Experimentation

Hip-hop is just one genre in a world where at least 1,260 others exist. With hip-hop surpassing rock music recently in terms of popularity it is essential to understand how flexible this genre can be. With Kendrick Lamar beating out Taylor Swift in consumption last year, the fight for success is more evident than ever. Successful hip-hop artists like Drake and Wiz Khalifa have already started working on transforming their sound away from modern rap into a more popish sound. Songs like “Hotline Bling” and “See You Again” ran the charts for a considerably long amount of time during their peak. The secret to their success is simply merging two of the most dominant genres into one super-genre.

Pop-Rap has been on the rise lately as artists are using this genre to their advantage to extend their fan base and increase sales and streams. Lately, pop artists have decided to also engage in the pop-rap culture, however, most find little to no success in this transition. Most notably, Miley Cyrus attempted to make a name for herself in the pop-rap genre in 2013-2015 which led to mixed reviews. This leads us to someone who has been able to subtly make her presence in hip-hop known while still maintaining her status as a pop icon, this is Lana Del Rey.

Lana Del Rey has always been considered unconventional in her career as a pop artist. Lana Del Rey can be described as a modern woman who lives her life in the past. Her music is very reminiscent of 1950’s and 1960’s American pop music, however, her modern twist on this style creates a particular sound that she has undoubtedly perfected over the years. Her voice is sincere and her stories are grim, yet this phenomenal artist continues to surprise fans and the charts. Her second album, Born to Die is a multi-platinum classic that spent over 300 weeks on the charts. By 2015 Lana Del Rey had the formula and sound perfected, her career as a musician was untouchable. Despite all of her achievements, she continued to keep the industry on their toes with her 2017 album Lust For Life.

Lust For Life seems like a typical Lana Del Rey album at first glance, however, this 14 track album deviated from the formula. This is the first Lana Del Rey album to have features on it from other artists. This addition to the album opened up a new realm of possibilities, especially within the hip-hop genre. By this point in time, The Weeknd already had Lana featured on his albums, Beauty Behind The Madness and Starboy. Normally, an artist having features wouldn’t matter except this is Lana Del Rey who hasn’t had a single feature during her five-year career. Features such as Stevie Nicks and Sean Lennon are nice additions to the album, but the real focus is on “Lust For Life”, “Summer Bummer”, and “Groupie Love”. These three songs feature popular names in hip-hop with The Weeknd, A$AP Rocky, and Playboi Carti being featured on this album.

Lana Del Rey auspiciously integrated her pop song with modern rappers. On her fifth album, she singlehandedly combined the two genres seamlessly. This combination of old American sound mixed with modern hip-hop is huge when examined. Two sounds that never coexisted at the same time in history finally coming together in 2017 is phenomenal. In three songs Lana Del Rey accomplished what some couldn’t even do in a whole album. This move not only opens the doors for future collaborations, but it also allows for her fanbase to grow as members of the hip-hop culture can be introduced to her. Pop-Rap was not created by Lana Del Rey, however, she was the first to make a new sound through this experimentation between two separate genres. With these new options on the table, Lana Del Rey should be held to a higher standard now, as she will undoubtedly continue to surprise everyone with her amazing talent and ability to merge completely opposite sounds and styles into one.

 

Migos – Culture II

 

In hip-hop, groups of rappers have always been the epitome of cohesive talent. Since rap’s debut, groups like Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five were the set standard for a “rap group”, however, as the years progressed the groups saw a variety of changes. Groups like Wu-Tang Clan featured a plethora of members while Outkast was simply a duo. The true demonstration of talent were the groups who featured just three members, these trios were essential to today’s sound and play a huge part in the evolution of music in general. Groups such a De La Soul, Fugees, Run-D.M.C., Beastie Boys, and Salt-N-Pepa proved that trios were some of the most essential manifestations of talent.

Fast forward to 2009 when three family members created one the most notable groups of all time, the Migos. 2009-2012 saw the trio release an assortment of mixtapes and projects but it wasn’t until 2013 when “Versace” was released and thus the Migos started their movement to take over the industry. The use of the triplet flow proved to be insurmountable as it became a staple for the group and was the reason for many rappers to become famous around this time.

As 2018 unfolds, we’ve recently seen the Migos release their third album Culture II a few days ago; however, can the Migos stay relevant in a world where their flow and style has been used by many? Simply put, yes, but with exceptions. Culture II is a mixed album that runs very long and sometimes provides very little on some tracks. The songs that do work on Culture II were unbelievable upon my first few listens. Songs like “Top Down on Da NAWF”, “White Sand”, and “Walk It Talk It” simply cannot be outdone, and deserve their recognition for the production and lyrics.

The majority of Culture II can be considered “filler” to a degree, yet most of the songs just work. The verses from Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff detail a very luxurious lifestyle filled with ups and downs, this is where the album succeeds. In a world where emotional rap tends to hit the hardest, it’s favorable to have rappers who exclusively rap about their lifestyle and not necessarily their lives. With very few skippable songs, Culture II is a good album with minimal issues outside of the song “Flooded” which has the worst chorus on the album.

With the success and hard work put in by the Migos, they can undoubtedly stay relevant, but they must step it up in the future to continue to stay in the light. Looking ahead, the Migos need to be ahead of the curve and attempt to revolutionize another sound and step outside of their boundaries. With Without Warning showing the power and utility of Offset, and Huncho Jack displaying Quavo’s strengths as being the chorus, the Migos can do better. With Takeoff being a very undersold yet immensely viable character, it is essential to create each song with the trio’s talents in mind. The Migos are absolutely one of the best trios of all time but with more precision and focus, they can eventually earn the title of being the best trio of all time.

 

Best Songs: Top Down on Da Nawf, White Sand, Walk It Talk It, Too Much Jewelry, Narcos, and Too Playa.