This past week, Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar released two brand new songs to the world that have reinforced the rappers’ standing as the two greatest hip-hop artists of our generation. West, whose long-delayed Swish is finally getting a release date (February 11), promoted a possible single from his upcoming record called “Real Friends” on SoundCloud. Following 2014’s “Only One” and 2015’s “Wolves,” “FourFiveSeconds,” “Fade,” and “FACTS,” “Real Friends” hearkens back to the good ‘ol days of 2004’s The College Dropout and 2005’s Late Registration. Every element of “Real Friends” is fantastic, from Madlib’s ambient, piano-oriented production to West’s lyrics about the cult of celebrity and fame. In addition to “Real Friends,” the track includes a snippet of another single “No More Parties in L.A.,” which also sounds promising, especially with a feature from Kendrick Lamar. ‘Ye is definitely back and, considering his revival of “G.O.O.D. Fridays,” where he released a new song every Friday in advance to 2010’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
Though Kendrick Lamar owned 2015 with his incredible third record To Pimp a Butterfly, it seems like his presence in music will still be prevalent in 2016. During an episode of “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” Lamar performed “Untitled 2,” a stream-of-consciousness jazz ballad that threads every one of Lamar’s different themes — God, love, family, sex, women, Blackness — into mesmerizing cohesion. This song follows another untitled song Lamar performed back before To Pimp a Butterfly‘s release on the final episode of “The Colbert Report.” Though the first untitled song wasn’t on the record, I’m hoping that “Untitled 2” will have some commercial release or will be featured on Lamar’s next album.