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“Rappers, I monkey flip 'em with the funky rhythm I be kickin' / Musician inflictin' composition of pain” — Nas (1994)

A personal love for The Notorious B.I.G.'s "My Downfall"

When debates arise about the best song from The Notorious B.I.G. many will pinpoint to “Juicy” for the superior storytelling skills and its mainstream breakthrough. Some will say it’s “Big Poppa” for establishing one of his many monikers. Others will argue “Hypnotize” for its addictive chorus and being his first to go No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100. For me, it's "My Downfall" from Life After Death, the greatest album from the G.O.A.T.
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Street Analysis

Articles on why moments and figures in hip-hop are important to the culture and society at large. 

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From DeFord Bailey to Ray Charles to Solange: The Long Lineage of Black Artists Making Country Music Pop

As a genre stemming from an alchemy of blues and folk, country music has a storied history in Black art spaces. Despite this presence often being erased, cast away, or discredited, from the 1920s to 2019, Black artists have been the one’s pioneering and preserving country music, and that impact can be seen through its traverse influence over art from across genres and generations.

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Charting Black Excellence | Rihanna & the Super Bowl's declining power

For a while, Rihanna as the headliner of one of the world’s most annually viewed television performances seemed like a no brainer, especially considering the magnitude of her career in the past 13-14 years. Rihanna would have had one of the most unpredictable set lists based on the infinite number of global-spanning hits in her discography. However, her rumored decision to refuse performing at the 2019 Super Bowl Halftime Show is one of her greatest power moves to date.

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Charting Black Excellence | Why Migos’ AMAs win in a pop category makes sense

As awards season continues, the music industry is simultaneously recalculating what is considered “pop music.” It's a debate that’s persisted in recent years, extending beyond decades, since the conception of charts and radio programming. Migos’ victory on Tuesday, Oct. 9 at the American Music Awards highlighted just how far these conversations are going in award shows' nomination committees.

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Why Lil Wayne and Swizz Beatz's "Uproar" is a meaningful single for the culture

Cue up the Diddy voice 'cause, “let’s go!!!” That’s just how fire Lil Wayne’s “Uproar” is. Coming in at the fourth track of his Tha Carter V, “Uproar” stands ready to rumble. It’s a warning and (simultaneous) call-to-arms to the haters of Weezy—or his doubters, if you will—as he continuously asks throughout the track “What the fuck though? Where the love go?” Simply put, “Uproar” has the potential to be an anthem tailored for the streets.

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Charting Black Excellence | Cardi B's three No. 1's & her genuine love for female hip-hop

Exactly a year ago (Sept. 24), Cardi B's debut lead single "Bodak Yellow" reached No. 1 on the Hot 100. It had been 19 years since a woman earned that accomplishment by herself, without guests, standing on her own grounds. Now, Cardi B has three No. 1 singles thanks to Maroon 5's "Girls Like You." Through earning these accomplishments, here's how she paid homage to the women in rap that preceeded her reign.

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How Cardi B Achieved Stardom as an Old-School Hitmaker for New-School Hip-Hop

Over the new jack swing beat of Bruno Mars’ “Finesse (Remix),” Cardi B brags a pinnacle truth of her fresh career: “Bossed up and I changed the game.” It's an accurate descriptor for someone whose debut single topped the Billboard Hot 100 -- a first for a solo female rapper since 1998 -- and now sits alongside two other hits with her name on them in the top 10 simultaneously, placing Cardi in an elite club.The hip-hop underdog is now living the dream as the people’s champ.

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The Importance of JAY Z's 'Smile' & Its Progression of LGBTQ Politics In Hip-Hop

In the first verse of “Smile” -- the third track off JAY Z's critically acclaimed album 4:44 -- a reflective JAY-Z raps “Mama had four kids, but she's a lesbian/ Had to pretend so long that she's a thespian/ Had to hide in the closet, so she medicate.” Backed by a chopped and screwed sample of Stevie Wonder’s 1976 Key of Life cut “Love’s In Need of Love Today,” the rapper continues, revealing his mother’s narrative: “Society shame and the pain was too much to take/ Cried tears of joy when you fe

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A Rap Playbook: 26 great examples of lyrical wordplay

Wordplay: The sport of a wordsmith. In hip-hop, the greatest rappers to have ever touched a mic and spit their truth have dabbled in this art. Some have done it more smoothly than others, who—in their own right—have made the obvious a bit more clear. Wordplay can come about in a multitude of directions, but the overall goal is to execute a pun or pop culture reference through word alterations and the flipping of meanings. A few methods include: internal rhyme schemes; varying pronunciations; synonyms; synonyms juxtaposed by antonyms; syllable breakdowns; double, triple, and even quadruple entendres; and spelling.

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It's been five years, and no one has truly lived up to Kendrick Lamar's "Control" verse yet

If hip-hop had a timeline of milestone dates that placed the game in disarray, it would have to include August 14, 2013. If hip-hop had a list of lyrical giants that shook the table, then give that crown to Kendrick Lamar. If today's hip-hop needs to find a way back to the real competitive nature that first built this genre, they've got to start following the example of his "Control" verse.

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Album Reviews

Throwback revisits and current analysis. 

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Revisiting how T.I.'s 'Paper Trail' made him the kingpin of the mainstream

On September 30, 2008, the world would receive T.I.’s sixth studio album, Paper Trail. While serving a house arrest and awaiting his one-year sentence (after pleading guilty to possessing illegal firearms as a previously convicted felon), T.I. crafted the lyrics and album's concept. Of course, Paper Trail would mark a brief going-away party of sorts, but it also solidified Clifford Harris as the King of Trap he claimed to be since his second album, 2003’s Trap Muzik-- as well as mainstream pop.

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Revisiting how Jeezy's 'The Recession' brought hood politics to the forefront of trap music

When conversations take place about who the Kings of hip-hop are—particularly of those starting in the 21st century—Jeezy rarely gets his full props, more so regarded as a footnote. As one of the leading emcees that defined southern hip-hop and trap music as we know it today, Jay Wayne Jenkins—who used to have a “Young” modifier at the beginning of his rap name—continued his hustla statement, providing the game his third studio album, The Recession, on September 2, 2008.

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