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Lil Polo Tee Is A Unique Artist Building Buzz

This week’s Monday to Monday episode hosted by Mike Boyd welcomes rapper Lil Polo Tee aka Polo Perks. A unique artist with a speciality for rapping over indie samples, Polo has been steadily building buzz over these past couple months as he continues to gain followers and build his fan base. On the heels of releasing the music video for his latest single ‘YeahYeahYeah,’ the artist is having a pretty good 2021 so far, and tapped in with Boyd to talk about Surf Gang (a group of New York based rappers and producers), his approach to music, and what he has been up to recently. 

Boyd and Polo started their interview discussing the New York music scene, and how Polo is carving a lane for himself in that space. “Everything is going pretty well right now! Places are opening back up in the city, and Surf Gang is taking over everyday. Most of us are based out of New York, but we are really all over the place when you think about it. We just got back from doing a sold out show in L.A., which was crazy. There were about 600 to 700 people, and it was my first show there, so that was dope to experience.”

Pivoting the conversation, Boyd asks Polo about his EP Punk Goes Drill, and what it took behind the scenes to craft the project. “You know it’s funny because I listened to Punk and Drill music growing up, and it’s cool to see people’s reactions,” he tells Boyd. “That type of music is easily forgotten about a lot of times, and not a lot of people appreciate it. I was really just trying to make a drip project that was in the sound of Drill, but still something to set me apart from the rest. I wasn’t influenced by any of the old school samples—these are all up-to-date 2000s samples. Everything is from the early 2000s, and it’s really for the people of my time.”

Ben Oleynik
Lil Polo Tee

As their convo continues, Boyd and Polo talk about Polo’s favorite tracks on the project, working with his go-to producer Goner, and his growing influence in the skating community, which in turn leads Boyd to ask what song Polo would recommend new fans listen to for an introduction to his music “I feel like there isn’t really a song—I’m one of the most organic people doing this,” he says before listeners a rundown of his artistry. “Before you tap in and listen—you can really listen to any song you want to, you just have to know that my sound is going to be my sound. My flow is going to be my flow. So you have to get comfortable with it!”

For more on Polo, be sure to check out the full interview above. You can also keep up with the artist and his future releases on both Instagram and Twitter.

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Culture Music

The 50 Best Hip-Hop Albums of All Time

As a musical genre, hip-hop has morphed into a mainstream force that impacts everything from the way we dress to the way we speak.

From the rough & tumble streets of the Bronx in the 70s right up until the current day, masterful wordsmiths have taken to the mic to put their lyrical art on full display. Rap/hip-hop aficionados all over the globe have been treated to some of the finest pieces of work in all of music from mega-popular acts and underground legends. While there are hundreds of recommendable albums worth mentioning here, we decided to come up with a definitive list of 50 hip-hop albums that will always stand the test of time due to their unbridled musical excellence and relevant social commentary.

The LPs scattered all over this list should implore you to dig into the digital crates and unearth the lyrical gems each GOAT-tier MC provides.

1. ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’ – Lauryn Hill

Queen Hill arrived on the scene as a member of the legendary trio The Fugees (more on that group later). When she decided to step out on her own and deliver her first solo LP, the world got treated to an all-time classic. This LP props up black women as a whole and speaks on the issues that plague them on a daily basis (dealing with one’s sexuality and sense of identity, for instance). Lauryn Hill mashed up a number of genres and came away with an amazing hodgepodge of songs that inspired an entire generation of women to pursue their musical dreams.

2. ‘Criminal Minded’ – Boogie Down Productions

The debut LP from the collective trio of KRS-One, D-Nice, and DJ Scott La Rock is an East Coast gem that still knocks to this very day. The clever amalgamation of rap/hip-hop, rock & roll, and reggae influences played the background perfectly while KRS-One released a flood of hard-hitting bars. Songs like “South Bronx” and “The Bridge is Over” are monumental hits off of this monumental LP. Thankfully, the rest of the songs on offer here are just as phenomenal as those undisputed hip-hop gems.

3. ‘Only Built for Cuban Linx…’ – Raekwon

Mafioso rap sounds so legit whenever Raekwon the Chef and Ghostface Killah deliver it. Both of these Wu-Tang affiliates mastered that art and inspired a generation of fellow MCs to follow in their footsteps thanks to this certified classic. The production is ace, the skits are actually worth listening to, and the songs themselves are top-tier 36 Chambers material. From front to back, Only Built for Cuban Linx… provides listeners with a rugged trip through a life filled with gangland activities and unmatched machismo.

4. ‘Liquid Swords’ – GZA

GZA is truly “The Genius.” He put his proficiency for intelligent raps on full display on his debut LP, Liquid Swords. RZA truly got in his production bag and blessed this LP with some of the finest beats he’s ever created. And thankfully, GZA’s flows perfectly stayed in the pocket for each banger as he broke down the trials and tribulations of a hood upbringing. When the opening notes to “4th Chamber” kick in, every rap head in the vicinity has no choice but to rock an ugly scowl while they bump their head in place.

5. ‘Raising Hell’ – Run DMC

Run DMC’s unmatched synergy can be dissected in full just by listening to this seminal LP. Run and DMC go back and forth like the fast & furious tandem they are over masterful beats/cuts from Jam Master Jay. “Peter Piper,” “It’s Tricky,” and “My Adidas” are peak Run DMC. And one can’t forget the mega hip-hop/rock & roll crossover hit that is “Walk This Way” with Aerosmith. Raising Hell is required homework for any modern-day MC that wants a lesson or two about mastering the art of rap.

6. ‘Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ – 50 Cent

As soon as that quarter drops, everyone knows what’s coming next. 50 Cent’s blockbuster album starts off with a bang and doesn’t slow down the whole way through. The man known as Curtis Jackson caused a bootlegging frenzy upon release and broke into the mainstream consciousness due to the greatness of this LP. “In da Club” is just one of the many solidified bangers that have pushed this album to legendary status and signified Fif’ as one of the best to ever do it.

7. ‘The Infamous’ – Mobb Deep

Queensbridge’s very own Havoc and Prodigy (RIP, King!) catapulted themselves to a higher level of hip-hop excellence once their second album offering hit the streets. The Infamous offers gritty descriptions of two young men making their way through a life filled with plenty of turmoil. Both MCs brought furious young energy to each track and did it all while dropping street knowledge on the back of classic beats. “Shook One, Pt. II,” “Survival of the Fittest,” and “Give Up the Goods” are just three of the reasons why this album will always stay in rotation.

8. ‘3 Feet High and Rising’ – De La Soul

Noted producer Prince Paul helped form the soundscape for De La Soul’s debut album. It was released during a time where gangsta rap was all the rage, yet it still managed to garner plenty of attention and praise thanks to a deviation in theme and sound. The colorful cover itself is iconic and so are the songs that match that image’s super cool vibe. Posdnuos, Trugoy, and Maseo have always been a winning trio – jamming to joints like “The Magic Number” and “Me, Myself, and I” do a good job of convincing everyone of that undisputed fact.

9. ‘The Marshal Mathers LP’ – Eminem

Detroit’s premier wordsmith built up a strong catalog of songs with his first two albums. But things truly took a turn for the better once Eminem released The Marshal Mathers LP. Em’s slick wordplay and outlandish disses for the world at large are in fine form here. Songs like “Stan” showcase a version of Em that’s willing to delve into the sorts of topics that are rarely mentioned within hip-hop. The rest of The Marshal Mathers LP hits all the high notes that fans have come to champion about one of rap’s certified GOATs.

10. ‘Reasonable Doubt’ – Jay-Z

The Jigga Man arrived on the scene in full mafioso garb and had the lyrics to match all that bravado with Reasonable Doubt. The very best luxury raps are littered all over this magnificent debut LP. It says a lot about an album when you can play the first five seconds of every song on it and most folks recognize it without too much effort. Listening to this album is a worthwhile experience since it successfully mirrors the high stakes that come with organized crimes and other risky endeavors.

11. ‘Hard Core’ – Lil’ Kim

The “Queen B” kept it all the way real and raunchy when she stepped into a hip-hop arena that tends to be dominated by the opposite sex. With Hard Core, Lil’ Kim threw all caution to the wind as she spits with the best of ‘em. While there aren’t a ton of features on this one, the guests that do appear do a great job of further strengthening Kim’s repertoire of provocative (in a good way) songs. “Big Momma Thang,” “No Time,” “Crush on You,” and “Drugs” are held up as some of Kim’s greatest songs. And as luck would have it, they all appear on this album.

12. ‘The Blueprint’ – Jay-Z

The Blueprint is practically a how-to guide on how to put together an album that simply can’t be denied. With a nice mix of Kanye West and Just Blaze beats to support him, Jay-Z floats all over each track with ease and exudes his best qualities as an MC. He goes for the jugular on “Takeover,” gets super celebratory with “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” throws lyrical bouquets at the ladies with “Girls, Girls, Girls,” and goes toe to toe with Eminem on “Renegade.” This is the album that laid the foundation for some of your favorite rappers, so all praises due to The Blueprint.

13. ‘Paid in Full’ – Eric B & Rakim

Rakim is referred to as the God MC for good reason – his furious flow and penchant for crafting bars that hit you right in the soul have afforded him the right to accept that moniker. With DJ Eric B by his side, Rakim changed the rap game in a dramatic fashion with this incredible LP. The cover itself evokes dreams of making it big through one’s undefeatable hustle – thankfully, Rakim reflects that hunger for greatness through his kingly bars and delivery. Paid in Full inspired a whole generation of 90s babies to step to the mic and it’s easy to see/hear why. Never forget – “MC means move the crowd.”

14. ‘It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot’ – DMX

Darkman X’s yin and yang qualities made millions of fans flock to him. Even though he may have found himself in the worst situations imaginable, his faith and undeniable passion inspired others to remain strong just like he did. DMX’s magnum opus It’s Dark and Hell is Hot showcases the Ruff Ryder representative’s many trials and tribulations through some of the hardest rap songs ever laid on wax. “Get at Me Dog,” “Stop Being Greedy,” and “The Convo” are just a sample of the headbangers that make this album an unforgettable trip with the Darkman himself. 

15. ‘It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back’ – Public Enemy

Chuck D’s socially conscious lyrics, Flavor Flav’s magnetic persona, Terminator X’s intense scratches, and The Bomb Squad’s boomin’ beats were a winning combo back in the day. It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back masterfully combined all of those elements while producing an album with an unapologetic message that remains relevant to this day. “Fight the Power” and “Bring the Noise” are clear examples of the heavy hitters that define this bodacious hip-hop classic.

16. ‘Ready to Die’ – The Notorious B.I.G.

Christopher Wallace aka The Notorious B.I.G. left an indelible mark on the world of hip-hop. Even though he only left the world before he could really get going, his two solo projects produced a discography full of tracks that Golden Era rap fans swear by. Biggie’s hard-hitting lyrics and flow delve into a wide range of hood tales all over his amazing debut album, Ready to Die. This classic album features songs that describe the daily lives of stick-up kids (“Gimme the Loot”), achieving one’s lofty dreams (“Juicy”), and staying ahead of those that simply want to stick you for your paper (“Warning”). Ready to Die is an autobiographical listen that perfectly encapsulates the rough and tumble upbringing of Bad Boy’s greatest MC.

17. ‘Illmatic’ – Nas

The world truly sat in the hands of a young Nas when he arrived with his debut LP, Illmatic. He managed to meet the overwhelming hype attached to his name and did it with only 10 tracks. Nas’s production dream team at the time (DJ Premier, Large Professor, Q-Tip, Pete Rock, and L.E.S.) created a strong array of soundscapes that allowed the Queensbridge MC to lyrically prosper. Nas’s aptitude for storytelling and smooth flows can be heard through songs like “N.Y. State of Mind,” “The World is Yours,” “Represent,” and “One Love.”

18. ‘Doggystyle’ – Snoop Doggy Dogg

Doggystyle is practically a West Coast party that bangs through your speakers every time you throw it on. Young Snoop tapped into the sounds of the region that raised him as he took listeners on a wild ride through the streets of L.A. Doggystyle remains an easy listen to this day thanks to a number of factors, which includes top-notch beats from Dr. Dre, raunchy lyrics that always elicit a few laughs every time they’re heard, and a collection of L.A. MCs that ruled the 90s. Snoop Dogg came into the game like a force of nature – his continued relevance is due in part to this hard-edged album debut.

19. ‘Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)’ – Wu-Tang Clan

Never forget – Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothin to ‘eff with. That statement will always ring true no matter the time we live in. Every member of the Wu-Tang got together like Voltron to give hip-hop heads across the globe one of the grittiest records of all time. Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) can get a flood of fans to flip into mosh pit mode, which should tell you just how monumental everything on that LP is. The posse cuts are out of this world and helped define the best qualities of each Wu-Tang member. “C.R.E.A.M.,” “Method Man,” “Protect Ya Neck,” and “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’” are essential listening if you ever want to consider yourself a true rap aficionado.

20. ‘The Score’ – The Fugees

New Jersey’s own Fugees camp ascended from their underground origins to a level of mainstream superstardom thanks to this album. All three parts of the mega trio brought their signature traits together and managed to craft undeniable jams in the process. The East Coast vibes knock extra hard on this one, as evidenced by “How Many Mics,” “Ready or Not,” “Fu-Gee-La,” and “The Score.” “Killing Me Softly With His Song” put Lauryn Hill’s heavenly vocals front and center, which is one of the many gifts The Score gave to the world.

21. ‘Midnight Marauders’ – A Tribe Called Quest’

A Tribe Called Quest mastered the art of jazzy samples and boom-bap instrumentals when it released its third album. Hip-hop stables don’t get any better than the trio of Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Jarobi White. Their incredible synergy can be heard throughout each and every part of this album (special shout out to Tribe’s long list of friends that agreed to appear on the cover, too). Backpackers everywhere live by songs like “Award Tour,” “Electric Relaxation,” and “Lyrics to Go.” Midnight Marauders is a whole vibe that’s super chill and worth experiencing on more than one occasion.

22. ‘Aquemini’ – Outkast

This pick also falls into the category of “amazing third release from an illustrious hip-hop group.” Outkast already built up an amazing track record with Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik and ATLiens – once they released Aquemini, it was quite evident that their superstar status had reached another level. This LP featured those signature Andre 300 and Big Boi traits that we’ve all come to appreciate, such as southern bounce, tongue-twisting flows, and thought-provoking lyrics. “Rosa Parks,” “both parts of “Da Art of Storytellin’,” and “Aquemini” all lift this project to the high heavens where only the greatest hip-hop albums reside.

23. ‘All Eyez on Me’ – 2Pac

Once 2Pac’s prison sentence came to an end, he aligned himself with Death Row and emerged from its studios with the album most people hold in high regard. 2Pac’s frustrations and triumphs were told in equal parts across this two-disc LP. Most double albums feel bloated and full of filler, yet All Eyez on Me stands apart from the pack thanks to a mix of strong singles and underrated B-Side cuts. “Ambitionz Az a Ridah,” “How Do You Want It,” “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted,” and “I Ain’t Mad At Cha” are just a few of the bangers that define the greatness of this album.

24. ‘Mecca and the Soul Brother’ – Pete Rock & CL Smooth

This album is one of those ultimate knockers that cause necks to break everywhere due to excessive head bobbing. Pete Rock laid the audio groundwork for his man’s CL Smooth to lay down his most memorable rhymes. Mecca and the Soul Brother describes the everyday life of an urban NYC denizen thanks to CL Smooth’s vivid wordplay. “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” still stands tall as one of the greatest song tributes of all time. The rest of this LP exposes those who don’t know to the incredible production of Pete Rock and the slick bars that come courtesy of CL Smooth.

25. ‘The Chronic’ – Dr. Dre

Dr. Dre is a noted perfectionist. Whenever he drops an album, it’s an event that brings everything to a standstill. That’s because it rarely happens due to the fact that Dre works his sound until it matches the high quality established by his debut album. The G-Funk established by The Chronic inspired an army of West Coast MCs to follow in Dre’s footsteps, which should clue you in to just how monumental it was. “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang,” “Let Me Ride,” and “F**k wit Dre Day (And Everybody’s Celebratin’)” are the type of songs that simply can’t be denied. The Chronic is GOAT album material, no matter the coastal region.

Honorable Mentions
26. ‘Black on Both Sides’ – Mos Def

27. ‘The Low End Theory’ – A Tribe Called Quest

28. ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ – Kendrick Lamar

29. ‘Efil4zaggin’ – N.W.A.

30. ‘Madvillainy’ – Madvillain

31. ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ – Kanye West

32. ‘Fantastic, Vol. 2’ – Slum Village

33. ‘Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101’ – Young Jeezy

34. ‘Tha Carter III’ – Lil Wayne

35. ‘The Minstrel Show’ – Little Brother

36. ‘Good Kid, M.A.A.D City’ – Kendrick Lamar

37. ‘Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde’ – The Pharcyde

38. ‘The College Dropout’ – Kanye West

39. ‘Paul’s Boutique’ – Beastie Boys

40. ‘Supa Dupa Fly’ – Missy Elliot

41. ‘Critical Beatdown’ – Ultramagnetic MCs

42. ‘2001’ – Dr. Dre

43. ‘Trap Muzik’ – T.I.

44. ‘Supreme Clientele’ – Ghostface Killah

45. ‘Death Certificate’ – Ice Cube

46. ‘The Renaissance’ – Q-Tip

47. ‘The Black Album’ – Jay-Z

48. ‘ELE (Extinction Level Event): The Final World Event’ – Busta Rhymes

49. ‘EVE’ – Rapsody

50. ‘AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted’ by Ice Cube

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Culture Music

What Does Top Dawg Entertainment Have in Store for May 7?

May 7, 2021 – that’s the date marked for a very special day for anyone that considers themself an aficionado of West Coast rap label, Top Dawg Entertainment. Yesterday on Twitter, TDE CEO Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith got everyone’s hearts racing by sending out a Tweet that teased something monumental. Considering how strong of a force TDE is thanks to its amazing roster of MCs and R&B vocalists, music heads everywhere certainly have a lot to look forward to next Friday.

So the burning question that everyone and their grandmother have been asking is this – is TDE getting ready to drop new music from Kendrick Lamar? If that question does get answered with a resounding yes, then a whole lot of prayers (including ours) will have been answered. Consider this sobering factoid – the last time K. Dot dropped a full LP was back in 2017 with DAMN. That just happens to be the exact word most TDE diehards belt out every time they think about the lack of new Kendrick material these days. The thirst is ever so real at this point for a new single, music video, or even a quick Instagram clip of King Kendrick spitting a few seconds of whatever he’s been working on. K. Dot rarely disappoints, so the world will be more than satisfied if he happens to be hitting these digital streets with a batch of new music in tow real soon.

If May 7 doesn’t bring us all something fresh from Kendrick, then there’s still no need to fret. TDE’s roster has a ton of other artists that are just as highly anticipated when it comes to offering something truly worthwhile. R&B songstress SZA being the one to bring the world a whole new project would be everything and more. She dropped some pretty dope visuals for a new song called “Good Days” last month, so it would make a lot of sense for her to drop even more quality songs as a worthy follow-up. Seeing as how she recently hopped on a collab with Doja Cat for “Kiss Me More,” we’re guessing she has some extra special guests on deck for her upcoming album.

There are a few other TDE representatives that haven’t dropped new music in a while that we’d love to make a grand return on May 7, too. Isaiah Rashad has certainly kept a low profile since dropping The Sun’s Tirade in 2016 and a loosie track in the form of “Why Worry” last April. He reportedly has an album in the works entitled The House Is Burning, so hopefully, that’s ready to drop sooner rather than later. Ab-Soul is another pillar of TDE’s strong reign over rap and we’d be more than happy to see him hit us with a brand new album. His last LP (Do What Thou Wilt.)  came in 2016 and his most recent song drop came in the form of “Dangerookipawaa Freestyle.” We’re sure he’s been hard at work on a fifth studio album and we’d love for it to dominate playlists everywhere this summer. Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, Lance Skiiiwalker, Sir, Reason, and Zacari make up the rest of the TDE army. And judging by the overwhelming quality delivered by each of those artists’ previous projects, listeners have an abundance of TDE heat to bask in if any of them releases something new on May 7.

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Culture Music

Music Manager and Entrepreneur Dylan Leazier Talks Business

Memphis artist Fresco Trey is a rising trailblazer who’s name you’ll be hearing a lot more in the future. Behind every artist is an equally dedicated team of individuals who work extremely hard behind the scenes to make things happen. For Trey, one of the people behind the scenes is a young man by the name of Dylan Leazier. An entrepreneur, Leazier is also the CEO of UNKNXWN, a content creation and branding company, and handles all things creative for DJ Clue. The latest guest on this week’s Monday to Monday episode hosted by Mike Boyd, Leazier discussed his entrepreneurial rise in entertainment amongst many other topics in a nearly 20-minute conversation with Boyd that you definitely will want to check out.

Boyd kicks off the conversation asking Leazier about managing Trey, and how the two first met. “I heard about Trey about a year-and-a-half ago,” he tells Boyd recalling their meeting.”It was through my videographer Kenny who is a part of the movement as well. He went down to Memphis to shoot some content, and connected with Trey and his team. He came back and was low-key pitching Trey’s music, and that’s how I heard of him. At that point Trey was moving around for his tour, but when the pandemic hit that slowed everything down, and I got him to New York to meet with me.”

As the conversation continues, Boyd and Leazier go into just how special of a talent Trey is, and how he personally tries to add value when working with the artist. “I’m a person that comes in and tries to add value. I knew from our conversations that they (Fresco and his team) were looking for marketing and branding, so I started there and just kept building out. One of Trey’s visions is starting FTL, which is the label that he is pushing. So I try to come in and use my resources to help amplify their movement. It’s been a journey these past six months, but we are in a great place and excited for the future.”

As the two continue to talk, Boyd goes on to ask Leazier about specific tips he has for putting time and money into something you believe in career wise. “It’s a big thing,” he says before detailing how much of a process management can be. “You truly have to believe in it. Some people are in this because they only want to make quick money or for the fame. I feel like I’m a different breed because I love the grind. Yes it has been stressful and hectic these past four to six months, but some of these memories are the greatest memories I’ll have to carry on with me through life.

I’m able to have a great team around that is like family—you have to have a team that is passionate and believes in what you are doing because you can’t do it by yourself. If you have a strong enough team that believes in the movement too, that is when something truly special happens.

Asking Leazier to dive deeper on the importance of having a good team, the manager gives advice to newcomers looking to build their teams. “I think you have to identify in a sense what your weaknesses are, and what areas you could use help in. You have to see what you need, and then look first at your immediate network to see which people can add value. If you don’t have anyone around you—social media is so powerful. You can get on Instagram and stumble across somebody you can network with.”

Boyd and Leazier went deeper into their conversation and the ins and outs of management. You can listen to the full interview above, and follow Leazer on Instagram.

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The Best Jay-Z Albums, Ranked

Brooklyn’s very own Shawn Corey Carter has built a legendary career on lyrical superiority and a presence that transcends many of his peers. Since staking his claim in the rap game from 1995 to the current day, Jay-Z has taken over my headphones and car speakers thanks to a strong catalog of instantly recognizable tunes. Alongside those smash hit singles are a collection of underrated songs and extra cuts that deserved just as much airplay as the songs that dominated radio play in the past.

I consider myself one of Jay-Z’s loyal Stans and have stood by him through thick and thin. Throughout all the great, good, and mediocre albums he’s delivered, I’ve listened intently and come away with my own personal listing of his entire discography. Feel free to get your pitchforks and torches ready for this one, folks. I want all the smoke!

13. ‘Kingdom Come’

Most Jay-Z fans regard this comeback album as his weakest body of work to date. While I agree with that sentiment, “Kingdom Come” isn’t a complete miss whatsoever. Sure, it’s filled with some production choices that didn’t resonate with me back then and never will (“Do U Wanna Ride” bores me to tears every time I hear it). But gems like “Show Me What You Got,” “Lost One,” and “30 Something” will forever shine and reflect a revitalized Jigga Man that was ready to take back his mantle as the king of rap after “retiring.” The slick Rick James sample on “Kingdom Come” is and always will be goated. The same can’t be said for “Beach Chair,” however…

12. ‘The Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse’

Having to dig through a whole bunch of mediocre tunes to get through the truly remarkable ones is never a fun task when listening to any album. Sadly, that’s the case here for the second installment of “The Blueprint.” “The Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse is just far too bloated and packed to the brim with unremarkable tracks (I don’t think you’ll ever hear a DJ drop “What They Gonna Do, Pt. II” during a Jay-Z celebration set). But the good stuff on here truly resonates with me and still gets replayed to this day – “Hovie Baby,” “03’ Bonnie & Clyde,” “Excuse Me Miss,” and “Poppin’ Tags” are the shining beacons on an album that’s overshadowed by less than stellar tunes.

11. ‘Magna Carta…Holy Grail’

Jay was definitely in his “I’m richer, wiser, and ready to ball out on expensive art” bag here. While I enjoyed his renewed focus on living life to the fullest here, a majority of his fanbase wasn’t feeling this one too much. Most of the tracklist for this LP comes off well – in fact, there isn’t a single song that I outright dislike here. The only problem is most of these songs don’t really stand out as some of Jay’s best songs when compared to his more recognizable hits. “Magna Carta…Holy Grail” is full of good tracks that are worth a replay, but I never really go out of my way to listen to it on a regular basis. But when it gets shuffled into my playlist, I’m pleasantly surprised by how good it still is.

10. ‘Vol. 3…Life and Times of S. Carter’

There are two songs from this album that knock so hard and bring me to life whenever a live band decides to produce their own rendition for it when backing Jay on stage – “So Ghetto” and “Do It Again (Put Ya Hands Up).” Then there are tunes like “Nymp, “Snoopy Track,” and “Dope Man” that stand out to me as three of Jay’s less celebrated yet highly underrated tracks. A lot of the other songs on here feature the type of production that’s a product of its time, which makes them come off really cringy in this day and age. But when you have an album that’s spearheaded by “Big Pimpin’” and “Is That Yo B***h,” you can’t really be too mad at its faults.

9. ‘The Blueprint 3’

I practically lived by this album during my final semester in college. I always found the will to knock out a thesis paper the night before it was due thanks to the triumphant stadium sound that accompanies “Real As It Gets.” “The Blueprint 3” just has so many memorable songs on it that still slap tremendously – “What We Talkin’ Bout,” “Thank You,” “On to the Next One,” and “So Ambitious” deserve all the praise in the world. Then there’s “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune),” “Run This Town,” and “Empire State of Mind,” which has to be the strongest three-track run on any album I’ve ever heard. There are a few letdowns here, like the Drake collab everyone was hyped about that ended up being super meh (“Off That”) and “Venus vs. Mars.” Even still, I enjoy a good amount of the tracks featured here.

8. ‘Vol. 2: Hard Knock Life’

The year 1998 ended up being a treasure trove full of some of the dopest hip-hop albums of all time. And one of the replay-worthy LPs that dropped that year happens to be this one. “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” really took an Annie sample and turned it into a hood anthem. This album will forever be held in high regard because it also plays home to “N***a What, N***A Who,” “Money, Cash, H**s,” “Can I Get A…,” and “Reservoir Dogs.” The less enjoyable tracks featured here don’t bring this album down too much in my eyes, thankfully. “Vol 2: Hard Knock Life” is an audio time capsule that perfectly captures the spirit of New York’s golden era run.

7. ‘The Dynasty: Roc La Familia’

Ah, the good old days of Roc-A-Fella Records. Jay made sure to throw an alley-oop to some of the now-defunct label’s strongest signees and came away with this quality album in the process. “Intro” kicks things off so wonderfully and sets listeners up for a tour through the trenches of Roc-A-Fella. What follows is a string of songs that showcases Jay during one of his best runs alongside his labelmates in Memphis Bleek and Beanie Sigel. “You, Me, Him and Her,” “1-900-Hustler,” “This Can’t Be Life,” and “I Just Wanna Love U” still hold weight as Jay’s greatest songs of all time. This LP begins to falter near its closing moments, but everything that comes before it keeps it from crashing and burning altogether.

6. ‘4:44’

I enjoy my fair share of “ignant” rap that causes me to wild out and belt out the sort of lyrics that would make my parents hang their heads in shame. But I also have a strong appreciation for grown man raps and that was on full display here from a much older and wiser Shawn Carter. “4:44” blesses listeners with 10 heavyweight tracks that drop so many gems while backed by some of the best beats Jay has ever performed on. “The Story of O.J.” is a conceptual tune that puts forth a strong message that confronts the issue of race, then you have something like “Family Feud” that offers an inspiring proclamation all about prospering with a loyal crew.  You’re left wanting more by the time this LP wraps up, which says a lot about its overall quality.

5. ‘In My Lifetime, Vol. 1’

The sophomore slump can never be denied – some of your favorite rappers have hit the game hard with an amazing debut LP and followed it up with a less than stellar album. That’s definitely not the case with Jay – “In My Lifetime, Vol. 1” helped maintain his rise to rap royalty. As soon as the first track came blasting through the speakers, you just knew you were in for something special. “Imaginary Players,” “Streets is Watching,” “Friend of Foe ‘98,” and “Who You Wit 2” all put this album on its backs and catapulted it to greatness. The more radio-friendly tunes on here may not resonate with me as much as those aforementioned songs do, but they’re still decent in their own right. You can’t be too mad in that case when you can always skip right to “Where I’m From.”

4.’ American Gangster’

I was and still am in awe of how the one-two combo of the American Gangster film and this album came together. You can just listen to this LP and vibe with an incredibly inspired Jay that has a new fire lit up under him. Jay dove into his old self here and got back to the kingpin struggles that kicked his career off. The “Reasonable Doubt” vibes are strong here, which is why I have such a deep love for it – “No Hook,” “Sweet,” “Say Hello,” and “Success” are clear evidence of that feeling. Even the songs that noticeably adopt a radio-friendly sound still hold up (“Hello Brooklyn” and “I Know” are the clearest examples). “American Gangster” reminded me that Jay’s decision to do a U-Turn on his retirement was for the best.

3. ‘The Black Album’

Speaking of Jay’s retirement, “The Black Album” was set up as his final body of work. And if Jay actually stuck to his guns and walked off into the sunset like he promised, I would have been perfectly fine since he would have left us all with this all-time classic. This is a hell of an audio victory lap for the Jigga Man that’s full of some of the dopest beats and bars I’ve ever come across. “What More Can I Say,” “Encore,” “Threat,” and “Lucifer” epitomize the pure heat this album put forth. “Change Clothes” may be the weakest tune for sure, but even that song has its own merits worth applauding. “The Black Album” will forever be a heavy hitter from Jay’s long and storied catalogue.

2. ‘Reasonable Doubt’

“I’m from where n****s pull your card, and argue all day about/Who’s the best MC, Biggie, Jay-Z or Nas.” All three of those GOAT-tier rappers certainly have one thing in common – they all delivered incredible debut albums. In Jay-Z’s case, he opened everyone’s eyes and ears with the mafioso-inspired “Reasonable Doubt.” From start to finish, Jay brought us into the glamorous and dangerous world of illegal conglomerates and managed to make it sound so damn good. There are just far too many magnificent tracks to list here from this debut LP. You won’t ever have to worry about hitting the skip button on this one – “Reasonable Doubt” cemented Jay-Z as the one to watch and still knocks to this very day.

1. ‘The Blueprint’

Jay’s strongest body of work is undoubtedly this one. “The Blueprint” mapped out a winning game plan for other MCs that most definitely inspired a lot of the rappers that shine in this day and age. Just Blaze and Kanye West gifted Jay with defining soundscapes that accompanied his most memorable songs – “Takeover,” “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” “U Don’t Know,” and “Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love)” provide all the proof in the world of that undisputed collaboration. People still argue about whether Eminem or Jay took the lyrical W on “Renegade” to this very day, plus “Lyrical Exercise” is still held up as one of Jay’s best B-Side tracks. “The Blueprint” is damn near perfect in my eyes.

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Culture Music

IamDoechii Is Determined To Blaze Her Own Path

IamDoechii is a name that you will be seeing and hearing a lot of in the very near future. A fearless artist determined to blaze her own trail, the young musician from Tampa is a woman of multiple talents who writes and produces her own material while also being the creative director of her many projects. Determined to stay true to her authenticity, IamDoechii aims to give her fans the ultimate experience through her records and visuals.

Celebrating the six month of anniversary of her single ‘Yucky Blucky Fruitcake,’ the song continues to experience success as she steadily builds her profile on social media, and Doechii has been in her happy place, the studio, and focused on regularly creating content for her fans. This week’s Monday to Monday special guest, the artist chats with host Mike Boyd about her early success, what songs mean the most to her, the lesson she’s learned from GaryVee, and more during their 20-minute conversation.

Boyd starts the conversation by asking Doechii about her recent freestyle over Doja Cat’s ‘Kiss Me More’ remix. “I was in the studio and had just come from a meeting—I loved the song, I love Doja Cat, and I just wrote it really quickly. It was fun!” Boyd then takes it back in time as the two talk about her childhood, and passion for the arts. “I started off acting a lot,” she tells Boyd as she recalls her early days in entertainment. “My mom signed me up for every sport there is, and I did ballet, tap, jazz—pretty much everything in fine arts as I went to a performing arts school. As far as drama and theater—doing TikToks and skits with my friends is my way of expressing myself in that avenue. I’ve always loved the arts!”

Boyd and Doechii then discuss the development process behind her 2020 EP Oh The Places You’ll Go and what she was thinking as she put the project together. Referencing Julia Cameron’s 1992 self-help book The Artist’s Way, she explains how the book inspired her artistry. “I read the book, did all the weeks, and it was basically a creative recovery course for those that don’t know.

I felt like I was stuck in a rut creatively and used this book to help me get through it,” she tells Boyd before going into the overall concept of the record. “One of the things talked about was mending the relationship with your inner child, and I realized growing up I wasn’t very nice to myself. As I started doing that inner work and forgiving myself and other people, I was able to be fearless within my work and not focus on being perfect. I started writing from the perspective of my inner child.”

After a conversation about her favorite songs on the EP, the artist then talked about the importance of spirituality within her, how she approaches her visuals, and eventually got into the incorporation of Paramore into her single ‘Yucky Blucky Fruitcake.’ “Not a lot of people caught that it was playing in the background. Hayley Williams is a huge inspiration to me. She was my first exposure to rock. I grew up in a Christian household and wasn’t allowed to listen to secular music, so I had to sneak Paramore’s music into my room, and I would teach myself how to sing like her. That was a huge moment in my life.”

Asking Iamdochii about her track ‘PMS,’ the two then cover the concept behind the song and what it means to be overly present in life. “I’ve transitioned from working alone to working with a team, and I now view my music from two sides. I recognize now that Doechii is a business, and I’m in different rooms speaking to different people. I’ve been practicing presence like crazy recently, and even when I walk into a room, I don’t feel the need to assert myself verbally, but with my presence. With the song ‘PMS,’ it was a bad studio day. I was literally PMSing, and women have to always be present, cleaned up, and proper all while being on their period!

Artists are continuously pulling from inspiration, and Boyd then goes on to ask Doechii what she personally has learned from GaryVee. “I was following Gary before the GaryVee channel even started,” she tells Boyd. “He was doing these business lessons, and at the time I was selling fried chicken at school. I wanted to learn more about expanding my business, so I started watching his videos. I literally had a GaryVee notebook where I would take notes and study him. I believe that GaryVee and Sophia Amoruso are two people that influenced why I have that ambition and ‘screw you’ attitude.”

Boyd and Doechii covered a ton in this inspiring interview that you can watch above. Be sure to check out Doechii on Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter to keep up with all of her latest releases.

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Culture Music

Vega, Manager of 3xBravo, Talks the Music Industry and the Scene in Atlanta

3xBravo is a name that you will be seeing a lot more of in the future. The talented rapper has been busy these first few months of 2021 working regularly in the studio, and recently releasing his new single No Time Soon.’ Any thriving musician will tell you the importance of having good management, and music manager Vega has been exactly that for the budding star. Vega, who has begun making a name for himself in the music industry over these past couple of years, is steadily earning a reputation for his drive and tenacity. Sitting down with ONE37pm’s Mike Boyd on this week’s Monday to Monday episode, the two discussed working with Bravo, the ins and outs of music management, and how Vega started his career during the pandemic. Below is a snippet of their interview.

Boyd: I saw where you guys released ‘No Time Soon’ last week. What all goes into releasing a song?

Vega: Bravo is still technically an independent artist, so basically what happens is we have a creative rollout. We want to make sure everything is good, and that we have the right elements for the promo. It takes about two to three weeks to get the cover art and whatever we want to go along with the song, and once we have all of those things together, that’s it!

Boyd: Talk about being a manager during the pandemic and what you have found success with.

Vega: Basically this whole pandemic was how Bravo came to light and where his fame started because the internet was all we had. So we were like ‘we’re going to pound the internet, put this stuff up, and if the people love it, it will go where it needs to go.’ So it was about trying to conquer the whole social media thing because he’s not really a big social media person. So we’ve been trying to get him on all of his networks. As far as reaching out to your fans—you want to hit them on all types of platforms and utilize social media to connect and network with people in the industry. I don’t know how it was before the pandemic—I really only know the music industry from the internet!

Boyd: Talk to us about the music scene down in Atlanta

Vega: The music scene is going crazy right now! There are a lot of people in Atlanta that are just going up. I really like down here. Now I feel like we could be a little more together as far as upcoming artists, but really there is a lot of support. Once you get into certain spaces on your level, people will push and connect you on other levels. Atlanta is definitely the place you want to be in the music industry, or even if you just want to start off doing something. It is one of the better spots to be in for sure.

Boyd and Vega covered plenty more during their conversation, including how Vega initially started managing Bravo, and the creativity of Atlanta’s musicians. You can listen to the full interview above, and follow Vega on Instagram.

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Culture Music

The Best Kanye West Albums, Ranked

No matter which way you feel about him personally, you can’t help but agree with this unanimous statement – Kanye West is simply a beast behind the boards. 

When he steps into any studio, an amalgamation of incredible sounds will form under his watchful eyes and ears to create a soundscape like no other. The man is responsible for producing some of the greatest beats the world has ever laid witness to for the GOATs such as Jay-Z, Common, Brandy, and so much more. 

His beat-making mastery is legendary, but so is his lyrical deftness and strong ability to put together an unforgettable body of work on one album. Since 2004, Yeezy has dropped solo projects that have either stood the test of time or been relegated to a forgettable footnote in his storied career. This writer in particular has listened to all of Kanye’s LPs from front to back for an assignment that I’m sure will elicit some “passionate” responses. 

In my humble opinion, these are all of Kanye West’s albums ranked from worst to best.

9. ‘Jesus is King’

I commend Kanye for finding a newfound appreciation for non-secular music. He’s certainly been through a lot during his star-making run and has been stricken mentally by the ills that come with the price of fame. I was super excited to hear what he managed to cook up for this project that was focused on showing love to the heavens above.

Sadly, however, I came away largely unsatisfied with what this album has to offer. Jesus is King certainly puts forth a powerful and positive message, but the actual execution leaves a lot to be desired. “Every Hour” and “Follow God” are this album’s standout tracks, while everything else disappoints due to a mix of mediocre production and unimpressive wordplay. Even the cover for this album clues you into just how uninspired it ends up being. Let’s all hope Kanye comes correct the next time he decides to honor the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

8. ‘Ye’

Ye isn’t remembered too fondly and I can certainly understand why – at the time of this album’s release, Yeezy was given a lot of slack for its questionable lyrics. Plus the public perception of the man himself wasn’t exactly the most positive. Even with all that being said, I still enjoyed this shockingly short compilation of tracks. “Ghost Town,” “No Mistakes” and “Yikes” go extra hard, while “Wouldn’t Leave” and “Violent Crimes” both offer more soothing listens that impressed me way more than I originally thought they would.

“I Thought About Killing You” is a pretty dark verbal look into Kanye’s innermost struggles, but its overall message has a way of pulling me in for a full listen every time it comes on. Ye’s relatively short run time when compared to Kanye’s other full projects holds it back from being higher on this list, however.

7. ‘808s & Heartbreak’

808s & Heartbreak is one of those left-turn albums that completely caught me off guard when it dropped. Here I was expecting Good Ass Job and what I got instead was an R&B-centric compilation full of introspective cuts. And for the most part, I enjoy what’s on offer here. “Say You Will,” “Heartless,” “Amazing,” and “RoboCop” have and always will enrapture me every time I hear them.

This is one of those Kanye LPs that switched things up to a major degree and ended up succeeding in the end. I might not be the biggest fan of some of the other tracks on this album, but I’ll always commend Kanye for going in a completely different direction with 808s & Heartbreak. The fact that it influenced an entire generation of artists that came after him can’t be understated.

6. ‘Yeezus’

Yeezus is one of Kanye’s most braggadocious albums. And what makes that so is his choice of bars and the electronic music influences that can be heard over most of this project’s outlandish beats. When this album hits, it hits extra hard. “New Slaves,” “Blood on the Leaves, ” and “Black Skinhead” stands out as the most impactful tunes on this album.

That’s because the production backing those songs gives them that stadium status, which paints them as the types of tunes that would make a concert venue full of fans lose their collective minds. Yeezus certainly has a lot going for it thanks to the fact that it showcases a point in time where Kanye went all-in on hard-hitting electronic soundscapes. What keeps this one from being placed higher, you ask? “Hold My Liquor.” Yeah, never really enjoyed that track too much.

5. ‘The Life of Pablo’

I’ll never forget how convoluted the rollout for this album was. Kanye’s a perfectionist, so it wasn’t all that surprising to find out that he continued playing around with the mastering of its tracks even after release. When I finally got to listen to the final version of The Life of Pablo, I was thankful for Yeezy’s decision to make it sound as crisp as possible.

What’s so funny about this album to me is the fact that Kanye refers to it as a gospel album – it certainly comes off a lot better than Jesus is King, if you ask me (please don’t smite me for that comment, whoever’s up there.) This album’s high quality just can’t be denied – “Ultralight Beam, “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1,” ”Waves,” and “Real Friends” are the best confirmations of that statement. I find myself going back to this album on the regular just so I can hear “I Love Kanye” and reminisce over all the commendable traits he reflects on all over that short yet still effective track. The Life of Pablo may run a bit long, but I enjoy most of my time spent with it.

4. ‘The College Dropout’

I can remember being one of those kids in high school that blasted “Slow Jamz” at annoyingly high volume levels for all my friends to hear during rides back home on the train. That single took over my world and still holds a special place in my heart. The same can be said for The College Dropout as a whole. This is a hell of a debut for Kanye that captured my imagination due to its incredible production and college student struggle bars (which I came to experience later on in life).

The College Dropout stuck to a central concept and reflected the best/worst parts of that experience from front to back. “All Falls Down,” “Spaceship,” “Jesus Walks,” and “Get Em High” are my favorite joints off this LP. And I even got a kick out of all the skits littered throughout this super-strong debut album. This was a hell of a sendoff for Roc-A-Fella’s storied run on top.

3. ‘Late Registration’

It’s something about the cover for Late Registration that hits me right in the soul every time I see it. The instantly recognizable bear mascot that accompanied Kanye’s first three releases comes through those college doors and looks deathly afraid of whatever’s coming next. Thankfully, what follows is an album that shows Kanye leveling up on his production and lyrical dexterity.

Another aspect of this album that really sticks with me is its features – Kanye rubbed shoulders with legends such as Jay-Z, Nas, Cam’ron, Lupe Fiasco, and even Maroon 5’s Adam Levine for this amazing follow-up to The College Dropout. “Heard ‘Em Say,” “Touch the Sky,” “Gold Digger,” and “Drive Slow” are some of Kanye’s greatest songs. And thankfully, those and a whole bunch of his other top-tier tunes are strewn all over this album. Late Registration is well-deserving of its classic Kanye album classification.

2. ‘Graduation’

From the very first chords that kick off “Good Morning” right up until the heartfelt dedication to Jay-Z that is “Big Brother,” Graduation excels as a championship victory that solidifies Kanye’s placing among the GOATs. Every song on this album has a purpose that was greatly fulfilled – “Champion,” “Everything I Am,” ”Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” and “Flashing Lights” are the types of tracks that could get a deeply introspective thesis paper dedicated to them.

Kanye was definitely at the height of his career for this album and easily thrashed 50 Cent during their album release rivalry. Even “Drunk and Hot Girls” has a bit of merit to it (which I still recognize as one of Graduation’s weakest tracks). The great stuff that’s on tap here still slaps and the art that comes with this album’s cover is God-tier. Graduation is simply amazing.

1. ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’

“Dark Fantasy.” “Gorgeous.” “Power.” “So Appalled.” Those four tracks alone would already guarantee this album’s legendary status. But My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy has a collection of other tracks that push it to the top as Kanye’s greatest album of all time. The beats that are heard here are next level – Kanye, No I.D., and even RZA constructed the types of productions that hit you right in your soul.

Besides this album’s prodigious array of beats, it also features some of the best hip-hop/R&B posse cuts I’ve ever heard. “Monster,” “All of the Lights, and “See Me Now” brings together some of music’s biggest artists for audio celebrations. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy easily takes the top spot as Kanye’s magnum opus. Now lemme head off to watch those super dope visuals for “Runaway” real quick…

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Culture Music

Producer-Manager Woah Dives Into the Art of Music Management

On this week’s Monday to Monday, Producer-Manager, Woah aka Lil Woah checks in with ONE37pm’s Mike Boyd to discuss the behind the scenes elements of working in management, his day-to-day interactions with clients, and even offered helpful tips for those aspiring to achieve a successful career in music management. Another bright talent representing the Atlanta music scene, Woah has been very busy this first quarter of 2021 and filled Boyd in on what he has been up to recently.

Boyd: As far as the music industry goes, you are someone who touches a lot of parts. How do you view the city and navigate the scene on a weekly/monthly basis?

Woah: I’m always in the studio, and most of my friends manage producers and artists, and they  put us on those ‘who’s up next’ lists. Being with Rico a lot, as well as going to Doppler and being around in the loop—there is always some kind of action coming from good people. For example, Chase The Money just put me on with his real deal nephews and cousins who are producers. The one neat thing about Atlanta is that we all somewhat hang out and talk to each other—we don’t really hide what’s going on. It’s always a relationship where we put each other on, and there is a lot of money floating around that you don’t need to have all of. We can all have money together.

Boyd: I wanted to talk to you about producer management with Mexikodro and a lot of other people I have respect for. What is it like working with Dro?

Woah: It’s entertaining and fun! There is never a dull moment with Dro. One day he may want to rap, and another day he’ll ask me to book him a week in the studio so he can just make beats. He keeps me on my toes because he can easily get in trouble. I almost have to treat him like my little brother and keep track of what he is doing, but when he’s in the studio, he is very focused. He puts together beats, melodies, and has recently started doing loops. He has been talking to a lot of people he has worked with in the past, and is about to get back into the studio. Outside of the music he is a gamer, and actually very funny. He is a producer that moves like a street rapper. A lot of people didn’t pay attention to him because they thought he was trouble, but he’s a diamond in the rough.

Boyd: You’ve got to really want it to do this because it is not easy, and the money is not really there. It’s a dirty game, but I always tell people that as long as you know that, you are going to be okay.

Woah: It’s a lot of sleepless nights, and then you actually have to have a support system that is willing to deal with it. We don’t have work hours to be honest with you. Now that I have settled myself in the game, I try not to take phone calls two in the morning, but sometimes you have to. If your client wants to get a private jet, they are going to call you, and they don’t want excuses. A lot of people don’t understand the headaches we have to go through. Even moving artists around is a headache, but we can’t let that be known or seen.

Boyd and Woah had a really interesting conversation that won’t want to miss out on. You can keep up with Woah on Instagram.

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Culture Music

The 10 Verzuz Battles We’re Dying to See

It all started with a friendly beat battle between hip-hop/R&B super producers Swizz Beatz and Timbaland. Once viewers got a taste of what the Verzuz concept could offer, they began fantasizing over which battles they’d like to see next.

Sensing a game-changing opportunity on their hands, Swizz and Timbo pooled their finances and industry contacts together to turn the Verzuz concept into an ongoing webcast series. Ever since then, we’ve had the pleasure of watching musical legends play their best songs, drop a few verbal gems about life as a whole, and provide some cool backstories behind the songs that make us jump out of our seats as soon we hear the first note. RZA vs. DJ Premier, Erykah Badu vs. Jill Scott, Bounty Killer vs. Beenie Man, and Teddy Riley vs. Babyface definitely stand out as some of the greatest Verzuz virtual concerts thus far. And judging by the future slate of battles, everyone can expect to be treated to even more memorable faceoffs throughout the remainder of 2021.

Even though Swizz and Timbo clearly know what they’re doing, we still have a few suggestions for dream Verzuz scenarios that we’re sure music aficionados would love to see. If any of the 10 battles listed below came to fruition, the excitement would be through the roof and the celebratory atmosphere attached to the Verzuz brand would hit another level.

10. Boogie Down Productions vs. Public Enemy
Verzuz / ONE37pm

Biggest Song Clash: “The Bridge is Over” vs. “Fight The Power”

It’s about time we got a soundclash between two 80s hip-hop/rap staples. And the two candidates that would make for such a hot contest are Boogie Down Productions and Public Enemy. Both groups are held to the highest standards of their genre due to their history of delivering raps that reflected their political and social activism efforts. Getting KRS-One and Chuck D in a room together would simply be a dream come true. Plus the sight of them being joined by D-Nice, Flavor Flav, and the rest of the associated acts that came from Public Enemy would also be an incredible sight to see. This fantasy battle would be the ultimate blast of nostalgia for 80s hip-hop heads everywhere.

9. Rakim vs. Big Daddy Kane
Verzuz / ONE37pm

Biggest Song Clash: “I Ain’t No Joke” vs. “Set It Off”

Rakim and Big Daddy Kane are regarded as two of the finest MCs of all time. The way they ride a beat is inspirational and their signature flows have influenced countless rappers since. To see these two greats grab a microphone and remind everyone just who the illest is would be awe-inspiring. Rakim and Kane have so many classic songs in their respective catalogs that could finish off any lesser artists. But imagine just how neck and neck it would be to see them bring out their biggest musical guns against each other in the ultimate test of lyrical skill. Somehow someway, this battle needs to be booked as soon as possible.

8. Missy Elliot vs. Busta Rhymes
Verzuz / ONE37pm

Biggest Song Clash: “Get Ur Freak On” vs. “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See

Busta Rhymes certainly talked a big game when presented with the possibility of hopping into a Verzuz battle. We’d love to see him back up all those braggadocious statements by getting in the ring with someone that has a library of hits that can keep up with his classic bangers. We think Missy Elliot would make for an amazing wildcard opponent in that regard. Both Busta and Missy are known for delivering visual tour de forces in the form of music videos, plus their energy levels would be through the roof if they ever got to sit in the same room together onscreen. This Verzuz battle would pretty much be a party full of good vibes, great music, and that “get out of your seat” energy hip-hop heads embrace so much when their favorite jams come on.

7. Mariah Carey vs. Janet Jackson
Verzuz / ONE37pm

Biggest Song Clash: “Fantasy” vs. “Escapade”

We thought long and hard about this one. Since Mary J. Blige made it clear that she doesn’t want to participate in a Verzuz battle, we racked our brains over who’d be the next best option for someone of Mariah Carey’s caliber. And the name that immediately came to mind was Janet Jackson, who’s definitely another R&B songstress that’d be hard to beat. Both Janet and Mariah have endured throughout the many different periods of their genres and stayed relevant throughout them all. This battle would be an incredible showcase of both women’s long-lasting legacies and give new/old fans alike a warm evening full of classic R&B ballads.

6. Justin Timberlake vs. Usher
Verzuz / ONE37pm

Biggest Song Clash: “Cry Me A River” vs. “U Got It Bad”

This Verzuz battle scenario gets us super excited since it’d be the ultimate battle of R&B pretty boys. Judging by the massive lineup of memorable songs both men are responsible for, this battle would likely go over its allotted time (which would totally be fine, by the way). You could put the entirety of Usher’s “Confessions” album against everything featured on Justin Timberlake’s “Justified” LP and we’d be more than satisfied. But both of these R&B legends have a wide swath of smash hits that aren’t associated with those two incredible albums, which means this Verzuz battle would easily captivate an entire generation of 90s and 2000s babies.

5. Eve vs. Lil’ Kim
Verzuz / ONE37pm

Biggest Song Clash: “Let Me Blow Your Mind” vs. “Queen B***h”

It’s become quite clear that a lot of our favorite female MCs from back in the day don’t exactly send each other Christmas cards every year. The beefs that have taken place among hip-hop queens such as Lil’ Kim, Foxy Brown, Nicki Minaj, Remy Ma, and others have made the prospect of a Verzuz battle between that group of ladies virtually impossible. But there’s one beef that’s seemingly been cleared up on both sides and it’s the one that transpired between Lil’ Kim and Eve. If Swizz and Timbo can work magic as they’ve done before, we think it’d be wise for them to get those two femme fatales a room together to battle it out for lady MC supremacy. Both Kim and Eve have a ton of singles to their credit and some memorable features that would instantly remind folks of just how strong they were during their championship runs.

4. Jay-Z vs. Nas
Verzuz / ONE37pm

Biggest Song Clash: “Can’t Knock The Hustle” vs. “The World is Yours”

The heavens would open up, traffic would stop dead in its tracks, and hip-hop heads everywhere would shed a single thug tear if this Verzuz battle was ever officially announced. The impossibility rate of this iconic faceoff is too damn high, but we’re going to will it into existence anyway. Jay-Z vs. Nas was a very real thing at one point and it’s still held up as one of the most unforgettable beefs of all time. But now both men have grown up and made amends for their past transgressions against each other. We’d lose our ish if both of those legendary rappers hit the stage together at a live venue of some kind and pitted their best songs and features against each other for the world to see. And having it all capped off with a captivating performance of “Black Republican” would warm our cold hearts.

3. Pete Rock vs. 9th Wonder
Verzuz / ONE37pm

Biggest Song Clash: “T.R.O.Y.” vs. “Lovin’ It”

Let’s take a trip to the land of fantasy beat battles real quick. When you think of incredible boom-bap rap beatsmiths, two names should immediately spring to mind – Pete Rock and 9th Wonder. During their respective eras, both producers provided both mainstream and underground acts with some of the hardest audio soundscapes anyone has ever heard. Now imagine if they stood across from each other and got into a beat brawl to end them all. Pete has nuclear missiles like “Shut ‘Em Down,” “Straighten It Out,” and “The World is Yours” in his arsenal, while 9th can counteract with bangers such as “Threat,” “Slow Down,” and “Let It Go.” The headbanging and neck-breaking would be off the charts for this one.

2. Dr. Dre vs. Puff Daddy
Verzuz / ONE37pm

Biggest Song Clash: “Still D.R.E.” vs. “It’s All About The Benjamins”

During a recent Breakfast Club interview, Swizz noted that an instance of technical difficulties scared the legendary Dr. Dre from possibly participating in a future Verzuz battle. But we hope Dre will someday reconsider and throw his hat into the ring for a battle with his biggest rival on the East Coast. A battle between Dre and Puff Daddy would make our musical dreams come true. Dre has a ton of iconic beats under his belt and that same sentiment applies to Diddy – it’d be so hard to decide the winner between songs such as “Gin and Juice” vs. “Big Poppa” and “California Love” vs. “Juicy.” Then you have to factor in the classic songs Dre and Diddy performed on themselves, which would lift this Verzuz battle to a whole ‘nother level.

1. Pharrell & The Neptunes vs. Kanye West
Verzuz / ONE37pm

Biggest Song Clash: “Grindin’” vs. “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)”

This. Needs. To. Go. DOWN! Pharrell & The Neptunes have most likely produced your favorite artists’ best songs. And it goes without saying that Kanye West is responsible for creating some of the greatest beats for that same collective of top-tier artists. We’d plop down for three or even four hours to watch both sides get in the studio for the livest Verzuz battle of all time. Just imagine the moment where Pharrell & The Neptunes and Yeezy pull off a round with their best Jay-Z songs – “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)” vs. “Lucifer” would blow our minds immensely. Factor in the hit singles that both producers hopped on themselves and you have a near-limitless array of amazing bangers to enjoy. This is the Verzuz battle of all Verzuz battles and we hope Swizz and Timbo can make it a reality before we leave this plane of existence.