“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. “One More Chance” and “Mo Money Mo Problems” also come in the running for their iconic music videos and legendary samples of DeBarge and Diana Ross,
Read More

Street Analysis

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

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.

This Black Music Month, Kanye West and G.O.O.D. Music reset the gears of hip-hop

This June of G.O.O.D. Music Fridays was meant for the contrarians, which might have been the point of all Kanye West's publicity stunts leading up. Lately, fans of various artists have been finding themselves questioning the extent of their investment in music— from the "Mute R. Kelly" movement to the recent murder of XXXtentacion to participating in Drake's #ScorpionListeningParty knowing "you are hiding a child." Idols have transformed into false role models for some, and who you listen to in your personal music library has now become the new "what you do behind closed doors."

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

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.

Why Nas' "Not For Radio" deserved more recognition this summer

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. As summer officially winds down and seasonal recaps start to finalize, I feel the need to express gratitude to Nas—who also celebrates his birthday today (September 14)—for making "Not For Radio" the opener of NASIR. It's the regal attitude of "Not For Radio" that makes it stand out as one of summer's best.

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.

Lil' Kim Did It First: The multiple personas existing in hip hop's Queen Bee

As Hard Core progresses, Big Momma falls to the background so that the Queen Bitch can take over. "Spend A Little Doe" asserts "go by the name of Lil' Kim the Queen Bitch," a reference to her never snitching as Biggie wanted on his Ready To Die cut "Everyday Struggle." With real-life matters, Lil' Kim had been a bit furious about B.I.G.'s marriage to Faith Evans, as it seemed he reneged on his promise to give her the ring. Hard Core channels that frustration as Lil' Kim slowly dissipates from th

Tee Grizzley Talks Chart Success and Inspiration of 'First Day Out': 'Rap Was All I Had'

Detroit native Tee Grizzley released his latest hit "First Day Out" on his debut mixtape My Moment, which arrived in April. The chart-climbing track marked the rapper's Hot 100 debut, where it currently sits at No. 67, and has also risen up the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, Rap Airplay and R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay charts. Tee spoke with Billboard about what inspired the personal lyrics to his song, who he would love to collaborate with and more.

Every Beyoncé and Jay Z Duet Ranked: Critic's Take

Every Beyoncé and Jay Z Duet Ranked: Critic's Take Although their magic number is four, Jay Z and Beyoncé are celebrating their ninth wedding anniversary Tuesday (April 4). Long before the couple became a married duo, they had an extended courtship that's resulted in some of hip-hop and R&B's best collabs. The soon-to-be parents of three first started their union with "'03 Bonnie and Clyde," setting the tone for their joint artistry. Here are all of the pair's collabs ranked from least favorite to best...

Rick Ross Unveils 'Rather You Than Me' Track List, Drops New Single 'Trap Trap Trap'

Rick Ross hosts the Rick Ross and Mr. Brainwash "Rather You Than Me" Album Listening Experience on March 8, 2017 in New York City. Building up hype for the March 17 release of his ninth studio LP, Rather You Than Me, Rick Ross tweeted the project's official track list on Thursday (March 9). The album features a star-studded roster including Future, Meek Mill and Nas. Even Chris Rock -- who attended the album's listening party on Wednesday -- will make an appearance.

Album Reviews

Throwback revisits and current analysis. 

Why the best components of Drake's 'Scorpion' are his Quiet Storm moments

At the end of "After Dark" on the R&B side of Drake's double-volumed Scorpion, the song concludes with a radio aircheck of disc jockey Al Wood from Buffalo's 93.7 WBLK. From the 90s into the aughts, Wood hosted the station's quiet storm program on weeknights—spinning records from Hall & Oates, Troop, Fantasia, Chaka Khan, Jill Scott, and Luther Vandross, all the artists he name-drops in the outro. His silky smooth voice promises four hours of relaxation, warmth, and safety to those listening.

Revisiting Queen Latifah's 'Order In The Court' 20 years later

Just as 1998 experienced R&B in the midst of its renaissance, hip-hop had analogous momentum on its side—but with more monumental stakes. DMX growled and hyped up the scene on his debut and sophomore albums seven months apart; Lauryn Hill's solo start would eventually nab Album of the Year at the 1999 Grammys; and JAY-Z, Busta Rhymes, and Outkast were on their third project each, further shaping their signature sounds, while simultaneously indicating a new legion of emcees were taking over the game.

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.