Photo: Bryson Roatch
How Papa Roach Frontman Jacoby Shaddix Embraced Forgiveness And Perspective To Fuel The Band's Music
As Papa Roach embarks on a co-headlining arena tour with Falling In Reverse, frontman Jacoby Shaddix opens up about the healing and rekindled relationships that have helped him — and his band — see continued success 25 years in.
"It's funny," muses Papa Roach frontman Jacoby Shaddix. "I'll be out and about sometimes and people are like, 'Oh, you're still doing this?' I'm like, 'We're about to play in front of 7,000 people tonight. So yeah, I'm still doing this, bro.'"
Papa Roach is one of those bands that might not chart very high on the Billboard Top 200 these days, but that hasn't slowed them down. And frankly, having notched 23 Top 10s and 7 No. 1s on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Airplay chart over their 25-year recording career — including "Kill The Noise," which just topped the chart last year — they have proven to be rock mainstays.
That's further exemplified by their high-energy shows. At 46 years old, Shaddix runs on more adrenaline than many singers half his age. And as he reminds GRAMMY.com, the group routinely plays to thousands of people per night, like on the current Rockzilla tour with co-headliners Falling In Reverse. In terms of touring, Papa Roach is arguably bigger now than they ever have been.
Perhaps that's because Shaddix and his bandmates (bassist Tobin Esperance, guitarist Jerry Horton and drummer Tony Palermo) have always ensured that their music is as raw and real as rock can get — telling tales of emotional turmoil, hope, redemption, and moving forward. That's exactly what's showcased on the group's latest album, Ego Trip.
Possibly their most musically diverse album yet, the band's 11th LP — but first on their own label, New Noize — finds the group churning hip-hop, alt-pop, and '90s rock influences into their guitar-driven crunch. Fueled by hard-driving riffs and Shaddix's confessional and motivational lyrics, the songs rage, empower, muse, and sometimes even soothe. "Swerve" (with Sueco and FEVER 333) admittedly veers into an "F the haters" rant that Shaddix admits is immature, but "was a little breath of fresh air in the process of making an album that was so deep."
One thing is for sure: The band's passion to make music that emotionally connects with their fans has not ebbed over time.
Just after the Rockzilla tour kicked off, Shaddix sat down for a video chat with GRAMMY.com to discuss musical diversity, personal growth, and how life as a father has greatly altered his perspective on life.
These days it seems there are three different Papa Roaches — the hip-hop group, the alt-rock/alt-pop band, and the hard rockers. Will the real Papa Roach please stand up?
I wouldn't say [we have an] identity crisis, we just have these different itches that we scratch. I've always looked up to bands like Faith No More or Queen that really go all over the place with their music. We don't sound anything like those bands, but that path is the one that we're taking where we keep evolving, trying new things, and also finding ways to hybrid all those styles together. Some songs, we're able to mesh all those pieces together, and some songs are a bit more straight-ahead rock.
A lot of your personal lyrics in the past were about "I," and it feels like more recent ones include more about "we" or "you," such as the new "Cut The Line." Do you feel like a mentor or father figure to some of your younger fans?
I've experienced a lot of personal growth over the last 10 or 15 years and really taking accountability for my actions in my life and my lifestyle. Finally putting the bottle down 10 years ago was game-changing for me.
As I've grown, as a father — I got three kids, and I've raised these boys up — it definitely changes my perspective on how I approach the mic, how I interact with fans, how I am on stage, who I am on a daily basis. It has evolved into a bit more of a mature me, but I still like to cut it up. Because when you're in rock and roll, you're forever young. But I feel like there is a certain level of responsibility that comes along with this thing now.
It wasn't necessarily the goal, but now that I'm here — and I understand how influential pop culture can be, how influential media can be, how influential music can be — I act accordingly. I want to have a positive impact. The goal for me, if I can distill it down, is not to be iconic or legendary. It is to be inspirational. That's it.
Congratulations on a decade of sobriety.
Yeah, man. I'm stoked, dude. It's a way of life for me.
Was it tough during the pandemic?
You know, I fell off. I was smoking some weed for a while during the pandemic, and I had to clean that up. But I didn't pick the bottle up. I've been cleaned up again for quite some time.
I will say that in the pandemic I got super fit. And then I got depressed and I got chunky again. Then I got fit again. Then I got a little chunky again. That's how long I was away from the road. I'm trying to take care of my physical fitness, because I'm out here on the road and I got a show to put on — and we're slaying it right now.
"No Apologies" is about forgiving your father for abandoning your family when you were young. He struggled with his own substance abuse problems. What age did you reconnect with him? And have you formed a relationship with him since then?
He left when I was 8, and I saw him one time until I was 22 years old. I finally searched him out when I was 22, and I found that I had two half-sisters. My dad was a war veteran. He came from a broken home himself, and abusive. His life was hell, to be completely honest. He was drafted and went to Vietnam. It just really destroyed my father, and he had demons from that. He really found some peace, I guess — maybe not even peace — in drugs and alcohol. So he continued with that for a lot of years.
He's still alive. I check in with him every once in a while just to say hey, but recently it's getting to that age where it's like, every time I get a call from one of my sisters, I'm always like, "Is this the call? Your dad's passed." Fortunately, that hasn't happened.
So I wanted to tell him, "Hey, old man, water under the bridge. I love you, dude, I understand. I understand why you are the way you are. And I hold no grudge, because I've been through my own s— and dealt with my own stuff. Life's too short to carry this thing to the grave." You know, I don't want to be at my father's funeral saying, "I wish I would have told him. I wish I would have cleared the air with him."
I think being a father myself has really softened my heart, because life's too short. I love that old man regardless, and he is where I get a lot of my personality from. I was around him till I was 8 years old, so that's a lot of formative years. There's a lot of Rico Shaddix in me. There's a line in the song: "I can see the you in me and I see double." It's because there's so many personality traits that he and I share, good and bad.
I wanted him to know that there's no need to say sorry about what went down. Please don't let that be a weight that just keeps dragging you down — because he's got enough demons in his life.
Ego Trip contains the band's first acoustic ballad, "Leave A Light On." Why did you decide to release one of those 11 albums in?
I just felt like, for how dynamic the range of music is on this album, we had to go all the way. We felt like it was time to do something that's straight acoustic, because every time we do some type of acoustic performance, our fans always love it.
We love stripping down these songs to their purest form. A bunch of things we write start on an acoustic guitar. We're sitting in the room riffing and working on melodies. It's either acoustic guitar or piano, and this one started on the guitar and piano and stayed there.
Lyrically, it was the right song to do. It's super emotional. I wrote this for my kids as a reminder that as they venture out as young men into this world — and they give themselves to this world, or they get caught up in the drama of this world or their own troubles or struggles — I just need them to know I'm here, no matter what. Never be afraid to come and sit with me and be open and honest.
I've built a relationship like that with my boys intentionally, so my kids come to me and talk to me about their feelings. I had that from my mother, but I didn't have that from my father, so I just wanted to write a song about that story.
It seems like you also rekindled your relationship with your original drummer, Dave Buckner, as he took part in a celebration of the 20th anniversary of your album Infest two years ago. Had you guys been in touch at all since he departed? Was that the first time you had reunited?
Eight years ago we really started to make a connection, and slowly but surely, these walls have been breaking down. We've become really good, close friends again. We chat regularly. When we got done with the record, I sent him the album. He's a sounding board sometimes.
I'm grateful that we've been able to build up a friendship again, because it was tough, man. I was hurt and he was hurt. We were all hurt. But it's crazy how life changes and evolves. Time can heal some wounds and forgiveness can heal some wounds — just letting the past be the past and move on. So I'm stoked that Dave is part of my life again.
I've got to tell you this conversation we had a few years ago. It was really healing for the both of us. I've been out here touring for years. I've missed a lot of stuff with my family and my kids. I would quietly follow him on social media, watch his relationship with his son, and watch all these moments that they're sharing.
He said to me, "Man, it's been kind of tough to sit on the sidelines and watch you guys crush it, but I know that my life where it is now is where I belong. My life is meant to be this way." And I'm like, "It's trippy, because I've sat over here admiring what a beautiful life you've built and this family you've built. This relationship with your son that you've built, and you've been able to enjoy those moments."
It was a pretty cool experience for both of us to hear we're quietly admiring each other's lives from the sidelines for a while. To be able to get that out across to each other is healing, man.
What is the most personal song on the new album for you?
They're all very personal, but one that I can really relate to and helps keep me grounded is "Ego Trip." It's a story of coming from this old version of myself into this new version of myself, and the realization that I gotta remind myself sometimes to never get high on my own supply. Don't believe your own hype. I used to for so long, and it would just get me in trouble.
It's a good reminder [that] the ego must be smashed for me to progress and evolve as a man — as a husband, as a father, as a frontman, as a rock star. It sounds counterproductive to being a rock star. But you see all these VH1 documentaries from back in the day when all these dudes were just chasing the dragon. It never ends well. People go down in flames. I got a different story to tell.
"Getting high on your supply" is also a drug metaphor, right?
Was it fun doing the "Feel Like Home" video two years back with your and all your bandmates' kids?
These kids wear me out, but they keep me young. My little guy Brixton keeps me on my toes. "Dad, can we go to the skatepark?" "I'd rather just be sitting around on my ass right now, but alright, let's go to the skate park."
They're definitely a light in my life. I honor and cherish my boys, and I'm so grateful I got the relationship that I do have with them. It's a good one.
Sometimes I get bummed out. I talked to my older sons when they were probably 14 or 15. I asked them point blank, "Do you resent me for being gone all the time? And not always being here for your birthdays or important things in your lives?" They both looked at me and they're like, "No, we don't resent you, we just get sad sometimes. It makes us sad that you can't be here. But it's something that we can get through, Dad. We get it, we understand it. It's tough on us sometimes."
That was a good conversation to have, because I didn't want my kids to be resenting me for this career I've had. I think my experience as a kid has really made me a bit more mindful of those scenarios. Plus, I know some other people that are children of rock stars and they have terrible, terrible relationships with their parents. I don't want to have that. That's what I'm going for.
Music Saved My Life: Mental Health Awareness Month 2018
Recognize and celebrate the healing power of music for our mental health
May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
Every year since 1949, the entire month has been reserved to raise awareness about the importance of managing mental health, shed light on the universal struggle of depression, anxiety and other aspects of mental well-being, and encourage people to reach out for help.
The Recording Academy recognizes the healing power of music and how the indescribable feelings of the right song at the right time can be both a sonic salve and an emotive line of communication that tells a listener, "No, you truly are not alone."
Throughout May, we will share important quotes and stories from artists who have made the choice to speak publicly about how their mental health has directly affected their lives, and how the healing power of music has helped them on their path toward a more peaceful, present and mindful life.
Check back daily for inspirational messages from your favorite artists, and each week for more expansive stories about how musicians have addressed their mental health. You'll learn how some of your favorite artists have benefitted from the healing power of music in their own lives, which we hope will serve as inspiration in yours.
Nielsen Reveals Decade's Most-Played Radio Songs
Nielsen Reveals Decade's Most-Played Radio Songs
Tim McGraw's 1999 song "Something Like That" was the decade's most-played song across all radio formats with 487,343 spins from Jan. 1, 2000, through Dec. 17, 2009, according to Nielsen BDS. "Yeah!" (2004), by Usher featuring Ludacris and Lil Jon, was the second most-played song, garnering 416,267 spins. Other top-played songs included Train's "Drops Of Jupiter" (2001) with 338,749 spins, Papa Roach's "Last Resort" (2000) with 221,767 spins and Flo Rida's "Low" (2007) with 206,864 spins. (12/23)
Cowell To Leave "American Idol"
Simon Cowell, judge for the music television show "American Idol," will resign his position when his contract expires in May 2010, according to a report by UK newspaper The Sun. Cowell has been with the show since its debut in 2002, helping to launch the careers of GRAMMY-winning artists such as Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. According to the report, Cowell will focus on launching a version of UK music TV program "The X Factor" in the United States in 2011. (12/23)
Photo: Evening Standard / Stringer via Getty Images
Remembering Christine McVie Of Fleetwood Mac Through Her GRAMMY Triumphs, From 'Rumours' Onward
Unflashy and undramatic, McVie's contributions to Fleetwood Mac led to some of their greatest contributions to popular song — with two GRAMMY wins to boot.
In an acclaimed career that spanned more than half a century, Christine McVie staked her claim as one of the most potent singer-songwriters of her generation. A beloved original member of the seminal rock group Fleetwood Mac, with whom she sang, wrote and played keyboard, she and her bandmates catapulted to fame in the early '70s, scoring GRAMMY gold and influencing generations of musicians.
"As a GRAMMY Award winner and 2018 Person of the Year honoree, the Recording Academy has been honored to celebrate Christine McVie and her work with Fleetwood Mac throughout her legendary career," Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. stated. In an announcement of her death, the remaining members of Fleetwood Mac mourned her passing by saying "She was truly one-of-a-kind, special, and talented beyond measure."
McVie, who passed away Nov. 30 at 79 after a brief illness, may have not been as flashy, or as dramatic, as fellow Fleetwood Mac members Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. But McVie's contributions to the band led to some of their greatest contributions to popular song, with two GRAMMY wins among seven nominations.
The tour de force that is Rumours is one of the most acclaimed and best-selling albums of all time and an inductee into GRAMMY Hall Of Fame. The masterpiece earned McVie her first GRAMMY (for Album of the Year no less) at the 20th Annual Ceremony in 1978, also earning a nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance By A Group.
Fleetwood Mac's 11th studio album, Rumours was actually McVie's 7th album with the band after making her name in the English blues scene, rising through the ranks as part of the band Chicken Shack, and even releasing a solo album.
In 1971, McVie joined Fleetwood Mac alongside her then-husband John McVie. The potent combination of the McVies, along with Mick Fleetwood, Buckingham and Nicks, catalyzed and detonated into the stratospheric Rumours.
"It's hard to say (what it was like) because we were looking at it from the inside," McVie said about the iconic album earlier this year. "We were having a blast and it felt incredible to us that we were writing those songs. That's all I can say about it, really."
McVie's coyness may stem from the fact that prior to its production, Christine and John divorced after eight years of marriage. Meanwhile, Buckingham and Nicks were having a tumultuous relationship themselves.
McVie is credited as sole songwriter on a handful of instant-classic Rumours tracks, all written during a perilous moment. "I thought I was drying up," explained McVie. "I was practically panicking because every time I sat down at a piano, nothing came out. Then, one day, I just sat down and wrote in the studio, and the four-and-a-half songs of mine on the album are a result of that."
That includes "Don't Stop," an ironically peppy ode considering the turmoil McVie and her bandmates were grappling with at the time. With lyrics that staunchly proclaim "Yesterday's gone!," the song was reportedly written as a plea from Christine to John to move on from their relationship.
"I dare say, if I hadn't joined Fleetwood Mac, we might still be together. I just think it's impossible to work in the band with your spouse," McVie later said. John, meanwhile, was oblivious to the song's message during its production and early acclaim. He revealed in 2015: "I've been playing it for years and it wasn't until somebody told me, 'Chris wrote that about you.' Oh really?"
John was also equally ignorant to the source inspiration of "You Make Loving Fun"; McVie told him the joyful song ("Sweet wonderful you/ You make me happy with the things you do") was about her dog. In reality, it was about an affair with the band's lighting designer.
"It was a therapeutic move," McVie later mused of her lyrical penchant for hiding brutal honesty in plain sight. "The only way we could get this stuff out was to say it, and it came out in a way that was difficult. Imagine trying to sing those songs onstage with the people you're singing them about."
When McVie was asked earlier this year what song she written she was most proud of, it was an easy answer: the Rumours track "Songbird."
"For some peculiar reason, I wrote "Songbird" in half an hour; I've never been able to figure out how I did that," she told People. "I woke up in the middle of the night and the song was there in my brain, chords, lyrics, melody, everything. I played it in my bedroom and didn't have anything to tape it on. So I had to stay awake all night so I wouldn't forget it and I came in the next morning to the studio and had (producer) Ken Callait put it on a 2-track. That was how the song ended up being. I don't know where that came from."
McVie's most recent GRAMMY nominations were for her contributions to The Dance, Fleetwood Mac's 1997 live album that featured her stand-outs from Rumours along with the McVie penned-tracks "Say You Love Me" and "Everywhere."
The album earned McVie and the band GRAMMY nominations for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal (for the Lindsay Buckingham-written "The Chain") and Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal (for "Silver Springs," penned by Stevie Nicks). It also landed a nomination for Best Pop Album. It was her final album with the band before a 15-year self-imposed retirement.
In her final years, McVie was a vital member of Fleetwood Mac, including in 2018 when they became the first band honored as MusicCare's Person of the Year.
Speaking to the Recording Academy before the ceremony, Nicks expressed that her initial goal upon joining the group was a humble one: "Christine and I made a pact. We said we will never, ever be treated as a second-class citizen amongst our peers."
Photos (L-R): Joseph Okpako/WireImage; Tim Mosenfelder/FilmMagic; Prince Williams/Wireimage; Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Justin Combs Events; Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
15 Must-Hear New Albums Out This Month: SZA, Neil Young, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, NCT Dream & More
Rounding out the year, here are the can't-miss releases and massive new albums dropping in December 2022 from Weezer, Metro Boomin, NOFX, Jacquees, Ab-Soul, and many others.
And just like that, 2022 is almost done — but not before we get another round of must-hear albums. December's slate of releases is set to send the year out on a high note, with something for all tastes.
This month heralds much-anticipated returns from R&B innovator SZA, with S.O.S., and rap super-producer Metro Boomin, with the mysterious HEROES & VILLAINS. December's riches also include Bad MFs from West Coast hip-hop supergroup Mount Westmore, indie-rock lifers Weezer dropping SZNZ: Winter and a loaded, possibly final album from punk-rock misfits NOFX. There's also new-generation R&B (RINI’s Ultraviolet EP and Jacquees' Sincerely For You), dark techno (Terence Fixmer's Shifting Signals), soul-baring indie (Sophie Jamieson's Choosing), and much more.
Below, check out a guide to the 15 essential albums dropping just in time for the festive season. — Jack Tregoning
Contributed reporting by Ashlee Mitchell
SZA - S.O.S.
Release date: TBD
Five years after her GRAMMY-nominated debut album, Ctrl, it's about to be SZA season all over again. While details are still pending, the alternative R&B star is expected to drop her second album, S.O.S., this month, following the single "Shirt" and its teaser follow-up, "PSA."
In a revealing Billboard cover story, SZA spoke frankly about the pressure she feels to release the album while navigating the music industry and her fans' expectations. As always with SZA, the music itself speaks volumes, and the darkly seductive "Shirt" (accompanied by a music video co-starring SZA and Academy Award nominee LaKeith Stanfield in a riff on Bonnie and Clyde) suggests S.O.S. will be something to savor. — J.T.
Metro Boomin - HEROES & VILLAINS
Release date: December 2
To prepare fans for his new album, HEROES & VILLAINS, sought-after rap producer Metro Boomin went all-out on a short film starring his collaborators Young Thug and Gunna alongside celebrated actors Morgan Freeman and LaKeith Stanfield. Following that flex, the artist's first solo LP in four years is set to feature a who's who of rap, with an exact tracklist still to be announced.
Metro Boomin's previous album, 2018's Not All Heroes Wear Capes, featured the likes of Travis Scott, 21 Savage and Gucci Mane rapping over the producer's dark, trap-centric beats. This time around, he's keeping his cards close to his chest, slyly sharing a video of the studio sessions on his Instagram with the caption, "When the sequel is even better than the first." All will be revealed on Dec. 2. — J.T.
Neil Young - Harvest (50th Anniversary Edition)
Release date: December 2
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Neil Young's seminal folk-rock album Harvest, released to great acclaim in 1972. Featuring indelible songs like "Heart of Gold," "Old Man" and "The Needle and The Damage Done," Harvest was the best-selling album of that year in the US.
To celebrate the milestone, Young is releasing a special anniversary edition, available in either CD or vinyl box-set. Extras include a new two-hour documentary called Harvest Time, an official release of Young's BBC In Concert performance, and a hardcover book featuring never-before-seen photos and notes by legendary rock photographer Joel Bernstein. Consider this the festive gift for the Neil Young completist in your life. — J.T.
RINI - UltraViolet
Release date: December 2
After breaking out with his 2021 debut album, Constellations, RINI returns this month with the seven-track EP, Ultraviolet. The Filipino-Australian R&B talent, who now calls Los Angeles home, pairs his indelible voice with slinky, late-night production that pulls the listener close.
Ahead of Ultraviolet, RINI has released the singles "Haunt Me" and "Selfish," featuring GRAMMY-winning rapper BEAM, which pair his themes of love and longing with gauzy, head-nodding beats. "I want to be able to show the world and myself that I'm growing, not just in music, but as a person," RINI told Uproxx in May. On Ultraviolet, which also features the slick bedroom jams "Something to Feel" and "Your Eyes," that evolution is evident. — J.T.
NOFX - Double Album
Release date: December 2
SoCal punk veterans NOFX have always kept up a prolific output, and this month the band returns with their 15th LP, Double Album. Following last year's Single Album, the conveniently titled Double Album features 10 new songs with perfectly NOFX titles like "Punk Rock Cliché" and "Is It Too Soon if Time Is Relative?" Lead single "Darby Crashing Your Party" showcases the band at their hard-riffing, rowdy best, with frontman Fat Mike clearly relishing lyrical volleys like, "A middle-class clown waging lower class war/A Beverly Hillbilly peeled off the floor."
In a statement announcing the new album, Fat Mike revealed the songs were recorded at the same time as Single Album, then finished off later. "I think it's a very enjoyable album, and maybe our funniest," he added. It could also be NOFX's parting gift — responding to a fan’s Instagram comment, Fat Mike announced that 2023 will be the band's "last year" after an "amazing run." — J.T.
Terence Fixmer - Shifting Signals
Release date: December 2
French producer Terence Fixmer has been one of the most intriguing figures in the electronic music scene for well over a decade. Over six past solo albums, numerous EPs and standalone releases, Fixmer has perfected a dark, gritty sound that melds techno with the looser industrial spirit of electronic body music (EBM).
Fixmer's seventh album, Shifting Signals, continues in that vein while allowing for new textures to creep in. "On each album I aim for something different but I retain the core sound, which is always there and often dark and melancholic," the producer wrote in a statement. "Sometimes the balance tips slightly and on this album, I'm striving to be freer and open myself up more to melody."
That openness to different modes is showcased on the atmospheric, piano-led "Synthetic Minds," which evokes a John Carpenter film score, while fellow singles "Corne de Brume" and "No Latitude for Errors" are built for heady techno dance floors. — J.T.
Sophie Jamieson - Choosing
Release date: December 2
On her debut album, Choosing, London-based singer-songwriter Sophie Jamieson doesn't shy from difficult or uncomfortable emotions. Lead single, "Sink" lays bare her push-pull relationship with alcohol over a lulling bed of piano and drums. That theme of emotional vulnerability carries through the LP's 11 songs, which foreground Jamieson's enchanting voice and plain-spoken lyrics.
"The title of this album is so important," Jamieson wrote in a statement. "Without it, this might sound like another record about self-destruction and pain, but at heart, it's about hope, and finding strength. It's about finding the light at the end of the tunnel and crawling towards it." Choosing arrives via Bella Union, the tastemaking label led by Simon Raymonde, formerly of Scottish dream pop band Cocteau Twins. — J.T.
White Lung - Premonition
Release date: December 2
Canadian punk rockers White Lung weren't expecting to take six years to follow up 2016's celebrated Paradise. As the story goes, the band got together in their hometown of Vancouver in 2017, expecting to rip out their final album before parting ways. In the studio, frontwoman Mish Barber-Way discovered she was pregnant with her first child — which, along with a global pandemic and another child, put the album plans on ice.
Fast forward to 2022, and White Lung's fifth and final album, Premonition, is finally here. With all that extra time to marinate, Premonition is a thrilling return from the trio, mining deeper themes with the same raucous, kick-down-the-door energy that fans expect. The album opens furiously with "Hysteric", and also features the singles "Date Night" and "Tomorrow," which match Barber-Way's impassioned vocals with muscular punk-rock riffing.
"We felt like this record was the right endpoint and we are happy the songs will finally be released," the band wrote in a statement. — J.T.
A Boogie Wit da Hoodie - Me vs. Myself
Release date: December 9
New York's A Boogie wit da Hoodie has been steadily hyping the release of his fourth album, Me Vs Myself, throughout 2022. Originally scheduled for November, the album will drop this month, right in time for A Boogie's hometown album launch at the iconic Apollo Theater in Harlem.
Me Vs Myself was preceded by a pair of singles, "Take Shots," featuring Tory Lanez, and "Ballin," which both showcase the rapper's supremely confident flow and wavy beats. While the full tracklist is not yet confirmed, A Boogie's previous album, ARTIST 2.0, covered the R&B and rap spectrum with guests like Summer Walker, Khalid, Young Thug and Lil Uzi Vert, without pulling focus from the main star. The rapper has already lined up dates for the Me Vs Myself tour stretching into 2023, so it's a great time to bet on A Boogie. — J.T.
Mount Westmore - Snoop, Cube, 40, $hort
Release date: December 9
When living legends Snoop Dogg, E-40, Too Short and Ice Cube formed the supergroup Mount Westmore, West Coast rap heads took notice. After several hints that a collaborative album was coming, Mount Westmore made the surprise decision to release their debut, Bad MFs, exclusively as an NFT via the blockchain-based platform Gala Music.
The album arrives on streaming services this month under a new title, Snoop, Cube, 40, $hort, featuring additional songs not included on the NFT version. A spirit of loose fun and ride-or-die friendship carries through all the singles released so far, including the swaggering "Bad MFs" and the bass-heavy, light-hearted "Big Subwoofer." As Snoop put it to HotNewHipHop, "You bring the legends of the West Coast together, something great will always happen." — J.T.
Leland Whitty - Anyhow
Release date: December 9
Best known as a member of Toronto-based jazz ensemble BADBADNOTGOOD, Leland Whitty is a true multi-instrumentalist. On his seven-track solo release, Anyhow, Whitty oversaw all production and composition, moving deftly between guitar, synthesizer, woodwinds and strings.
Following his scores for indie films Disappearance at Clifton Hill and Learn to Swim, Whitty was inspired to combine cinematic composition with rock and jazz instrumentation in his own project. Lead single "Awake" perfectly strikes that balance with twinkling keys, mournful strings and an insistent drum beat, while follow-up "Glass Moon" conjures a similarly beguiling mood. Members of BADBADNOTGOOD and Whitty's musician brother also joined the studio sessions, making Anyhow a family affair. — J.T.
Jacquees - Sincerely For You
Release date: December 16
On "Say Yea", the sultry bedroom anthem he dropped back in May, Jacquees croons, "Girl, you overdue for some romantic s—." That simple line is something of a mission statement for the R&B casanova, whose third album, Sincerely For You, drops this month.
The LP features "Say Yea" alongside 16 more R&B jams, including singles "Tipsy," which captures the singer's blurry plea to a lover, and the smoothly boastful "Still That." Elsewhere, Sincerely For You offers up guest turns from Future (who also executive produced the album), 21 Savage and Tory Lanez, plus the R&B dream team of 6lack and Summer Walker on "Tell Me It's Over." On his socials, Jacquees dedicated the album to "everybody who been there for me along the way" and promised to deliver only "real R&B." — J.T.
Ab-Soul - Herbert
Release date: December 16
Six hard-won years after his last album, the divisive, conspiracy theory-heavy Do What Thou Wilt., Ab-Soul has found his drive again. The rapper from Carson, California returns this month with a deeply personal album that shares his birth name, Herbert.
Ab-Soul's new outlook was previewed in lead single "Do Better," which reckons with the scars of his past and looks to the future with powerful clarity. The next single, "Gang'Nem," featuring Houston rapper FRE$H and produced by fellow Top Dawg Entertainment mainstay Sounwave, also revisits his upbringing and pays respect to L.A. street culture over a woozy, hard-hitting beat.
For fans of Ab-Soul's dense lyrical style and gravelly flow, Herbert is an eagerly-anticipated return to the rap limelight. — J.T.
NCT DREAM - Candy
Release date: December 19
NCT Dream, the youngest sub-group of Neo Culture Technology (NCT), has seen exponential growth since they rebranded as a fixed unit in 2020. The septet is set to release a winter special EP called Candy on Dec. 19. The mini-album's six tracks, include lead single "Candy," which was originally performed by H.O.T. in 1996. The album will be the first holiday release for any NCT sub-group, following a slew of successful releases from NCT Dream this year.
The group released their second studio album, Glitch, in March 2022, followed by their repackaged Beatbox in May. Their first feature film, NCT Dream The Movie: In a Dream, released worldwide on Nov. 30 and Dec. 3 and documents the opening days of their tour in Seoul. The group will finish their tour in Japan by February 2023. — Ashlee Mitchell
Weezer - SZNZ: Winter
Release date: December 21
This has been a remarkably good year to be a Weezer fan. Always pleasingly prolific, in 2022 the band decided to release a four-EP series under the name SZNZ, each timed to coincide with a new season.
Following Spring, Summer and Autumn editions, SZNZ: Winter arrives just in time for peak coziness. While the complete tracklist is not yet known, Weezer performed the EP in full for an intimate crowd at the Troubadour in Los Angeles (using their favored alias Goat Punishment), with new highlights including "I Want A Dog" and "The One That Got Away."
While frontman Rivers Cuomo has described SZNZ: Winter as having a sad vibe that suits snowed-in days, you can always count on Weezer to cut the melancholy with some power-pop verve. — J.T.