Getty Images

Blueface appears to have responded to a recent video that features him stomping on a bouncer. Last night, the Cash Money West rapper hopped on his Instagram page and addressed the clip by quoting actor Al Pacino’s drug kingpin character Tony Montana from the classic 1983 film Scarface.

Blueface posted a photo of himself on Tuesday (Sept. 14) and with the bold caption: “You need people like me to point the finger at an say that’s the bad guy—Scarface.”

The former 2019 XXL Freshman is probably referring to reports of him allegedly attacking a club bouncer after he was asked to show proper identification this past weekend.

According to TMZ, Blueface showed up to Skinny's Lounge in San Fernando Valley, Calif. on Sunday (Sept. 12) and was stopped by the bouncer who asked him for his ID. The 24-year-old rapper told the bouncer he didn't have one and pulled out his phone to Google himself and show he is famous. The bouncer reportedly wasn’t satisfied and didn’t allow Blueface to enter the club. This is when he, along with two other men, allegedly assaulted the bouncer, leaving him with cuts and bruises.

Footage of the assault later surfaced the following day. In the clip, a man that is accompanying the "Thotiana" rhymer throws the initial punch at the bouncer, followed by additional blows. Blueface is seen at one point stomping the security with another man. Two women enter the frame and are recording the incident on their smartphones. Blueface then stomps on the bouncer again while another member of the rapper’s crew pulls up the victim up by his feet.

Near the end of the video, Blueface appears to be checking on the bouncer, presumably to see if he is conscious or not. The California artist then leaves the scene.

After the assault, the bouncer was rushed to a local hospital where he was treated for bruises and scratches that required stitches. A battery report has been filed and police are currently investigating the incident.

See Rappers Going Platinum in a PandemicFiled Under: BluefaceCategories: News


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/trentfitzgerald/” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: September 14, 2021Next2blowtv_ via Instagram

Duke Deuce had a close call while chatting on his livestream.

On Tuesday (Sept. 14), a viral video surfaced of the Memphis rapper, born Patavious Lashun Isom, caught in the middle of a shootout in his neighborhood. It all started when Duke jumped on his Instagram Live on Monday (Sept. 13) and was watching people enter the chat. In the viral clip, the “Crunk Ain’t Dead” rapper is urging his fans to join him on the chat.

"Come outside and fuck with me, Peppertree," Duke said, possibly referring to Pepper Tree Apartments located in his hometown. “Ain’t on none of that bougie shit, ain’t none of that Hollywood shit,” he added before a barrage of bullets ring off. You can then see Duke frantically running for cover behind what appears to be a vehicle before the video cuts off.

It is unclear if Duke Deuce was hurt during the harrowing incident. You can watch the clip at the bottom of this post.

XXL has reached out to Duke Deuce’s rep for comment.

Duke Deuce, who is a rising artist on the Quality Control Music record label, has been busy this summer with a string of festival performances including Rolling Loud Miami and Made in America festival in Philadelphia.

Hip-hop is in the 29-year-old rapper’s bloodline. His father is Duke Nitty, a Memphis-based rapper and producer. As a child, Duke shared a room with his father, which doubled as a studio for Big Duke.

In February, Duke released his project Duke Nukem, which features the headbangers "Duke Skywalker" and "Gangsta Party" featuring Offset.

"My shit is authentic, my shit is original," Duke told XXL in February 2020. "I got everything you want—versatility, I got the singing the melody shit, I got the crunk shit, I got the smooth shit, I got the pimpin' shit, I got every fuckin' music genre you can ever think of. Plus, I know how to muthafuckin' move and I'm fat. And I know how to rap my ass off. And I look like a baby."

Stay safe, Duke Deuce.

Most In Demand Festival Headliners in Hip-Hop of Last Five YearsFiled Under: Duke DeuceCategories: News


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/trentfitzgerald/” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: September 13, 2021Maury Phillips, Getty Images

Blueface may be facing some legal trouble real soon.

According to a report on TMZ, published on Monday (Sept. 13), the 2019 XXL Freshman is being accused of allegedly attacking a club bouncer after the rapper was asked to show proper identification.

An insider familiar with the incident told the outlet that when Blueface showed up to Skinny's Lounge in San Fernando Valley, Calif. on Sunday (Sept. 12), he was stopped by the bouncer and was asked to show ID. Apparently, the Cash Money West rapper told the bouncer he didn't have one and pulled out his phone to Google himself and show he is famous. The bouncer reportedly told Blueface that wasn't good enough and that's when an altercation ensued.

According to sources, Blueface, along with two other men, allegedly attacked the bouncer and immediately left the scene. The unidentified victim was rushed to a local hospital and was treated for bruises and scratches that required stitches. A battery report has been filed regarding the fight at the club, which happened a little past midnight. Police have the report and are currently investigating the incident, reports TMZ.

Blueface has remained relatively quiet on the music and social media front. The last time the 24-year-old artist threw a punch was in celebrity boxing ring. Back in July, Blueface won his debut fight at Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship 19 in Tampa, Fla. against TikTok personality Kane Trujillo. However, after the fight was over, Blueface got into a skirmish with a man in a blue hat and glasses after they briefly exchanged words. The "Thotiana" rapper punched the man which sent him backwards into the ropes and he continued punching the guy while security tried to break it up.

Blueface has yet to comment on the alleged fight that took place outside of Skinny’s Lounge.

XXL has reached out to a rep for Blueface for a comment.

See Rappers With an OnlyFans AccountAre you subscribed? Filed Under: BluefaceCategories: News


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/trentfitzgerald/” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: September 4, 2021Christopher Polk, Getty Images

It’s been four years since Kendrick Lamar has dropped a full-length studio album, but it looks like he’s preparing to drop some new material soon.

It appears that K-Dot has registered at least 32 song titles with ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), an organization that protects artists’ musical copyrights. It’s unclear when Kendrick actually registered the songs.

Among the song titles registered include "Before The Hangman's Noose," "Director," “Believe,” “Blow Ya Mind,” Feel For You,” “End of the Line,” "Erika Kane," "Driving Down The Darkness," “Lesson Learned,” “Living My Life,” “Hood Love” and many more.

All of the tunes have three publishers listed: Top Dawg Music, WC Music Group and Hardworking Black Folks Inc., which Dr. Dre and Kendrick often published their works under this name.

There is no official word if any of the aforementioned songs will appear on Kendrick’s new project.

K-Dot’s last album was Damn. in 2017. The collection won Best Rap Album at the 2018 Grammy Awards and garnered the Compton rhymer the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for music.

Last August, Kendrick broke his silence and announced that he’s departing from his longtime label, Top Dawg Entertainment.

"As I produce my final TDE album, I feel joy to have been a part of such a cultural imprint after 17 years," he wrote in a statement. "The Struggles. The Success. And most importantly, the Brotherhood. May the Most High continue to use Top Dawg as a vessel for candid creators. As I continue to pursue my life's calling."

Kendrick also added: "There's beauty in completion. And always faith in the unknown. Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts. I've prayed for you all. See you soon enough."

Kendrick closed out the letter with the word "oklama." However, the meaning or significance of the term is unknown.

XXL has reached out to reps for Warner Chappell Music, the global publishing arm for Warner Music Group, for comment.

Check out Kendrick Lamar’s 32 unreleased song titles registered with ASCAP below.

Kendrick Lamar’s Unreleased Song Titles Registered With ASCAPFiled Under: Kendrick LamarCategories: News


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/trentfitzgerald/” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: September 2, 2021Gary Miller, FilmMagic

Polo G is going through a serious family crisis.

On Thursday (Sept. 2), reports surfaced online that Polo G’s mother, Stacia Mac, had a run-in with intruders at her home. This prompted the former 2020 XXL Freshman to hire 24-hour armed security at his mom’s home for her protection.

In a now-deleted Instagram post, Mac shared surveillance footage that appeared to show masked men with weapons breaking into her property.

"I struggled with if I should post this… I recently had an attempted break in at my home,” she wrote in the caption. “At least three men attempted to break in (you’ll hear the assailant on camera say ‘y’all ready?!’ ) In real time on my camera I witnessed as an intruder kicked in my basement door.”

Mac added that she fought off the intruders with her own weapon during the harrowing incident.

“While multiple intruders flocked to other entry points of my home. I began to open fire upon them," she continued. "They retreated. My family is safe, by God’s grace. In this situation you have only two choices; fight or flight. I refused to be a victim in my home! I will not rest until I know WHO is responsible."

Mac is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the persons involved in the attempted break-in.

"I am grateful to be alive to tell this story. If you have information please share. Thank you,” she concluded.

Mac didn’t reveal where the incident took place. The momager recently acquired a home in Atlanta thanks to her son. Back in February, Polo G purchased his mom a crib to celebrate their collective glow up.

"I decided to relocate to ATL in September 2020," Mac typed in the caption of her IG post, showing off the kitchen in her new home. "Today my son purchased my dream home! I showed him the home and he didn't flinch. His response was 'what you need?'"

"To say I'm appreciative is an understatement," she continued. "Thank you son! Thank you for being a man of your word. Thank you for giving me things, that at times, I was unable to provide you or myself. I love you and I'm eternally grateful."

Thankfully, Mac is safe and sound.

XXL has reached out to a rep for Polo G for comment.

See What the 2020 XXL Freshman Class Has Been Up ToWhich 2020 XXL Freshman is your favorite?Filed Under: Polo GCategories: News


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/trentfitzgerald/” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: August 31, 2021Jamie McCarthy, Getty Images

DaBaby has finally met with HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ+ organizations.

According to a press release from GLAAD on Tuesday (Aug. 31), the 2019 XXL Freshman sat down for an educational meeting with nine HIV and LGBTQ+ organizations following his homophobic remarks he made during his performance at the 2021 Rolling Loud Miami festival back in July.

The nine groups at the meeting included GLAAD, the Black AIDS Institute, Transinclusive Group and Positive Women's Network, among others. According to the GLAAD press release, they shared personal stories of people living with HIV with DaBaby and he was "genuinely engaged" in their conversations. Ultimately, the North Carolina rapper apologized directly to the group for what he called his inaccurate and hurtful comments about HIV and the impact it had on Black and LGBTQ+ communities.

Marnina Miller of the Southern AIDS Coalition, who attended the meeting, said in a statement that DaBaby's attendance and his eagerness to learn from his mistakes could set a positive example moving forward.

"DaBaby's willingness to listen, learn, and grow can open the door to an entirely new generation of people to do the same," she said. "Ending HIV stigma requires doing the hard work of changing hearts and minds, and often that begins with something as simple as starting a dialogue. We hope DaBaby will use his platform to educate his fans and help end the epidemic."

The meeting follows an open letter issued by nearly a dozen HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ+ organizations in early August requesting a private, off-the-record meeting with DaBaby. The group wanted to educate the "Jail, Part 2" rapper about the HIV/AIDS epidemic and why the homophobic comments at the Rolling Loud Festival was so misinformed and damaging.

During DaBaby's RL set, he told the audience: "If you didn't show up today with HIV, AIDS, any of them deadly sexual transmitted diseases that'll make you die in two to three weeks, put your cell phone light in the air. Ladies, if your pussy smells like water, put a cell phone light in the air. Fellas, if you ain't suckin' dick in the parking lot, put your cell phone lights in the air."

DaBaby did offer a heartfelt apology to the LGBTQ+ community on his Instagram page, but it was mysteriously deleted.

Nevertheless, this a positive step forward for everyone, including DaBaby.

These Tone-Deaf Hip-Hop Moments Prove Rappers Can Get Hit With Serious BacklashFiled Under: DaBabyCategories: News


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/trentfitzgerald/” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: August 31, 2021Amy Sussman, Getty Images

21 Savage is about his business.

In an interview with Million Dollaz Worth of Game podcast, which premiered on YouTube on Aug. 29, the Atlanta rapper dropped major jewels on how he’s able to maintain his success and avoid the pitfalls that many other young artists make in the rap game.

21 told co-hosts Gillie Da King and Wallo that it’s important for rappers to own their masters outright. “I had a platinum album before I signed my [first] deal,” he revealed. “I own my masters right now. Every song you’ve ever heard, I own it. I got a 70/30 split with my label [Epic Records].”

“A deal ain’t no deal where it’s like, 'Damn I wish I was independent,’” he added. “I make more money off my album sales than I do off touring. For a lot of rappers, most of their money comes from touring.”

21 is not capping. In fact, in 2020, during the pandemic, his 2017 Issa album went platinum along with several singles including "Ball w/o You" and "Can't Leave Without." In 2021, 21 saw his banging single, "Bank Account" reached six-times platinum and "A Lot," his collaborative song with J. Cole, go five-times platinum.

But 21 is not abandoning opportunities to make some tour money. The 28-year-old rapper is joining J. Cole on his Off-Season Tour next month. The North American trek launches Sept. 24 in Cole's home state of North Carolina and wraps up on Oct. 21 in Los Angeles. Also on the bill is 2021 XXL Freshman Morray.

Check out 21 Savage’s interview with Million Dollarz Worth of Game podcast below. Fast forward to the 28-minute mark to watch 21 talk about owning his masters and learning how the music game works.

These Rappers School You on the Ways They Get to the BagRappers rhyme about getting to the money.Filed Under: 21 SavageCategories: News


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/trentfitzgerald/” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: August 29, 2021Neil Mockford / Johnny Nunez, Getty Images(2)

UPDATE (AUG. 29):

Kanye West’s song “Jail, Pt. 2” featuring DaBaby, Francis and the Lights and Marilyn Manson has been added to the Donda album. The track “Jail” featuring Francis and the Lights and Jay-Z remains on the LP as well.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Kanye West has finally released his long-awaited Donda album today (Aug. 29). However, there appears to be a song missing from the project altogether.

According to the tracklist, the song “Jail, Part 2,” featuring DaBaby, Francis and the Lights and Marilyn Manson, is supposed to be on the album, but it was removed on all streaming platforms. What happened?

On Sunday (Aug. 29), Kanye hopped on his Instagram account and posted images of text messages revealing why DaBaby is not featured on Donda. In a series of texts, it appears that DaBaby’s team didn't want to clear his verse for the song “Jail, Part 2,” which momentarily held up the release of the project.

“On another Note, DaBaby manager isn’t clearing ‘Jail'… So we won’t be able to Upload unless we take him off…What’s ur thoughts,” reads one text.

“Why he won’t clear jail,” reads another text apparently from Kanye.

“I don’t know. And neither is answering there [sic] phone,” reads another text.

“I’m not taking my brother off…He was the only person who said he would vote for me in public,” reads another text apparently from Kanye.

In another IG post, it appears that Kanye will release Donda and nothing is going to stop it.

“Yo manager cap…They tried to stop you from coming in…The people next to you trying to destroy you…But God gotta bigger plan,” reads a text apparently from Kanye.

As of now, the song is not included on the Donda album, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t appear on the project later on in an update on DSPs. We’ll just have to wait and see.

XXL has reached out to reps for Kanye West, DaBaby and South Coast Music Group for comment.

See the Artists Up Next on These Rapper-Run Record LabelsLil Baby, Yo Gotti and more share why these rappers are up next.Filed Under: DaBaby, Kanye WestCategories: News


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/cvernoncoleman/” rel=”author” title=”C. Vernon Coleman II”>C. Vernon Coleman IIPublished: August 25, 2021Contributing Authors: Allepac The Family / Capitol Records / Aftermath Entertainment / Atlantic Records / We The Best / Epic Records (2) / Columbia Records / Winners Circle Entertainment / RCA Records

This summer, hip-hop witnessed the return of being outside after quarantining due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year. The last three months gave fans a chance to enjoy huge group gatherings at concert venues and music festivals with COVID-19 protocols or mkore intimate gatherings like backyard barbecues. During this time, plenty of the game's favorite rappers released some big songs for fans to get lit to at parties, live events or simply bumping in their cars.

The perfect summer song is often ubiquitous; you can hear it on the radio, television and in every car speaker outside. A great summer tune can urge you to move your body on the dance floor or help you chill out on a warm summer evening.

Rising newcomer Capella Grey has New York City—and beyond—on lock this summer with his smash hit "Gyalis." A tribute to a guy who's good with the ladies, the Bronx native incorporated a classic Juvenile record into the dancehall, hip-hop and R&B-flavored track, which is clilmbing up the Billboard Hot 100.

The City Girls' "Planet Rock"-sampled "Twerkulator" will undoubtedly spark spontaneous twerking on the dance floor. Fellow rapper Megan Thee Stallion also released her twerking anthem "Thot Shit” for the Hotties. The Houston representer's song is perfect for summertime parties and testing to see how strong your knees are.

Meanwhile, Tyler, The Creator dropped a head-nodding track that bangs. On the boom-bap track "Lumberjack,” Wolf Haley dips into his rhyme bag and spits boastful raps about his love for Drake and copping a Bentley after winning a Grammy. Play this in your car and let the head-nodding begin.

Silk Sonic, comprised of Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars, delivered this summer's love anthem with "Leave the Door Open." With its throwback soul vibe, the song is the perfect slow jam to play on those romantic summer nights with your significant other.

Now that everyone is back outside, XXL highlights Best Hip-Hop Songs of Summer 2021. Lil Baby, Lil Durk, Sleepy Hallow, Coi Leray and plenty more included.—Trent Fitzgerald

  • “Whole Lotta Money (Remix)”BIA featuring Nicki Minaj

    Strip clubs took a big hit during the pandemic, but now that things are back open, BIA has the perfect shake joint anthem with her track, “Whole Lotta Money (Remix)” featuring Nicki Minaj. Produced by BeatGodz, Tee Romano and London Jae, the July release revived the Massachusetts native’s original, peaking at No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100. With a hard beat packed with subterranean bass and standout verses from Nicki and B, “Whole Lotta Money” is pressuring for position as one of this summer’s most memorable cuts. An empowering anthem for women everywhere. Where them dollars at?—C. Vernon Coleman II

  • “Gyalis”Capella Grey

    The spotlight is back Uptown. One of the biggest hip-hop songs of the summer comes out of the Bronx, where the genre all began. Rising artist Capella Grey brings the compelling string line of Juvenile's "Back That Azz Up" to his hit song "Gyalis." The track highlights Grey's West Indian roots, hip-hop sensibilities, dancehall energy and R&B flair. Staying true to the Jamaican term for a player or someone who's good with the ladies—as Grey puts it—he tells the story of a one-night stand that turns into a gyal trying to "stay the whole week." He dropped "Gyalis" in January of this year, and its now grown legs past its New York City stomping grounds. The heater sits at No. 71 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has over 10 million Spotify streams. Grey is truly living his lyrics: "It's just the vibe, I'm that guy."

  • “Straightenin”Migos

    It seemed like it’d been a while since we got an anthem from the Migos, and the trio of Quavo, Offset and Takeoff delivered with the second Culture III single “Straightenin.” Taking advantage of hip-hop’s infatuation with flutes, the woodwind and bass-driven instrumental hits harder than linebackers on steroids. On the big record, the Atlanta trio prove they’ve never left despite a lengthy time between albums, and still have the ability to make a summer jam. Straight. No chaser.

  • “Wockesha”Moneybagg Yo

    Moneybagg Yo made a heart-to-heart about his struggle with lean addiction and turned it into a banger. In a similar vein to Jay-Z’s “I Know” and 50 Cent’s “A Baltimore Love Thing,” the Memphis rapper uses personification to wax poetic about his drug of choice. Tapping into a sample of DeBarge’s “Stay With Me”—also famously used on The Notorious B.I.G.’s “One More Chance (Remix)”—Moneybagg’s quasi-confessional is more than just a deep cut. It’s one of the more addictive records of the warm months.

  • “Thot Shit”Megan Thee Stallion

    After coming through with a summer anthem in 2019, on the aptly titled “Hot Girl Summer” featuring Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign, Megan Thee Stallion ended a brief musical hiatus in early June this year by releasing the single “Thot Shit.” Filled with unapologetic raunch, the hard-hitting LilJuMadeDaBeat and OG Parker-produced track is hand-crafted for fully packed parties in the summertime and testing those Megan knees. The Houston hottie narrates on the chorus: “Hands on my knees, shaking ass on my thot shit.” Round of applause for the Billboard Hot 100 riser, which peaked at No. 16.

  • “Every Chance I Get”Lil Baby and Lil Durk

    Despite dropping the collab project The Voice of the Heroes in June, Lil Baby and Lil Durk’s track, “Every Chance I Get" may be the duo’s shining moment. The song, released via DJ Khaled’s Khaled Khaled album, is backed by a lush instrumental from Tay Keith and Khaled. Baby and Durk apply pressure on the certified banger with smooth chemistry and grabbing bars. “Every Chance I Get" has since reached platinum status, stamping Baby and Durk as two of rap’s big dogs.

  • “Back in Blood”Pooh Shiesty featuring Lil Durk

    2021 XXL Freshman Pooh Shiesty’s breakout single “Back in Blood” featuring Lil Durk dropped at the top of the year and received much praise, but the YC-produced track never got a chance to fully ring off, as clubs closed and shows shut down. With possibly 2021’s most memorable chorus of “Bitch, I got my own fire, don’t need security in the club…,” the grimy street record peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and still has staying power to slap mid-year.

  • “Twerkulator”City Girls

    Last year, City Girls had complained about the pandemic preventing them from dropping music due to them not wanting to release club records while the venues were closed. As soon as outside began to open back up, they released the club single “Twerkulator” in late May of this year. A play on the chorus of Cajmere’s classic 1992 house record “Perculator,” while also making use of a sample of Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock,” the jam is just what the summer needed: a party record that can get things popping off at the drop of a hat. You know what time it is.

  • “Late at Night”Roddy Ricch

    Fans have been waiting for the follow-up to Roddy Ricch's 2020 abum, Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial, after he had the top song of the year with "The Box" that year. The Compton, Calif. rapper came through in the summer of 2021 with his latest banger, "Late at Night." A sobering rap love ballad, Roddy tests his vocals over savory production from Mustard and GYLTTRYP.  Peaking at No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the song didn't have the hit power of "The Box" but still slaps as a late-night go-to.

  • “Tell Em”Cochise featuring $not

    Cochise’s “Tell Em” featuring $not is pure energy and just what the doctor ordered following the drab year that was 2020. The May release served as the Florida rapper’s second viral output following 2019’s “Hatchback.” Produced by Jootsu, the pounding bass and ’Chise’s constant reminder of, “Nigga better turn me up,” makes it damn near impossible to sit still while this track is playing. The song pushes the button on mosh-mode and now that concerts and shows are back in full effect, it’s on.

  • “No More Parties (Remix)”Coi Leray featuring Lil Durk

    Vocal chord-bending software continues to thrive almost a dozen years after the release of Jay-Z's "D.O.A (Death of Auto-Tune)." Coi Leray's "No More Parties (Remix)" featuring Lil Durk is one of many examples of the once-maligned crutch still being alive and well. Released in February, the song gained clout via its run on TikTok and has continued make noise.

    The 2021 XXL Freshman's hit is a slow burn, counteracted with Coi ripping off choppy Playboi Carti-esque quips over a bassy Okaykhan and Maaly Raw-produced track. Durk's placement on the song is foolproof, with both rhymers propelling the melody via Auto-Tuned lyrics. A definite track to ride to now that we have places to ride to. The original has reached platinum status. Keep the party going.

  • “Rapstar”Polo G

    Polo G’s single, “Rapstar,” turned him into just that. The Chicago rapper released the Einer Bankz and Synco-produced track in April, and it quickly rose to the top of the charts, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100—the young rapper’s first No. 1 record. The ukulele-driven trap sonnet is less turn-up and more laid-back with ’Lo rhyming about newfound fame and relationships. Despite the mellowed motif, “Rapstar” is a go-to record with over 100 million streams on YouTube. Starboy.

  • “Lumberjack”Tyler, The Creator

    Tyler, The Creator’s Call Me If You Get Lost album is one of the best hip-hop projects of 2021. The Cali-based rhymer is in certainly in his rhyme bag on the effort, dropping crazy bars over neck-snapping, sample-based production and R&B-influenced grooves. On "Lumberjack," produced by the Odd Future leader himself, Tyler flosses on his haters as he raps about his love for Drake, copping a Bentley after winning a Grammy Award and laughing at naysayers. "Rolls-Royce pull up, Black boy hop out/Shout-out to my mother and my father, didn’t pull out/MSG sell out, fuck these niggas yap ’bout?/Whips on whips, my ancestors got they backs out," he raps on the song with DJ Drama yelling his famous “Gangsta Grillz” ad-libs throughout. "It's different, it's really different," says founding OF rapper Jasper on the track. It's different and it's truly dope.—Trent Fitzgerald

  • “Leave the Door Open”Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak)

    The combined forces of Bruno Mars and Anderson.Paak are better than we could have imagined. The two crooners formed the duo Silk Sonic and released the sultry debut single, “Leave the Door Open” in March. With a purposeful throwback vibe, the song leans on lyrics and instrumentation to drive home the point and delivers with pinpoint accuracy. “Leave the Door Open” peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has Grammy written all over it, as well as a nod for one of the summer’s most impactful slow jams.

  • “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)”Lil Nas X

    Lil Nas X's hand-clapping hit "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)" is one of the hottest songs of the summer. Not only did the song burn up the Billboard Hot 100 chart, garnering him his second No. 1 single in his career, but his fiery video also provoked outrage among the religious clergies who felt he was worshipping Satan. Controversy aside, the clip has reached over 326 million views on YouTube so far. As for the song, it's a love anthem of sorts as the Atlanta rapper celebrates his queerness among an omnipresence of hate and homophobia. "What a time, an incline, God was shinin' on me/Now I can't leave/And now I'm actin' hella elite," he raps on the song. Lil Nas X is spreading love this summer. — Trent Fitzgerald

  • “His & Hers”Internet Money featuring Don Toliver, Gunna and Lil Uzi Vert

    Producer collective Internet Money continue to churn out bangers. This summer's "His and Hers" featuring Lil Uzi Vert, Gunna and Don Toliver is another notch on the belt. Produced by IM's Taz Taylor, Nick Mira, Alec Wigdahl, Pharaoh Vice and Cxdy, "His and Hers" has bubbly vibes with Don Toliver's catchy chorus and Uzi and Wunna's verses being a perfect match. When it's time to turn up now full capacity party, this track is money in the bank.

  • “Ski”Young Thug featuring Gunna

    Young Thug and Gunna's "Ski" started a whole wave avalanche. Appearing on the YSL compilation, Slime Language 2, the Outtatown, Wheezy and Babywave-produced track quickly became a fan favorite and a viral sensation on TikTok due in part to the accompanying "Ski" challenge, which even Drake participated in. The song itself, which makes use of a stripped-down chorus, is infectious, with Thugger and Gunna's tag-team job proving formidable. The song proved to be another top 20 Billboard hit for the them both and another record 2021 will be remember by.

  • “2055”Sleepy Hallow

    Brooklyn also calls home to a banger this summer. Sleepy Hallow, one of the more versatile artists in the BK drill movement, unleashed the Great John and uv killen em-produced track "2055" this past April. The guitar-driven slow groove is an open diary into Sleepy's inner thoughts—even the hope that his "kid never try drugs." While the subject matter may seem grim, the hook of "I just wanna slide, huh/Parties in the sky like it's 2055, huh" grabs listeners from the jump, flipping the effort into a more upbeat ode. "2055" has now locked in a No. 55 position on the Billboard Hot 100 and a Coi Leray assist on the remix.

See Best Hip-Hop Projects of 2021 So FarWhat’s your favorite hip-hop project of 2021 so far?Filed Under: Anderson .Paak, Bangers, Bia, Bruno Mars, Capella Grey, City Girls, Cochise, Coi Leray, DJ Khaled, Don Toliver, Feature, Gunna, Internet Money, Lil Baby, Lil Durk, Lil Nas X, Lil Uzi Vert, Megan Thee Stallion, Migos, MoneyBagg Yo, Nicki Minaj, Polo G, Pooh Shiesty, Roddy Ricch, Sleepy Hallow, The List, Tyler The Creator, Young ThugCategories: Music, New Music, News


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/awoods/” rel=”author” title=”Aleia Woods”>Aleia WoodsPublished: August 20, 2021Christopher Polk, Getty images

UPDATE (Aug. 20):

TDE CEO Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith released a statement via Instagram this afternoon in support of Kendrick Lamar's TDE departure announcement.

"The whole goal when we started the thing was to make music, make money, and make history," Tiffith wrote. "We did those things 10 times over and then some. TDE and its artists have provided a way to end generational curses that we were all personally born into over the last 17 years in this business."

Top Dawg continued: "With this being Dot's last album on TDE, this is more of a VICTORY LAP, a celebration. I know he will be successful in whatever it is he decides to do and will have our FULL SUPPORT. As for Top Dawg Entertainment, we will continue to grow, develop and give artists the platform to expand into whatever way they choose."

See TDE's CEO's full statement below:

ORIGINAL STORY:

Kendrick Lamar has announced that he is parting ways from his longtime label, Top Dawg Entertainment.

On Friday afternoon (Aug. 20), K-Dot posted a tweet of a link to a website called oklama.com, along with a clipart image of a yellow folder, which had the words "nu thoughts" underneath it.

On the website, Kendrick breaks the news that his nearly two decade-long run with his label is coming to an end.

"As I produce my final TDE album, I feel joy to have been a part of such a cultural imprint after 17 years," Kung Fun Kenny wrote. "The Struggles. The Success. And most importantly, the Brotherhood. May the Most High continue to use Top Dawg as a vessel for candid creators. As I continue to pursue my life's calling."

In the earlier portion of the note, Kendrick said, "I spend most of my days with fleeting thoughts. Writing. Listening. And collecting old Beach cruisers. The morning rides keep me on a hill of silence. I go months without a phone. Love, loss, and grief have disturbed by comfort zone, but the glimmers of God speak through my music and family. While the world around me evolves, I reflect on what matters the most. The life in which my words will land next."

The elusive rapper added: "There's beauty in completion. And always faith in the unknown. Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts. I've prayed for you all. See you soon enough."

Kendrick Lamar closed out the letter with the word "oklama." However, the meaning or significance of the term is unclear.

Last October, the Compton rhymer responded to rumors that he was leaving TDE. In a video shared by TDE CEO Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith, Kendrick used the main character Blue from the Nickelodeon cartoon Blues Clues to request that people stop dragging the former 2011 XXL Freshman's name through the mud.

"Top, you gotta stop them from smutting my name, man," Kendrick said in the video. "They been smutting my name all year, man. You ain't said nothing. Enough is enough, man. Got ’em saying I done shook the label and all that. They must don't know about that, that pickle juice that's under your red cap, man. About that sweat, the sweat that's holding that red cap together, reason why it don't fall off your head, man. That lubricant. You need to tell them that the reason why that cap don't fall off yo' head, man. So why would I fall off? Watching cartoons, man."

Kendrick Lamar has released nine albums—good kid, m.A.A.d city (2012), good kid, m.A.A.d city deluxe (2012), To Pimp a Butterfly (2015), Untitled Unmastered (2016), DAMN. (2017), DAMN. Collector's Edition. (2017), Black Panther: The Album (2018)—while on TDE, as well as his 2010 debut, Overly Dedicated.

In March of 2020, Kendrick announced pgLang, his multi-service media company with Dave Free, former co-president of TDE. The company is a media powerhouse comprised of a record label, movie studio and publishing house. K-Dot's cousin and former 2020 XXL Freshman, Baby Keem, is the first artist to sign with pgLang.

XXL has reached out a rep for Kendrick Lamar for a comment.

See Kendrick's departure letter and tweet below.

oklama.com/nuthoughtsSee 50 Surprising Facts About Kendrick LamarK-Dot fans, this one’s for you.Filed Under: Kendrick LamarCategories: News


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/trentfitzgerald/” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: August 19, 2021JOCE/Bauer-Griffin, Getty Images

Here’s one more thing Soulja Boy could possibly take credit for, if it’s true—he’s the first rapper to own a gaming company.

According to a video posted on YouTube on Wednesday (Aug. 18), Soulja Boy—while rocking an Atari baseball cap and sweatshirt—hopped on his Instagram Live to announce that he reportedly owns the electronic gaming company Atari.

“I’m now the owner of Atari," he said in the video. "I own the video game Atari."

The Atlanta rapper further explained that the people at Atari were proud of his work with the SouljaGame Consoles and SouljaGame Handhelds. Soulja Boy added that he’s selling his own gaming company to Atari.

“We are about to sell the company for…$140 million," Soulja continued. "Atari reached out…I just signed two deals with Atari. I’m the owner. The first rapper to ever own a video game company.”

Soulja Boy has been on his entrepreneurial grind for several years now. Big Draco has previously sold watches, received $10,000 for guest verses and saw his profits triple during the COVID-19 pandemic with his soap company, The Soap Shop.

On the music side, Soulja Boy dropped his latest project, Big Draco, in July. It also looks like he’s eager to get into the boxing ring as well.

XXL has reached out to Atari for comment on Soulja Boy’s announcement.

Watch the Soulja Boy video below. Fast forward to the 16-second mark to watch his announcement that he now owns Atari.

Super Unique Hip-Hop Merch That You Can BuyFrom Travis Scott’s McNugget body pillow to Young M.A’s sex toy collection, there’s plenty of unique hip-hop merchandise you can cop right now.Filed Under: Soulja BoyCategories: News


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/trentfitzgerald/” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: August 18, 2021Aftermath / Interscope Records / Top Dawg Entertainment / Aftermath / Shady / Interscope Records / Sugar Trap

Kanye WestEminem and Jay-Z are among many rappers who have blessed fans with hidden tracks on their albums. Playboi Carti and J. Cole, to name a few, are also in the crew of artitsts with Easter eggs in their work. How about hidden messages on album covers? They've got those, too. With the right artwork, artists can attract new and old listeners alike.

Through the years, plenty of rappers have delivered eye-catching album cover art. Sometimes the image is often tied to the music or subject matter. However, some artists get really creative and hide secret messages within artwork. While the image may look simple, perception can easily change once a harder look is given to that the artwork.

Kendrick Lamar's 2017 album, DAMN., first grabbed attention for the West Coast rapper's sullen facial appearance on the LP's front cover. Once fans got passed that, they started dissecting the tracklisting on the back cover of the album and discovered what they believe is a hidden anagram among the last capital letters of each song. When rearranged, the letters spell out a couple of phrases, including "DEATH 2 THE LEADER" and more.

Meanwhile, Eminem decided to be lewd with the front cover of his 2018 effort, Kamikaze. The cover art is a direct copy of the Beastie Boys' 1986 album, Licensed to Ill. Slim Shady's artwork features a crashed plane with the serial number TIKCU5 on the tail, which reads "Suck It" spelled backwards. Other words like "FU 2" and "Copycat" are written on the plane as well.

Then there's Rico Nasty, who was subtle with her hidden message on her 2018 project, Nasty. While the photograph of the 2019 XXL Freshman is very glamorous, if you look closely, the Maryland native spelled out "Nasty" in the baby hairs of her hairline.

So with that, XXL highlights 12 albums with hidden messages in the artwork—some may seem nonsensical while other images make perfect sense or may even tell a story. Check them out below.

Here Are Hidden Messages on Hip-Hop Album CoversSome rappers get really creative and hide secret messages within the album’s artwork. Check them out below.Filed Under: Beastie Boys, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Eminem, Galleries, Gallery, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Kool Moe Dee, Rico Nasty, vic mensaCategories: News


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/awoods/” rel=”author” title=”Aleia Woods”>Aleia WoodsPublished: August 17, 2021Craig Sjodin, Getty Images / John Lamparski, FilmMagic

Eminem has put his acting hat back on to guest star in one of 50 Cent's upcoming drama series.

The Wrap reported on Tuesday (Aug. 17) that Em, who made his acting debut in 8 Mile back in 2002, will make a guest appearance in his former Shady/Aftermath Records signee's new show, Black Mafia Family. The Detroit rapper will be playing the role of famed drug dealer White Boy Rick, real name Rick Wershe Jr., who was an informant for the FBI as a young teen when selling drugs and guns as a gang member. Once Rick was no longer being utilized by the feds, he was arrested for cocaine possession and sentenced to life in prison. He was paroled in June of last year at 50 years old.

Fif said in a statement: "I’m honored and appreciative of my good friend Em for supporting my new show BMF. We couldn’t do a show based in Detroit without incorporating the legend that is Eminem."

50 also announced the guest role Eminem will have on BMF via Instagram today, reposting a screenshot of The Wrap's article.

"Oh yeah i’m bringing the big dogs out, I couldn’t do a show based in Detroit without incorporating the legend @eminem," he wrote. "Got him to play white Boy Rick in BMF, this shit is out of here. 🚦Green Light Gang."

Fif's Black Mafia Family series is based on the life story of brothers Demetrius “Big Meech” and Terry “Southwest T” Flenory, whose eminence in their hometown and across the country stems from with their drug ring and loyalty.

Kash Doll, who also stars in the show as Monique, opened up about finding out she was cast for her role in the spring 2021 issue of XXL.

"It was really exciting," she said. "Just to hear that I’d be a part of a story that’s coming from Detroit and I’m from Detroit. You know, always looking up to 50 Cent as far as what he did with music and then going into film. It was just like a dream come true. I was just ecstatic. Really grateful."

Black Mafia Family premieres on Starz on Sun., Sept. 26.

XXL has reached out to a rep for Eminem for a comment.

See 50 Facts About 50 CentDo you know everything about 50 Cent?Filed Under: 50 Cent, EminemCategories: News


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/xxlstaff/” rel=”author” title=”XXL Staff”>XXL StaffPublished: August 10, 2021Dimitrios Kambouris, Getty Images

With nearly two decades of evidence as proof, one thing is certain: Kanye West gon’ Kanye. That you can count on. When everybody is going right, ’Ye goes left. When everyone is being moderately humble, the Chicago rapper is having fits of self-glorification. When everyone is standing on the ledge, Kanye is willing to jump, even if the end result of the plummet could mean killing off scores of fans. ’Ye moves to beat of his own 808 drum pattern. His refusal to conform to standard practices—or keep release dates, but more on that later—has made for some interesting career moments and, more specifically, album rollouts over the years.

Kanye West doesn’t do normal, especially when it comes to releasing albums. Only three of Kanye’s 10 solo LPs—counting the upcoming Donda album—have arrived on their original release date. He’s left fans hanging at midnight, punching their keyboards for being foolish enough to believe Kanye “this time.”

At the same time, despite his lapses in time management, ’Ye has created some of most memorable album rollouts to date. Listening parties at "The World’s Most Famous Arena," head-to-head matchups with the biggest name in the game and a star-studded album debut in the mountains of Wyoming livestreamed for the masses. There’s never a dull moment.

With his 10th album Donda—possibly, maybe, supposedly—arriving on Aug. 13 following multiple pump fakes, and several listening sessions, XXL highlights Kanye West’s most unique album rollouts over the years.

  • The College Dropout

    Kanye West's rollout for his classic 2004 debut album The College Dropout was a complete accident—literally.

    On Oct. 23, 2002, Kanye was involved in a near-fatal car accident after leaving a late-night session at a Los Angeles studio in California. The Chicago producer fell asleep at the wheel and crashed his car into an oncoming vehicle. Kanye suffered a broken jaw while the other driver had two of his legs broken.

    ’Ye was rushed to the hospital and had to undergo reconstructive surgery to have his mouth wired shut. Interestingly, despite his severe injuries, the accident inspired Kanye to switch gears from producer to being a full-fledged rapper.

    "The accident gave me the opportunity to do what I really wanted to do," he told Interview magazine in 2014. "I was a music producer, and everyone was telling me that I had no business becoming a rapper, so it gave me the opportunity to tell everyone, 'Hey, I need some time to recover.'"

    "But during that recovery period, I just spent all my time honing my craft and making The College Dropout," he continued. "It gave me perspective on life—that it was really now or 100 percent never."

    Two weeks after the accident, Kanye was back in the studio recording what would be his debut single, "Through the Wire," the title of which refers to ’Ye rapping his lyrics through his wired jaw. On the song, he details the night of his horrific accident so the world could feel his pain, as well as determination to become the best rapper ever.

    On Sept. 30, 2003, Kanye released "Through the Wire" as the album's rollout single. But why?

    "Because he wanted it first. I don't get involved in none of that shit. My genius is you let an artist be an artist," former Roc-A-Fella CEO Damon Dash told XXL in 2014. "Of course there has to be a rollout. But I wanted him to do more creative things. I was happy about it as long as he wasn't being disrespectful to me. My thing is this; at Roc-A-Fella, my job was to always make each other rich, that's all I was concerned about. That is the art that I liked to see."

    On Nov. 20, 2018, 15 years after its release, "Through the Wire" reached platinum status for 1 million copies sold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Meanwhile, The College Dropout became a four-time platinum seller and won Best Rap Album at the 2005 Grammy Awards.—Trent Fitzgerald

  • Late Registration

    The Late Registration album was subject to the standard singles releases and music video debuts before one famous TV moment brought even more fanfare ’Ye's way.

    Four months before the LP arrived in 2005, "Diamonds From Sierra Leone" received the premiere treatment on Hot 97, which, as any rapper knows at the time, was the crème de la crème destination to get music to the masses. Then Kanye got the TRL spotlight, premiering the song's video on the MTV program for the world to see in June. He also moved the album by a month the same day the visual arrived. Instead of a July release, Late Registration would drop on Aug. 30.

    A month after the announcement of delaying the album, he unleashed "Gold Digger," an ode to materialistic women with a sweet spot for cash and the second single to come from the LP. The song climbed up the Billboard Hot 100 chart quicker than "Diamonds From Sierra Leone," ultimately earning Kanye the second No. 1 single of his career six days after his album's official release.

    With the two songs and accompanying visuals well-received by the time Late Registration arrived on Aug. 30, 2005, Kanye West continued to capture headlines even outside of the music. Three days after his album dropped, the rapper appeared on A Concert for Hurricane Relief, a televised, celebrity-driven benefit concert to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. Once Kanye said the words, "George Bush doesn't care about Black people," following his off-script comments about disliking the way the media portrays Black families," he cemented himself as an artist who clearly had no filter and would take a stand, anytime, any place. The surprising TV moment wasn't part of his official album rollout, but it undoubtedly had mainstream America paying attention to his name, and Late Registration benefitted from it.

  • Graduation

    It was a battle for the ages. In the summer of 2007, Def Jam moved back the release date of Kanye West's Graduation album to Sept. 11, 2007, the same day as the release of 50 Cent's third album, Curtis, and set the stage for a showdown for first-week sales.

    For three months, both rappers built up anticipation, with 50 Cent at one point even saying he would retire from rap if ’Ye outsold him on the first week—50 later retracted that statement. Kanye spent a lot of time promoting the album overseas in the U.K., and even held a secret album listening party at Westminster Central Hall in London. At the event, staff members reportedly wore graduation cap and gowns and attendees were showered with confetti upon the commencement of the concert.

    Kanye and 50 also appeared on a special episode of BET's 106 & Park titled "Kanye West vs. 50 Cent: The Clash of the Titans," which aired the day the albums were released on Sept. 11, 2007. Kanye ended up outselling Fif in the first week by almost 300,000 copies. Kanye sold over 957,000 copies in the first week of sales while 50 sold 691,000 copies.—C.V.C. II

    Kevin Winter, Getty Images

  • 808s & Heartbreak

    No risk, no reward. In 2008, a year after the death of his mother, Dr. Donda West, and the dissolution of his relationship with then-fiancée Alexis Phifer, Kanye West was in a state of loneliness and despair, which influenced how he would create his fourth album, 808s & Heartbreak.

    The LP was a big risk for ’Ye because it was sonically different from his three stellar efforts prior: The College DropoutLate Registration and Graduation. The Chicago rapper-producer abandoned the soul-sampling production work that he created on his previous works and opted for a moodier sound, using melody and singing most of his songs using Auto-Tune.

    To see how fans would react to his new musical direction, Kanye debuted the single "Love Lockdown" during the closing of the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards in September of 2008, two months before the album officially arrived.

    Rocking mullet-style haircut, a grey suit with a flashing heart pendant on the lapel, Kanye dazzled the crowd with an emotionally-drawn performance, which kick-started the rollout for his album. Following his performance, Kanye released the song on his now-defunct blog, kanyeuniversecity, as a free download.

    A month later, he premiered "Coldest Winter" on Los Angeles radio station Power 106. He also held a listening session that same month at an art gallery in L.A. Italian artist Vanessa Beecroft assisted in Kanye's vision, which consisted of nude women, some wearing wool masks, who stood in silence in the room as the album played.

    The MC's sonic risk-taking worked. "Love Lockdown" debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and became his fourth platinum single moving over 3 million copies. His second single, "Heartless," which had even more singing and Auto-Tune, sold over 5.5 million copies.

    After its release on Nov. 24, 2008, 808s & Heartbreak would debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling over 450,000 copies in its first week of release.—T.F.

  • My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

    Formerly known as Good Ass Job and Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West's 2010 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy underwent multiple name changes and cover art releases during the rollout process and featured ’Ye bringing a cinematic touch.

    The album was recorded in Oahu, Hawaii, with Kanye flying in a who's who of artists to contribute to the project. ’Ye got things in motion by launching G.O.O.D. Fridays, delivering a new free track every week leading up to the album's release, including songs that would appear on the album like "Monster," "Devil in a New Dress" and "So Appalled." West debuted "Runaway" during a memorable live performance at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards and later premiered a 35-minute video for the song starring Selita Ebanks the month before its release in November of 2010.

    West commissioned famed artist George Condo to do the cover art, with Condo later saying the rapper wanted something provocative enough to be banned from stores. Condo came out with several alternatives for the cover art, with one featuring a monster being straddled by a naked phoenix, which was censored in some stores.

    MBDTF is one of the few West albums that actually dropped on the first release date given, Nov. 22, 2010.—C.V.C. II

  • Watch the Throne

    The rollout for Watch the Throne was pretty tame for Kanye West standards. In October of 2010, Yeezy first announced he and Jay-Z would be dropping a joint LP via Twitter. West later told MTV the project had been expanded from what would've been an EP to a full-length LP.

    The lead single "H•A•M" was released in January of 2011, which reflected the earlier direction of the album. Hov confirmed after that song was released, the final album's direction was less dramatic and calculated. After kicking off the year with a Watch the Throne single, the two rappers went back in the lab and didn't drop another record until June.

    The rollout for the album featured two listening sessions; one for a select few tastemakers at the Mercer Hotel in New York City in July and the other taking place at NYC's American Museum of Natural History in August. The Mercer Hotel is where much of the album was recorded.

    A viral moment in the lead-up to the release came when Hot 97 DJ Funkmaster Flex debuted the single "Otis" on the radio in July and played the nearly three-minute song for nearly half an hour.

    After somehow avoiding being leaked, the highly anticipated album was released on Aug. 8, 2011.—C.V.C. II

  • Yeezus

    Kanye West's Yeezus album was another step in a different direction for Kanye. Formerly known as Thank God for Drugs, West announced the release of the album in May of 2013 with a single cryptic tweet that read: "June Eighteen."

    A couple weeks later, he started debuting the song "New Slaves" via video projections in over 60 cites around the world. The day after his mass stunt, on May 18, he performed "New Slaves" and debuted "Black Skinheads" on Saturday Night Live, both serving as a deviation of his earlier soul-sampling work and a microcosm of the full album.

    Kanye later revealed the title and the minimalist cover art, a clear jewel box with a strip of red tape on his website. Yeezus leaked onto the internet less than a week before it was set to be released causing a mania online.

    Yeezus arrived on June 18, 2013, selling 327,000 copies in its first week of release. The sales were a career low for the Chicago rapper, but enough to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. The album spawned the Yeezus Tour, which was the highest-grossing hip-hop tour of 2013.—C.V.C. II

  • The Life of Pablo

    Lucky album No. 7 served as one of the most unique rollouts of Kanye's career. In late 2013, three years prior to the release of The Life of Pablo, Kanye began working on the album. Initially, the project had the title So Help Me God, and was set for a 2014 release. However, the album would ultimately go through four total title changes—SHMG, Swish, Waves—before Kanye settled on The Life of Pablo, just five days before the album arrived.

    With every title change came new songs. "Only One" featuring Paul McCartney, "All Day" with Allan Kingdom, Theophilus London and McCartney, and the McCartney and Rihanna-assisted "FourFiveSeconds" all came during the SHMG time, with the first track being released in late 2014 and the latter two in 2015. The next year, he changed the LP to Swish, dropping "Real Friends" and "No More Parties in L.A." Just weeks after the Swish change in early January of 2016, he went with the title Waves later that month before TLOP was chosen. He also revealed handwritten tracklists for the album via Twitter.

    Two days ahead of the official album release, Kanye unveiled his Yeezy Season 3 clothing line at Madison Square Garden during New York Fashion Week in 2016, and while doing so, previewed The Life of Pablo for everyone in attendance. The moment was an event like no other, with Kid Cudi, Pusha-T, 50 Cent, A$AP Rocky, 2 Chainz, the Kardashians and Jenners, Lil Yachty (one of the Yeezy models) and many more witnessing the massive fashion show and listening session, a first of its kind at MSG.

    On Feb. 14, 2016, a Saturday and not recognized as the usual date albums are released, Kanye unleashed The Life of Pablo to the world after performing "Ultralight Beam" with Chance The Rapper, Kirk Franklin, Kelly Price and The-Dream and Chance The Rapperland the Young Thug-supported "Highlights" on Saturday Night Live. He was also updating the project on streaming services in real time.

    The infamous track "Famous," brought further attention to the album with the lyrics aimed at Taylor Swift: "For all my Southside niggas that know me best/I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why? I made that bitch famous (Goddamn)/I made that bitch famous."

    Following its release, TLOP went No. 1 and also received further updates to several tracks already released on DSPs a month later in March.

  • Ye and Kids See Ghosts

    When it comes to Kanye West albums, good things take time. The Chi-town rapper spent two years cooking up Ye, his eighth solo studio album. Within that time span, he changed the title—no surprise—and also worked on four other albums along the way.

    In early 2016, Yeezy revealed he was working on the new project, which had the title of Turbo Grafx 16. Photos from recording sessions during that time included ’Ye in the studio with Kid Cudi, Quavo, Lil Yachty, Big Sean and Tyler, The Creator. While working on the effort, he had also been on the Saint Pabo Tour, for which he made headlines for going on a rant. He also suffered a breakdown that left him hospitalized. The new LP didn't come out that year, he cut his tour short and focused on his mental health.

    The next year he was in Wyoming working on the project, bringing along with him many familiar faces in rap. While the LP didn't drop that year, Kanye managed to be a hot topic of conversation for his support of Donald Trump, his Yeezy fashion show and relationship with then-wife Kim Kardashian. Jackson Hole, Wy. seemed to be the rhymer's safe space, creating music on a ranch, including his own tracks and those for Pusha-T's forthcoming album.

    The "Wyoming sessions" resulted in Kanye working into 2018 on the album that would ultimately be titled Ye, as well as producing or providing guest vocals for Pusha's Daytona, Nas' Nasir, Teyana Taylor's K.T.S.E. and Kids See Ghosts, Kanye's joint effort with Kid Cudi.

    Ahead of Ye arriving in June of 2018, Kanye visited TMZ in May of that year, which resulted in a controversial discussion in the media outlet's newsroom, in which he said slavery "sounds like a choice" and continued his support of Trump, referring to the former president as his "boy." Kanye admitted he changed his entire Ye album following that TMZ visit, removing several controversial statements and focused more on the music.

    Weeks later and six days after Pusha dropped the Daytona LP Kanye helped craft, Kanye invited celebrity friends and the media to Jackson Hole for a two-hour listening session for Ye that was livestreamed on May 31, 2018. Cudi, Nas, 2 Chainz, Big Sean and Ty Dolla $ign, among others were in attendance. Ye officially arrived on June 1, 2018, with an album cover that read "I hate being Bi-Polar its awesome," a nod to Kanye's mental health. The Kids See Ghosts project followed on June 8, Nas' Nasir on June 15 and Taylor's K.T.S.E. on June 22, proving that Kanye's work ethic was truly unmatched at that time. All the wild antics and prolonged studio sessions resulted in Ye achieving No. 1 status on the Billboard 200.

  • Jesus Is King

    Kanye's pivot to more religious music was the basis of Jesus Is King, his ninth solo album. However, before that LP was brought to the world, the MC announced he had another new album in the works three months after Ye dropped in 2018. Yandhi was the title, and previews of music, tracklists and leaks featured songs like "I Love It" with Lil Pump and "New Body" with Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign.

    A Sept. 29, 2018 release date was set, and never met. That date was also the moment Kanye hit the Saturday Night Live as the musical guest, which ended in a political rant. He rocked a “Make America Great Again” hat, spoke on his support of Trump once again and his promise to run for president in 2020. A new date for Yandhi was given in November, which came and went with no drop since the rhymer was in Uganda still recording.

    At the top of the next year, he debuted his Sunday Service choir, leaning into more Christian themes in his music. Throughout the year, the gospel choir would perform with ’Ye on Sundays, including a public performance at Coachella in 2019. That summer, Kim Kardashian revealed the LP he would eventually debut had a new name, fittingly titled Jesus Is King, and would arrive in September.

    While that month didn't produce the LP, Kanye did give a preview of the album and an accompanying film following a Sunday Service performance in Detroit. Weeks later on Oct. 25, 2019, Jesus Is King finally arrived. The project scored a No. 1 chart position and earned a Grammy Award in 2021 for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album.

  • Donda

    It wouldn't be a Kanye rollout if it didn't involve a title change, delays and a whole lot of extra. If there's one thing Yeezy is it's consistent. Last year, LP10 was set to arrive. Initially titled God's Country, the effort was surpringly announced by cinematographer Arthur Jafa, who said in an Instagram Live conversation in May that he was working with the rapper on visuals for the album. "Wash Us in the Blood" was the first to debut.

    That summer, Kanye released the song "Donda," named after his late mother. He dropped the track on what would have been her 71st birthday. About a week later, ’Ye revealed the album title would be changed to Donda in honor of his mom. A July 24 release date was given, but never followed through on. Some might blame the global pandemic while others just consider it typical Kanye behavior. Later that year, "Nah Nah Nah" arrived, which he dubbed a presidential campaign theme song, and its accompanying remix with DaBaby and 2 Chainz. The track was another expected to be on the final LP.

    Longtime friends Consequence and CyHi The Prynce both gave separate updates on the album, the former describing it as "fire" late last year while the latter said in an interview in March of this year that ’Ye was crafting the opus amid his divorce from Kim K. This summer, the Donda engine revved back up. Kanye was back outside, seen at Paris Fashion Week wearing a full face mask. On July 18, the MC had a listening session in Las Vegas, where the NBA playoffs were being held—he even showed up at one of the games. Photographer Nigel Degraff and internet personality Justin Laboy became the unofficial Kanye spokespeople, sharing what to expect on the album, from Lil Baby guest appearances to a commercial with his music that would feature track star Sha'Carri Richardson.

    On July 20, Kanye officially announced the Donda album once more as part of the commercial for Apple's Beats by Dre, which featured the new song "No Child Left Behind." A July 23 release date was set and news that Kanye would hold an album listening session at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on July 22 was confirmed. The event was livestreamed on Apple Music, featured a reunion with Jay-Z on a track, Vory on guest vocals, music that seemed to be unfinished and Kanye donning a red ’fit with a face mask once again. ’Ye never spoke and stood in the middle of the stadium by himself, walking around at times.

    Donda didn't drop that night to fans' dissapointment. Instead, Kanye began living on the stadium premises, working to finish the LP. A second listening session that would also be livestreamed was scheduled for Aug. 5, and a new release date of Aug. 6. This time, Kanye rocked an all-black wardrobe and a signature face mask, and showcased a more polished version of the Donda album, which featured even more guest appearances from the likes of Kid Cudi, Westside Gunn, Jadakiss, Lil Yachty and more. He also put on an immersive performance while never speaking a word, having men and women surround him by walking around as he switched between lying on a mattress and moving across the center of the stadium.

    There's still no Donda album, but there is a new release date. Expect the effort to drop on Aug. 13 if you believe the pre-order info on Apple Music. The anticipation and pump fakes are real with this rollout.

See the Best Hip-Hop Albums Created by One ProducerWhich album is your favorite?Filed Under: Feature, Kanye West, The ListCategories: News


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/trentfitzgerald/” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: August 9, 2021Neo Elite via YouTube

The hip-hop and R&B communities are mourning the loss of legendary producer Chucky Thompson.

On Monday (Aug. 9), Thompson’s publicist issued a statement to XXL, confirming the sad news that Thompson has died at the age of 53 years old.

"It is with a very heavy heart that I can confirm the passing of Chucky Thompson. To anyone in his orbit, you know how generous he was with his energy, creativity and love. Both the music industry, and the world has lost a titan," reads the statement.

Although the cause of death has not been revealed, according to legendary radio personality Donnie Simpson, Thompson died from complications related to COVID-19.

Chucky Thompson (real name Carl E. Thompson) was an architect of the Hip-Hop Soul sound and a pivotal R&B producer in 1990s. As part of Diddy’s Hitmen crew, Bad Boy Records’ in-house production team, he produced classic songs and albums for the late Notorious B.I.G. (1994’s “Big Poppa”), Faith Evans (1995’s Faith), Craig Mack (1994’s “Flava In Ya Ear” Bad Boy Remix) and Mary J. Blige (1994’s My Life). Thompson also produced classic tunes for Nas (2001’s “One Mic”), Usher (1994’s “Think of You”) and Ne-Yo (2015’s "Worth It"), among others.

A native of Washington, D.C., Thompson's production career started when he was enlisted to produce a song called "Be With You" for Mary J. Blige’s second album, My Life. The recording session went so well, he was called back to produce the entire album.

"I give lots of thanks to Puff and Mary for even trusting me because it was a brand new situation," he told Grammy.com. "I didn't know Puff or Mary like that, but that one session for "Be With You" allowed us to feel the energy. She came to me and Puff to ask if I'd like to do the full My Life album. Man, I wanted to do backflips when I heard her say that. It just lined up. Certain things are just life and God; that situation came from me being in the right place at the right time."

Last month, Thompson hopped on his IG account to announce what appears to be his involvement in Diddy's R&B musical project. Sharing an image with a date "9.24.21," the caption read, "Vol 1. Welcome to the LOVE era… @diddy ❤️."

Upon hearing the sad news of Thompson's death, several rappers and producer went on social media to pay tribute to the legendary producer.

In an Instagram post, producer Young Guru described Thompson as his "mentor" and "big brother."

"There is nothing I can write that will take away this pain. I have to say RIP to my mentor, my big brother, the man who changed my life forever," he wrote. "You were the kindest person the world has ever seen. You were the most gifted musician I have ever been around. You treated me like family from day one. You made a point to the labels that I had to fly to New York with you on every session. You put me in rooms with Biggie. I will forever be in your debt and I will forever be your little brother. This one hurts so bad I can’t even explain it. RIP @chucklife365 there will never be another you!!!! 💔💔💔💔💔

Fellow producer 9th Wonder said in his IG post, that Thompson taught him everything on how to produce R&B.

"This man taught me how to produce R&B, just by listening to ONE album," he wrote. "That album was @therealmaryjblige’s “My Life”. A GENIUS mind, and ahead of his time. Rest Well, Big Homie. Chucky Thompson"

On Twitter, rapper Wale, a DMV native, expressed his grief over the sad news of Thompson's death.

"This Chucky Thompson news hurt…," he tweeted.

Producer Buckwild also paid tribute to Thompson on his timeline. He wrote, "RIP Chucky Thompson it sounda awkward typing this great guy as well as musician."

See more reactions to the passing of legendary producer Chucky Thompson below.

Check out a playlist featuring Chucky Thompson's classic songs that he produced.

See Rappers We’ve Lost in 2021Sadly, several rappers passed away in 2021.Filed Under: 9th Wonder, Chucky Thompson, Mary J. Blige, young guruCategories: News


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/trentfitzgerald/” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: August 6, 2021Rich Fury, Getty Images

Megan Thee Stallion says it's about time hip-hop confronts its issues regarding homophobia in the culture.

In an interview with People.com, published on Friday (Aug. 6), the Houston rapper feels it's time for hip-hop to start combating hate and start embracing the LGBTQ+ community.

"It is about time," she said. "Representation is important, and it is really crucial for us all to have compassion and acceptance of every human."

Megan's comments follow recent events involving DaBaby and his misinformed and damaging remarks about AIDS and gay people at the 2021 Rolling Loud Miami Festival last month. Since then, the North Carolina rapper was kicked off from several music festivals because of his homophobic remarks.

On July 25, DaBaby made these statements during his Rolling Loud performance: "If you didn't show up today with HIV, AIDS, any of them deadly sexual transmitted diseases that'll make you die in two to three weeks, put your cell phone light in the air. Ladies, if your pussy smells like water, put a cell phone light in the air. Fellas, if you ain't suckin' dick in the parking lot, put your cell phone lights in the air."

DaBaby has since apologized directly to the LGBTQ+ community and expressed remorse for his "hurtful and triggering" comments.

Meanwhile, 11 HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ organizations, including GLAAD and Black AIDS Institute, issued an open letter on Wednesday (Aug. 4), inviting the 2019 XXL Freshman to a private, off-the-record meeting to educate him about the HIV/AIDS epidemic and why the homophobic comments he uttered at the 2021 Rolling Loud Miami Festival were misguided.

“We, the undersigned, represent organizations leading the fight to prevent HIV and provide care and treatment for people living with HIV, especially Black LGBTQ people across the Southern United States," the letter reads. "We heard your inaccurate and harmful comments at Rolling Loud and have read your Instagram apology. However, at a time when HIV continues to disproportionately impact Black Americans and queer and transgender people of color, a dialogue is critical. We must address the miseducation about HIV, expressed in your comments, and the impact it has on various communities.”

The organizations also believe DaBaby could be a strong advocate that can help spread accurate information about HIV and AIDS to the Black community.

"You can be a powerful and influential voice, especially across your home base in the South, where the Black community’s needs are notoriously under-represented across every public spectrum,” the letter continues. “We encourage you to share this information with your fans and followers, and become an agent of truth and change."

There's no word if DaBaby accepted their offer for an educational meeting.

DaBaby's controversial remarks at the Rolling Loud Festival have become a polarizing topic within the music community. Artists like Elton John, Madonna, Chika, Questlove, Dua Lipa and Demi Lovato have denounced DaBaby's comments, while rappers like Trouble, T.I., Boosie BadAzz, NLE Choppa and Polo G have voiced their support for the embattled rapper.

These Tone-Deaf Hip-Hop Moments Prove Rappers Can Get Hit With Serious BacklashFiled Under: Megan Thee StallionCategories: News


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/robbyseabrookiii/” rel=”author” title=”Robby Seabrook III”>Robby Seabrook IIIPublished: August 5, 2021Jawad Mahmood

Train of Thought
Interview: Robby Seabrook III
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

“Five Cubans over this Chrome Heart/Got all this ice on my chest to go with my cold heart/Christian Loubs, spikes on the bottoms, not on the toe part/Far as the bars go, I just go in and I throw darts/My man played with keys like he was Mozart/Now he in the feds ’til his children become adults for the most part/Seen that bitch that did me dirty, gave me that broken heart/She was on the back of the bus watchin’ this Rolls I parked/Woah, gotta pardon my sense of humor/Look, if I offended you, wasn’t my intentions to do it/It’s just, I ain’t sparin’ no feelings when my pen is movin’/I been in shootings and I sent men to intensive unit/You ain’t winnin’ while I’m in it like MJ did to Ewing/I don’t play ball, but Nike just sent my signature shoe in/ That should speak volumes about the business I’m doin’/Link with Trae Tha Truth and Jay’ton when I’m visitin’ Houston, nigga/Got a homie from ’round my way, Bobby Flay when it come to the stove/Now he in the feds ’til he over a hundred years old/He stuck to the code, made a promise he wasn’t gon’ fold/Pressure bust pipes, lil’ nigga, no wonder you told/I live on the charts now, this is my humble abode/Less than two years, I done reached every one of my goals/If it’s go time, you know that I’m comin’ with pole/I’m tryna see how many shots that your stomach can hold/Smoke a blunt of pressure so I can get some clarity/I take care of everybody, who gon’ take care of me?/Conway Cares, I started my own charity, but still nobody care for me/What happened to them niggas that told me they always here for me?/Niggas don’t even hit my line no more, that shit is weird to me/I just know they sound eerily similar to the shit you hear from me/I influenced they music, that shit clear to see/Machine, bitch”

XXL: “Five Cubans over this Chrome Heart/Got all this ice on my chest to go with my cold heart/Christian Loubs, spikes on the bottoms, not on the toe part.” Do you feel like the success you’ve had in music makes you more or less cold-hearted?

Conway: I don’t think the success makes me more cold-hearted. Probably everything that comes with the grind, then having success and everybody’s unrealistic expectations of you. It’s pressure from friends, family, whoever. Everybody got their hand out. “My man played with keys like he was Mozart/Now he in the feds ’til his children become adults for the most part.”

“My man played with keys like he was Mozart/Now he in the feds ’til his children become adults for the most part.” Did having friends with serious fed time make you focus even more on music?

Absolutely. I got to put down for my loved ones and some people that didn’t really get a chance to make it to where I’m at or even to see it. Me being the captain of my ship, I got to stay alive and stay free.

“I live on the charts now, this is my humble abode/Less than two years, I done reached every one of my goals.” What are some of the things you’ve recently accomplished that you’re proud of?

Getting my label, Drumwork, off the ground. These critically acclaimed albums I’ve been dropping. The things that I’ve been doing in my community during a pandemic, giving back and feeding the homeless, book bags, scarves, sneaker giveaways and all types of different things. I really changed a lot. I can look in the mirror and I can sleep at night knowing that I kept it 100 and I impacted my city.

“I take care of everybody, who gon’ take care of me?/Conway Cares, I started my own charity, but still nobody care for me.” When did you feel like you weren’t as supported in the way that you needed?

Conway Cares Foundation is just something I started [for] my giveaway [and] philanthropy work. Working with underprivileged kids, kids who are dealing with disabilities and physical ailments and stuff like that. A lot of people don’t really celebrate the things that I be having going on. I really don’t care if they do. Ain’t nobody never gave me nothing in his music game, no handouts. I just grind and got it on my own. But sometimes you got to wonder, what more I got to do for me to get saluted and celebrated like a lot of other rappers who ain’t as ill as me?

Check out more from XXL’s Summer 2021 issue including our Freshman Class cover interviews with 42 Dugg, Iann Dior, Coi Leray, Pooh Shiesty, Flo Milli, Morray, Rubi Rose, Blxst, Toosii, Lakeyah and DDG, producer Nick Mira's thoughts on producing the beats for the Freshman Class, an in-depth conversation with Ski Mask The Slump God about his comeback this year, Moneybagg Yo's candid discussion about his new music, family and indie label, a look at what the 2020 XXL Freshman Class has been up to since last year, Doin' Lines with Jack Harlow, Lil Tecca speaking on what to expect from his upcoming We Love You Tecca 2 album, music video director Cole Bennett gives an inside look at his Lyrical Lemonade empire, Cordae talks about his upcoming album10 in-demand hip-hop jewelers' stories of creating rap stars' icy works of art, music executive Shawn "Tubby" Holiday's advice for artistsKash Doll talks about her upcoming role in the Black Mafia Family series, singer Mahalia details being a Cam'ron fan, and more.

See the 2021 XXL Freshman ClassWelcome 42 DuggIann DiorCoi LerayPooh ShiestyFlo MilliMorrayRubi RoseBlxstToosiiLakeyah and DDG to the 2021 XXL Freshman Class.Filed Under: Conway The Machine, Feature, XXL MagazineCategories: News, XXL Magazine


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/trentfitzgerald/” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: August 5, 2021Rich Fury, Getty Images

Almost a dozen HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ organizations want to have a meeting with DaBaby following the homophobic comments he made during a Rolling Loud performance last month.

On Wednesday (Aug. 4), 11 organizations, including GLAAD and Black AIDS Institute, released an open letter inviting the North Carolina rapper to a private, off-the-record meeting to educate him about HIV/AIDS epidemic and why the homophobic comments he uttered at the 2021 Rolling Loud Miami Festival last month were misinformed and damaging.

“We, the undersigned, represent organizations leading the fight to prevent HIV and provide care and treatment for people living with HIV, especially Black LGBTQ people across the Southern United States," the letter begins. "We heard your inaccurate and harmful comments at Rolling Loud and have read your Instagram apology. However, at a time when HIV continues to disproportionately impact Black Americans and queer and transgender people of color, a dialogue is critical. We must address the miseducation about HIV, expressed in your comments, and the impact it has on various communities.”

Elsewhere in the letter, the organizations believe DaBaby could be a worthy advocate that can help spread accurate information about HIV to the Black community.

"You can be a powerful and influential voice, especially across your home base in the South, where the Black community’s needs are notoriously under-represented across every public spectrum,” the letter states. “We encourage you to share this information with your fans and followers, and become an agent of truth and change."

The organizations also suggested that other music artists become advocates for HIV and LGBTQ acceptance.

“Several artists and platforms have spoken up against you. While we appreciate their stand, we also invite them to take action and to do their part to end HIV by supporting organizations like ours serving people who are Black, LGBTQ and/or living with HIV,” the statement continues.

The letter comes as DaBaby was dropped from several music festivals for his homophobic remarks. The 2019 XXL Freshman issued a second apology directly to the LGBTQ community, expressing remorse for the "hurtful and triggering" comments he made towards that community as well as people with HIV and AIDS.

While on the Rolling Loud Miami stage on July 25, DaBaby said these words during his performance: "If you didn't show up today with HIV, AIDS, any of them deadly sexual transmitted diseases that'll make you die in two to three weeks, put your cell phone light in the air. Ladies, if your pussy smells like water, put a cell phone light in the air. Fellas, if you ain't suckin' dick in the parking lot, put your cell phone lights in the air."

Since then, DaBaby has received backlash from many people on social media as well as music artists like Elton John, Madonna, Chika, Questlove, Dua Lipa and Demi Lovato. However, T.I., Boosie BadAzz, NLE Choppa and Polo G have expressed their support for the rapper.

GLAAD also shared the same letter to DaBaby and additional information on their Instagram account. Check it out below.

These Tone-Deaf Hip-Hop Moments Prove Rappers Can Get Hit With Serious BacklashFiled Under: DaBabyCategories: News


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/trentfitzgerald/” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: August 4, 2021Burak Cingi, Redferns / Rich Fury, Getty Images

Azealia Banks is the latest rapper to share her thoughts on DaBaby's homophobic remarks at the 2021 Rolling Loud Miami Festival last month, which has resulted in his removal from several music festivals.

On Tuesday (Aug. 3), Banks posted a message on her Instagram Story, wondering why the North Carolina rapper wasn't canceled long ago following a 2020 incident, in which he hit a woman in the face.

She wrote: "Y'all should have BEEN canceled dababy when he was caught on camera punching a female fan in the face. I'm not believing any of this performative canceling ppl are doing now when everyone was so quick to forget that happened. Apology or not, keep him canceled."

azealiabanks via Instagram

What Banks is referring to is a March of 2020 incident, in which the former 2019 XXL Freshman slapped a woman who appeared to have struck him with her phone during his club appearance at Whiskey North in Tampa, Fla. The assault was captured on video and went viral on social media. DaBaby would later hop on his IG Story and explain what happened.

"I got $10,000 for whoever got a good angle of shawty hitting me in my eye with her phone. $10,000, get at me," he said, adding, "Who know shawty name so my lawyer can get active?."

Eventually, the Billion Dollar Baby Entertainment leader would apologize for slapping the woman.

"I do sincerely apologize, I do," DaBaby said on IG Live. "I'm very sorry that that was a female on the other end of that flashlight, that phone. Keep in mind I couldn't see."

However, the alleged victim, Tyronesha Laws, didn't accept his apology. She filed a lawsuit against DaBaby.

In a statement to XXL, the victim's attorneys, Matt Morgan and Chelsea Cromer, condemned DaBaby's alleged actions. "The incident was outrageous and shocking," they said. "We have requested a jury trial and look forward to presenting all of the surrounding circumstances to a jury of our client's peers. Our goal is to deter similar conduct in the future and send a message that this type of behavior is not tolerated in America."

Lawsuits aside, NLE Choppa believes DaBaby will come out of his current predicament a "bigger person than ever" in spite of his canceled festival appearances and backlash stemming from his offensive comments last month.

On July 25, DaBaby said these words during his Rolling Loud performance: "If you didn't show up today with HIV, AIDS, any of them deadly sexual transmitted diseases that'll make you die in two to three weeks, put your cell phone light in the air. Ladies, if your pussy smells like water, put a cell phone light in the air. Fellas, if you ain't suckin' dick in the parking lot, put your cell phone lights in the air."

The backlash has been swift with artists like Elton John, Chika, Questlove, Dua Lipa, Demi Lovato and Madonna condemning his comments about HIV and AIDS.

 

See the Many Times Rappers’ Social Media Accounts Were SuspendedFiled Under: Azealia Banks, DaBabyCategories: News


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/awoods/” rel=”author” title=”Aleia Woods”>Aleia WoodsPublished: August 2, 2021Michael Lavine

No Limit
Kash Doll is testing her limits in the acting world while keeping music close to her heart.
Interview: Aleia Woods
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

There’s jack-of-all-trades, there’s jane-of-all-trades and then there’s Kash Doll, a talented rapper from Detroit who has been bit by the acting bug. Kash hasn’t released an album in two years, but the femme fatale wasn’t idle. Adding acting to her résumé, she was casted for one of 50 Cent’s upcoming TV shows, Black Mafia Family. It’s based on the true story of Detroit brothers Demetrius “Big Meech” and Terry “Southwest T” Flenory, who rose to prominence with their drug ring and loyalty. The Starz series airs this fall. Meanwhile, Kash Doll is back to her first love, music. Here, she talks about her role on BMF, new music and more.

XXL: Can you speak about finding out you were casted in Black Mafia Family?

Kash Doll: It was really exciting. Just to hear that I’d be a part of a story that’s coming from Detroit and I’m from Detroit. You know, always looking up to 50 Cent as far as what he did with music and then going into film. It was just like a dream come true. I was just ecstatic. Really grateful.

How did it feel being surrounded by such seasoned actors like Russell Hornsby, Steve Harris and Tasha Smith, who is the director?

I was just taking in what they were doing. I was learning. It was an experience to be around some vets and I’m a rookie, tryin’ to figure out what’s going on and seeing how they handle things and seeing how they’re doing their acting. Everybody has their own way of preparing for a scene or everybody has their own way of switching emotions. And just watching how they do it, I feel like I have people on set that I was learning from that’s making me better for the next time [if] I did another show. Or next time, I was behind the camera or something. So, it was cool and then it made me feel like I was a part of something really big. Not just, ‘Oh, it’s all rookies.’ It was like, we have real veterans in there.

Was it easy to go from rapper to actress?

The easiest part for me was a simple thing as far as just being able to sit still for a minute. With rap, you’re chasing… You’re always running behind something. Trying to chase something and it’s ongoing. But with acting, you’re sitting still, you’ve got time to eat right, you’ve got time to get your mind right, learn your lines, go on set, see the same people every day. The easiest thing for me to enjoy was being able to be stationed and stable compared to when I’m rapping.

Your last album, Stacked, came out in 2019. What do you feel that you’ve learned from that project that you’ll apply to whatever you might be working on right now?

What I learned now is just… not listening to everybody. Listening to me. Do things how I wanna do it. It’s my artistry. At first, I was so confused, I didn’t know what to do. I was coming out of [a] contract. I was listening to everybody and their input, what they thought I should do. And it’s like now, this time around, it’s all about me and this [is] what I wanna give the world. I’m the artist, so this is what I wanna talk about. This is what I wanna do, this [is] how I want it to sound. It’s an artistry. When you’re painting, you aren’t sitting there saying, ‘Where do you think I should put this red?’ You just go with your flow. That’s what I’ve learned.

You’ve been teasing some new music. What have you been working on?

Oh, I’m working on my music. It’s on. I got fire coming. That’s all you gotta say right there. Fire is coming.

Check out more from XXL’s Summer 2021 issue including our Freshman Class cover interviews with 42 Dugg, Iann Dior, Coi Leray, Pooh Shiesty, Flo Milli, Morray, Rubi Rose, Blxst, Toosii, Lakeyah and DDG, producer Nick Mira's thoughts on producing the beats for the Freshman Class, an in-depth conversation with Ski Mask The Slump God about his comeback this year, Moneybagg Yo's candid discussion about his new music, family and indie label, a look at what the 2020 XXL Freshman Class has been up to since last year, Doin' Lines with Jack Harlow, Lil Tecca speaking on what to expect from his upcoming We Love You Tecca 2 album, music video director Cole Bennett gives an inside look at his Lyrical Lemonade empire, Cordae talks about his upcoming album10 in-demand hip-hop jewelers' stories of creating rap stars' icy works of art, music executive Shawn "Tubby" Holiday's advice for artists, and more.

See the 2021 XXL Freshman ClassWelcome 42 DuggIann DiorCoi LerayPooh ShiestyFlo MilliMorrayRubi RoseBlxstToosiiLakeyah and DDG to the 2021 XXL Freshman Class.Filed Under: 50 Cent, Feature, Kash Doll, XXL MagazineCategories: News, XXL Magazine


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/trentfitzgerald/” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: August 2, 2021Travis Shinn for XXL

DDG had to go on an apology tour after he wrote a not-so-nice tweet that was seemingly aimed at Rubi Rose, with whom he once had a relationship with.

It all started on Saturday (July 31), when Rubi, a 2021 XXL Freshman, jumped on her Twitter account and posted a tweet stating, "My next nigga gotta be tall, I wanna wear heels."

Roughly 30 minutes later, DDG tweeted on his Twitter page, "My next girl gotta have less than 60 bodies."

The tweets went viral and the Detroit rapper had to backpedal for his unforgivable gaffe on social media. On Sunday (Aug. 1), DDG went on his Instagram Story to make a formal apology to Rubi.

"My tweet was petty & made up, and i admit i took it too far, that's my bad," the 2021 XXL Freshman wrote, adding the prayer hands emoji. He then added, "I'm Sorry Rubster" with the crying face emoji.

Pontiacmadeddg via Instagram

For her part, Rubi has not responded to either DDG's tweet nor his apology on IG.

Both DDG and Rubi are members of the 2021 XXL Freshman class.

In an interview with XXL, DDG believed he earned his spot on the 2021 XXL Freshman cover after years of being a YouTuber and now rapping full-time. "It’s important to be a XXL Freshman ’cause I feel like I put the work in," he said. "I feel like I’ve been working extremely hard. I put the numbers up, put the plaques up. So, I feel like it’s my time.”

Meanwhile, Rubi is proving that her talent deserves more attention than her looks. "[Being an XXL Freshman], I just felt really validated," she expressed. "People have to put some respect on me. Now, nobody can't tell me shit."

Hopefully, DDG and Rubi Rose can remain friends in the rap game.

See the 2021 XXL Freshman ClassWelcome 42 DuggIann DiorCoi LerayPooh ShiestyFlo MilliMorrayRubi RoseBlxstToosiiLakeyah and DDG to the 2021 XXL Freshman Class.Filed Under: DDG, Rubi RoseCategories: News


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/awoods/” rel=”author” title=”Aleia Woods”>Aleia WoodsPublished: July 28, 2021Johnny Nunez / Alexander Tamargo, Getty Images (2)

Tory Lanez and Megan Thee Stallion's alleged shooting incident from last summer has yet to be resolved legally. However, she was granted a restraining order from the Toronto native last year, which he may have violated this past weekend.

According to a report from TMZ on Wednesday (July 28), when Tory hit the 2021 Rolling Loud Miami Festival stage on Sunday (July 25) to join DaBaby to perform their track "Skat," Meg was apparently still backstage. In October of 2020, three months after Tory allegedly shot the Houston rapper in the back of the foot in the Hollywood Hills section of Los Angeles, the Canadian artist was reportedly ordered to stay at least 100 yards away from Megan and turn in any guns that he owns.

This presumably means that the stage and the backstage area at a venue is less than the court-ordered 100 yards apart in distance.

A source confirmed the TMZ report to XXL.

 

Megan's team also claims that the former 2019 XXL Freshman is upset that Tory, who wasn't on the bill for the festival, made an appearance altogether. On top of that, DaBaby performed after Meg on the same stage and did their collab "Cry Baby" before bringing out Tory Lanez. After Tory exited the stage, Baby did "Cash Shit," the other joint effort he has with Megan Thee Stallion.

The gossip outlet notes that the Miami Police Department as well as the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office were both notified of Tory Lanez possibly violating the protective order Megan Thee Stallion has against him.

Sources close to Tory, on the other hand, claim that he never saw Megan nor did he get physically close to her.

Just last month, Megan Thee Stallion and DaBaby exchanged words via Twitter regarding DaBaby's apparent support for Tory after the North Carolina-bred rhymer reportedly liked a tweet that joked about Meg and Tory's shooting incident.

Megan's boyfriend, rapper Pardison Fontaine, chimed in shortly after, coming for DaBaby as well.

Back in January, Tory Lanez requested to modify the conditions of the restraining order in the felony assault case from the July of 2020 shooting incident, which prohibits him from speaking on the legal matter.

It's unclear when Tory's next court date in this case will be.

XXL has reached out to the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office, the Miami Gardens Police Department and reps for Megan Thee Stallion and Tory Lanez for a statement.

These Tone-Deaf Hip-Hop Moments Prove Rappers Can Get Hit With Serious BacklashFiled Under: Megan Thee Stallion, Tory LanezCategories: News


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/biancatorres/” rel=”author” title=”Bianca Torres”>Bianca TorresPublished: July 21, 2021Sebastian Quintero

Come See About Me
Colombian music star Karol G has found inspiration in hip-hop.
Interview: Bianca Torres
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

Latin trap-pop singer Karol G loves all types of music, but hip-hop has a special place in her heart. Born and raised in Medellin, Colombia, the 30-year-old star was an avid hip-hop head growing up. As her music career exploded, she was eager to collaborate with some rappers. In 2017, Karol dropped her two-times platinum debut album, Unstoppable. That same year, she did a remix to her breakout hit “Ahora Me Llama,” which featured MigosQuavo. The record was a success, going 10-times platinum. Two years later, Karol released her huge hit “Tusa” featuring Nicki Minaj, which has gone 35-times platinum in the U.S. alone. Most recently, Karol collaborated with Ludacris on the track “Beautiful Boy,” off her third album KGO516.

Here, Karol G talks about meeting Nicki Minaj, feeling like a member of G-Unit and more.

XXL: When did you start listening to hip-hop?

Karol G: I love hip-hop. Like, I was a really huge fan of Eminem, but like, really bad. The Marshall Mathers [LP], that’s my baby. I used to get videos from my family in the United States. In school, I used to be in love with G-Unit and have the posters and everything, the sneakers. When I was in school, my name is Carolina, they used to call me Carolina G because of G-Unit. So, when I started looking for my artist name, it was Karol G because of that.

You may have to have 50 Cent on your next album.

I had something on the Pop Smoke album called “Enjoy Yourself.” I talked to [50 Cent] in a few messages. He was so nice. Telling me that Pop Smoke, before he died, he spoke with Tyga about me being on that song and that was crazy for me, too.

Your video with Nicki for “Tusa” has over 1 billion views. What made you choose her for that song?

[In June], my label told me that with “Tusa,” we have the No. 3 most-awarded song in the world. I never would’ve thought that I could do a song with Nicki Minaj and that song was No. 1 in the world. We started sharing messages on Instagram. She started following me, then we shared some songs. We couldn’t find one that I liked and that she liked. But then, I had “Tusa” and I sent it to her and she loved it. Her answer was, “That’s the shit I was looking for.” After five hours, she sends me her verse. She recorded so fast. And after one month, we shot the video. Everything came like, super organic.

You recently worked with Ludacris. He’s on your album KG0516 as a feature on the song “Beautiful Boy.”

I was just looking at some videos on TikTok at night and then I watched a video of a girl. She was doing a cover of “Beautiful Girls” [by Sean Kingston]. So, I took that video and sent it to my producer. And we created a really good song. And I was there, I was like, “Hey, [what] if we put Ludacris [on the song], like how they did on ‘Baby,’ the Justin Bieber song?” I called my label and was like, “Hey, please, I need Ludacris on this song.” They put me on a video call with Ludacris. He told me, “You know what, Karol? My kids are crazy with ‘Ocean’ your song.” And, I was like, dying because Ludacris told me his kids like my music.

Who are your favorite rappers at the moment?

I can say Pop Smoke, that album is crazy. J. Cole, with that last album. Drake is amazing, too. I love him so much. I love Travis Scott. It’s not just about the music, it’s the creativity he has. He creates different brands. One thing that I admire about him a lot is the way he creates an experience for everything.

Is there a rapper you’d want to work with in the future?

I forgot to mention Kendrick Lamar. [He] fascinates me. I’d like to work with Kendrick Lamar.

Check out more from XXL’s Summer 2021 issue including our Freshman Class cover interviews with 42 Dugg, Iann Dior, Coi Leray, Pooh Shiesty, Flo Milli, Morray, Rubi Rose, Blxst, Toosii, Lakeyah and DDG, producer Nick Mira thoughts on producing the beats for the Freshman Class, an in-depth conversation with Ski Mask The Slump God about his comeback this year, a look at what the 2020 XXL Freshman Class has been up to since last year, Moneybagg Yo's candid discussion about his new music, family and indie label, and more.

See the 2021 XXL Freshman ClassWelcome 42 DuggIann DiorCoi LerayPooh ShiestyFlo MilliMorrayRubi RoseBlxstToosiiLakeyah and DDG to the 2021 XXL Freshman Class.Filed Under: 50 Cent, Feature, Karol G, Nicki Minaj, Pop Smoke, XXL MagazineCategories: News, XXL Magazine


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/trentfitzgerald/” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: July 16, 2021XXL

The rappers in the 2021 XXL Freshman Class know the hard work and dedication it takes to get to their current spot in the game. Before they got to this point, they know the struggle and tribulations they experienced in trying to build their music career. That's why there's nothing like a good motto to keep them focused on their goals.

2021 XXL Freshmen Pooh Shiesty, Lakeyah, Morray, Flo Milli, Iann Dior, Coi Leray, Toosii, Rubi Rose, DDG and Blxst share with XXL their life mottos.

For DDG, waking up in the morning is a blessing and another chance to conquer his goals. "One of the phrases that I live by every single day is tatted on my hand, 'Tomorrow Is Never Promised,'" he says. "So when I wake up every day, I feel like I got to take advantage ’cause somebody else didn't wake up. It's a blessing to be woken up every day and be better."

Pooh Shiesty is the same way. The 20-year-old rapper reminds himself every day that he's a go-getter. "Every time I wake up, I know for sure, I got to tell myself, 'I got it,'" he states.

The 1017 Records artist also adds that he doesn't let other people's criticisms distract him from his goals. "I might listen to others' opinions, but I don't take heed to it if ain't gon' do me no good," he shares.

During hard times, Iann Dior has a motto to keep his chin up. "This is a model that I live by: 'Things could be worse and you are always in a better position than you were before,'" he declares. "Gotta keep your head up even when things get worse ’cause things gotta get worse before they get better."

Meanwhile, Lakeyah lives by one-word energy. "I live by persistence," she explains. "Like if, I don't even have a whole quote. I just know that I don't quit. All I can tell people is be consistent, be persistent and you gon' get to where you gon' go. I live by that every day"

For Flo Milli, her life motto is based on spirituality. “My life motto is ‘Where fear ends, faith begins,’” she asserts. "You can’t be scared to live your dreams. You gotta kill that with belief and having courage and bravery."

These life mottos serve as a daily mantra that help motivate the 2021 XXL Freshman class to push towards their desired goals.

Watch 2021 XXL Freshmen share their life mottos below.

Travis Shinn for XXLSee the 2021 XXL Freshman ClassWelcome 42 DuggIann DiorCoi LerayPooh ShiestyFlo MilliMorrayRubi RoseBlxstToosiiLakeyah and DDG to the 2021 XXL Freshman Class.Filed Under: 2021 XXL Freshman, Blxst, Coi Leray, DDG, Feature, Flo Milli, Iann Dior, Lakeyah, Morray, Pooh Shiesty, Rubi Rose, Toosii, XXL MagazineCategories: News, Videos, XXL Freshmen, XXL Magazine


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/trentfitzgerald/” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: July 16, 2021Pascal Le Segretain, Getty Images

A year after the release of Pop Smoke’s debut album, Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon, rap fans are treated with another posthumous project from the late Brooklyn rapper.

On Friday (July 16), Pop Smoke’s team dropped his second album, Faith. The 20-song collection features a slew of big-name guest appearances. Among the artists featured on the project include: Kanye West, Pusha-T, Rick Ross, Takeoff, Lil Tjay, Swae Lee, Kid Cudi, Quavo, Kodak Black, 21 Savage and 2021 XXL Freshman 42 Dugg.

The rollout for the album started on July 10 with interactive posters plastered throughout New York City and Los Angeles. Each poster contained a song snippet that accessible to fans through the SnapChat app.

Faith is the follow-up to Pop's debut album, Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon, which dropped four months after he was shot and killed in Los Angeles during an apparent home invasion on Feb. 19, 2020.

Pop Smoke's initial offering was executive produced by 50 Cent and boasts the multi-platinum singles, "What You Know About Love," "Dior” and "For the Night" featuring DaBaby and Lil Baby. The album went No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart—twice—for the week of July 19 and Oct. 25 of 2020.

Listen to Pop Smoke's Faith album below.

Pop Smoke's Faith Album Tracklist

1. "Good News"
2. "More Time"
3. "Tell the Vision" featuring Kanye West and Pusha-T
4. "Manslaughter" featuring Rick Ross and The-Dream
5. "Bout a Million" featuring 21 Savage and 42 Dugg
6. "Brush Em" featuring Rah Swish
7. "Top Shotta" featuring Pusha-T, Travi and Beam
8. "30" featuring Bizzy Banks
9. "Beat the Speaker"
10. "Coupe"
11. "What’s Crackin" featuring Takeoff
12. "Genius" featuring Lil Tjay and Swae Lee
13. "Mr. Jones" featuring Future
14. "Woo Baby Interlude"
15. "Woo Baby" featuring Chris Brown
16. "Demeanor" featuring Dua Lipa
17. "Spoiled" featuring Pharrell
18. "8-Ball" featuring Kid Cudi
19. "Back Door" featuring Quavo and Kodak Black
20. "Merci Beaucoup"

Republic Records

See 11 of the Best Posthumous Hip-Hop Albums,
Ranked

Filed Under: Bangers, Pop SmokeCategories: Music, New Music, News


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/biancatorres/” rel=”author” title=”Bianca Torres”>Bianca TorresPublished: July 15, 2021Cam Kirk

My Time
Moneybagg Yo has been patiently waiting for his time to shine. After securing a No. 1 album this year, the Memphis rapper has his eyes set on movie roles and executive aspirations.
Interview: Bianca Torres
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

With nearly a decade in hip-hop at his back, 20 projects deep, and 12 gold and platinum certifications, Moneybagg Yo is finally getting his flowers. His fourth studio album, A Gangsta’s Pain, which dropped in April, hit the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 chart two times in May. The project is driven by the hit single “Time Today.” He was able to knock DJ Khaled’s Khaled Khaled LP from the coveted top position, securing Bagg’s second week at No. 1. In a time when hip-hop is still feeling the negative effects of the pandemic with no touring and limited shows, the 29-year-old artist understands the blessing he’s received with this accomplishment.

Bagg, who signed to Yo Gotti’s CMG label and Interscope Records in 2016, has a proven track record for success with his recent releases. Over the last year-and-a-half, the Memphis native has been on a hot streak leading into his album. Now, the respected rhymer, born DeMario DeWayne White Jr., is focused on his upcoming A Gangsta’s Pain deluxe album, which will feature Lil Durk, Pooh Shiesty and EST Gee, among others. After the LP drops this summer, he’ll follow that up with I Stamped That, a compilation mixtape featuring the artists on his own indie label, Bread Gang.

On a sunny afternoon in May, Bagg, who’s dressed in a Gallery Dept. gray sweatsuit with a black fitted hat to the back, is in good spirits. As he rides in the backseat of a black SUV in New York City, the Bread Gang leader opens up about his No. 1 album, the knowledge he’s gained from Yo Gotti, making life decisions, the artists on his growing label roster and why he doesn’t want his kids to follow in his rap footsteps.

XXL: How does it feel to have your album A Gangsta’s Pain go No. 1 two times in the same month?

Moneybagg Yo: It feel good. Twice in one year, that’s hard. That’s a blessing. This is my real life. This is like, without music I feel I’m nothing, you know what I’m saying? Like me, I got a real passion for this game and it’s just drive. I keep that drive. With A Gangsta’s Pain, it took me almost a year to make that project. Because I had to live. I had to go through things. I had to keep experiencing like, I’m human, too.

You mentioned on your song “FR,” from the album: “Forgive me if you met me on them Percs, them was the worst days.” Why did you want to speak about that on the song?

Yeah, because I was just… It had you aggravated. Sometime, Wockesha can do that, too. Like, it can have you aggravated, but that’s why I say, I feel like, when people do that, they supposed to do the drug, don’t let the drug do you. So, I feel like I just use it to the best of my ability. I don’t dog it out. I don’t do anything like that.

Why did you stop taking Percs?

I just wanted to be more disciplined with the lifestyle and just, Oh, this affecting me in this way? I’m gonna eliminate this. I’m gonna stop with this ’cause this do that. I want to do something. I wanna be like this so I got to strive for it. That’s what it is, discipline.

How has life changed for you since linking with Yo Gotti and Interscope?

It’s changed tremendously. I’m transitioning to movies, clothing, [the] real estate game. I’m understanding the value of plain watches. And, I’m also trying to balance real life with this. I’m at that point. ’Cause you gotta give your family the time. You gotta try to fit it in some kind of way and find that balance. That’s where I’m at right now.

What has Gotti taught you?

He put me on the real estate game and the plain watches wave. He put me on that whole wave. And then, you know, somebody said to me like, it always stuck with me from the first time I signed with him, it’s just chasing your dreams, then you go chase the money. Or you really don’t even chase the money. You chase your dreams and you gonna be able to count all the money that’s gonna come to you. That stuck with me.

Cam Kirk

How do you balance being an artist and getting your label Bread Gang off the ground?

When you do that, you understand the people struggle. I know what they’re experiencing and what they going through. At the same time, I feel like you got to have people in place for that. You building up, you gotta start from somewhere.

So, I don’t wanna start when I get like…when you feel like you done with rapping, then I’m gonna start a label. No. You got to go on and prepare, you gotta butter it up. You got to get it ready to be the biggest brand in the world. So, I feel like that’s what I’m trying to do with Bread Gang.

What are you doing to butter it up?

I got artists like Big30, TripStar, like pressure. I got this R&B singer I’m fixin’ to getting ready to release, too. I feel like it’s good to drag them while I’m hot. Just like [Lil] Wayne did with Drake and Nicki [Minaj]. He was still going [and] he bringing them with him. That’s how we doing it.

What do you look for when you sign people to your label?

You got to, first of all, you got to listen. You can have the talent. It’s cool, everybody has the talent, but it’s more than that to be a successful star. You gotta be able to listen and take constructive criticism and different stuff like that, you know what I’m saying? And you just gotta be on time. I’m learning that, too.

What can you tell us about the movie role you have coming up?

Yeah. I got a short film coming soon. I want to release it with the deluxe [album]. I’m acting. I’ve been wanting to drop this movie, but I feel like it’s perfect timing. I feel like it ain’t happen right when I wanted it to happen. Now, it’s coming together more ’cause I feel like the timing is preparing itself, this is when it’s gonna be.

The movie, it’s about the come up, the struggle, you know what I’m saying? How it is in Memphis. Memphghanistan, it’s the name of the movie. I want to have the deluxe [album] as a soundtrack to that. It’ll be the soundtrack. We have songs that’s on the deluxe be in the movie. And songs that’s from the original, the first version, in the movie, too.

I’m gonna actually have this in the movie, like at the beginning of the movie when it open up. [As a kid], I remember my mama and my uncle and my auntie, they was all crowded around, they was in the kitchen at the table. I just walked in there and I’d seen them, they just had the light bill in their hand like, all them just trying to get it together and all that. And I busted out.

I got a whooping for it. I bust out, “Man, I ain’t ever gonna be like y’all.” Like, I was a little bad. I was like, “Never mind. Y’all tripping. I ain’t gonna ever be like y’all.” I got a whooping with a switch branch. But then it just like, I always knew, man. I’m gonna be something. I just never did know what it was. Just happened.

That motivates you to work hard for yourself and family. You have eight kids, four boys and four girls. How do you balance fatherhood and being a rapper?

It’s hard trying to do it, but I love my kids, and you know what you supposed to do. You know your responsibilities. So, that’s the type of vibe [in] my home life. Even if I gotta be in the studio and they in there, that’s how we rocking.

Do any of them have your musical talent? Do you see a future rapper in the making?

No. I don’t want them to do that.

Why not?

I just want them to keep going, stay focused. I’m doing this for them to do other stuff. Whatever it is, it is what it is. If they grow up and they get to that stage, they making they own decision they want to do it. I’m just gonna stand by.

Looking toward the future, what are you hopeful that you’ll achieve next?

I just wanna see everything blossom. The merch line, the clothing line I’m trying to do. Like, I might get into some real big moves. I might get a big break, you know what I’m saying? I want to see something like that blossom and I wanna see all my artists just running everything. How Birdman and Lil Wayne done made it. Master P and ’em, you know what I’m saying?

Is longevity important to you?

I stand on that. That’s if you want to be a real household name or superstar. Some people only trying to make this amount of money, get in there and do that to do that. Some people trying to really go there, and some people just really have a passion for this situation. And accept everything that come with it.

Check out more from XXL’s Summer 2021 issue including our Freshman Class cover interviews with 42 Dugg, Iann Dior, Coi Leray, Pooh Shiesty, Flo Milli, Morray, Rubi Rose, Blxst, Toosii, Lakeyah and DDG, and more.

See the 2021 XXL Freshman ClassWelcome 42 DuggIann DiorCoi LerayPooh ShiestyFlo MilliMorrayRubi RoseBlxstToosiiLakeyah and DDG to the 2021 XXL Freshman Class.Filed Under: Feature, MoneyBagg Yo, XXL Magazine, Yo GottiCategories: News, XXL Magazine


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/robbyseabrookiii/” rel=”author” title=”Robby Seabrook III”>Robby Seabrook IIIPublished: July 15, 2021@BROKIN.PRODUCTIONS

Behind The Boards
Interview: Robby Seabrook III
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

Talent takes you to the top. Long before he was the engineer and producer known as Mattazik Muzik, the 28-year-old Alabama native was a multi-instrumentalist teenager. Mattazik Muzik, born Matthew Edward Robinson, changed his life after a local studio internship in 2012. Today, he’s a two-time Grammy nominee who has grown into Southern rap superstar Lil Baby’s go-to engineer while also working with Young Thug, Gunna, Travis Porter, Tokyo Jetz and more. Here, Mattazik Muzik shares some insight on his path to success.

XXL: At what point did your interest in engineering first begin?

Mattazik Muzik: At first, before I started as an engineer, I was more of a beatmaker. Back in Mobile, Ala., I had a mentor named Ron G [Ronald Suggs]. He was running the studio down there in the city. One day, one of my cousins was going to the studio so he invited me. That same night, I was being introduced and on top of that, I got a little side internship while I was down there. Every time I got out of school, I go straight to the studio.

When did you believe in your engineering skills?

When I realized the energy I bring to the session. A lot of people will say the engineer is the mood setting. That is a fact because no matter what the vibe is, that’s going to change everybody’s mood.

How did you start working with Lil Baby?

I started as a fan. [In] ‘15 or ‘16, I started working at The Underground. I went outside to take a smoke break. I saw Lil Baby and I was like, “Hey, are you Lil Baby?” He’s like, “Yeah, hey, man. You want to take a picture?” We ended up taking the picture. Fast-forward, we never [saw] each other since then. At the time [2017], I was working at Loud House in Atlanta. [Lil Baby] came [and] booked some studio time. He recognized me. A couple years later, he came and admitted that I was the first person that asked him for a picture. I still got that picture.

What was the energy like in the studio when you and Lil Baby worked on his hit record “The Bigger Picture”?

We wanted to talk about what we’ve been doing or what we want to do, but we can’t do that when you got the whole world in chaos. I remember when we started recording the first lyrics, I wouldn’t have expected that by the end, there’s going to be a whole protest song. By the time the song dropped, I was amazed by the reaction that he got from it. This is way different than Too Hard, this is way different than “Close Friends.” This is revolutionary.

Check out more from XXL’s Spring 2021 issue including Cardi B's cover story, how rappers are legally making money from the cannabis boom and the social justice that comes with itSnowfall's Damson Idris on how hip-hop impacted his life, A$AP Ferg reflects on the making of his Always Strive and Prosper album, Shelley F.K.A. DRAM talks about his comebackTrippie Redd speaks on how Playboi Carti and Lil Uzi Vert helped change hip-hop, Waka Flocka Flame checks in with us and gives an update on his Flockaveli 2 album in What's Happenin', Show & Prove interviews with 42 DuggBlxstLakeyah and Rubi RoseErica Banks discusses the making of hit song "Buss It," the Internet Money takeover with producers Taz Taylor and Nick Mira, the artists that are up next on rapper-run record labels, producer DY Krazy discusses his sound beyond trap beats and more.

See Cardi B’s XXL Magazine Spring 2021 Cover Story Photo Shoot Cardi B covers the spring 2021 issue of XXL magazine. Filed Under: Feature, Mattazik Muzik, XXL MagazineCategories: News, XXL Magazine


href=”//www.xxlmag.com/author/kemethigh/” rel=”author” title=”Kemet High”>Kemet HighPublished: July 14, 2021@xclusiveproduction

Production Credit
Interview: Kemet High
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

With a production style that blends trap, gospel, R&B and Chicago juke music, DY Krazy, 26, has helped shock the pulse into songs like Lil Baby and EST Gee’s “Real As It Gets,” Juice Wrld’s “Titanic” and Lil Uzi Vert’s “Lullaby.” Here, Krazy speaks about his growing track record in the 808 Mafia super team.

XXL: What did you think about Lil Baby and EST Gee’s performance on “Real As It Gets”?

DY Krazy: I fuck with it. Lil Baby is one of the main artists I work with. I knew he was going to do his part on the beat because I imagined him on that. And then EST Gee…when I heard his verse I was like, “Damn, he really showed out on that muthafucka.” He ain’t get carried. He came with it.

How would you describe the feeling of working with an artist as they’re popping off and leveling up?

Yeah, that’s all I’ve ever done, though, forever. Me and Southside and TM88 and 808 Mafia. We work with the breaking artists that are really breaking. We’re the ones who let everybody in the industry know that these people are talented. The people who we believe in always end up being the biggest artists in the game. And we see it before anybody sees it.

What do you consider to be your top five beats?

I have to say “Never Gon Lose” because that’s the first beat I’ve ever made for Future. That was a big inspiration and big dream for me and then it happened. I can say “Home Body” is one of them songs. [Lil] Durk wasn’t like the hottest artist in the game when he dropped this. He was just working hard, building his craft and discovering his sound. And that song was one of the things that built his sound. “Wake Up in the Sky,” for sure. For Bruno Mars to get on my different-sounding beat was just big. “Drive Itself,” it was on the Superfly movie soundtrack. Hearing my beats on a movie is big. And then, my last one would be “BP / No Judgement” with Chris Brown. It shows my other side of my production. I don’t just make rap beats.

How did you end up with “Titanic” and “Can’t Die” on Juice Wrld’s first posthumous album, Legends Never Die?

I ain’t never seen nobody like Juice Wrld. That man was the best artist ever in life. The way I started working with him was because he comes from up under our envelope with G Herbo. Juice Wrld was another person who recognized that DY doesn’t only have trap beats. DY has a different sound. He recognized that, too.

Check out more from XXL’s Spring 2021 issue including Cardi B's cover story, how rappers are legally making money from the cannabis boom and the social justice that comes with itSnowfall's Damson Idris on how hip-hop impacted his life, A$AP Ferg reflects on the making of his Always Strive and Prosper album, Shelley F.K.A. DRAM talks about his comebackTrippie Redd speaks on how Playboi Carti and Lil Uzi Vert helped change hip-hop, Waka Flocka Flame checks in with us and gives an update on his Flockaveli 2 album in What's Happenin', Show & Prove interviews with 42 DuggBlxstLakeyah and Rubi RoseErica Banks discusses the making of hit song "Buss It," the Internet Money takeover with producers Taz Taylor and Nick Mira, the artists that are up next on rapper-run record labels and more.

See Cardi B’s XXL Magazine Spring 2021 Cover Story Photo Shoot Cardi B covers the spring 2021 issue of XXL magazine. Filed Under: DY Krazy, Feature, Juice Wrld, Lil Baby, XXL MagazineCategories: News, XXL Magazine