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.

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."

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.

Revisiting Beyoncé's "Crazy In Love" 15 years later

On May 18, 2003, it didn’t take long for music listeners to hear the brassy gogo-funk horns at the start of “Crazy In Love” to know that Beyoncé had her first solo hit on her hands. What was even more impressive about the Rich Harrison-produced track—at a runtime of 3 minutes and 56 seconds—is how it established Queen Bey as the dominating entity we know her as today, making for a larger impression as a debut statement.

The modern intersectionality of Afrofuturistic music and queer artistry is something to celebrate

June is not only Black Music Month, it’s also Pride Month. And although the music industry still has a ways to go with acknowledging LGBTQ issues in a non-sensational manner, one sector that has been doing the proactive work for a while is the music of Afrofuturism. Set as proper examples by the likes of Frank Ocean and Janelle Monae, Afrofuturistic-themed projects have established a safe space for queer artists to express their journeys in the mainstream while simultaneously pushing progressive

7 arguments for why each Beyoncé album could be her best

Dangerously In Love was a debut effort coming from someone who was hungry to captivate the masses with an aptitude for slaying. You could tell by the moment she arrived hanging upside down from a ceiling to perform "Baby Boy" at the 2003 VMAs. Or when she shimmied alongside Prince at the 2004 Grammys—a rite of passage for those deemed talented enough by the Purple One. Beyoncé made performing look effortless, and in the process she trademarked her signature, grandiose stage presence which matche

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.

A reminder that Demi Lovato's 'Tell Me You Love Me' is a gem amongst R&B albums that heal

The day before, July 23, had been the seven-year anniversary of losing the vocal powerhouse Amy Winehouse. Unfortunately, I prematurely imagined a similar fate for Lovato, driving my pain for the 25-year-old talent even further. Being on age with Lovato, I essentially grew with her through TV screens and iPod minis, rather unapologetic about enjoying both her pop bops and matter-of-fact opinions. But I didn't convert into a true fan—one who would end up traveling to Newark back in April to see in concert—until she released Tell Me You Love Me last year.

On the dreamlike production and songwriting of Pharrell, as exhibited in "R.E.M."

Prior to the release of Ariana Grande’s Sweetener on August 17, one of the album’s central tracks was already at the top of online discussions. It had slowly trickled out that Beyoncé had once recorded a version of Ari's “R.E.M.,” instead titling it “Wake Up,” for her self-titled surprise opus in 2013, originally intending for the album to be doo-wop centric. Holding her own candle to Queen Bey’s, Grande also executes her version with her own magical touch. Through this, Pharrell alchemised a case of a song being good no matter whose hands it ends up in, thanks to strong producing and songwriting.

Revisiting how Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' era set the pop industry standard

What had also become evident from Thriller, thanks to the executive-producing genius of Quincy Jones, is how each song managed to balance on a fine line of pop choruses and lyrical structuring with R&B-fueled instrumentation and sub-genres. In an internet-breaking interview with Vulture earlier this year, Jones mused about working with Michael Jackson, making some shocking accusations about the singer’s work ethic, but also mentioning something that could explain why Thriller stood out from the rest.

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,

How Diddy and Bad Boy infiltrated and conquered pop culture in the 2000s

A year prior to the release of the tone-setting "Special Delivery," the Gregorian calendar simultaneously reached a new century, decade, and golden age of transforming technology and progressive points of view. This important time shift seemed to be the bookend for Bad Boy Records to most critics. With the death of the empire's grandmaster talent The Notorious B.I.G. three years prior—and the aftermath being an onslaught of "he's turning hip-hop into a commercial pop joke" condemnations directed
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