Last week saw the return of one of hip-hop’s greatest OGs, highlighting how veteran rappers have been low-key making use of new streaming services and social media to keep themselves close to the spotlight, if not directly in it.
For instance, one of the longest-established veterans of Port Arthur, TX, UGK rap pioneer Bun B is jumping back out after releasing his last album in 2013 (the excellent, but tragically overlooked Trill OG: The Epilogue). His latest album is planned to come out through his own 2 Trill Enterprises with distribution through Empire. So, it’s not only up-and-coming lyricists and Soundcloud rappers benefitting from the boom in technological advancements that have cut out the middle man in the mid-teens of this young century.
Another rapper who’s been around a while and made a cottage industry out of independently releasing his own, self-produced albums via the internet is Currensy, who survived the upheaval of the late ’90s and early 2000s through two label deals with the pre-eminent Dirty South records purveyors of the era, Cash Money and No Limit. During the so-called “blog rap” boom of 2008, Currensy earned a certain amount of celebrity for his features on those websites and on the XXL Freshman cover and has been releasing packs of albums each year.
However, there are still benefits to the traditional method as well, as one surprising addition joins the week’s releases: Eminem, who returns just about nine months after his last album, Revival.
Blac Youngsta, Fuck Everybody 2
The Memphis rapper releases his second mixtape of the year after 223, with production from Tay Keith, fresh off his high-profile placement on Travis Scott’s Astroworld, and a feature from Soundcloud favorite Lil Pump.
Bun B, Return Of The Trill
At 14 tracks and jam-packed with features including 2 Chainz, 8Ball and MJG, Big K.R.I.T., Gary Clark Jr., Giggs, Leon Bridges, Lil Keke, Lil Wayne, Pimp C, Run The Jewels, Slim Thug, T.I., and Yo Gotti, Bun seems to be making prime use of his now iconic status in hip-hop. His Southern-fried take on hip-hop has influenced all of the above artists and more since he and Pimp C first debuted as the Underground Kingz in 1987 and he has continued to serve up that formula for the three decades since. Return Of The Trill continues in that tradition, but unlike some older artists in the game, shows that Bun B is just as willing to cede some of his clout to give a platform to other veterans as well as helping out the next generation following in his footsteps.
Currensy, Fire In The Clouds
It’s only been three months since Spitta dropped his last EP, the smooth, mafioso-influenced The Marina EP, but the New Orleans-based lifestyle rapper hasn’t hung around this long by resting on his laurels. Fire In The Clouds sticks to Currensy’s figurative guns: soulful beats produced by Drupey Beats, raps about kicks, video games, cars, money, and “the Jet Life.” Unlike The Marina, here Currensy keeps features to a minimum, with only T.Y. and Larry June stopping by to gift verses to the 12-track shopping spree.
Coming out of nowhere in basically the middle of the night, this LP shocked internet commentators and awed longtime Eminem supporters with fiery bars of multisyllabic rage lashing out against critics who deemed Revival a failure. The rejuvenated Eminem pays homage to the Beastie Boys’ Licensed To Ill with Kamikaze‘s cover, and finally shares track space with at least one of his rising star admirers, Joyner Lucas.