Rodney Carmichael

In hip-hop, the posthumous release is almost a subgenre unto itself. Premature death has a way of elevating artists into instant icons, forever immortalized by their final recorded words. When Carlos "Shawty Lo" Walker died in a tragic car accident last September at the age of 40, his untimely passing felt like the death of old Atlanta. On R.I.C.O., he resurrects it with an autobiographical portrait of his own bootstraps journey from discarded youth to 1990s drug dealer in the westside neighborhood known as Bankhead.

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."

Future has made history: the Atlanta rapper's two albums, released back-to-back over two weeks, have each officially landed at the peak of the Billboard 200 albums chart. With the respective releases of FUTURE on Feb. 17 and HNDRXX on Feb. 24, Future is the first solo act in the 61-year history of the album chart to supplant himself at No. 1 with two successive releases, according to Billboard:

Hip-hop took off its cool over the weekend — and lit itself ablaze in the process.

Two seemingly unrelated threads this past weekend served as raucous, yin-and-yang reminders that hip-hop is not just a genre measured by charts, award show accolades and platinum plaques, but an organic culture unbound by industry rules.

Update: You can now stream Future's album in full on Spotify, Apple and other streaming services.

Future woke fans up Tuesday with a surprise announcement via Twitter: "I was preparing the feast. U walked away from the table too soon," he posted.

Hip-hop's relationship with the Grammys began with a mutual dis.