Without the routine of school keeping you focused, you’ve likely missed out on a lot of music news over the past month. If you’re looking to catch up before classes start, this is the place. Here are four of the biggest stories from rap in January.
The R. Kelly sexual misconduct saga has been ongoing since the 1990s, when he married 15-year-old Aaliyah. But with the release of Lifetime’s docu-series Surviving R. Kelly, it seems like the masses have fully turned against the Chicago R&B singer. Through a series of interviews, the docu-series outlines emotional, sexual and physical abuse perpetrated by Kelly against multiple women, many of whom were underage. Though Kelly’s career has somehow stayed afloat for two decades through numerous scandals, it looks like it may be ending. RCA, his record label for more than 25 years, announced on Jan. 18 that they were severing ties with him.
If you told me a few years ago that I’d be discussing Soulja Boy in an article about rap news in 2019, I wouldn’t have believed you, but here we are. The artist who first emerged in 2007 with his song “Crank Dat (Soulja Boy)” popped back up on Jan. 16 when his interview with the Breakfast Club on Power 106 went viral. The hilarious interview brought ridiculous quotes like, “How did Meek Mill have a bigger comeback than Soulja Boy?” and featured Soulja claiming to have taught Drake everything he knows. Soulja released four albums last year, unbeknownst to me, so go check those out if you miss him.
Purely in terms of talent, it would be hard to find a more polarizing rapper in 2019 than J. Cole. You have Cole fans (like me) who swear by the guy and will tell you that, aside from Kendrick, he’s the best new-school rapper. You also have people who may have liked his earlier stuff, but love to make fun of the rapper’s softer approach on his last two albums. On Jan. 23, Cole delivered “Middle Child,” a single all rap fans can get behind. Rapping over his strongest beats since 2014 Forest Hills Drive, he positions himself in between the old and new generations of rap, name dropping Jay-Z and Kodak Black and throwing a subliminal shot at Kanye West. Hopefully this means an album with equal parts lyrical content and strong production is on the way.
With an Instagram story of his Fiorucci sock-covered feet on a marble floor, Lil Uzi Vert shocked the hip hop world on Jan. 18 when he wrote, “I wanna take the time out to say I thank each and every one of my supporters but I’m done with music I deleted everything I wanna be normal … I wanna wake up in 2013.” Uzi’s “retirement” was surprising, considering the Philadelphia rapper is a big player in the trap rap wave and has been working on (and hinting at) his next album, Eternal Awake, for almost a year. Despite this announcement, a video of Uzi in the studio showed up four days later.