January Release Round-Up

Clockwise from top left: The Circus by Mick Jenkins, Good Luck Everybody by AJJ, THIS DOES NOT EXIST by Lil Darkie, and at the end of the day. by Fly Anakin

By Hadley Schaffer

At the end of each month, we’ll write about our favorite (or least favorite) releases. Here’s January, wrapped up.

In order from best to worst.

Poppy’s third LP, I Disagree.

I Disagree – Poppy [Alternative Metal]

Poppy’s departure from pop music into the world of metal is everything I wanted it to be. I had been beyond excited for this project ever since hearing the song “X” from her 2018 album Am I A Girl?, and it did not disappoint. There is absolutely no reason for Poppy and metal to be such a great combination, but it is. I Disagree may not be as unpredictable as Am I A Girl? or as experimental as Choke, but everything on here still sounds insanely good, and it adds a lot to the “lore” behind Poppy’s character and even her real-life drama. If you want a full review of this album be sure to check out Sebastian Lee’s post here.

II – Mixed Matches [Ambient Pop, Cloud Rap]

The followup to Mixed Matches’ 2019 project Late is as ethereal and dreamy as ever, even if it is supposedly just a bunch of loose tracks he had lying around. If you’re familiar with Mixed Matches’ music, you’ll pretty much know how this is going to sound going into it, but god his style is just so GOOD. His music is essentially Beach House meets Pi’erre Bourne, and it just never gets old. The bass-heavy, melodic instrumentals match perfectly with his lush, heavily-autotuned vocals. The whole project is just so nice to listen to and honestly transfers you to another planet, even if not as much so as its predecessor. 

Good Luck Everybody – AJJ

Good Luck Everybody – AJJ [Anti-Folk, Indie Folk]

AJJ’s most politically-charged release to date, and, although far from their best work, it executes everything it tries to very well, as usual for the band. Lyrically it basically depicts Sean losing his faith in people as a whole, which is a direct contradiction to the messaging on their legendary 2007 album People Who Can Eat People are the Luckiest People in the World (which Sean even references on some tracks). Needless to say, it is a pretty sad and hopeless listen, but it is also very enjoyable and offers some interesting perspectives on today’s political climate. 

13LOOD IN + 13LOOD OUT MIXX – Denzel Curry [Trap, Hardcore Hip Hop]

13 minutes of raw energy. This is basically the more hardcore/heavy version of ZUU. You could honestly predict how this thing will sound just by knowing that it features Ghostemane, ZillaKami, and Xavier Wulf. Banger after banger after banger. Angry Zel is my favorite version of Zel, so obviously I was very happy with this brief mix of snippets. A few tracks do have some pretty corny lines that are hard to overlook, but overall this thing is fire from front to back.

Circles by Mac Miller

Circles – Mac Miller [Neo-Soul, Alternative R&B]

The last Mac Miller album. Although I was never the biggest fan of his music, that is still so difficult to say. Posthumous releases are often ethically questionable, but I think the way Mac’s family handled this was perfect, and I am very glad we were given this album. It is flawed and likely unfinished, but in the same breath it is just so devastating and beautiful. I’m not necessarily crazy about every track on here, but I think it’s a very important album that will finally give Mac Miller fans at least the slightest bit of closure. R.I.P. For more in-depth thoughts on this project, check out Koleman Werner’s review here.

Try Again – Ovrkast. [Abstract Hip Hop]

The sLUms-affiliated rapper/producer’s first project on streaming platforms is everything I look for in an abstract hip hop release: introspective and depressing lyrics over atmospheric, almost lo-fi production. With features from Mavi, Navy Blue, and Pink Siifu (among others), there was no way for this project to be anything less than quality. Some tracks are more memorable than others, and Ovrkast. definitely has some room to grow, but overall this is a more than promising introduction. 

at the end of the day. by Fly Anakin

at the end of the day. – Fly Anakin [Hardcore Hip Hop]

Fly Anakin has been one of the most notable names in underground hip hop across the past few years, and for good reason. Dude is a monster lyricist with a refreshing style and a great ear for production. This new project showcases all of that and more: fire production, hard flows, great lyrics, and crazy features (Nickelus F, Big Kahuna OG, and ANKHLEJOHN). Any fan of hip hop would enjoy this.

No Friends & Kodie 2 – BBY KODIE & No Friends [Trap, Southern Hip Hop]

Kodie dropped not one but two of my favorite trap projects of 2019, so it’s only right that he kicked off 2020 with yet another collaborative effort with producer No Friends. At just 7 tracks, it isn’t necessarily a ton to write home about, but it is consistently fun and features a few of the best trap songs of the year so far, so it’s definitely worth a listen.

THIS DOES NOT EXIST by Lil Darkie

THIS DOES NOT EXIST – Lil Darkie [Experimental Hip Hop, Garage Punk]

As troubling as his name may be, Lil Darkie’s debut album is surprisingly a very fun and unique listen. His music sounds like if early-XXXTENTACION met early-Ween, which is such a bizarre combination that somehow mostly works. He’s zany, cartoonish, off-the-wall, chaotic, aggressive, and so much more. The album may fall off quality-wise towards the end, but the first half goes absolutely crazy and shows a lot of potential.

Big Baby Earnhardt – Big Baby Scumbag [Trap, Southern Hip Hop, everything else]

One of the most intriguing up-and-coming names in trap dropped his debut album this month, and, although it may not be as explosive as Juvenile Hell (his 2019 collaboration with Lex Luger), it is definitely an interesting listen. Almost every track is a different genre with a Big Baby twist. You’ve got some country, some punk, and even some house on here. He is by no means a master of any of these genres, but it makes for a pretty entertaining listen, and I have to applaud him for doing something different.

Charleyhorse – Sybyr [Trap]

Pretty much a by-the-numbers Sybyr project at this point. It’s a bit underdeveloped and nowhere near as experimental or heavy as the music from his days as Syringe. It’s a lot more generic with a disappointing lack of screaming and only a few memorable tracks. That being said, it is still fairly enjoyable for what it is, even if it’s not all that captivating. 

The Circus by Mick Jenkins

The Circus – Mick Jenkins [Conscious Hip Hop]

Mick hasn’t released a great project since 2014, and this 7-track EP is no exception. The first song is extremely solid, with a fire trap beat and dope lyrics and flows, but after that it’s pretty much just standard Mick Jenkins. If you’re a fan of his more recent work, you’ll most likely get some enjoyment out of it, but personally his lyricism just isn’t enough to make me view this project as anything special.

Revenge Of The Dreamers III: Director’s Cut – Dreamville [Hip Hop]

12 tracks were added to 2019’s Grammy-nominated mega-collaboration that brought together essentially all the most notable name in today’s world of hip hop, from Young Nudy to Kendrick Lamar. Unfortunately, although this “director’s cut” does feature a few of the project’s better tracks, it is balanced out by plenty of mediocrity which overall just makes the album feel even more bloated than it already was.

Pouya & Boobie Lootaveli: Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 – Pouya, Boobie Lootaveli & Spock

This thing has consistently fire production from Spock, but unfortunately it is wasted on consistently uninteresting performances from both rappers. Overall it’s a pretty mediocre mixtape, but at least it’s an improvement upon Pouya’s last project.

Music To Be Murdered By – Eminem [Pop Rap]

Yet another bad Eminem project. His third in a row at this point. It’s filled with cringe-worthy bars, empty song topics, and terrible hooks. At least the beats are better than they have been on his past couple projects, but it still feels like a blatant attempt at fitting in with the modern scope of music. There are, however, a few surprisingly good features, most notably from Black Thought and Anderson .Paak. Regardless, this whole album just feels unnecessary and leaves me confused as to why Eminem has yet to retire when he so obviously has nothing left to rap about.