Hip Hop can be extraordinarily active at any given moment. If you aren’t online 24/7, you are certain to miss something that went down with your favorite (or most despised) artists.
With that comes The Re-Up, a monthly “power rankings” of sorts where we run down the biggest news, songs and features and rank them based on traffic and cultural impact.
For instance, the #1 story this month, unfortunately, is the passing of Prince. We’ll link you to all content related to his passing as a means to catch you up on everything. Beyoncé and Drake’s album campaigns both earned top spots as well.
With that being said, here’s The Re-Up for the month of April.
Unfortunately, there’s only one story that could have possibly been bigger in the month of April than both Beyonce and Drake releasing albums. The passing of Prince shocked the world and cast a purple shadow on everything and everyone. You’ll be hard pressed to find an R&B artist today who hasn’t been affected by Prince. From the sultry sounds of D’Angelo (who brilliantly covered “Sometimes It Snows In April”) to hip hop artists including DJ Premier and Exile, everyone has been touched by Prince’s artistry and paid homage to the legend. Words truly cannot explain what a tremendous loss he is to music and how sorely he will be missed. If doves truly did cry, they would cry in harmony for The Purple One. — Andreas Hale
There was no way you were getting away from Drake this month. He sent the music world spiraling with the Kaney West and Jay Z features on “Pop Style,” appeared on the cover of SLAM Magazine with the Toronto Raptors, was named among GQ’s “Most Stylish Men In The World Right Now” and announced the Summer Sixteen tour with Future. Oh yeah, and then there was this little thing called Views that he punched the music industry in the face with at the end of the month. His fourth studio album proved his dominance over the entire music industry and sold a colossal 630k copies in one night. No, it’s not the classic album that people wanted but do you think he gives a shit what you think? Not really. — Andreas Hale
Listen, none of us truly know what is going on in the fiercely protective private lives of one Shawn Corey “JAY Z” Carter and one Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter. And who knows what, exactly, from Beyoncé’s scorned love manifesto Lemonade can apply to her actual marital life. However, none of that stopped her legion of rabid fans from jumping down the throats of anyone who they perceived was the infamous “Becky with the good hair.” Unfortunately, sound logic and reasoning aren’t too high on the BeyHive’s list, as many of them blindly trolled the social media profiles of celebrity cook Rachael Ray, mistaking her for a fashion designer and the purported owner of fine follicles Rachel Roy. Either way, Bey had the first, second, and last laugh, as Lemonade instantly soared to the top of the Billboard 200.
Meanwhile, infamous former video vixen Karrine Stephens has claimed to be the aforementioned “Becky,” claiming she had a tryst with JAY Z in the year 2000. However, it’s been widely reported that Jay and Bey began their relationship after their collaboration “’03 Bonnie & Clyde” in 2002. Also, Rachel Roy is, ironically, the ex-spouse of Dame Dash (and mother to his children), best known as the former business partner of Jay. If there was any more levels to this… — Meka
The 2015-16 NBA season wasn’t particularly kind to the retiring Kobe Bryant. He shot a dreadful 36% from the field and only managed to average 17.6 points per game. However, considering that he announced that this would be his final year in the league, his farewell tour was appointment viewing. And when it came to that final game of the season when the Golden State Warriors chase for 73 wins overshadowed Kobe’s retirement (and pushed him to ESPN 2), it probably couldn’t have pissed off Bryant more. So what does the Black Mamba do? Go bananas for 60 points against the Utah Jazz in what was the ultimate “F*ck you guys, I’m out” career ender if we’ve ever seen one. It was already going to be a celebration but this was surreal. It was arguably the best career finale of all time. Love him or hate him, you couldn’t front on how he went out. — Andreas Hale
I’ve lived in New York for several years, and each time I think that the city’s hip hop stations couldn’t get any wilder they up the ante. I — as well as Power 105 — definitely wasn’t expecting Birdman to deliver one of the most unintentionally funniest interviews in recent memory, second to Ray J’s ridiculously homophobic rant toward Fabolous back in 2011. From his threats to pull up on Charlamagne Tha God, to his warnings of “stop playin’ with my name… all t(h)ree of y’all” to his demands of “respek,” April 22nd was my favorite day of the month.
Naturally, the Bird has used his rant to now sell merch, and will shoot a video for a song called — you guessed it — “Respeck” by the time you read this. Because, capitalism. — Meka
After the success of the N.W.A. biopic, it only made sense that a Tupac biopic would be on its way. But the movie has gone through some hell over the years. Back in 2011, Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”) was attached to it. And then, in 2014, John Singleton was set to direct. But creative differences ended that brief marriage. Finally, Benny Boom, landed the opportunity to direct last November and quickly went to work. With Demetrius Shipp Jr. bearing an uncanny resemblance to Tupac and L.T. Hutton and Afeni Shakur onboard as executive producers, the movie was off and running. 2DopeBoyz happened to be on the set in Vegas for the final days of shooting and we’re gonna say it right now: you’re not going to want to miss out on this. — Andreas Hale
At this point in my life, I see more mixtapes sent to my email, given to me at festivals, or thrown at me at airports (no, seriously, that’s actually happened) than I do my own niece and nephew (sad, if you think about it). But the most unexpected project I have definitely gotten in 2016 was Watch The Stove, the debut EP from the Hamburger Helper’s mascot, Lefty. What’s even crazier, the glove delivered a surprisingly good listen. Sure, it takes cues from today’s rap trends —Auto-Tuned crooning, Migos-esque cadences, and the like — but the project is done in such a professional manner (shouts to Toki Wright!) that it’s not corny in the slightest. Score one for General Mills. — Meka
For nearly two decades we knew Royce Da 5’9” was a great emcee but we didn’t know very much about him. But for his sixth studio album, Royce was going to open up unlike he ever had before. After putting the bottle down for good and living a sober lifestyle, Royce delivered his first #1 album on Billboard’s R&B/Hip Hop chart. While the album was strong, Nickel did an excellent run of interviews discussing his sober lifestyle. Not to be greedy or anything, but that PRHYME 2 album is sounding really nice right about now. — Andreas Hale
Big Sean and Jhené Aiko have collaborated numerous times over the years, but the two surprised many when they combined to form the duo TWENTY88. The album was an exploration of love, lust, sex, betrayal, heartache, and loss, but it was the short film “Out Of Love” which perhaps encapsulated it all. Excluding the abrupt sex scene in the short film, which prompted rumors that Jhené Aiko and longtime boyfriend (husband?) Dot Da Genius were no longer together, it was one of the more unassumingly respectable and controversy-free listens of the month. — Meka
I have lived New York City long enough to have gone through this interesting, if not odd, trend of one-hit wonders many times over. The latest one — replacing 2 Milly’s dance-happy “Milly Rock,” which coincidentally replaced the literally self-incriminating Bobby Shmurda’s “Hot Boy” — comes courtesy of Kanye West’s recent addition to G.O.O.D. Music, Desiigner, and his frenetic single “Panda.” In his defense, he is an 18-year-old kid from Bed-Stuy who has literally listened to primarily trap-reared rap music for most of his formative years on this planet; seriously, my “closer to 30 than he is 20” friend — who recently visited New York City from Los Angeles for the very first time in his life — instantly noticed that most of the songs played on New York radio statins had a heavy Southern influence, even if it was from a regional act. It’s hip hop in 2016, and New York for the most part (excluding artists like Joey Bada$$) ha steered away from their traditional boom bap stylings for a sound Mims was ironically skewered for back in 2007.
It’s also highly ironic that the debut single from an 18-year-old kid from Bed-Stuy whose sound mimics Future so much that Jermaine Dupri recently pointed out that the instrumental for “Panda” mirrors Future’s own “Commas,” has accomplished something that not even Future himself has done: have a No. 1 song in the country. What’s even crazier, some guy in a panda onesie strolled into a FOX TV station in Baltimore and made a bomb threat at the same time “Panda” topped the Billboard charts. It’s only April, people, and I’m already over rap music in 2016. — Meka