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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Though a debut album is usually the first introduction a mainstream listener has to a new artist, it in no way means an artist is new. This is especially true in the case of Toronto rapper Jazz Cartier. His presence on the Canadian scene — whether you’re familiar with his music or not — has been inescapable. Though he’s remained one hit away from the mainstream frenzy he’s destined for, his major label debut, Fleurever, the followup to 2016’s Juno Award-winning Hotel Paranoia, is poised to change everything.
So far, 2018 has been another wild year for new music and Hip Hop happenings, and with summer here, it’s only going to get more fuego. It’s also been a great year for creative music video treatments from some of the game’s best and brightest.
Jazz Cartier is a name that has been ringing bells since 2015’s Marauding in Paradise. Poised for success like a lot of other homegrown acts who have crept through the door that Drake kicked wide open, Cartier has remained in a one-hit-away position from bursting the mainstream bubble, despite taking home an award for best rap recording with his 2016 sophomore mixtape, Hotel Paranoia. His major label debut, Fleurever, could prove to be the bubble-popping pin he’d been searching for.
Drake’s highly anticipated Scorpion solidified a few things, including his admirably firm stranglehold on streaming platforms and Billboard charts. However, it also low-key proved that without a shadow of a doubt, LA superstar Ty Dolla $ign had become Hip Hop’s (not-so) secret weapon who arguably gives the best features money can buy.
Nova Scotian multi-platinum rapper Classified — now pushing 40 — is back at it with a new EP. His eighth official release, Tomorrow Could Be… is an endearing sign that Class truly understands both his age and his fan base, as he keeps the effort concise, honest, and at it’s best, incredibly compelling. Despite a successful career, there is no glam, glitz nor braggadocio here. Though polished with the confidence one only gets from being a real veteran rapper, he remains a relatable figure — in the best way possible.
“He’s such a strong motherfucker … his willpower was crazy,” Duval said. “So, I couldn’t believe that shit was real. I was hearing from people before it was on the news and then 15 minutes later, that was it. It shell-shocked me.”
Westside Gunn Takes One Last Independent Swing on ‘Supreme Blientele’ Before Heading to the Big Leagues [Interview]
When it comes to independent success in contemporary hip-hop, not many teams have been able to win without pandering to mainstream pressure quite like Griselda — the tight label family consisting of Benny the Butcher and brothers Conway the Machine and Westside Gunn. Existing as a boutique brand, with niche and remarkably consistent releases (which have earned them a cult following), they’ve been able to tour, sell out anything they drop and secure themselves a spot on the Shady Records roster.
Next to perhaps the G-Unit, not many crews have been able to build a buzz like the Buffalo-based Griselda Records — founded by rapper Westside Gunn. What they also have in common with the 50 Cent-helmed foursome is that their unique sound and aura of authenticity earned them a spot on the Shady Records roster, making them among the few Buffalo rap artists to sign a major deal.
It was just last year when Freddie Gibbs — following a year-long legal ordeal — made a triumphant return to the game with his third solo studio album, You Only Live 2wice. Though he’s been teasing Bandana for a while now, which is the follow-up to his critically acclaimed collaboration with Madlib, Pinata, he’s gifted fans with a new project in the interim, Freddie. The 10-song effort delivers an experience that fans of Gangsta Gibbs have come to expect after the last two projects: glimmering gems scattered among a curated blend of believable, high-quality gangsterism.
Giving Nas less than 24 hours to bask in the glory of his Kanye West-produced Nasir release, JAY-Z and wife Beyoncé — collectively known as The Carters — unexpectedly dropped their long-prophesied collaboration project Everything Is Love. With incredible production and plenty of Easter eggs for fans to decode, the project more than lives up to its potential, with enough flame emojis to satisfy hip-hop heads and the Bey-hive alike.