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The official newspaper of Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School.

Inside Prep

The official newspaper of Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School.

Inside Prep

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Which record is the 2024 Grammy Rap Album of the Year?

The case for the top two contenders: UTOPIA and HEROES & VILLAINS
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Ben Grimes ‘25

UTOPIA

Throughout 2021, the most highly anticipated album in rap was undoubtedly Travis Scott’s third studio album: UTOPIA. Following the success of his 2018 album ASTROWORLD and 2019 EP JACKBOYS, Scott was cemented as one of the faces of American hip-hop music. Scott had teased the album for years, and revealed the name in 2020. In 2021, he revealed through interviews more information about the album, with fans anticipating an imminent release date.

Unfortunately, in late 2021, disaster struck. At Scott’s annual festival in Houston, ten lives were lost due to overcrowding issues. This tragedy put the album on hold, and Scott went dark in the aftermath of the event. However, the hype for UTOPIA did not quiet down. Teasers for the album returned in 2023, with Scott and his entourage sporting suitcases donning the logo for his album. In July, Scott revealed the release date for the album: July 28, 2023.

On July 21, a week before the album’s release, Scott dropped his lead single: “K-POP.” Even though the single featured two of the most popular streaming artists in music (The Weeknd and Bad Bunny), it was met with criticism because of its “basic” sound. Many listeners feared that earlier reports of Scott returning to sounds from his earlier days were false, and that UTOPIA would just be another album made to become viral on social media. A week later, though, Scott proved any doubters wrong.

The first three songs of UTOPIA set the stage for the record. “HYAENA” serves as an introduction to the album, beginning and ending with different samples focused on the current suboptimal state of the world. Scott promises a trip to Utopia in  “THANK GOD” serves as a more typical Scott song, with a catchy chorus and crisp rap verses. “MODERN JAM” is slightly more unorthodox, as Scott teams up with up-and-coming Teezo Touchdown to pair Mike Dean synths with energetic vocals. Of the 18 songs on the record, “MODERN JAM” strays furthest away from the precedent set by Scott’s music, and is undoubtedly the album’s most experimental track.

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Throughout the rest of the album, Scott showcases his versatility as an artist and producer (Scott is credited with producing 14 of the 18 songs on UTOPIA). On “MY EYES,” Scott begins with a lullaby-like melody before switching the beat into a pure rap, including reflective lines about the 2021 disaster in Houston. On “FE!N,” Scott pairs up with Playboi Carti to create a party anthem. On megahit “I KNOW ?,” Scott ditches autotune to create another mainstream song with a catchy verse.

However, what truly sets the album apart as the deserved winner of the Rap Album of the Year award are the last two songs, which in my opinion are the two best on the album. Both “TELEKENESIS” and “TIL FURTHER NOTICE” are five-minute-long songs that take the listener on an elevated journey, with heavenly features on the former from Future and SZA and on the latter from James Blake. All in all, the two wrap up the album nicely, with Scott first mentioning a “trip to eternal-lasting life” in Utopia, and then promising to keep his fans posted with any news of future projects.

HEROES & VILLAINS

Metro Boomin exploded onto the rap scene at the young age of 21, producing the hit single Tuesday for iLoveMakonnen. He kept this momentum from his debut, producing songs such as Jumpan, Low life, and Bad and Boujee, which peaked at number one. From here, he dropped his critically acclaimed album with 21 Savage, SAVAGE MODE, and followed it up with SAVAGE MODE II, along with Perfect Timing, Without Warning, Double or Nothing, and, NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES. Being firmly established in the rap industry, Metro would announce the sequel to the latter album in 2022, generating significant anticipation. The debut single “Creepin’” with the Weeknd and 21 Savage would chart at number 3, only building more hype. The album was finally released on December 2nd, 2022. 

This was a breath of fresh air for the rap genre. Metro Boomin’s production prowess shines through in every track, offering a completely new sound that pushes the boundaries of traditional rap music. With each beat, he crafts an immersive experience that captivates listeners and elevates the genre to new heights. HEROES & VILLAINS showcases Metro Boomin’s ability to blend diverse influences, seamlessly weaving together elements of trap, hip-hop, and electronic music to create a sound that is uniquely his own.

Beyond its innovative production, HEROES & VILLAINS stands out for its compelling lyrical content and guest appearances from some of the industry’s most talented artists, including features from John Legend, Future, Travis Scott, The Weeknd, 21 Savage, and A$AP Rocky. Though Metro Boomin himself is not a rapper, he collaborates with top-tier artists who each bring their own distinct style and perspective to the album. Metro Boomin’s ability to curate a cohesive and compelling body of work sets HEROES & VILLAINS apart as a standout album in the rap landscape, deserving of recognition and acclaim at the highest level, such as the Grammy Awards.

Furthermore, the Grammys have shown an affinity in the past for new sounds and music. Previously, the Grammy Rap album of the year has gone to albums such as Tyler the Creator’s Igor and Call Me if You Get Lost, which both were considered trailblazers for the genre. Similarly, Kendrick Lamar’s Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, which represented Lamar shifting his entire sound, won just last year. Metro Boomin’s synthesis of genres and voices represents something the rap industry simply has not seen before, only adding to his case to win the award. 

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