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Updated: Feb 22, 2021

We at THOPFest take pride in the artists we put on our stage. We are fans of the music first and foremost. We love finding an artist early and giving them the opportunity to shine on our stage in front of our audience. We also love to see where artists take their careers after performing on our stage. Since we couldn’t throw our festival in 2020, we decided to do something special for the artist and fans. We compiled a list of our favorite projects that dropped in 2020 by artists that have performed at our festival. We want to not only continue to support these artists, but also keep our fans engaged with them and the music we are currently listening to. In case you missed one of these albums when it dropped, we are here to remind you to go check them out now!

Sa-Roc - The Sharecroppers Daughter

Since performing at #THOPFest April 2019, this goddess MC. has continued to make her mark on hip hop with several music and social media videos showcasing her amazing skills. In 2020, just before the pandemic hit, she was invited to co-headline a national tour with Grammy nominated Roc Nation artist Rapsody on A Black Woman Created this Tour. Soon after, Sa-roc released “The Sharecroppers Daughter”. This rhymesayer’s debut album features Black Thought and Styles P, both critically acclaimed. The album has been featured on many “Album of the Year lists” all over the county and has solidified Sa-Roc as one of best lyricists in the game. In case you missed it, be sure to stream it now

Our favorite songs: Forever, Deliverance, 40 And A Mule

Elzhi - Seven Times Down, Eight Times Up

Since headlining our first #THOPFest in 2017 and coming back as a special guest on the 60 East and Friends set in April 2019, the syllable sensai Elzhi has been extremely busy. In 2018, after working on unreleased music for a total of four years after his release of Lead Poison, Elzhi released the Jericho Jackson album with producer Khrysis and Jamla Records (9th Wonder’s Label). The album has been very well received and the music video/single for the project “Self Made” is still in daily rotation. Two years later, the Motown MC returns with the JR Swiftz Produced Seven Times Down Eight Times Up album. The album shows the elite lyricism of Elzhi, along with his creative concepts and storytelling. This album is a master class in why El is regarded as one of the best lyricists of all time. In case you missed it, be sure to check it out.

Our favorite songs: Light One, Write One, Potential, Jason

Vel The Wonder - Trophy Wife

You may have been introduced to her at our very first #THOPFest in 2017, or in 2019 when she made a return to the THOP stage. Vel The Wonder’s album Trophy Wife, provides the gold standard of "female rap" with its versatility and direct concepts. Vel proves that though her beauty earns her the title of a “trophy wife”, encased in this woman is power and intelligence that defies hollow glorifications of a woman on display. Vel The Wonder has character, true ingenuity, she is more than a pretty face, she is a woman of the people who gadges her environment with astute observations and criticisms. Trophy Wife plays off of the complex paradoxical idea that she is a symbol of being more than a symbol, and for that we applaud her.

Our favorite songs: Trophy Wife, Mariposa

Benny The Butcher - Burden of Proof

The Butcher is back serving up a feast of facts and foresight based on his hard fought experience in the game. The Burden of Proof can be compared to the aphorism “the proof is in the pudding” meaning: his greatness comes from surviving for years in the game. However, Benny The Butcher is doing more than surviving. His maturity has harvested wisdom to his whereabouts and directed his insightful moves compared to his competitors. The burden of his proof is being a living testament to the harsh reality of the hustle, the weighty responsibility of success. Benny (and Conway) have come a long way from their 2019 appearance at #THOPFest.

Our favorite songs: Burden of Proof, One Way Flight

Conway - From King to a GOD

In Conway’s From King to a GOD, we see a glistening roster of star-studded producers such as DJ Premier, Daringer, the Alchemist and plenty more. This album contains an arsenal of quotable verses, exquisite mastery and notable features. The Method Man delivers a 16 bar round into the song LEMON that cuts deep into the heart of any hip hop fan. Conway is a lyrical machine, firing off at full capacity on this 14 track album. Although this album exceeded all expectations, we can expect to see more of the Buffalo native this coming year. Since performing at #THOPFest, the machine has worked with everyone from Eminem to Kanye West.

Our favorite songs: Jesus Khrysis, Nothin Less

Blu and Exile - Miles

We are so happy to see Blu & Exile back after a few years with a full length album! This album is dedicated to Miles Elijah Barnes presumed to be Blu’s son. This album deals with personal and external themes past and present. He comes into himself recollecting on the moves that have molded him into his present self. In the song “Bright as Stars” he tells the story of his youth as a wide-eyed kid, hungry for glory. He bounces back and forth between lessons and blessings, the state of the world and the state within himself. Miles is a melodic album with horns and soothing piano chords drizzled throughout. It is an album that will stay in rotation for years to come. Blu first made his #THOPFest debut performing on the 60 East and Friends set in 2018, along with Exile who was DJ'ing for Fashawn. The duo then officially performed their Classic album "Below the Heavens" in its entirety at THOP 2019.

Our favorite songs: True & Livin, Blue As I Can Be

R.A The Rugged Man - All My Heroes are Dead

All My Heroes are Dead is hands down one of the best albums to come out this year. This will be R.A.’s third studio album dropping to date. All My Heroes are Dead is the aftermath of his previous album Legends Never Die. He calls upon his fellow New York natives Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, Kool G Rap and others to illuminate his tale giving his audience a powerful gut punch of raw unapologetic rap. We are most impressed by his skill, rapping at bullet speed and his intense subject matter. This album has been critically acclaimed receiving praise from major blogs such as HipHop Golden Age and HipHopDx. This album has ZERO skips leaving you awestruck and jovial. Since his appearance at #THOPFest 2019, fans and staff both regard his performance as one of the most memorable in Festival history.

Our favorite songs: All My Heroes Are Dead (The Introduction), First Born

Kxng Crooked & Joell Ortiz - H.A.R.D

Another joint album we love is Kxng Crooked & Joell Ortiz H.A.R.D. This 8 track album from the former Slaughterhouse members comes with the fiery production of the Heatmakerz. They are back and stronger than ever, rapping over grimy beats, brazen and shamelessly. Their message is clear, to be hard is to rise above the challenges of life. Lyrical-rap has never sounded so fresh and timeless. H.A.R.D is an album for the old heads and the new school. It is a marriage of the east and west proving no one stands in the way of Joell and Crooked’s mission to the top.

Our favorite songs: H.A.R.D, Catchin Bodies

Skyzoo - Milestones

Skyzoo’s album Milestones is one of the more vibrant and colorful albums to come out this year. It’s fun and fatherhood focused. Skyzoo boasts about his father and the benefits of familial stability. He measures his own fatherliness, trying to steep out of the shadows of his own. Milestones is refreshingly original. The importance of fatherhood is not a common trope in hip hop. It goes against the grain in all the right ways.

Our favorite songs: Memory Serves Me, Duly Noted

60 East & Curtiss King Beats - The Freeway Series 3

60 East is back with the third installment to his series with the six track EP entitled The Freeway Series Vol. 3. With Curtiss King’s palliative production and East’s idiomatic tone, each song travels through themes of trial/error, peace and pursuit. He relates the expanse of life’s teachings and its slow approach to that of the long, yet necessary drive of the So-Cal freeways. Though he is an artist by name, he considers himself more of a nomad as he mentions in “Tuesday”, “this is life on the road”. In a lane of his own 60 cruises through existentialism and melancholy effortlessly, or more poignantly, without any speed bumps.

Our favorite songs: Sleep Talk, Streets of Gold

Noa James - Dirty Gospel

You can’t spell oracle without an orca and that’s exactly what Noa James is on Dirty Gospel. This album exists in a place between the heavily cosmos and earth below. Every song is a proverb and every feature is a prophet of reason. The love monster has collected artists of all different backgrounds and professions adding to his continuing message of benevolence and unity. His garish jarring tone juxtaposes his lyrics of spreading hope and goodness. He's a preacher of light and love. A pastor of prosperity and perseverance.

Our favorite songs: Made The Devil Say Church, Bridges and Bowls

Murs - Love and Rockets 2

Murs is back with the 12 track 32 minute album Love and Rockets 2. It’s an allegorical piece, offering teachings and instruction on how to live a better life. It's a warning to society, a critique on south-central LA and a love letter all in one. As Murs climbs higher and higher, he releases pieces of knowledge in his ascent. The tone is optimistic, the lyrics informative. He leaves his grievances on the ground and propels towards gratitude and greatness. The album is light and relatable, it’s encouraging and leaves the listener wanting more. We know Murs is a project dropping machine and can’t wait to hear more from him this year.

Our favorite songs: The D.O.C, Murs in Retrograde Album Link:

Written by Drea Godsey & THOPFest Staff.

@drea.godd @thopfest #thopfest

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