Majid Jordan, 'Majid Jordan'
Party is the Golden Child. Dvsn is the shiny, brand new baby. Roy Woods is…around. That leaves Madjid Jordan as the middle twins of the OVO family. And despite that distinction, they still put out, top to bottom, one of the more enjoyable records of the year. Singer Majid Al Maskati and producer Jordan Ullman took everything that made “Hold On, We’re Going Home” a runaway success and doubled down on it with a debut project that takes all of their influences—’80s pop, ’70s soul, with added dashes of funk and electronic—and throws it at the wall. The end result isn’t the splashy mess you might imagine, but instead something much more cohesive. With the help of OVO Sound steward 40 and Nineteen85, this self-titled album is a perfect distillation of their melting pot of inspirations.
2 Chainz, 'Collegrove'
Collegrove is billed as 2 Chainz's third studio album, but it's really the self-titled debut of his duet with Lil Wayne, released as a workaround for Lil Wayne's contractual impasse with Cash Money. The secret to Collegrove is the great chemistry 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne share, which makes the project one of the most enjoyable records of 2016. Their relationship dates back to the "Duffle Bag Boy" days, something 2 Chainz describes in detail on the opening song, “Dedication,” one of the best odes to friendship in recent musical memory. With Wayne's situation with Cash Money and Birdman getting uglier by the day, it's nice to see him get some wins—especially alongside a faithful ally.
The Game, '1992'
Dave East,"Kairi Chanel"
In short order, East has become recognizable for his ambidextrous flow, whether he’s reporting live from his NYC stoop or entangled with some of the more popular rap ethos from neighboring regions. And it’s paid off, as the news sets in that the 28-year-old street poet will now be operating underneath the Def Jam umbrella while still holding down the fort over at his Mass Appeal home base. His debut album, Kairi Chanel, immortalizes his recently born daughter’s name and highlights both his inconsistencies and the rawness of a real-life baller turned pro rapper in the same blunt wrap package.
Jhene Aiko And Big Sean’
Big Sean and Jhene Aiko are coddled into a fantasy precarious relationship that perhaps, through a tumultuous storyline of salacious and melancholic lyrics, mirrors your own troubled love story. The Detroit rapper and L.A. singer have created this complicated sonic perception of a raw dysfunctional but orgasm-worthy 20-something love on their new 8-track project Twenty88.
On the EP’s opener “Déjà Vu,” Sean calls Jhene out on her past. “Where does the time go, you just had a baby/You had a new man, and you just separated/Back on the scene and you already faded/No shame in that girl, you need the escaping,” he raps. While Jhene fires back, reminding him of the bullsh*t: “Do it my way with you/Cause I stuck around for ya/When you’re a** wasn’t doing sh*t But running around the D/Wrapping nothing but the mother**king swisher sweets/Tonight you gon’ learn, it’s your turn.”
You’ll see a lot of back and forth on Twenty88, and like in any relationship, it’s toxic and exhausting, but obsessive. Over liquor-infused vignettes and nights filled with pleasure, it almost feels like you’re scrolling through saved unfiltered text messages with sprinkles of messy Facebook status updates and petty Instagram memes.