The Beat Box

Noteworthy Hip Hop – November 2020

This column is a reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #133. If you like what you see, grab the magazine for less than ten dollars, or subscribe and get all future magazines for half price.

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Selections of noteworthy hip hop.

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Like most of you (I assume) I’m feeling incredibly burned out by the last couple weeks . . . or is it months – time has lost all meaning. Anyway, this election was a trainwreck to my sleep, my alcohol budget and my productivity. I don’t think clicking refresh in my browser over and over again really did anything, but the repetitive motion was therapeutic. The bright side was that when I wasn’t refreshing results, I could listen to some awesome new albums that could distract me, if only momentarily.

Clipping – Visions of Bodies Being Burned

Visions of Bodies Being Burned is my favorite Clipping release since they dropped CLPPNG back in 2014. This goes hard and heavy throughout and Daveed is on point with the lyricism. The beats are fire and the bass drops too deep on tracks like “Say the Name” and “Enlacing.” It makes sense that they released it on October 30th, because they are really leaning into the horrorcore aesthetic for a lot of the tracks. All around, this is a banger with a point, but make sure you don’t blow your ears out.

Sa-Roc – The Sharecropper’s Daughter

Rhymesayers is always a good record label to keep an eye on, and their decision to pick up Sa-Roc for their roster paid off with her new album, The Sharecropper’s Daughter. Sa-Roc’s confident flow tells of blackness and womanhood. She tackles generational trauma and the continuing oppression of white, patriarchal supremacy, but stays positive throughout the fifteen tracks. Breakbeats line her backdrop and some strong features from (among others) Blackthought and Saul Williams round out a stellar debut on Rhymesayers. In the end, Sa-Roc sums up the album best with the line: “If my black fist and my womb irks you, here’s the world’s smallest violin.”

Open Mike Eagle – Anime, Trauma and Divorce

The founder of art rap is back with another album that digs into his personal history. Anime, Trauma and Divorce sums up a lot of the album’s content, but in coordination with the rest of Open Mike Eagle’s oeuvre, this album feels even more personal than normal; this is Eagle coping with massive disruptions across his life, both from socio-political and personal problems. Outside of the content, Mike brings his peerless flow, brilliant (comedic) insights and stellar production to his new project (as always). If you haven’t gotten his work out yet, this might be a good place to start.

Reason – New Beginnings

I always find it strange to find out that a rapper is releasing a “debut” album when I feel like I’ve been listening to them for a long time, but here we are again. Even though I’ve heard him rap since at least 2016, New Beginnings is Reason’s official debut album on Top Dawg Entertainment. With the backup of some TDE regulars (including ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Isaiah Rashad,), Reason shows why he was chosen for the notoriously picky label. He is a confident vocalist and lyricist with solid lyrics and a good ear for beats. It’s clear that he is a great addition to this already god-tier label.

bbno$ x lentra – Good Luck Have Fun

I only learned about bbno$ (baby no money) through his album earlier this year with Yung Gravy, but he’s quickly become one of my favorite producers. So, when Good Luck Have Fun came out, I was excited, but then a little let down that his friend, lentra, was producing most of the album. Turns out, lentra picks up in the exact vein bbno$ swings in: poppy, bassy, swingy beats that get my shoulders shaking. Lyrically, bbno$ rides the beats with talent and, while there’s nothing too deep about the lyrics, who cares when the beats bang like this, giving straight positive vibes to counteract the the rest of this fucking miserable year.

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Amazingly, between writing the beginning of the article and the end, I stopped having to refresh my browser. Election results came in, and well, I’m not super excited with the results, they’re as good as we could have hoped for. What a relief! Now just back to doom-scrolling Twitter like normal. Wait — *clicks refresh*

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Noah Springer is a writer and editor based in Boston. You can follow him on Twitter @noahjspringer.

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