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 soundtrack of weekend festivities.
Nicki Minaj – “Red Ruby Da Sleaze”
Nicki Minaj is adept at grabbing attention and “Red Ruby Da Sleaze” is another example of her ability to do so. The record is an immediate spark as it features as sample of Lumidee’s “Never Leave You.” The tempo is the ideal canvas for the Queens rapper to get off her shapeshifting flows and punchlines. The issue here is she makes some problematic references right from the beginning. “I knew these bi**hes was slow, I ain’t know these bi**hes was senile/ Married a shooter case you ni**as tried to breathe loud.” Given her husband’s legal history, that probably could have stayed in the vault.
Later in the verse, she delivers a veiled shot at Megan Thee Stallion saying, “I don’t f**k with horses since Christopher Reeves.” In verse two, Minaj spits “Big truck but I’m alone like Post though/ Call Malone and tell him I’m goin’ postal.” The NBA legend has been a major topic of discussion after being paraded around NBA All Star Weekend despite his controversial relationship with an underaged woman. Whether this was an intentional lean into the polarizing discussion or a homage to the Mailman, it just wasn’t a smart move. Nonetheless, “Red Ruby Da Slleaze” is a strong record that proves Nicki Minaj is still in shape when it comes to rapping and songmaking. For some reason, she just can’t seem to avoid pettiness or her inability to read the room. – Armon Sadler
Dreamville – Creed III Soundtrack
Dreamville Records has released the soundtrack to Creed III: The Soundtrack, a collection of songs inspired by the film and spearheaded by the label’s roster of talent. The compilation begins on a strong note, as Mez, REASON, Symba, and 8AE do it for the “Culture.” The intro cut is a smoothed-out ditty steeped in contemplative observations atop a dancing keys and thudding percussion. Any Dreamville drop is gonna result in fans hoping for a new song or verse from J. Cole, and the rapper delivers with “Adonis Interlude (The Montage),” a freestyle-esque number where the Carolina Tar Heel goes for broke atop a sample of Dr. Dre’s “The Watcher.”
Housing a stable of capable lyricists, Dreamville usually thrives in that category, however, on Creed III, the bars take a backseat to crooners by the likes of Ari Lenox (“Greater,” “Talk To Me”), Arin Ray and Mereba (“Hate Me Now”), SiR and Syd (“Lay Up”), all of whom account for some of the strongest contributions to the project. While the R&B artists deserve the marquee here, that’s by no means a detriment to the rap songs, as highlights like “In The Room,” “Burn Bridges,” and “Blood, Sweat & Tears” are all solid efforts in their own right. Bloated tracklist aside, the Creed III: The Soundtrack has its moments and should provide most listeners with at least a handful of offerings that cater to their specific tastes. – Preezy Brown
J-Hope ft. J. Cole – “On The Street”
J-Hope and J. Cole’s latest collaboration may not have been on anyone’s bingo card, but it’s the unexpected collaborations that often hit the hardest. “On The Street” provides a breath of nostalgia, with a mid-tempo backpack beat loaded with DJ scratches and an earworm whistle loop. The BTS member uses the record as a love letter to his fans, rapping “Every time I walk/ Every time I run/ Every time I move/ It’s always for us.” J. Cole, as per usual on his features, uses the opportunity to boast about himself and remind people he’s not to be underestimated at this stage of his career.
“Coldest around, with more quotables than what the quota allows/ You see a top ten list, I see a Golden Corral, ni**a/ As the moon jumps over the cow/ I contemplate if I should wait to hand over the crown/ And stick around for a bit longer, I got a strange type of hunger/ The more I eat, the more it gets stronger.” Despite the many times he was mulled over retirement, the Dreamville leader seems discontent but still takes the time to elevate a younger act in what may be J-Hope’s biggest co-sign. “On The Street” is a combination of inspiration, determination, and appreciation. – AS
BIA – “Sixteen”
BIA has a lot more than “Sixteen” bars to get off in this menacing record. The Medford, Mass. native reflects on the tough times coming up, spitting lyrics lik “Who the f**k gon’ pay my bills, ho? I ain’t even did my nails, ho/ You gon’ make me beat your a**, at sixten, I done had to pay my bail, ho/ Dryin’ my clothes on the radiator/ Movin’ in silence, can’t wake the neighbor.” Her testimony turns into triump as she later discusses foreign whips and woodgrain and how it is her turn in the Hip-Hop game. The chorus keeps that energy going: “Take me back to when I lost my job, I told ‘em ‘F**k you’/ I came from a place where there’s nobody to look up to/ We weren’t broke together, tell me how the f**k I trust you?/ I left mama house, bi**h, I ain’t have nowhere to run to.” BIA’s story is relatable and aspirational and even with all of her success, there is still a chip on her shoulder. – AS
Finesse2tymes – 90 Days Later
Memphis rapper Finesse2tymes reloads with 90 Days Later, the sequel to his breakout project that plays like a deluxe version. With the addition of popular holdovers from his previous release and fan-favorites “Rules to the Street,” “Lil Baby,” “Black Visa,” “If You Still Wit Me” and “Summo” tacked on the backend, the first half of the album sees the rising star shining from the get-go, setting the tone on the opening charge “Out of State.” Scoffing at entitled associates, the finesser lays it on raw on the “Ion Owe You,” while Kevin Gates trades blustering bars with the Mob Ties rapper on “CEO.”
Teaming up with 2 Chainz and Nardo Wick for the remix to his hit record “Overdose,” Finesse2tymes doesn’t break new ground on 90 Days Later. He’s still on the paperchase while ducking the law, intimacy and romance with a watchful eye on the haters and his finger in the vicinity of a trigger. Yet, he attacks these mainstays in a manner that’s simply undeniable, as his latest effort is strong enough to sustain his buzz in lieu of a proper follow-up. – PB
Corey Lee featuring Westside Boogie – “Playboi”
Corey Lee’s “Playboi” opens with lullaby-like production. The rapper immediately jumps out with his brooding vocals, delivering punchline and punchline loaded with pop culture references. “Wasn’t even on the westside when Boogie hit me/ All this power, I can write a book man, look at 50/ Ran a marathon with the game that I took from Nipsey/ Spiked out like the Knicks fan ‘cause I cook it quickly.” The downtempo production allows Lee to get off each bar like a boxer delivering calculated haymakers with his opponent against the ropes.
The hook is a tribute to the moneymakers and a flip of Fatman Scoop’s “Be Faithful” with “If you got a 100 dollar bill put your hands up/ If you got a 50 dollar bill put your hands up/ You don’t f**k with broke boys baby, you should stand up/ Hope you got your money right cause bi**h I got my bands up.” Westside Boogie pops in for the second verse, doing his best to evade drama with his lady. “Bi**h keep being extra, trying to make my shorty see/ Say it wasn’t me and I just blame that sh*t on Corey Lee/ Sure you see it’s more than me.” The “Playboi” lifestyle isn’t easy but Lee and Boogie show how to move in a room full of vultures on this record. – AS
Mach-Hommy & Tha God Fahim – Notorious Dump Legends: Volume 2
Mach-Hommy and Tha God Fahim dole out their latest collaborative effort Notorious Dump Legends: Volume 2, a 10-track affair on which the duo delivers clandestine raps atop a string of jazzy soundscapes. “Most things ain’t worth my time unless it gets me richer,” Fahim declares on “Pissy Hästens,” a drowsy number featuring each spitter tossing out quick-strike verses that serve as a precursor for the highlights to come. Quaint strings comprise the backing track on “Bad Hands,” with Mach-Hommy warning “Don’t none of this sh*t belong in Page Six,” a testament to their gravitation to the subterranean. Key selections on Notorious Dump Legends: Volume 2 range aplenty, with the tracks “Ni**as Sooooo Good,” “Wellness Cheques,” and the parting cut Nan Dezo” allowing this project to give their superb 2022 offering Duck SZN: Tiger Style a run for its money. – PB
Che Noir & Big Ghost – Noir Or Never
Buffalo rapper Che Noir’s stock skyrocketed in 2022, as her projects Food For Thought, Careful What You Wish For and The Last Remnants all left listeners nodding in approval of her terse flow and lyrical maneuvers. For her first offering of the new year, Noir looks to further her progression on Noir Or Never, which finds the femme fatale doing her bidding alongside boardsman Big Ghost Ltd, who helmed the production on the entirety of the project.
After spending the first few tracks finding her footing, Che rises to the occasion, demoting subpar lyricists amid giving glimpses into her life on the D Styles-assisted “Quiet Moves,” while 7xvethegenius adds reinforcement on the brooding “Veracruz.” Getting even more personal on the revealing “Low Altitude,” the rhymer recounts her road to recognition and the obstacles hurdled before trading bars with Planet Asia (“Caps Lock”) and Skyzoo (“Brilliance”). Capped off by the grisly Ransom and 38 Spesh-assisted bar-fest “Bad Apples,” Noir Or Never ensures the wordsmith is primed for her ascension to the big leagues. – PB
Joony ft. Highway – “Bad Time”
Joony and Highway offer a moody, melodic anthem in “Bad Time.” They question why so many lame people exist while reveling in the fact they have never switched up while everyone else did. “Everywhere I go they say the same thing/ ‘Oh that’s him, he amazing.’” The synths and drums add a somber element to this introspective record, although they assert they are on “Bad Time.” Joony has been white hot ever since appearing on Brent Faiyaz’s latest album Wasteland and continues to show that he is more than just a strong sidekick to bigger stars. “Bad Time” will be sure to find itself in your rotation. – AS