Rodney Carmichael

When Vince Staples releases his sophomore album Big Fish Theory next month, he won't be the only lanky rapper from Long Beach, Calif. with new music in the marketplace. Big Uncle Snoop Dogg, whose solo debut Doggystyle dropped the same year Staples was born, released his 15th studio album this week. And like the title Neva Left not-so-subtly suggests, his ubiquitous industry presence over the last quarter century is unprecedented in hip-hop.

T-Pain just unleashed a real rap unicorn. T-Wayne — his once-promised collaborative project with Lil Wayne, originally set to drop around 2009 — is finally live on Soundcloud. Also available for free download on the artists' shared website, it's a nostalgic rewind to an era when both T-Pain and Lil Wayne were at the apex of their careers.

Did you know Fetty Wap played Martin Shkreli's office Christmas party in 2015?

Jay Z may be one step closer to becoming hip-hop's first billionaire. The day after appearing on an annual shortlist of hip-hop's wealthiest artists. With an estimated net worth of $810 million, the rapper and entrepreneur has announced a new deal with Live Nation that could put him over the top, Variety reports.

You know what's funny about "Kool Aid," the new Danny Brown song made for the HBO show Silicon Valley? No, it's not Brown's endearing squeal. It's not even the familiar way in which he recycles Kool-Aid as colloquial '80s slanguage to emphasize the importance of people staying out of his, uhh, mix.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

If prayer is meant to soothe the soul, Jamila Woods's "Holy" is a bathtub balm of self-affirming joy. Like manna from HEAVN (her 2016 debut LP), a new visual for the song descended this week, and it's a hair-raising ode to single black women who've considered self-pity when the loneliness was too much.

Kendrick Lamar has spoken. In his first interview since the debut of his (soon-to-be) chart-topping cultural phenomenon-of-an-album, DAMN., the rapper sat down for the now-requisite interview with Zane Lowe of Apple's Beats 1 Radio.

If, like so much of the general listening public, you have found yourself grappling with the themes and depth of his mystical masterpiece since its release one week ago today, you should find solace in the fact that this is exactly as Lamar intended.

What's weirder? A hip-hop loving Bill Nye the Science Guy, or a science-loving Tyler, the Creator?

The period of anticipation preceding the release of Kendrick Lamar's fourth album, DAMN., was intense, brief but methodically built.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We have a guide to this day's news.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Since its inception, hip-hop has been grappling with the timeless question Marvin Gaye posed on his seminal 1971 album: What's Going On?

This weekend happens to mark the 33rd anniversary of Gaye's own untimely death (on April 1, 1984) resulting from a domestic dispute with his father that happened just one day before the singer/songwriter's birthday. Gaye would've turned 77 this year.

A Tribe Called Quest's latest visual from its four-month-old reunion album, We got it from Here...Thank You 4 Your service, dropped Thursday and its a poetic distillation of hip-hop's generation gap.

Kendrick Lamar wasted no time following through on his mysterious "IV" Instagram post. Last night, the Compton MC released a new song, "The Heart Part 4," and it's a no-holds-barred lyrical onslaught.

Within the span of five minutes, over shifting beats produced by Syk Sense, The Alchemist, DJ Dahi and Axlfolie, Lamar waxes philosophical, adversarial and political while dropping heat on everyone from phony rappers to President Trump.

Kendrick Lamar, deservedly hailed as the god MC of his generation, made a peculiar pronouncement from on high (i.e., high-speed Internet) today that has fans genuflecting in collective anticipation.

The rapper's Instagram account was wiped clean Thursday morning, replaced with one cryptic post added around sunrise. The simple white-on-black image of the Roman numeral "IV," with no caption provided, has led to a near-universal interpretation: Prepare ye the way for the impending release of Lamar's fourth studio album.

Leave it to Run the Jewels to find the connection between psychedelic drugs and systemic disorder. The new video for "Legend Has It," the first from the duo's third LP RTJ3, finds Killer Mike and El-P tripping on acid in a police lineup alongside a rotating cast of unusual suspects: a nun, an "innocent" little girl, a fireman, even a clown-faced police officer.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

In an industry full of surprises, Drake premiered his new LP the old-fashioned way. In fact, the biggest surprise surrounding More Life — the studio album he's calling a "playlist" — is that it finally came out as predicted. After months of teasing fans with rumored tracklists, a string of potential singles and cryptic Instagram posts hinting at release dates that came and went, the 6 God debuted his seventh solo LP on OVO Sound Radio Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET, and it appeared on streaming services at 8:30 p.m.

Culture Wars

Mar 15, 2017

Did you know there's a Wikipedia entry for "political hip-hop"? Kind of like having an entry for "wet rain" or "loud thunder," ain't it? Even when totally devoid of overt sociopolitical commentary, rap consistently speaks volumes about the state of The Union.

Chance the Rapper is not leaving the future of Chicago school kids to chance. During a press conference Monday at Westcott Elementary School, on the city's South Side, the newly minted Grammy winner announced plans to donate $1 million to Chicago Public Schools.

"This check that I donated is a call to action," said Chance, calling for politicians and corporations to follow suit as the conference streamed live on Instagram. "I'm challenging major companies in Chicago and all across the U.S. to take action."

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