‘Raise the Bar’ is VIBE Hip-Hop Reporter Preezy Brown’s New Music Friday column. Each week he picks one Hip-Hop song or album that deserves your attention all weekend (but don’t worry, he’s also got a roundup of honorable mentions below).
The drama and antics that have belied Kodak Black’s career thus far have become overarching themes that sometimes overshadow his brilliance as an artist. His new album, Back For Everything, is a reminder of the magic the Floridian is capable of creating when fully focused and locked in. On the album opener, “Let Me Know,” the rap star touches on various lowlights in his life and career, pondering why certain occurrences and trains of thought have affected him negatively. His recollection of losing the Best New Artist award to R&B star Khalid at the MTV Video Music Awards and the assertion that he’s “too gangsta to win a Grammy” conveys his desire for his music to receive the same respect as that of artists with less polarizing reputations or rap sheets.
Short on guest appearances, the lone feature on Back For Everything comes courtesy of Lil Durk, who pops up on “Take You Back,” a syrupy salvo that displays Kodak’s more tender side. Yet, the lack of contributors isn’t an impediment for Back For Everything, as Kodak asserts himself well throughout the album’s 19 songs, mixing street parables with soul-stirring moments of introspection that speak to his depth as a creator.
In addition to the guitar-laden cut “Love Isn’t Enough,” standouts like “He Love the Streets” and “Love & War” help close out Back For Everything on a high note, and is the latest instance of the Sniper Gang general raising the bar.
Other new Hip-Hop releases:
Olu and WowGr8, who comprise the Atlanta rap duo EarthGang, return with their new album, GHETTO GODS, which packs a slew of features from their Dreamville Records labelmates and a few other stars for good measure. Turning up alongside Future on “BILLI,” EarthGang collides with frequent collaborators JID and Dreamville CEO J. Cole, the latter of whom turns in a riveting stanza on “WATERBOYZ,” one of the stronger efforts out of the album’s 17 tracks. Baby Tate (“Black Pearls”), and Cee-Lo Green and Nick Cannon (“POWER”) add memorable contributions to GHETTO GODS, while R&B singer Musiq Soulchild appears on the album’s lead single “Amen,” which prominently samples his 2000 hit “Just Friends (Sunny).” Add in the obligatory smoker’s anthem, “SMOKE SUM,” and the album closer, “Run Too” featuring Ari Lennox, and GHETTO GODS is an LP from EarthGang that merits your attention.
Two pleasantly surprising projects from this week’s slate of new music are Ace Hood’s M.I.N.D. and Homebody Sandman’s There in Spirit. Years removed from the major label system, Ace Hood remains one of the more reliable spitters when it comes to rising to the occasion with each release, which remains true on M.I.N.D. Rhyming ferociously with each bar spat, Ace shines on the standouts “At War,” “Glory,” and “Greatness,” all of which convey the grit and determination that have defined his music dating back to the genesis of his career.
One of the more respected emcees on the indie circuit, Homeboy Sandman isn’t one for too many bells and whistles and puts a premium on simply making the best Hip-Hop songs and albums he possibly can while remaining true to his core. With his latest effort, There in Spirit, it’s clear that the assignment was understood, as Sandman astounds throughout the project’s 7 tracks with selections like “Something Fly,” “Keep That Same Energy,” “Stand Up,” and “The Only Constant” making instant impressions.