The past 40 days have undoubtedly shifted the hip-hop landscape as we knew it. This summer has blessed rap fans with anthems from the genre's elite, as superstar artists have delivered high-quality, envelope-pushing bodies of work. On the other side, there have been moments of gut-wrenching heartbreak, as hip-hop suffered a pair of tragic losses with the murders of burgeoning South Florida superstar XXXTentacion and Pittsburgh's Jimmy Wopo.
Lost in the shuffle was Drake throwing up the white flag, ending his fiery, but short-lived back-and-forth diss track battle with Pusha T, who was ready to engage in a “surgical summer” with the 6 God. Yeezy season was in full effect as Kanye West delivered on his five-album vision by executing G.O.O.D Music's summer domination, which included his solo project, Ye, a joint effort alongside Kid Cudi, Nas' return, and Teyana Taylor's sophomore album. Oh yeah, JAY-Z and Beyoncé dropped a joint album out of the sky, as well.
Relive it all in chronological order below.
Friday, May 25 – Pusha T Releases DAYTONA, Takes Shots at Drake on “Infrared”
“This ain't a wave or phase, 'cause all that shit fades,” Pusha T raps, boasting about his longevity in hip-hop. King Push kicked off G.O.O.D. Music's five-album rollout on a high note with his first LP in nearly three years. DAYTONA received its title just days prior to the May 25 release, signifying the luxury of time. Kanye got back to digging in the crates and chopping up samples from the likes of Yes, Soul Mann & the Brothers, and more. Yeezy licensed the image to Whitney Houston's drug-infested bathroom for $85,000 just hours prior to DAYTONA's release to have the photograph as the project's artwork.
On album closer “Infrared,” Pusha reignites his feud with Drake and sends more shots in the 6 God's direction. “It was written like Nas but it came from Quentin,” he raps, in reference to allegation that Drizzy has employed ghostwriters in the past. The 41-year-old stings Drake later on the same track. “How could you ever right these wrongs/ When you don’t even write your songs,” he questions.
The effort has been met with critical acclaim and was deemed a successful product coming out of the Wyoming sessions. Pusha delivers a clear message through his brash lyricism and usual drug fiend raps, which includes a clear start and punctuation mark. DAYTONA is strangely satisfying for just a 7-track album.
Drake Promptly Responds With “Duppy Freestyle”
Drake must've heard rumblings that Pusha was going to come at him on “Infrared,” as he swiftly returned the favor and killed whatever momentum Push had with the fiery “Duppy Freestyle,” just hours after King Push released his album. Drizzy brings Kanye into the feud, sending a plethora of smoke in his direction, maybe even worse than Pusha received.
The 6 God points out that he just left Wyoming where he was writing for Kanye, and makes note of his contributions to Ye's The Life of Pablo album. All bets were off once Drake mentioned Pusha T's fiancé, Virginia Williams, by her government name over the Boi-1da production. The Toronto native also posted a mock invoice to social media, billing Pusha and G.O.O.D. Music for $100,000 on a count of “promotional assistance and career-reviving.”
Tuesday, May 29 – Pusha T Unleashes “The Story of Adidon”
Many counted Pusha T out after Drake's initial haymaker. The wordsmith responded days later, premiering the absolutely eviscerating “The Story of Adidon” on Hot 97 to a bombardment of Funkmaster Flex bombs on Tuesday evening (May 29). Pusha caresses the No I.D.-produced “The Story of O.J.” beat to uncover that Drake fathered a child, Adonis, with adult entertainer Sophie Brussaux.
The G.O.O.D. Music president claims that Drizzy was planning to introduce Adonis to the world through his debut campaign with Adidas, with whom it's rumored he has inked a lucrative sponsorship deal. Pusha then brings his focus to Drizzy's right-hand producer, OVO 40, who suffers from multiple sclerosis. The Virginia-bred MC savagely questions how much time 40 has left on earth. Pusha had plans for a “surgical summer,” where he threatened to keep peeling Drake back “layer by layer” if it was warranted. With the beef seemingly squashed, we'll never know what scathing ammunition he kept in the stash.
Friday, June 1 – Kanye West Releases Ye
Following a controversial appearance on TMZ Live in May, Kanye fled to his creative safe haven at the Amangani Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Expectations were sky-high after Pusha-T's critically acclaimed DAYTONA album. Yeezy gathered a number of fellow rappers, artists, friends, family, and journalists for a unique listening experience at the Diamond Cross Ranch in Wyoming (May 31).
Ye served as the second of five albums birthed from the Wyoming sessions. During a recent interview with The New York Times, Yeezy admitted to not having any of the lyrics penned eight days out from Ye's release.
The album sharply focuses on mental health in deeply self-reflective lyrics that find Kanye looking inward at a tumultuous phase in his life. Ye notched West his eighth straight album topping the Streets Talkin 200 as all seven tracks premiered in the top 40 of the Streets Talkin Hot 100.
Friday, June 8 – Kanye West & Kid Cudi Share Kids See Ghosts
A decade after first collaborating, West and Kid Cudi teamed up to unleash their joint album Kids See Ghosts. The highly anticipated project introduced a futuristic sonic with the 2018 version of what fans fell in love with during the Man on the Moon and 808s & Heartbreak era.
CudYe worked on the project hours prior to Kids See Ghosts' public unveiling (June 7) as Pusha T admitted on Drink Champs that he recorded his verse to album opener “Feel the Love” the same day as the KSG listening party, which was held at a man-made ghost town in Southern California.
KSG ended up premiering at No. 2 behind Dave Matthews Band on the Streets Talkin 200 after moving 142,000 album-equivalent units in its first-week. Kanye reconnected with Japanese pop artist Takashi Murakami to create the colorful artwork for the project.
Sunday, June 10 – Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III Celebrates its Tenth Anniversary
Lil Wayne's magnum opus, Tha Carter III, turned 10 on June 10. In celebration of the classic work, Weezy headlined Hot 97's Summer Jam on the tenth anniversary of the 18-track album. The Young Money rapper turned back the clock at New Jersey's jampacked MetLife Stadium for a nostalgic performance featuring numerous standout cuts from the project. The influential album went on to be the most commercially successful project of Wayne's career, selling over a million copies in its first week.
Friday, June 15 – Nas Returns
Escobar season has returned. Nas unleashed his first project in nearly six years with Nasir. The seven-track album was executive produced by Kanye West and served as the fourth of five projects from the Wyoming sessions. An album release party (June 14) was held in Nas' hometown of Queensbridge. The 44-year-old's beat selection has been an issue with fans in the past, but Kanye's soulful production and chopped up samples made sure that wasn't a problem. Nasir has since been met with mixed reviews from critics.
Saturday, June 16 – The Carters Drop Everything Is Love Out of the Sky
JAY-Z and Beyoncé teamed up to send shock waves through the music world by releasing their long-awaited joint album, EVERYTHING IS LOVE, on Saturday (June 16) evening. Fans were sent into hysteria, as the nine-track effort initially appeared only as a TIDAL-exclusive for 36 hours, before hitting other primary streaming service platforms. The Carters take listeners on a brutally honest journey throughout their turbulent marriage but end the effort on a high note, letting everyone know that they are moving forward as a happily married couple. The album was accompanied by a striking visual to standout album cut “Apeshit,” which was shot at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Monday, June 18 – XXXTentacion & Jimmy Wopo are Tragically Murdered
June 18 proved to be a tragic day as the hip-hop community suffered a pair of devastating losses due to senseless gun violence in burgeoning star XXXTentacion and Pittsburgh's Jimmy Wopo. Starting with the former, X was the victim of an armed robbery outside a motorcycle dealership he frequented in Deerfield Beach, Florida, on Monday afternoon (June 18). He was found without a pulse in his BMW i8 as a disturbing video circulated the Internet of him motionless in the vehicle. The artist born Jahseh Onfroy was pronounced dead a couple hours later after being transported from the crime scene to a nearby trauma center. He was 20-years-old.
Later, Monday evening (June 18), Pittsburgh-bred rapper Jimmy Wopo was gunned down during a double drive-by shooting in the city's Middle Hill neighborhood. Wopo's manager, Taylor Maglin of The Daily Loud, confirmed the unfortunate death of his client on Facebook. Many artists out of the Pennsylvania staple such as Wiz Khalifa championed the “Elm Street” rapper as “next up” prior to his passing.
Saturday, June 23 – Teyana Taylor Drops K.T.S.E.
After several delays, Teyana Taylor's anticipated sophomore album was slated to arrive on June 22 and complete Kanye West's five-album rollout. K.T.S.E. didn't make its way onto streaming services for over 24 hours until Saturday morning (June 23). Also, the iteration on platforms was much different than the version heard at Thursday's listening party in Los Angeles.
During an interview with Big Boy's Neighborhood (June 26), the 27-year-old admitted that huge issues with sample clearances were to blame for the delay. She admitted that plans are in the works to incorporate missing samples once they are cleared, as well as adding a ninth track to the project titled “We Got Love.”
“At the end of ‘Issues,’ I had the Sade piece in there. The end of ‘Rose in Harlem,’ I had [Lauryn Hill’s] ‘Lost Ones’ in there, and I was really talking that shit,” she continued. “Once y'all hear the album next week, you'll see what I'm talking about, because it's way more complete.”
Friday, June 29 – Drake Unleashes his Scorpion Double-Album
Since Pusha-T and Drake kicked things off, it's only right Drizzy gets the final word to close out the hectic month of June. The 6 God delivered his Scorpion double-album on Friday (June 29). The project features an A-side and B-side with 25 tracks in total, clocking in at nearly 90 minutes. For the first time, Drake publicly recognized the birth of his son, Adonis, on multiple tracks such as “Emotionless” and the emotional album closer “March 14.” He also hints at leaving Cash Money Records on “Is There More,” with the double-album possibly fulfilling his contractual obligations to Birdman. Drake also broke the record for most streams in a day on any service with 170 million streams on Apple Music during the 24-hour period of June 29.