On October 18, Hits caused a stir with its list of the most-streamed artists of 2022 so far. The problem wasn’t the listing, but a decision to omit Youngboy Never Broke Again from the chart’s main graphic, even though he logged the second-highest streaming totals overall. Instead, the publication opted to use leader Drake; then Taylor Swift, Bad Bunny, the Weeknd, and Juice WRLD. Despite four Billboard number-one albums since 2019, the music industry still doesn’t know what to make of the prolific Baton Rouge rapper. That’s not only the result of his sundry legal issues, but also due to a deluge of content — five projects this year so far as well as the Never Broke Again crew showcase 3860 — the fact he hasn’t scored a major hit single, and that rap critics haven’t championed a particular album. Nevertheless, the Youngboy NBA train keeps rolling. A sixth 2022 solo tape, Ma, I Got a Family, is set to drop on October 21.
Freedom Archives, an online database focused on progressive and radical historical movements, has documentation on BLU magazine, which was published between 1998 and 2001. While most press at the time limited their coverage of politically minded rap to dead prez and Black Star, the New York magazine threaded between overlapping scenes like spoken word and Afro-Cuban sounds, featured interviews with activists like Geronimo Ji Jaga Pratt and Yuri Kochiyama, and dedicated issues to the Puerto Rico independence movement and women’s right. Each issue includes a CD from major names like Tony Touch as well as lesser-known acts like Rico Pabon. All together, BLU’s 14 issues depict a complex hip-hop movement that’s often omitted from histories of the period.