The summer of Young Money
It’s been a Young Money summer. The leadoff batter for the label-superteam was Drizzy Drake. His fifth studio album, “Scorpion,” dropped June 29 following the suspenseful EP, “Scary Hours.” After one week, the double-sided album boasting 25 songs had garnered over 1 BILLION streams on Spotify – more than any other solo artist, well, ever.
The project features a variety of tastes from the seasoned slugger, ranging from the soft and sultry to the bold and braggadocious.
Highlights include “Emotionless,” where Aubrey speaks on his own reputation, as well as calling out his superficial society over a soulful sample of Mariah Carey’s 1991 song, “Emotions (12” club mix),” “Mob Ties,” a sinister send-off to any surviving haters, and “In My Feelings,” the Louisiana-trap anthem that spawned comedian Shiggy’s internet dance craze, along with a colorful, cinematic music video co-starring La La and the legendary Phylicia Rashad.
With all of the “Scorpion” hype, I was almost worried the next Young Money release this summer would go overlooked. Luckily, I was mistaken. When Nicki Minaj dropped her third studio album, “Queen,” on Aug. 10, it was met with a mix of get-down-on-your-knees-and-worship kind of praise, and outrage at the Aery emcee’s flair (flare?).
Most negative criticism – of which there was little – was provoked by Nicki’s song, “Barbie Dreams,” where the rapper takes playful jabs at several big industry names for lusting after her, including Young Thug, Tekashi 6ix9ine, 50 Cent, and her ex-boyfriend Meek Mill.
I was surprised this song received so much flak, as Nicki directly shouts out Biggie at the track’s opening. She explained the song was supposed to be in good fun – sampling B.I.G.’s original 1994 song, “Just Playing (Dreams),” which names di7erent R&B singers Mr. Wallace wanted to be with.
I found this to be one of the most raw songs on the project, with other heavy-hitters including “Bed (featuring Ariana Grande),” “Chun Swae (featuring Swae Lee),” and “Come See About Me.”
If you know me, you know I can’t help but appreciate artwork when it is so well done. The cogency of the album title, “Queen,” with the majestic photograph of Nicki in full Nubian-princess garb, is compelling. Set in front of a burning, orange and yellow background, Nicki oozes her inner Cleopatra.
While Drake and Nicki Minaj had two of the biggest drops of the summer, recent announcements have brought on even more hype from the Young Money camp. After what seems like an eternity, Lil Wayne has Anally emerged successful from his legal battle with Young Money Cash Money founder Birdman, as the sole owner of the newly branded Young Money Records.
Free of the Cash Money title that has kept his new work unreleased for so long, Weezy is now at liberty to release his highly-anticipated album, “Tha Carter V.” On Sept. 10, the rapper announced an official release date for the project: Sept. 23. While I am expecting this comeback to be “Incredibles 2” caliber, it is yet to be seen whether Lil Wayne will put a cherry on top of the Young Money Summer, or if their sonic sundae will melt in the still-lingering heat.