Allan Kingdom – LINES
Minnesota based rapper and Producer Allan Kingdom released his debut solo album, LINES, his latest project since 2016’s mixtape Northern Lights. Drawing influence from one-time collaborator Kanye West, as well as Pharrell and Kid Cudi, LINES is a 14-track trek through a mixture of trap and cloud rap production, structured behind vocals that are at times eerily similar to Big Sean. Kingdom raps, “It’s all about the vibes,” three tracks in, appropriate for an album composed largely of mood-setting, late-night grooves. Features from West London based producer Cadenza on “Vibes,” as well as an auto-tuned, Caribbean tinged hook from Ramriddlez on “Lines” mesh well with Kingdom’s nasally toned voice, again playing up the ethereal and gloomy compositions. Denzel Curry, who previously collaborated with Kingdom on “Today,” also returns with a typically energetic feature, complementing one of Kingdom’s heavier, bass driven beats.
As most of Kingdom’s tracks and vocals slog along on the first half of LINES, he doesn’t make much headway lyrically, but emotional diatribes about a love lost on cuts like “Down for Me” or the monosyllabic verses on “The Fusion” are sonically cohesive to Kingdom’s atmospheric arrangements. Later in the track list, the flute supported beat on “Leaders” and the stripped back piano driven beat of “Astounded” are appreciated stylistic changes from the first half, though Kingdom’s penchant for beat-making supersedes his rap abilities.
Standout Tracks: “Questions,” “The Fusion” (feat. Denzel Curry) and “Astounded” (featuring Finding Novyon).
Blaq Tuxedo – DJ Carisma Presents: Tap In
Years removed from the relativity of hosted mixtapes and albums (though DJ Drama is keeping up with his promotion gigs) LA based DJ Carisma cosigns singer/rapper sibling duo Blaq Tuxedo on their latest offering, Tap In. Produced almost entirely by the duo, the 11 track mixtape is something of a smattering of the latest popular stylings, with slower, croon-prone grooves and upbeat drum-machine laden hype-tracks throughout. If at first listen tracks inspire memories of the sounds of 808 Mafia affiliated producers like Southside or of the soulful vocals of Eric Bellinger that might not be entirely coincidental. According to an email to Hot New Hip-Hop, the Sacramento siblings were inspired to make “fun-loving, 808-driven records to party to.” That said, listeners looking for thumping, headnodic yet lyrically intelligible turn-up tunes can look to Tap In.
Standout Tracks: “Hennessy,” “Over Due,” and “Next.”
Mack Wilds – AfterHours
An appropriately titled studio album bequeaths a generous helping of moonlit slow grooves, suitable for late nights of self-indulgent romance and reflection. Mack Wilds presents a collection of songs tuned for pre, mid and post-coitus adventures that could pull at the memories of any mid-90s slow-jam fans. Wilds isn’t necessarily carried by the quality or range of his voice, instead luscious production crafts the requisite vibes (of course there is a track titled as such, featuring Cam Wallace). Additional features from Chicago artist Tink and Maybach Music’s Wale punctuate a few verses as this album that takes a nocturnal stroll through love. (Keep an ear out for Wilds’ take on Drake’s “Uptown” on the hook of “Bonnie & Clyde”).
Standout Tracks: “Couldthisbelove,” “Bonnie & Clyde” (feat. Wale) and “Go Crazy.”