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June Hip Hop Roundup: The Three Best Albums

Ryan Feyre

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For this edition of the monthly hip hop roundup, we look at three of the best rap albums from June. This list will be a combination of obscure and mainstream artists, with no particular order in mind. Leave a comment down below if any of you have suggestions for me. There’s too much music out there to keep up with it all. Enjoy!

MIKE – “Tears of Joy”

The latest from the New York underground is a completely stripped-back roller coaster ride of emotions, filled with jagged soul samples and heartfelt verses. MIKE squeezes every ounce of juice he can out of these one or two minute songs, tackling the lo-fi sound with ease and nonchalance.

The project is reminiscent of Earl Sweatshirt’s Some Rap Songs from a year ago; an album that also portrayed the rawest version of oneself. On Tears of Joy, MIKE is grateful for his current place in life (like the quiet instrumental “GR8Ful 2K19” suggests), but also wary of the people he’s lost (like he talks about on the somber “memorial”). The combination of thoughtful wordplay, and dusty soul instrumentals reminiscent of early 90s hip hop (when Pete Rock and DJ Premier would take obscure jazz samples and add them to the production) develops into the perfect formula for MIKE’s organic delivery.

Go check out MIKE’s Tears of Joy on all platforms now.

https://music.apple.com/us/album/tears-of-joy/1469594739

Goldlink – “Diaspora”

According to the dictionary, diaspora means the dispersion of any human being from their homeland. Normally, this type of idea is portrayed in a negative light (i.e. poverty, discrimination, corrupt government). For Goldink, diaspora takes on a whole other meaning. The D.C. rapper creates a celebration of music for all around the world on his third studio album. From Atlanta trap (like on “Maniac”), to Afro-centric beats (like on “Zulu Screams”), Goldlink tastefully blends different styles in a genuine manner. Heck, he even takes a stab at the street life with Pusha T on “Coke White.”

His biggest strength on Diaspora lies in the flow switch-ups and diverse instrumentation. Goldlink raps as if someone is chasing him, never holding his breath for a moment of dead air. The formula works, especially since most of the lush production is fast-paced, and undoubtedly catchy. In the end, Diaspora is an album for everyone, no matter where you live, and how good or bad your situation is. In a nutshell, it’s a celebration of life.

Listen to Goldlink’s Diaspora on all platforms.

https://music.apple.com/us/album/diaspora/1467410161

Polo G – “Die a Legend”

One of the best auto-crooning records in quite some time, Polo G’s Die a Legend tells the story of a young kid seeing too much too young. The Chicago rapper swiftly incorporates elements of drill (reminiscent of the Chief Keef days) and R&B (“Dying Breed”); never sounding too corny or formulaic in the process. Unlike most run-of-the-mill trap artists, Polo G carefully assembles each bar with such nuance and care-eliminating childhood innocence in the process. (“We grew up playing cops and robbers, I was never 12/They tried to warn us like we gon’ see them heaven’ gates or jail”).

Polo makes an earnest attempt at curating club bangers, succeeding when sticking to his brand (like on the unavoidable “Pop Out” with rising star Lil Tjay). Songs like those will be ringing through the streets for years to come-ushering in a new breed of Chi-rappers in the process. And Polo G will be the one leading them.

Listen to Polo G’s debut album Die a Legend on all platforms.

https://music.apple.com/us/album/die-a-legend/1465993735

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Ryan is a Communications major student at Salem State University. He’s written for the pop culture websites, The Young Folks and Fansided. Currently, Ryan is working to finish his degree, and in his free time, he enjoys listening to music, going to the movies, and playing basketball.

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