These are the albums you’ll receive if you sign up for VMP Hip-Hop in April, May and June 2021. Read below to get the scoop:
In April, Hip-Hop will feature the 2010 EP Str8 Killa by Gary’s own Freddie Gibbs. The VMP edition is the first vinyl reissue since its 2010 release, pressed on 180g Yellow & Black Splatter vinyl. This release features Listening Notes by VMP Senior Writer and Good Convo Host Michael Penn II (aka CRASHprez), making this the first VMP Hip-Hop title with a Listening Note booklet in the package.
Before a decade of critical reverence and independent dominance, Gibbs found himself caught between eras. As the 2000s mainstream shifted away from gangsta rap’s critical mass toward uncharted territory, Gibbs had an unmatched work ethic, yet no institutional support to make him fit in the next generation. After being dropped from Interscope, and multiple false starts throwing him back into survival mode, Gibbs decided to put fate into his own hands, getting everything out the mud. Str8 Killa is one of the first projects in his decade-long run that’d take him from XXL Freshman Alum to Grammy Nominee, staying thorough the whole way through.
“The more I read into his story, the more I realized Gibbs deadass been the same no matter which era you caught him in,” Penn said. “The lore of him being lost in the sauce of what the industry wanted — which seems crazy now — and then doubling down and runnin’ it up for 10 years until he got what he wanted? Str8 Killa shows you the beginning of that: the focus, the grit, the pure survival of it all. He’s tryna outrap the greats over the hardest shit, and he’s not tryna let the streets or the industry stop his hustle. It’s commendable.”
In May, Hip-Hop will feature the Platinum-certified 2019 album So Much Fun by Young Thug. The VMP edition is the first vinyl pressing of Thug’s debut album, pressed on exclusive 2-LP green vinyl and featuring Listening Notes from acclaimed Atlanta journalist Travis “Yoh” Phillips.
For any level of Young Thug fan, saying debut album may feel like a strong misnomer: Since he catapulted into the industry in the late-’10s with infectious energy and otherworldly style, he’s been often imitated, and never duplicated. Plus, he’s impossible to ignore, manipulating sound and language to ceaselessly bulldoze through convention at every turn. But So Much Fun marks the first time Thug’s been held in superstar status, as executed via hit parade. It’s an hour of relentless fun, synthesizing a myriad of oddities for the biggest stages imaginable. He’s got pieces for the radio, the core, the weirdos; the supporting cast all bring their best to stand in his light. It’s not his first record, but it’s a debut to the praise he’s always deserved.
For Penn — a longtime Young Thug fan — So Much Fun marks a coronation. “Recently, Young Thug made the point of how true influence means people wanna be like you,” Penn said. “To add to his point, I think influence runs just as deep when people realize they can’t be like you. People try to shit on him like he’s not one of the best rappers breathing, and it blows me to no end. Plus, Thug’s very popular at the same time as there’s so many folks he’s influenced, but we all know where it comes from. So Much Fun tries to be its name, and nothing else. I’ll remember that summer fondly, much like every other summer this man’s given us something to live our lives to.”
And in June, Hip-Hop will feature the Platinum-certified 2002 album Watermelon, Chicken & Gritz by the Kentucky group Nappy Roots. The VMP edition was pressed on an exclusive 2-LP Kentucky Mud vinyl, and the package features a Listening Notes booklet by the incomparable writer Natalie Weiner.
For VMP Classics & Country Director Andrew Winistorfer, this selection extends the VMP Hip-Hop canon even deeper into the South by shining new light on an underappreciated gem. “Nappy Roots’ Watermelon, Chicken & Gritz is an underrated classic, an album of four MCs seeing their way out of Kentucky into the national stage via their inventive, unique version of hip-hop,” Winistorfer said. “This record is like a friend you don't see often, but when you do, you guys pick up just where you left off. Every time you put on ‘Awnaw’ or ‘Kentucky Mud,’ you're transported right back to whatever sunny day hangout or car-ride you used to play this at.
“It’s warm tones, earthy beats and down-home lyrics taking you back to simpler, better days. When we polled the VMP staff on if we should feature this record, we jumped at the opportunity to bring this to more people who deserve their own time with Nappy Roots.”