Born Earl Simmons, DMX was a rap legend whose late-’90s run was all but unparalleled. On albums like ‘It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot’ and ‘Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood,’ he channeled his pain through raw and honest lyrics. Last Saturday, following a week in a coma, he passed away. Now, hip-hop mourns his loss and celebrates his legacy.
On March 26, Lil Nas X released the controversial single and music video “Montero (Call Me by Your Name).” The visual was packed with Bible references and sexually explicit imagery, including a scene in which the rapper gives a lap dance to Satan. Nas X followed the video with the release of custom Satan-themed Nike Air Max 97s (in conjunction with the Brooklyn-based MSCHF collective), which contain a drop of human blood in their Air bubble.
After a six-week delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Grammys took place on March 14. The telecast featured performances from Megan Thee Stallion, Bad Bunny, Roddy Ricch, and more. Beyoncé reached a milestone, becoming the most decorated woman in Grammy history, while Meg took home four awards. Nevertheless, the event’s highlights were seemingly balanced by frustrating lows. Check out Complex’s take on music’s biggest night.
Bobby Shmurda is back. The Brooklyn-bred rapper was released from prison last month after serving six years. Throughout his time in custody, fans have remained loyal to Bobby, who’s responsible for the iconic New York anthem “Hot Boy” and was featured on “Computers” with Rowdy Rebel—who was released in December. Now, with Bobby out, new music, including high-profile collaborations, can’t be far behind.
Inspired by true events, ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ recounts how the FBI infiltrated the Black Panther movement through an informant, which ultimately led to the assasination of Chairman Fred Hampton. The film features standout performances from Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield, under the direction of Shaka King, along with a soundtrack with contributions from Jay-Z, the late Nipsey Hussle, and Nas.
On Sunday night, Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, reached the height of pop stardom when he headlined the halftime show at Super Bowl LV. The Weeknd took to the stage, which was designed to look like a heightened version of a Las Vegas strip, and performed a medley of his biggest hits, including “The Hills,” “Blinding Lights,” and “Can’t Feel My Face.” In the midst of a global pandemic, the Starboy was able to put on one of the most cinematic halftime shows in recent memory.
After multiple delays, Drake is getting ready to drop his sixth studio album, Certified Lover Boy. The Toronto native has dominated the 2010s in popular rap music, but with a new decade brings a clean slate. Can Drake keep up this momentum in the 2020s? Industry chatter appears to go both ways, but if CLB is as good as fans anticipate it to be, there’s hope that Drake can quiet dissenters.
Finally. 2020 is behind us and 2021 is here. Although we’re still confined to our homes thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there’s still a lot to look forward to. Between rising rappers to watch and solid entertainment hitting our Netflix accounts, here’s what to check for in the months to come.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced many industries to shift gears and adapt to a dramatically different landscape. Live events including concerts, tours, and awards shows were canceled in an effort to reduce the spread. But many artists found new ways to connect with fans, through virtual shows, live streams, and more.
On New Year’s Eve, fans were stunned to learn that rapper and producer Daniel Dumile had died months earlier, on Halloween. We knew him as MF DOOM, but also as King Geedorah and Viktor Vaughn. News of his passing was revealed by his family, though no further explanation was given. The mysterious nature of the announcement was consistent with Dumile’s persona. To the very end, MF DOOM moved in mystery, yet ensured no one could ignore him, forget him, or dismiss him.
After months of teasing and speculation, it finally happened. Playboi Carti released his long-awaited album Whole Lotta Red on Christmas Day. The follow-up to 2018’s Die Lit features contributions from Kanye West, Kid Cudi, and Future, and is projected to debut at No. 1.
Jack Harlow has been one of biggest breakthrough artists of 2020. His single “What’s Poppin” became an instant hit, climbing to the No. 2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 list. The bubbling Kentucky artist recently released his first studio album, ‘That’s What They All Had to Say.’ The project features heavy hitters, like Big Sean, Lil Baby, Chris Brown, and Bryson Tiller. The project not only showcases Harlow’s musical range, but proves he’s a rapper to be taken seriously.
After 10 years, Kid Cudi revived his signature series with the release of his highly anticipated new album, ‘Man on the Moon III: The Chosen.’ The final installment of the trilogy landed on Dec. 11, and fans weren’t disappointed. With features from Skepta, Pop Smoke, and Trippie Redd, ‘MOTM3’ lived up to a decade of hype. Although this is Mr. Rager’s last return to the moon, the legacy of the albums will surely live on.
In the face of COVID-19, ComplexCon was postponed. But while we weren’t in Long Beach this year, we’ve created a virtual universe to discover on your computer or mobile device. With activations akin to the IRL ComplexCon experience, including exclusive drops, panels featuring the culture’s leading voices, and bustling shops, there’s no shortage of activities to keep you busy all week long.
Jeezy and Gucci Mane faced off on ‘Verzuz’ last week. The rappers carried 15 years of beef into the battle, which saw them go song for song at Atlanta’s Magic City. For most of the night, tensions were high, as Gucci Mane came prepared with disses. The event hardly marked an end to the beef, though it seemed to purge some of the hostility. The pair even performed “So Icy,” the collaborative track that started one of rap’s most infamous cold wars.
It finally happened. After teasing a collaborative project with a trailer directed by Hype Williams, Lil Uzi Vert and Future dropped Pluto x Baby Pluto in November. The 16-song release highlights the duo’s chemistry, proving both Uzi and Fewtch remain rap all-stars.
Chicago-born rapper King Von was as skilled a storyteller as he was a hitmaker. After the release of his 2018 track “Crazy Story,” Von would soon become one of the loudest voices in the Chicago drill scene. He went on to release three projects, starting with 2019’s Grandson, Vol. 1, which was followed by 2020’s Levon James and Welcome to O’Block. But Von’s life would end tragically in November, when he was fatally shot outside of an Atlanta nightclub.
YoungBoy Never Broke Again has had a big year, releasing two albums—including the critically acclaimed ‘Top’—a mixtape, and a compilation. But despite his success, he’s continued to face legal issues, including firearms charges and an investigation for assault. Now, his future is in the balance.
21 Savage and Metro Boomin this month returned for another collaboration. Following the success of their first two projects, 2016’s Savage Mode and 2017’s Without Warning, the duo dropped Savage Mode II in October. The project was an immediate hit, with tracks like “Many Men” and “Mr. Right Now” becoming playlist staples, and showed that the rapper and producer’s chemistry was intact.
The murder of Breonna Taylor by police shook the country, and became a turning point for the Black Lives Matter movement. Taylor’s death, coupled with the sharp blow of George Floyd’s murder just two months later, caused such outrage that even the NBA raised its voice. To address systemic racism, the league’s board of governors announced that it will create a foundation dedicated to fostering economic empowerment within the Black community that will be funded by all 30 NBA teams.
Bronx native A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie stepped onto the scene in 2015 and hasn’t looked back since. After releasing his first mixtape, Artist, in 2016, A Boogie gained wider attention and even opened for Drake and Future during their Summer Sixteen tour. Since then, the rapper was named to XXL’s Freshman Class in 2017, and has collaborated with artists including Juice WRLD, Lil Uzi Vert and DaBaby
American rapper Logic announced his early retirement from rap after dropping his sixth studio album, ‘No Pressure,’ in July. Although this might be the last new Logic album, the rapper has an extensive catalog that includes six albums, six mixtapes, and over 40 singles. If that isn’t enough music to hold fans over, Logic has announced he will drop a mixtape if the petition he created receives 1 million signatures, and that he’s dropping a beat pack via Twitch.
Ever since Beyoncé told fans she’s been on her “demon time,” celebrities have all but taken over the adult content subscription platform OnlyFans. Cardi B, The-Dream, and Bella Thorne are just some of the celebs using the site to promote their brands. After clearing $1 million through her profile in just one day, Thorne triggered the site to implement transaction restrictions that have devastated the sex workers using it to make a living.
From a collaboration with 100 Gecs’ Dylan Brady on the track ‘iPhone’ to a sold-out makeup collection for Il Makiage, Rico Nasty is having a great year. The DMV rapper—known for her platform combat boots, eccentric makeup looks, and punk flair—is set to release ‘Nightmare Vacation,’ her first project since ‘Anger Management,’ a collaborative mixtape with producer Kenny Beats.
The 2020 presidential election will be among the most consequential in history. In the midst of civil unrest, along with a pandemic that shows no signs of abating, voters will have to choose between former Vice President Joe Biden and the incumbent, Donald Trump.