ALL: Hip-Hop 2020s

Oddisee, To What End

Oddisee’s first album in three years find him deepening his skill as an arranger. His past experiments with live instrumentation on albums like 2017’s The Iceberg often felt stilted and monochromatic. But he develops a warm, pleasant sensibility through tracks like “Already Knew,” “Hard to Tell,” and the deep house grooves of “Try Again,” although some of the cuts also suffer from honeyed sung choruses that are too sugary. “Try Again” He mostly raps about his neuroses, and his distinctively gruff voice masks his no-frills approach to lyric writing. On “People Watching,” he calls himself an “introvert” who “became an entertainer as to hide in plain sight. The guests include Bilal and Freeway; “Choices” finds him in a cipher with Phonte and Kay Young, with singer Bemyfiasco on the hook. Toine Johnson delivers a memorable guest rap on “Bartenders.” The final track, “Race,” closes with a stirring guitar solo. Modern rap needs more guitar solos. To What End is the second release Oddisee has dropped on his own Outer Note Label; the first was 2020’s Odd Cure EP, which took stock of the ongoing COVID pandemic.

Skyzoo x The Other Guys, The Mind of a Saint: A Soliloquy

As a homage inspired by the FX series Snowfall and the character Franklin Saint, The Mind of a Saint kinda works. Skyzoo has a fussy style that leads him to crowd his beats with stanzas. “The revolution wasn’t televised, but it was spoken word/And I heard every part of it,” he raps on “Panthers & Powder,” one of the album’s stronger tracks. He’s a charismatic voice, even if one wishes he found ways to let the music breathe a bit more. The Other Guys, a D.C. production duo best known for their work with Lessondary crew like Von Pea and Rob Cave, pairs Skyzoo with the brightest melancholia this side of Apollo Brown. They set the mood at 3 p.m. on Saturday, but the subject matter seems to require more ominous tones. Lyrically, The Mind of a Saint stays in grind mode, save for the closing tracks, when Skyzoo aka Saint tries to reckon with the damage his drug dealing has caused. It closes with an ill-timed suite of 80s “Just Say No” arcana. One can’t help but compare it to American Gangster, a 2007 album where Jay-Z conjured heartlessness with ease. First Generation Rich/HIPNOTT.

In Memoriam 2022

As 2022 draws to a close, Humthrush presents its second annual listing of rap musicians who passed away during the year.

Notable Hip-Hop Albums of 2022

These 50 notable albums of 2022 reflect an unsettled genre that was still driven by plenty of activity and slow, methodical change.

In Memoriam 2021

This memorial explores the many hip-hop voices lost in 2021. It focuses on the work they created in their lives instead of their demise.

Notable Hip-Hop Albums of 2021

Year two of the pandemic felt unsettled, with a dearth of vital artists to dictate the culture. Despite it all, good rap music still exists.