Riley Wallace: Hip-Hop Journalist
Riley Wallace is a published, professional writer and hip-hop journalist whose work runs the gambit from real estate writing to hip-hop/urban writing for the legendary XXL Magazine. He’s the founder of AAHIPHOP and is one of the site’s principal writers. He’s interviewed legends like De La Soul, and is always working to expose new talent — and social commentary — with his work. For additional writing samples, or for any business/media, contact him using the form below.
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Going blind into an album is a liberating experience; with preconceived notions, it’s easier to take a raw listen at the actual material — without politics and BS. I had such an experience just this week with an artist name Donny DoomsDay. Everything about this guy is intriguing post-three listens. His latest LP, the hefty 17-song slice of hip-hop that is Reality Raps is loaded with positivism, a good amount of relatability, BARS, and unabashed nods to his Christianity.
While strength in numbers proved to be the key to Wu-Tang Clan’s success and enduring legacy, it also proved itself to be a system that lacked equal distribution. While some of the Clan’s bigger names broke off and launched massive solo careers, others had to wait in line. U-God — also known as Golden Arms — was one of the members who played the background.
Audrey Godoy, the 28-year-old MC better known as Gavlyn, got her first break when her video for the boom-bap banger “What I Do” grabbed attention in 2012. Four albums (and millions of plays) later, she’s managed to organically build a substantial core audience and consistently tour across the U.S. and Europe.
If you’ve slept on Skyzoo’s latest LP, In Celebration Of Us, then shame on you. It’s masterpiece centered around equal parts social injustice and commentary, and — more endearing — fatherhood, and the role it played in his life.
L.A.-based, Detroit-born, producer Black Milk is as eclectic as they come. Wearing a bevy of hats, from rapper to glorified band leader, pigeonholing him is impossible, especially when examining the artistic chances he takes from one LP to another. The Rebellion Sessions, which dropped just over two years ago, for example, contained no vocals from Milk at all.
There are many intersections between contemporary Hip Hop music and visual art, as well as mutual points of inspiration between the two disciplines. With graffiti being one of the original pillars of the culture, the two have been intertwined since the early days of Hip Hop itself.
After a delay that didn’t go unnoticed by fans, rappers Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot (collectively known as the EarthGang) finally released their long-awaited third EP, Royalty, on J. Cole’s Dreamville Records imprint. Staying true to the aesthetic of both Rags and Robots — right down to the FRKO animated cover art — the project is a healthy dose of Southern comfort entrenched in jazzy sonic nostalgia.
A recent Tweet gave me—more so than an age check—some insight into how far back some of the younger listener’s insights into Hip Hop goes. While discussing the 19th anniversary of Eminem’s Slim Shady LP, one user tweeted that it was the album that he was forced to hide from his mother.
It was back in early 2017 when rhymer El Gant, West-Coast vet Ras Kass, and Brown Bag All-Stars alumni J57 announced they were forming a super-group. In a video that featured the iconic DJ Premier dropping a heavy co-sign, Jamo Gang announced an upcoming project; a few singles and live footage followed.
That was over a year ago, and most fans had started to come to terms with the possibility that this collaborative project, like that of Liknuts, may never see the light of day.
It’s no secret that some producers have been subjected to less-than-fair business practices on the part of the major label system. A new platform, License Lounge, is now giving producers the opportunity to do business with artists while maintaining control over their compensation and brand. Likewise, it allows artists with moderate to healthy budgets to get their hands on instrumentals without getting finessed.