Today is Friday, which means there are a ton of new releases to look forward to from some of your favorite Hip-Hop artists. To help you unwind and enjoy the weekend, check out VIBE’s picks of songs and albums you should hear and add to your weekend soundtrack.
Skyzoo – The Mind Of A Saint
Rap vet Skyzoo has been a model of consistency throughout his career, delivering conceptual bodies of work inspired by his surroundings and influences. That trend continues with the Brooklyn rhymer’s latest offering The Mind of a Saint, as Sky steps into the shoes of Snowfall protagonist Franklin Saint for the duration of the album’s 10 tracks. Produced by The Other Guys, The Mind of a Saint kicks off with “Eminent Domain,” a splendid introduction that summarizes Saint’s formative background atop grand instrumentation.
Audio clips lifted from key scenes throughout the FX series help contextualize each song, as Franklin’s father’s pleas for empowerment and liberation are echoed on “Panthers & Powder,” while “Bodies!” is preceded by actor Damson Idris’ award-worthy bathroom monologue from the show’s fifth season. The additional highlights “Brick By Brick” and “Purity” are masterful in their own right, yet, The Mind of a Saint‘s peak moment comes via “Apologies In Order,” a harrowing assessment of the drug merchant’s perceived missteps and regrets.
Two decades after his initial rise to prominence, Skyzoo remains among the more poetic rhyme sayers in the game, which is further evident with his work on The Mind of a Saint. One of the rare talents with the ability to unpack fictional scenarios and make them his own, the Bed Stuy rep comes through with a collection that captures the drama and suspense of its source material. — Preezy Brown
Offset And Hit-Boy – “2 Live”
Hit-Boy is known to lace everyone’s tracks on the production side, but he can hold his own in the rap arena as well. “2 Live” feels like a breakthrough performance for the Grammy winner, especially standing alongside Offset who is a lyrical assassin himself. The track oozes old-school California energy, nodding to Uncle Luke in the chorus with “She get freaky like an Uncle Luke album.” This high-energy, fun record is a strong start to what should be a prosperous 2023 for both acts. — Armon Sadler
03 Greedo – Free 03
03 Greedo’s pending return home from prison coincides with the release of his latest project, the aptly titled Free 03, on which the Cali rapper serves up a succession of tracks. Recorded during his incarceration and produced entirely by L.A. beatsmith Mike Free, the tape finds Greedo utilizing his knack for melodic, street-inspired harmonies with winning results. “I Don’t Mean,” “I Can’t Control Myself,” “WOW,” and “Midnight” all rank among the most enticing salvos on this go-round, which are accentuated with lo-fi vocals presumably laid down from its author’s prison confines, giving them an added element of realism. Boasting guest appearances from Drakeo the Ruler, KenTheMan, OHGEESY, and BlueBucksClan, Free 03 serves as the calm before the creative storm that will surely outpour upon Greedo’s anticipated arrival. — PB
Armani White Feat. Denzel Curry – “GOATED”
With the success of “Billie Eilish,” it was natural to consider where Armani White would go next. Well, he’s feeling larger than life on “GOATED.” It’s significantly more downtempo than his previous TikTok smash, but with this single, he’s able to show off different flows and play around with vocal inflections. Denzel Curry comes in with a croon rap as the beat drops out before going berserk with cadence switches. The duo shakes off any hate that comes their way, standing firm in who they are. If you no one else will call you the greatest of all time, sometimes you have to claim it yourself. — AS
Gucci Mane And Kodak Black – “King Snipe”
“King Snipe” is a menacing record that merges generations. Kodak Black kicks it off with a calculated flow. “I been true to this from the jump, when I do it consider it done,” he raps in the chorus. His infrared beam is accurately aimed before Guwop comes in and takes the shot. His flow is a bit more nimble but carries the same confidence and composure as Yak’s. Needless to say, their series of strong collaborations have continued. — AS
BabyTron – Bin Reaper 3: New Testament
Looking to carry over the momentum set in 2022 over into the new year, Babytron doubles back with his latest release Bin Reaper 3: New Testament, which follows up Old Testament, his previous long-player and the second volume in the series. The Michigan native puts forth a robust tracklist, rolling out 26 songs as he continues to prove himself to be creatively indefatigable. The Sh*ttyBoyz member shines on cuts like “FREEUNKY,” “Gimmie Dat” featuring Lil Yachty, “RIP Hutch” with Rico Nasty and Remble, and the finale cut “I Can’t Call It” alongside $camaurion. — PB
Busta Rhymes Feat. Jerry Yeh And Grayson Sanders – ” Shoot For The Moon (Safari Riot Remix)”
Busta Rhymes has never been able to be boxed in, and the Safari Riot remix to “Shoot For The Moon” shows that is very much still a reality. The rap veteran spits like he’s running a 55-meter dash while soaring above the EDM production, providing an affirming mission about aiming high and landing where his ambition has taken him. “I live my life overcourageous,” he spits over the triumphant, stadium-friendly production. Busta shows that you can’t get pigeonholed when you don’t fear flying in other directions. — AS
West Coast luminaries Declaime and Madlib unveil the third volume in the duo’s collaborative album series In the Beginning, which finds the lyricist also known as Dudley Perkins layering heady, everyman musings atop an array of boom-bap-driven soundscapes. Running 17 tracks in length, the project rotates between introductory skits and full-fledged songs for much of the album, with each moment on the album being complementary to another. Highlights include “Ill Minded,” “Rollem Right – Original Mix,” and the collaborative efforts “Come with the Ill Grammar” featuring Roc C, and the Christopher McCray-assisted “Next Episode.” — PB
“Rollem Right – Original Mix”
Jeleel! – “Ride The Wave!”
Jeleel has been compared to the popular, former WWE star Jeff Hardy and “Ride The Wave!” adds to that. There’s a rock element to this record, with screamo-like vocals and endearing electric guitars. Hearing the track, one could easily picture him aggressively nodding his head and crowd-diving. Jeleel! Is bringing fresh energy to a landscape that has embraced rock for a long time, especially recently. It’s clear he’s having fun along this journey and creating a tune that will penetrate other demographics. And he’s laying things out to enjoy the “champagne showers” he raps about in the track. — AS