Roddy Ricch — LIVE LIFE FAST
While “Die Young” and “Ballin’” (later immortalized on Trap Symphony) marked Roddy Ricch as a star-in-the-making, it was “The Box” that cemented him in rap’s upper echelon. The surprise No. 1 hit powered the breakthrough success of his late 2019 debut album Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial. In the two years since, the Compton rapper has remained relatively quiet as a solo artist while adding a few more Platinum plaques to his wall as a featured artist. Today, he returns officially with LIVE LIFE FAST. Led by loverboy single “late at night,” the sophomore album features Future, Lil Baby, 21 Savage, Ty Dolla $ign, Gunna, and more, making for yet another blockbuster affair that will surely dominate charts, playlists, and car speakers for the foreseeable future.
Yung Bleu — No, I’m Not Ok
Moon Boy Yung Bleu closes the year out with a yearning and emotional new EP. No, I’m Not Ok features the quintessential croons tackling life, love, and the pursuit of success Yung Bleu has become known for across previous mixtapes. The Alabama native achieved national acclaim following his work with Drake on “You’re Mines Still.” This year-end EP boasts no features, but it does have five tracks of winter blues to relate to: “Even though I’m sad / Welcome back.”
Jah Vinci — Passion
Kingston’s Jah Vinci found his talent in the church at a young age. In the years since, he’s gone on to become a force in reggae and dancehall, hoping to uplift and inspire listeners with every track. His 2020 EP I Am The World Singer proved he was more than the collabs and riddims of his past, showcasing new melodies and themes across seven tracks. Almost a year to the day, Jah Vinci returns with Passion. These seven songs pick up where World Singer left off in terms of grand reggae sounds and deeply emotional motifs.
Boldy James & The Alchemist — Super Tecmo Bo
In August 2020, we labeled Boldy James one of 10 rappers you needed to know, citing his long-standing prolific output. The Detroit rapper hasn’t let us down in the year and change since. August saw him release the essential Bo Jackson with The Alchemist, and they return to close out the year with Super Tecmo Bo, another collection of grizzled and measured bars (“Seen a n***a get chalked for a dollar bill.”)
Olawumi — MOODY
Olawumi describes herself as “the moodiest,” and listening to her guttural and soulful debut MOODY, it’s clear why. The Nigerian-American singer-songwriter brings Alte sounds to contemporary R&B, and the rich timbre of her voice gives every tune a weighty quality, as on her previous EP If You Say So. The songs on MOODY feel like even more polished imperatives, especially standout “SITUATIONSHIP.” “Welcome to my world,” Olawumi writes. “Get comfy.”