With this year promising a lot of releases from the music industry, a lot of anticipation leads back to Top Dawg Entertainment. Whether it’s the veterans that have rocked the mic since the label’s beginnings to the newcomers on the verge of stardom, you can assure that any new music from TDE is worth a listen because they’re practically synonymous with quality music by now. Their ability to produce standout artists like Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, and Jay Rock just to name a few, as an independent label is unprecedented but it’s their abnormal absence that keeps up on the edges of our seats. In a time where social media is king, they’ve mastered the art of silence as they save any statements needed to be made in the form of new music. Right now, the label’s CEO Anthony Tiffith is having one of those moments with TDE Appreciation Week as he toasts to new milestones with new music.
Tiffith celebrated his birthday on 4/20 and he decided to share the wealth with supporters by promising that a song would be released every day for a week straight. On one hand, this couldn’t have come at a better time for listeners craving a relief package for their eardrums during these times. But TDE Appreciation Week is much more than that: this is a warning from Top Dawg’s roster that they’re coming for a full takeover. Every song sounds like each artist is tired of being patient and ready to be unleashed again to bulldoze through competition.
The first song to drop was the Ab Soul’s “Dangerookipawaa Freestyle”, which paid homage to Top Dawg and his Twitter name. For someone that hasn’t dropped in almost 4 years, the “Control System” rapper sounds like he never missed a step as he turns the ultra-bluesy instrumental into a playground for a lyrical exhibition that dazzles from beginning to end. The buildup of the beat beautifully captures the quiet storm that’s been brewing from the MC being MIA all these years. This track is the perfect warmup for Soulo as he prepares for a new project on the way filled with bars you won’t catch until a week later.
Next up was Zacari, the latest singer to join the label when he was just recently signed the beginning of 2019 Having multiple standout appearances on TDE cult classics like “The Sun’s Tirade” and “DAMN.”, Zacari is itching to break out as he delivered with two songs “Edamame” and “This Woman’s Work”. The choice to give fans a double dose of new sounds was well played as both tracks show how far the “LOVE.” crooner’s range stretches, which is going to result in a lot of hype for his debut album on the way. The single pack is equally balanced with the 80s-synth cloud pop on “Edamame” and the dark, seductive production on “This Woman’s Work” that sounds like an initiation for Demon Time.
Then, you have Isaiah Rashad, the underrated wordsmith that has warranted the biggest cry out for a new release. If you’re wondering why? It’s because the Chattognooga rapper hasn’t released an album since Barack Obama was still in office. It’s for these reasons why his latest single “Why Worry” is the welcome back we needed as we await his highly-anticipated album The House is Burning. For two and a half minutes, Isaiah blacks out and treats the nostalgic instrumental like a gun range.
Fresh off a hot year following the success from his last album “Chasing Summer”, SiR did what he had to do to deliver another southern California gem. On his latest single “Rapper Weed”, the singer teamed up with Compton rapper Boogie to make a melodic track that instantly gives you a euphoric feeling before you can reach for your Bic lighter and pack of Backwoods.
The next two songs came from the label’s biggest question marks: Lance Skiiiwalker and Reason. While both have graced projects with features before, it almost feels like we haven’t heard enough from these two artists. Nonetheless, neither came to mess around as Reason delivered a jaw-dropping performance for upcoming album’s first single “Might Not Make It” and Lance Skiiiwalker’s “In the World” sounds like it came in a bundle pack with some burning sage and an appearance on Insecure (this has Issa’s aesthetic written all over it).
Coming in with the most unexpected appearance of them all is Punch, who isn’t a signed TDE artist but actually the president of the independent label. Punch's track is proof that lyricism pumps through the label's veins as he tells the story of the mastermind that no one ever sees on “Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtains.” What makes this song so special is the way he was able to summarize TDE Appreciation Week: “We a better version of Death Row, so said Snoop Dogg let the record show.” Everything about this bar is a flex but it needed to be said because it’s the truth.
What we have witnessed from Top Dawg Entertainment over the years is nothing short of legendary and a blueprint for all aspiring startup labels (across all genres) to follow. Without even pulling out their star-studded artists, Top Dawg's Appreciation Week proves that their roster possesses the longevity to make a long-lasting impact on the game because they're continuing the same gold standard the label has become renowned for.