Battle of the albums: Hip-hop vs. Rap
By Shelsie Duncan
This past summer has been an eventful one for music, especially when discussing Rap.
Many artists have been competing for the top spot and some have had no problem calling out their competition.
Kendrick Lamar’s verse on Big Sean’s single, “Control,” raised eyebrows when he single handedly “dissed” artists like Drake, Meek Mill and Big Sean.
Some of the artists who were put on the spot fired back, but others just let their music do the talking instead. Many albums and mix-tapes were released, but there were a few in particular that really took the spotlight and have been deemed some of the best albums this year, thus far.
J. Cole, Kanye West, Jay-Z and Drake have been highly praised and even bashed in different ways. These four albums are sure to spark debate between Hip-Hop and Rap fanatics, and Kean students weren’t shy about hiding their opinions as well.
One of the most popular rappers to date, Jay-Z, dropped his latest album, “Magna Carta Holy Grail,” on July 4, and because of his name, it was expected to sell in abundance.
Although the overall reaction to Magna Carta was good, some felt that it didn’t live up to their standards.
“I’ve seen Jay-Z do better, but I guess he’s at this point in life where he’s already set,” said Eric Phillips, a freshman. “He doesn’t really need to do anything else. He’s just making albums to let people know he’s still here.”
Others felt that Jay-Z’s album was up to par and even though it may have not been the best album of the year, it stayed true to his growth and lifestyle.
Charles Curtis III, a senior, believed that Jay-Z’s album should be respected simply because his lyrics were plausible and credible.
“I feel like Jay-Z has a different level to his music now,” Curtis said. “As he gets older, his music gets more Mature. He raps about where he is now.”
For some, Jay-Z’s mature lyrics and lifestyle were hard to follow and un-relatable. Some students even admitted to having to look up things mentioned in his album in order to fully understand exactly what he was talking about.
However, Magna Carta wasn’t the most misunderstood album out of the pact.
Jay-Z’s prodigy, Kanye West, dropped one of the most controversial albums of his career. Titled “Yeezuz,” a play on the religious figure Jesus.
The album left many scratching their heads. Not only did the title leave some uneasy, but the overall concept was not well received. “He’s a lost soul,” “I didn’t get it” and “I’m over it,” were phrases that students weren’t shy or apprehensive about using.
“I’m a Christian, so I feel like Kanye went off the chart with some of the things he says in this album,” Phillips said. “Him calling himself Yeezuz was inappropriate to me.”
Curtis also had a problem with the overall theme. He defined it as “dark” and that its messages were close to some type of “devil worship.” Even with the controversial lyrics, many could not deny the single “Blood on the Leaves.”
Kean students found the beat and the lyrics the most intriguing compared to the other songs on the album.
Dropped just about a week before Yeezuz, J.Cole’s highly anticipated album hit the shelves and the overall response from Kean students was mixed. Some glorified Cole for the beats he used, his lyrics and his overall flow.
While others like Quinton Davis, a senior, felt that he showed no real improvements from his previous works. He claimed that “It was good, but it showed no real growth.”
Senior Joel Reyes felt otherwise. “It was definitely deep, it was like he was able to make good music without being like every other artist,” Reyes said. “It’s like he had an inspiration to say something that actually meant something.”
Phillips believed that compared to Jay-Z’s Magna Carta, J.Cole’s album shined brighter because of its relatable lyrics.
“I do believe J. Cole’s album was more based on real life, in which more people can relate to,” Phillips said. “When you can relate to something, you can enjoy it more. Nobody really knows or can relate to how Jay-Z lives.”
Meanwhile, “Nothing was the same,” Drake’s third studio album, dropped on Sept. 24, but was leaked to the internet about a week prior to release. Many Kean students were thrilled with the outcome and praised Drake for yet again delivering a successful album.
“It could be played from beginning to end without skipping songs,” said senior Dahlia Wesley.
The single “Come Thru” was a common favorite. Students loved its wordplay and especially, the beat. In fact, the beats included on this album, for a lot of students, was what won their hearts over.
His versatile style and ability to switch from singing to rapping put him above the bunch and even though the album has been out for the shortest period of time in relation to the others, it didn’t take much time to grow on its audience.
There’s still time left in the year to debate on which album should be the best. Regardless, these four albums have been thoroughly discussed, debated, praised and bashed, but still manage to have the spotlight for their different sounds and styles.