Today is Friday, which means there are a ton of new releases to look forward to from some of your favorite Hip-Hop artists. To help you unwind and enjoy the weekend, check out VIBE’s picks of songs and albums you should hear and add to your soundtrack of weekend festivities.
Ab Soul – Herbert
Ab-Soul steps up to the plate with his new album Herbert, which finds the TDE rapper putting forth a long-player that provides the excellence many of his fans have been craving for. On the majestic opener “Message In A Bottle,” the Carson, Cali native is well aware of the expectations. Declaring that he’s “Just tryna fulfill prophecy properly” atop dusty kicks and snares, Soul continues to assault the track as electric guitar riffs breakthrough near the track’s midpoint, foreshadowing the lyrical onslaughts to come.
Recollections of his formative years are scattered throughout “Hollandaise,” a breezy groove that transforms into a grand soundbed of instrumentation and accounts for one of the album’s more care-free moments. While solo selections like “Church On The Move” evoke strong performances from Soulo, the finest inclusions on Herbert are when he’s pushed by a guest rapper or complimented by a vocalist. Hooking up with TDE exec and rapper Punch on the soul-stirring “Good Man,” Ab-Soul reels off bars amid sampled wails before vowing to “Do Better” on the subsequent, Zacari-assisted cut.
One track that looks good on paper, but fails to live up to its billing is “Go Off,” which features Russ and Big Sean and is meant to be a three-way duel of the iron mics. Yet, while Russ unloads with a heady stanza, Soul and Sean Don allow their costar to do the heavy lifting, accounting for showings that border on pedestrian. Additional features come via Joey Bada$$ (“Moonshooter”), Fre$H (“Gang ‘Nem”), and Jhene Aiko, who joins the spitter for a duet on the soothing number “The Wild Side.”
With Kendrick Lamar’s departure from TDE and ScHoolboy Q’s current fixation on the golf course, Ab-Soul is clearly next up and in a position to thrust himself to the forefront. Considering his ability to deliver this strong of an effort following a six-year layoff, the rapper’s Longterm Mentality is appearing to be paying off tenfold, as Herbert stacks up well alongside his magnum opus Control System and finally fulfills the promise shown.
Young Dolph – Paper Route Frank
Paper Route EMPIRE releases Paper Route Frank, the first posthumous album from late rap star Young Dolph. Arriving less than a month following the one-year anniversary of his tragic murder, the project succeeds in its intent to keep Dolph’s name alive while continuing his tradition of producing motivational anthems for the go-getters and neighborhood superstars. Professing his “Love For The Streets” on the album’s first track, Dolph prances atop a jittery instrumental created by Don Deal, boasting of his sexual conquests while detailing his ostentatious lifestyle. “I just love to hustle,” the Memphis legend declares on the booming “Blindfold” before stacking up the bankrolls on the catchy tune “Woah.”
Stepbrother Key Glock pairs up with his partner-in-rhyme on “That’s How,” while Gucci Mane completes Dolph’s Memphis to Atlanta connection on the Bandplay-produced “Roster.” 2 Chainz (“Beep Beep”) and Big Moochie Grape and Snupe Bandz (“Infatuated With Drugs”) also lend their talents to Paper Route Frank, which reaches its peak with the highlights “Always” and “Hall of Fame,” rounding out a posthumous effort that ranks among the best we’ve heard in recent memory. Stacked with firepower from top to bottom, Paper Route Frank does its namesake’s legacy justice and provides his fans with a collection to inspire their next play or celebrate their next win.
Boldy James – Be That As It May
Just when we thought Boldy James had paused his streak of continuous releases for the holiday season, the Motor City emcee pops back up with Be That As It May, his latest set of lyrical vignettes. His second project in a little over a months time and fourth release of 2022, the album finds Boldy tapping yet another producer to helm the entirety of the proceedings, with Roman boarsman Cuns scoring 11 beats for Bo Jack to pull theatrics over.
Maneuvering atop vintage soul samples and boom-bap, the spitter quickly racks up points with the early highlights “Earned Not Given” and “Foot Prints.” Verbal exploits are broadcast on “2.2 Lbs,” while “Travel Lodge” finds Cuns melting the speakers with a dramatic soundscape that Boldy obliterates. Sonically a bit more hit-and-miss than his previous 2022 offerings, Be That As It May‘s blemishes are far from egregious and solidifies its author’s case for the title of the most prolific artists in rap at the moment.
Lil Durk – Loyal Bros 2
Lil Durk brings his OTF platoon to the forefront on the new compilation Only The Family Presents: Loyal Bros 2, which finds the superstar leading the charge while his team flank the perimeter. Throwing down the gauntlet on the intro “Set It Off,” Durk joins up with Future on “Mad Max,” instantly setting the tone before allowing his label’s artists to run rabid. Doodie Lo (“ISTG Pt. 2”), Booka600 (“Feed Em Addys”), and OTF Boonie Moe (“We Did It”) all have impressive moments, with their CEO delivering numerous show-stealing of his own. Running 23-tracks long, Loyal Bros 2 is subject to filler at certain points, but showcases the growth and evolution of OTF and lends more credence to Durkio’s leap from artist to bonafide executive.