This week in music, one of rap's brightest voices releases a concept album, an R&B/soul legend makes a powerful return, and a rap icon releases his swan song. Look below for this week's new releases by Rapsody, Missy Elliott, Raphael Saadiq and more.
Rapsody – Eve
Rapsody earned a Grammy nomination and critical acclaim with her last album Laila's Wisdom, and she keeps up her lyrical and conceptual wit on her new record, Eve. Her new album clocks in at 16 tracks, each of them inspired by and named after a powerful, culturally significant black woman. The first single "Ibtihaj (feat. D'Angelo and GZA)" is named after fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first Muslim American woman to wear a hijab while competing in the Olympics, and the J.Cole-assisted "Sojourner" was released as a loosie in 2018. But other subjects include Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Nina Simone and Michelle Obama. This album is less of a lesson in black history, and more of Rapsody channeling the spirits of her elders, whether they're deceased or otherwise, into the skill set that she has already harnessed so well before. With production by 9th Wonder and the Soul Council and guests such as Queen Latifah, Leikeli47, K.Roosevelt, Mereba, Elle Varner, SiR, JID and PJ Morton, Eve has the potential to be one of the top albums of the year. Apple Music | TIDAL
Missy Elliott – Iconology
With Missy Elliot receiving multiple honors over the next few days with the Video Vanguard Award at the MTV Video Music Awards and the opening of the Museum of Missy, she's decided to celebrate with a "collection of new songs" aptly titled Iconology. The five-song project is her first in 14 years, since the Grammy-nominated and well-reviewed The Cookbook in 2005. Apple Music | TIDAL
Raphael Saadiq – Jimmy Lee
It's been eight years since Raphael Saadiq last dropped a solo album, but for the brilliant singer/songwriter, it's always worth the wait. Jimmy Lee sees Saadiq getting personal and conscious at the same time. He speaks about social issues like drug addiction and social injustice, but he doesn't just bring them up as blanket terms or news headlines: he shows how they've impacted or killed his loved ones, and how he deals with the pain from those experiences. The album's namesake is Saadiq's older brother, who died from a heroin overdose. The compelling subject matter is paired with Saadiq's musical expertise, mixing soul with gospel to make the pain and hope even more resonant. Apple Music | TIDAL
Jeezy – TM104: Legend of the Snowman
Almost all of us can remember the first time we heard Jeezy's timeless debut, Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101, and now the snowman's rap career is coming to an end. TM104: Legend of the Snowman is the fourth of the Thug Motivation series, and the eighth and final album in his storied career. "Why call it a tracklist, when it's more like chapters to the greatest story ever told," Jeezy said while revealing the tracklist, which includes guest appearances by CeeLo Green, Rick Ross, Queen Naija, Ty Dolla $ign, John Legend, Gunna, Ball Greezy, and Meek Mill, who appears on the single "MLK Blvd." Only time will tell if Jeezy sticks to his retirement, but taking him at his word, this is his swag song. Apple Music | TIDAL
Jidenna – 85 To Africa
While many may know Jidenna from the suited and booted "Classic Man," his new album 85 To Africa sees him tapping into his Nigerian roots with Afrobeats production and songs about no-heel slippers ("Babouche"), Nigerian savings arrangements ("Sou Sou"), and beautiful, spiritual women ("Sufi Woman"). Guests on the album include GoldLink, Seun Kuti, Mr. Eazy, St. Beauty and Mereba. Apple Music | TIDAL
BROCKHAMPTON – Ginger
After 2018's Iridescence, self-proclaimed boy band BROCKHAMPTON has released their latest album, Ginger. The 12-song, 44-minute album includes "Boy Bye," "If You Pray Right," and "I Been Born Again," and is being described by critics as "honest" and "transparent." Apple Music | TIDAL
Trae Tha Truth – Exhale
Trae Tha Truth's latest album Exhale is the first of his 20-year career to not have any features. But he needs the time to himself, with the loss of his close friend ("Nipsey") and a custody battle over his 1-year-old daughter ("Letter 2 Truth") weighing heavily on his mind. Full of the pain-wrought raps his fans adore him for, Exhale is a worthy addition to the Houston rap titan's catalog. Apple Music | TIDAL
Zac Flewids feat. Sylvan Lacue – "Eyelids"
Toronto's Zac Flewids teams up with Florida Man lyricist Sylvan Lacue, who we've been listening to since his stellar 2018 album Apologies In Advance, for their catchy new song, "Eyelids."
Kemba feat. Portugal. The Man – "The Feels"
After his celebratory last single "Alive" with Eric Bellinger, Kemba turns things down with "The Feels," his new somber single. Equipped with a spaced-out soundbed by Black Milk and Brasstracks, Kemba gets vulnerable and speaks about depression, suicidal thoughts, and childhood traumas. Apple Music | TIDAL