Gang Starr
Martyn Goodacre

New Music Friday: Gang Starr, Michael Kiwanuka, Earl Sweatshirt And More

This week sees a triumphant return by Gang Starr and new music from the likes of Michael Kiwanuka, Miguel, Earl Sweatshirt, The Game, and more.

Now that hip-hop fans have had some time to fully digest Kanye West's latest offering Jesus is King, we have more turns that will hopefully bless ears and speakers. DJ Premier has brought Gang Starr back to life with the duo's first album in nearly two decades, Earl Sweatshirt released an unexpected project, and The Game and Young Thug both released new singles. Look below for more new music released this week.

Gang Starr – One of the Best Yet
With iconic records like “Mass Appeal,” “Above The Clouds” and “DWYCK,” Gang Starr is one of the most revered rap groups of all time for their creations from the 1980s through the early 2000s. Now, 16 years after their last album, DJ Premier has revived the group, bringing back his signature productions and breathing new life into unreleased vocals of the late Guru. One Of The Best Yet reminds the potency of Guru’s lyricism, while pairing him with previous Premier collaborators like Group Home, Jeru The Damaja and Freddie Foxxx, while also bringing aboard contemporary acts like J. Cole and Nitty Scott. – William E. Ketchum III
Apple Music | TIDAL

Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka
Michael Kiwanuka blew us away with his stirring video for “Hero,” inspired by the Black Panthers. His third album, Kiwanuka, reunites him with Danger Mouse and Inflo, and showcases beautifully soulful, distinctive vocals and melancholy lyrics. Future listens will unpack all that it has to offer, but an early listen shows potential as one of the year’s best. – WK
Apple Music | TIDAL

Miguel – "Funeral"
Miguel has an EP on the way, and "Funeral" is the first single and the title track. "I'm releasing more music all the way into the new year but "Funeral" is the perfect song to get it started," he said. "I've been exploring darker tones and themes for some time, this song whets the imagination for what's to come." Apple Music | TIDAL

Earl Sweatshirt – Feet of Clay
A year after Earl Sweatshirt’s 2018 album Some Rap Songs, the eccentric, emotive lyricist has released Feet of Clay without as much as 24 hours notice. Earl describes the album as “a collection of observations and feelings recorded during the death throes of a crumbling empire.” The album is largely produced by Earl himself, with guest appearances by Mach-Hommy and Mavi. – WK
Apple Music | TIDAL

Apollo Brown – Sincerely, Detroit
Usually, Detroit producer Apollo Brown likes to zone in with one or two rappers for projects: he's previously done LPs with O.C., Guilty Simpson, Rapper Big Pooh, and his group Ugly Heroes. But this year, he decided to do something different: a love letter to the hip-hop of his hometown. Sincerely, Detroit takes Apollo's signature golden era-influenced production and equips it with over 50 Detroit rappers: everyone from OGs like Slum Village, One Be Lo, and Elzhi, to younger acts like Clear Soul Forces, Chris Orrick, and Nolan the Ninja. Sincerely, Detroit is easily the largest, most comprehensive musical illustration of Detroit rap ever created. While listening to this, also purchase D-Cyphered, a collection of portraits by Jenny Risher and storytelling by Hex Murda that tells the story of Detroit's hip-hop scene. – WK
Apple Music | TIDAL

Stalley – Reflection of Self: The Head Trip
On Head Trip, Stalley initiates a midwest to west coast connection by enlisting Los Angeles producer Jansport J. Two days before its release, the duo hosted an intimate listening session in New York City for die-hard supporters, who demanded repeated listens of highlights “Peppermints and Water” and “Hold It Up.” With only one guest appearance (a beautiful chorus by Kenneth Whalum), Stalley and Jansport lock in for a smooth, smart, retrospective nine tracks. – WK
Apple Music | TIDAL

The Game Feat. Anderson .Paak – "Stainless"
The Game is readying the release of his final album,  Born 2 Rap.  As always, appetizers come before the meal. Today (Nov. 1), the Cedar Bloc Piru let loose his second single of 2019 with "Stainless." The Game has collaborated with Anderson .Paak on songs like "Room in Here," "Magnus Carlson," and Crenshaw/80s and Cocaine." Born 2 Rap is slated for a Nov. 29 release. – Darryl Robertson
Apple Music | TIDAL

Westside Gunn – Hitler Wears Hermes 7
Westside Gunn returns with his seventh installment of Hitler Wears Hermes. The 16-track effort comes just before Griselda Records crew project, WWCD (What Would Chinegun Do), which will be released later this month. But on Gunn's latest body of work, the Buffalo MC tapped Griselda reps Conway the Machine, and Benny the Butcher to help with verses, as well as outsiders Curren$y, Fat Joe, Boldy James, DJ Drama, and others. Production is handled by Alchemist, Daringer, DJ Green Lantern, Statik Selektah, Animoss and JR Swiftz, among others. – DR
Apple Music | TIDAL

Hoodrich Pablo Juan – DMV
Serving as the follow-up to this year's BLO: The Movie mixtape, Hoodrich Pablo Juan came through with his DMV (an acronym for Dope Money Violence) LP. The Alamo Records artist’s 15-track album features Gucci Mane, Wiz Khalifa and MPR Tito. Production is handled by Tay Keith, Zaytoven, Southside, TM88, Ronny J, Maaly Raw. – DR
Apple Music | TIDAL

Rod Wave – Ghetto Gospel
Florida’s Rod Wave is currently on tour with Kevin Gates. But this didn't stop the Florida native from unleashing Ghetto Gospel, which is executive produced by Kevin Gates. Ghetto Gospel follows PTSD, released earlier this year. The 14-song track features only Gates and Lil Durk. – DR
Apple Music | TIDAL

Young Thug feat. Travis Scott, and Gunna – "Hot (Remix)"
Young Thug surprised fans with the remix to "Hot" featuring Gunna and Travis Scott. The original version appeared on Thug's So Much Fun album. Recently, Thugga and Gunna performed “Hot” with the Temple University Diamond Marching Band on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in late October. – DR
Apple Music | TIDAL

Lupe Fiasco – "Hey Lupe"
Lupe Fiasco has partnered with his manager Charles "Chill" Patton for Chill's Spotlight, a playlist that showcases previously unreleased songs from their label 1st & 15th. This week sees the third single from the playlist, a song called "Hey Lupe." Chill recalled the creation of the record. "I got the beat from the producer and played it twice for Lu while we were riding in a white Suburban, 20 minutes later we made it to the studio and he immediately went in and knocked out the whole song — verses, hook, adlibs, etc. It was natural for him, but not so natural for me to see this, and I had been around some of the greats. This is when I knew he was a monster!!"

Killy – "Triple Helix"
Toronto artist Killy has been a star in the making since his 2017 hit "Kilimanjaro," and "Triple Helix" is another showcase of his talents.  Killy's trappy melodies float perfectly on top of production by WorkingOnDying collective member OogieMane (Drake's "I'm Upset", Lil Uzi Vert's "That's a Rack" and "Sanguine Paradise") and 16yrold (Sheck Wes's "Mo Bamba", Playboi Carti's "I Promise You"). Apple Music | TIDAL

Sheek Louch – Gorillaween Vol. 2
Sheek Louch’s Gorillaween mixtape returns for a sequel four years later. Here, the Yonkers MC shares 10 new songs, and guest verses from his brothers Styles P, Jadakiss, Dyce Payne and Whispers.  – DR
Apple Music | TIDAL

Reginelli – Life After No Limit (Reloaded)
Former No Limit Records artist Reginelli released Life After No Limit in 2008, and today he released a "Reloaded" version with four extra tracks. Apple Music | TIDAL

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NEXT: Kobe Bryant

This story appeared in the April 2000 issue of VIBE, months before he won his first of five NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. Written by Isaac Paris

Okay, Sherlock, we know Kobe Bryant is way past the verge of stardom. As an all-star shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, he gets thousands of fans screaming with excitement every other night. Bryant's baseline drives are as smooth as Nate Dogg's vocals, and his slam dunks bump like a gritty bass line from a DJ Premier track.

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Tyler the Creator attends the 62nd annual GRAMMY Awards on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
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The late Nipsey Hussle and Kobe Bryant are projected onto a screen while YG, John Legend, Kirk Franklin, DJ Khaled, Meek Mill, and Roddy Ricch perform onstage during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
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Nipsey Hussle Honored By DJ Khaled, John Legend And More At 2020 Grammys

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Meek Mill began the performance with an emotive, unreleased verse that served as a letter to Nipsey, with Roddy Ricch singing a chorus. [Update: The song, "Letter To Nipsey," was released to streaming services later that night.] That led into a rousing performance of "Higher," the song that appeared on DJ Khaled's album Father of Asahd.  John Legend played the piano and sang the chorus while backed by a choir, which was directed by an energetic, adlibbing Kirk Franklin, as a video of Nipsey rapping played on a big screen. YG joined the stage in a red suit, speaking to the gang unity between Crips and Bloods that Nipsey endorsed with his music and his life. The performance ended with an image of Los Angeles legends Nipsey Hussle and and the recently deceased Kobe Bryant, with Khaled paying tribute to them both.

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