Hip-hop fans get a mid-year Christmas with May 14 releases


The Off-Season by J. Cole highlighted the numerous hip-hop projects that were released May 14.

Almost five months into 2021 and hip-hop has been ultimately pretty quiet. Although Young Thug’s highly anticipated Slime Language 2 and 24kGoldn’s El Dorado were released, the year has been subpar to say the least, in terms of major releases. Fans can rejoice however because May 14 had various releases from many major artists. Here’s what listeners should focus on from the loaded release schedule from last week. 

The Off-Season by J. Cole: After a three-year hiatus since his last solo release, J. Cole is back. His unreal lyricism is showcased here to remind fans of his legacy. Two singles served as the headline to the official release: “t h e . c l i m b . b a c k” and “i n t e r l u d e.” On the former, Cole does his thing over a five-minute long beat, shouting out Chief Keef, calling out cancel culture, and recalling events during his career. On “i n t e r l u d e,” Cole goes absolutely insane, flexing on the throne that he has built for himself throughout his time as a rapper. As this track released closer to the album’s official drop, a perfect amount of hype and anticipation was built. 

From first listen, “a m a r i” features a fast-paced beat that reflects the transition that the genre of hip-hop has gone through since Cole began rapping. He mentions NBA star Russell Westbrook and deftly expresses his melodies rather than directly rapping the whole time, making this one of the album’s best.

 21 Savage and J. Cole reunite on “m y . l i f e” for the first time since 21’s 2018 release “a lot.” Alongside 21, Morray offers a very melodic chorus, and Cole does what he does. This song cannot top their former collaboration, but this will likely be a fan favorite. 

Lil Baby continues his unstoppable run on “p r i d e . i s t h e . d e v i l.” It seems as if every big rapper wants to do a song with Lil Baby. From Young Thug, Drake, Lil Wayne, to now J. Cole, Lil Baby is really dominating the game right now. On this track in particular, Cole bodies the beat for the first 2.5 minutes, and the song transitions into Baby’s verse very smoothly. The album has hidden features, so listeners wouldn’t have even expected Baby to come in. Baby holds his own against the legend himself, giving Cole a very strong verse to conclude the track. 

While Cole’s album was the main release many are spending their time listening to, there are various other releases, ranging from singles, new releases, and deluxe albums.

Nicki Minaj, Drake, and Lil Wayne- “Seeing Green”: Lil Wayne and his two apprentices split the beat and all equally do their part. It’s very difficult to choose the best verse as all three artists present strong verses. The track is a part of Minaj’s 2009 mixtape Beam Me Up Scotty that was rereleased onto streaming platforms with additional tracks, including this collaboration, one that is ultimately for the ages. The track reminds fans of the old days when Drake and Nicki were up and coming artists signed under Lil Wayne and is definitely worth checking out.

Migos- “Straightenin”: It’s been a year since “Need It” featuring YoungBoy Never Broke Again,  the last release from the group. This new release is likely a precursor for their next album Culture 3. The song is overall so fire. Each member makes their case to be the best rapper among the other two, but there is honestly no clear winner. Quavo’s hook, melody, and verse are incredibly catchy. Takeoff floats on the beat for the first time in a while as features from the artist aren’t very frequent. Offset is honestly mind blowing with his verse; the beat almost seems as if it was made after his verse as he rides the beat so well. If Culture 3 is representative of this track, the three-year wait will definitely be worth it. 

21 Savage- Spiral: From the Book of Saw Soundtrack- EP: The track “Spiral” on the soundtrack is reminiscent of 21 Savage’s 2019 release “Immortal” where he seems to have chemistry with the beat and makes it his own. It’s a head bopper to say the least and definitely belongs on playlists of listeners. 

If fans somehow weren’t satisfied with Gunna and Young Thug yet, they definitely will be on “Emergency.” 21 Savage featuring the two YSL members is a collaboration that can be appreciated by everyone. This is definitely a hit and will fit perfectly in the Book of Saw

Internet Money, Don Toliver, & Lil Uzi Vert- “His & Hers” (featuring Gunna): The highly anticipated track is Internet Money’s first release in quite some time. The Gunna and Don Toliver duo is undefeated at this point. A track with the two of them together has yet to disappoint, and adding Lil Uzi Vert into the mix makes this a track that will not cease to disappoint. Cole Bennett obviously saw great potential (who couldn’tl) as Lyrical Lemonade released a music video for the song the day after its release. If fans take anything from this song it should be that a Don Toliver hook is one of the most valuable things in all of hip-hop. When Don sings the chorus, the song will likely be a hit. 

Lil Gnar, Ski Mask the Slump God, & Chief Keef- “NEW BUGATTI “(featuring DJ Scheme): Lil Gnar is making his case to be a rising star in the industry. His hook is very easy to vibe to, and Ski Mask’s verse is awesome. Ski Mask’s album is something everyone should be looking forward to. Chief Keef was decent on the latter part of the track, and DJ Scheme’s beat allows each rapper to boast respectfully. 

Rowdy Rebel & A Boogie wit da Hoodie- “9 Bridge”: The track was actually supposed to be released weeks ago with the addition of Bobby Shmurda; however, Shmurda’s record label deal calls for him to release an album before being allowed to appear on the tracks of other artists. These two New York rappers attempt to create a 2021 anthem for their home state, and they do a very good job. Rowdy hasn’t missed since being released and continues to show out on this release. A Boogie’s hook is one of the strongest parts on the entire song, but Rowdy and A Boogie alternate together throughout the entirety of the track. This is definitely one of the best tracks from the entire May 14 schedule. If Bobby Shmurda was on it, it definitely would be better promoted and known, but fans should not let the track get overshadowed by the other releases from the week and should definitely give it a listen. 

Lil Skies- Unbothered (Deluxe): The original release of the album was very underwhelming. Apart from the two singles “Riot” and “Havin My Way” featuring Lil Durk, only two tracks were playlist worthy: “Fade Away” and “Take 5.” The deluxe gives fans a Trippie Redd feature on “Ice Water.” Lil Skies definitely carries the track, reminding fans of Skies’ glory days where his songs would do very well. With this track, maybe Skies is here to stay. That’s a question that must be explored by listeners of this new release. 

Kodak Black- Haitian Boy Kodak (EP): After being pardoned by former President Trump, Kodak is finally back. Kodak does the fire beat no justice on “Z Look Jamacian,” making it one of the release’s top tracks. The project only has eight tracks, so if someone enjoys Kodak’s music to any degree, they should definitely check it out.

Finally, fans have a stacked week of music to listen to. It was certainly a long time coming. There may be some releases that fans may not enjoy, but, luckily for them, there are several alternatives to check out. These recent releases should hold fans off until further notice. They can forget about the absence of Drake’s Certified Lover Boy and Migos’ Culture 3 for another week and bathe in the glory that May 14 brought with such incredible releases.