King Von — What It Means To Be King
Few were realer than King Von. A Chicago drill legend by the time he was 26, when rap lost Von, there was collective mourning. His 2019 album Grandson Vol. 1 marked him as a thrilling newcomer, and his debut album Welcome to O’Block one year later signaled he was so much more than a Lil Durk protégé. What It Means To Be King, the first posthumous offering from King Von, is 19 tracks of raw talent. Von’s signature howls and ability to gnash through production are on full display. The album is strong, but also a reminder of what all we’ve lost.
iayze — Virtuous
Hailing from Fort Worth, Texas, iayze is one of rap’s most exciting new artists. Pronounced “Jace,” iayze pairs his internet-savvy sound with irresistible punchlines and a hard delivery. His self-awareness extends to Virtuous, where we can see iayze sitting on the moon with his laptop, ready to fuck around online and drop some fire. This project has all the color and melody of hip-hop’s newest generation, from viral hit “556” to“Look At Them Racks,” which sounds like the come-up to an acid trip.
MICHELLE — After Dinner We Talk Dreams
There’s something pure about friends coming together to make music. MICHELLE, a six-piece collective from New York, have finally grown into their own on After Dinner We Talk Dreams. The sophomore album features the band’s sharpest writing to date, with a twinge of fun in the way the vocals come together to entice the ear. Since 2018, MICHELLE have worked together to reshape the definition of a pop band. With this album, it feels as though their dreams have been realized.
KAINA — It Was A Home
Coming up on three years since her debut, Chicago’s KAINA has redefined the concept of home on her sophomore album. A warm and pensive look at identity and instability, It Was A Home is also a wonderfully tender and delightful collection of music inspired by community and holding grace for yourself. “Come Back As A Flower” in particular will make you cry happy tears. There’s a resolve to these tunes that gives listeners hope in continuously painful times.
paopao, La Gabi & Villano Antillano (feat. Aria Vega & Cami Da Baby) — hembrismo
hembrismo is an all-woman EP helmed by the next-up powerhouses of Latin music. Executive produced by paopao, the EP features J Balvin’s artist La Gabi, queer icon Villano Antillano, Aria Vega, and Cami Da Baby for seven hard-hitting tracks. Beyond the tightness and excitement of the music, the EP signals an important shift in Latin music towards equity and empowerment for women.