For the first new music Friday of the spring season, the rap game continues to flourish in 2023. This round of music releases sees a new album from one of the most talented multi-hyphenates in the entire industry, a smooth crooner repping Atlanta delivers an LP for the first time in over four years, a California spitter starts fresh with a new mixtape and more.
After firing on all creative cylinders nonstop for the past few years, Grammy Award-winning producer Hit-Boy does it again with his new solo album, Surf or Drown. Directly on the heels of stellar joint albums with the likes of Nas, Musiq Soulchild and Pacman Da Gunman, the California native brings both his rhyming skills and otherworldly production talents to the forefront across the 11-track LP.
Surf or Drown is previewed by the album’s lead single, “Slipping Into Darkness,” which is a collab between Hit-Boy and The Alchemist that dropped last week and finds the two elite beat makers rhyming over each other’s production and combining two separate compositions into one.
While Hit-Boy masterfully rhymes over an album full of self-produced sounds, the “2 Live” rapper-producer doesn’t go it alone. Aside from The Alchemist, guest appearances on Surf or Drown include Dom Kennedy, James Fauntleroy and Hit-Boy‘s King’s Disease collaborator Nas, among others.
“Honestly, keeping my head down and just going,” explained Hit-Boy regarding his key to success. “As simple as that sounds. Focusing on the music and letting the music tell me what it really is versus trying to rely off my name or the fact that I’m Hit-Boy or the fact that I’ve worked with Jay-Z, Kanye, whatever. I treat it like I never even did none of that. I just lock in every day and try to push myself to make better music.”
6lack returns to the game with Since I Have a Lover, the Spillage Village rapper-singer’s first full-length offering in nearly five years. Striving to embody the trials, tribulations and triumphs the Baltimore native has experienced in recent years, 6lack‘s third studio album carries fans through a journey of personal growth in hopes of potentially helping them find their own moments of clarity.
6lack‘s 19-track opus is led by two previously released singles, “Talkback” and “Fatal Attraction,” and looks to follow the success of his first two albums, 2016’s Free 6lack and 2018’s East Atlanta Love Letter, which were certified platinum and gold by the RIAA, respectively.
“One of my favorites (all 19 songs from the album are my favorite on different days) but this one does the trick when I need to remember my purpose, ” wrote 6lack on March 10. “Use it to get closer to yourself. Use it to get closer to the source. Or just play it for fun. Peace.”
Just two months after being released from prison earlier this year, 03 Greedo comes through with a new lease on life in the form of Halfway There. 03 Greedo‘s new mixtape spans over 33 tracks recorded in a matter of weeks following his release on parole. The LP includes the aptly titled lead single, “Bacc Like I Never Left.”
Halfway There follows Greedo’s most recent offering, Free 03, a joint project alongside revered producer Mike Free that dropped back in January days prior to the Los Angeles spitter’s release from prison. Free 03 features a combination of songs 03 Greedo recorded both within prison walls and before he was sentenced to 20 years in 2018 on charges of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance.