Summertime demands party vibes. And while you may already have the frosty beer and poolside chaise lounge on lock, what you really need to round out your summer is hip-hop of equally smoldering status. The year has already brought a slew of exceptionally strong rap releases like A$AP Rocky’s slow-burning scorcher At. Long. Last. A$AP and Kendrick Lamar’s funk-infused, political offering To Pimp A Butterfly. Now, even the heat can’t slow the roll of these exciting releases into the rap world.
6/29: Puff Daddy, MMM
Sean Combs announced his return to the Puff Daddy moniker along with his new album MMM back in March, after almost a full decade existing as Diddy. It’s been a while since he threw those iconic white parties and coupled up with one our favorite ‘90s pop babes, J. Lo. However, the mogul fully nods to the year 2015 by lavishing lots of trap elements and reeling in a few trusted young guns such as Rick Ross, Meek Mill, and French Montana for a hand.
Listen to: “I Want Love” feat. Meek Mill
6/30: Vince Staples, Summertime '06
Staples came up appearing on other California kids’ tracks like Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt. Now he preps the follow-up to last year’s widely-lauded Hell Can Wait. The new digs is two-discs-wide and 20-tracks-deep. “Señorita” sneers in an especially sizzling way.
Listen to: “Señorita” feat. Future and Snoh Aalegra
6/30: Main Attrakionz, 808s & Dark Grapes III
Taking an obvious dig at ‘Ye with the album title, the Oakland duo continue that stoned, floating aesthetic they solidified when first coming together as teens.
Listen to: “Summa Time”
7/24: L'Orange & Kool Keith, Time? Astonishing!
Rap’s resident oddball Kool Keith AKA Dr. Octagon AKA Dr. Dooom (and so on) joins hyperproductive beatmaster L’Orange for a freewheeling audio adventure. Keith’s absurd lyricisms ring out against L’Orange’s soulful tendencies and the fusion of the two flows exactly like syrup: hot, smooth, and sticky sweet.
Listen to: “Sometimes I Feel”
7/31: Migos, YRN Tha Album
The ATL trio rip into their second 300 Entertainment release and third proper full-length overall with YRN Tha Album. Deko-produced “Pretty Little Lady” is a surprising charmer and the viable single to propel the rest of the album along before its release.
Listen to: “Pretty Little Lady”
7/31: Gunplay, Living Legend
Charging out of Rick Ross’s Triple C group, Gunplay puffs up his own hubris ten-fold with his new release—which is named after himself and those raspy pipes of his, of course.
Listen to: “Living Legend 7/31”
8/14: Blackalicious, Imani, Vol. 1
This West Coast duo is famous for nixing their rhymes of violence or drugs. The posi keeps flowing with their first new record in a decade.
Listen to: “On Fire Tonight”
8/21: Method Man, The Meth Lab
Based on the first single from this, Meth summons party ‘tudes and slathers ‘em in easy cadence and sinister production. But don’t worry—there are still a few nods to his Wu Tang Clan roots.
Listen to: “The Meth Lab” feat. Hanz On and Streetlife
8/28: Young Thug, Hy!£UN35
Perhaps poised to challenge Keith on the weird factor, the much-hyped Atlanta rapper braces himself to release his debut full-length. His eccentric treatment only starts with his cartoon character hair and flamboyant jewelry. You don’t have to listen hard to hear. FYI: It’s pronounced “high tunes.” Obviously.
Listen to: “Check”
TBA: Chella H, No Filter
Chellah’s the Midwestern response to Nicki Minaj, calling herself the "First Lady of The Streets of Chicago." She can back up her claim, too. Her flow thumps with swagger that’d border on dripping machismo if it weren’t for the intimate designer brand mentions. If the club-shredding single “Bitch Whet” is any indication of the mixtape to come, it’ll be worth the wait.
Listen to: “Bitch Whet”
Photos by Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Redferns via Getty Images