Curren$y – The Carrollton Heist (February 14)
Curren$y is one of the youngest OGs in hip-hop history. He’s been in the game so long that he’s been a part of both New Orleans hip-hop empires No Limit and Cash Money. His output tends to ebb and flow, and after a massive $3m settlement (according to some lady named Jasmine) in his lawsuit with Damon Dash, he appears to be on an upswing of productivity. On The Carrolton Heist, he returns to the studio with the maestro Alchemist, with whom he collaborated on the stellar Covert Coup tape back in 2011. We haven’t heard anything from it yet, but would be utterly shocked if it was anything less than pure flames.
Blowfly – 77 Funky Trombones (Saustex Media, February 15)
Clarence Henry Reid, better known by his stage name Blowfly, died last month in Ft. Lauderdale. He’d been making music since the 1960s, having written for the likes of Irma Thomas, Sam & Dave, and Betty Wright, but came into his own in the 70s with his sexually explicit proto-rap recordings as Blowfly. 77 Rusty Trombones is his first posthumous release, filled with raunchy R&B parodies and filthy bedroom humor. RIP, you big freak.
BJ The Chicago Kid – In My Mind (February 19, Motown)
If it wasn’t already clear, BJ (Bryan James Sledge) hails from the Windy City®. In My Mind is his major-label debut, but he got one of his first breaks in 2006, in the form of a guest spot on Kanye West’s Mission Impossible III soundtrack contribution “Impossible.” Since then, he’s been busy lending his talents to some of the biggest names in hip-hop, including Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, Joey Bada$$, Busta Rhymes, Dr. Dre, and MF Doom. That he’s talented is clear; what remains to be seen is whether or not he can carry an entire LP on his own. “Love Inside” is a good start.
Deep Sea Diver – Secrets (February 19, Self-Released)
She’s barely in her 30s, but Jessica Dobson is already on the third leg of her career. Signed to Atlantic as a wide-eyed 19-year-old, she left two records on the shelf before touring in bands for the likes of Beck and Conor Oberst, with stints in Spoon and The Shins, as well. She’s been releasing her own music as Deep Sea Diver since 2009; Secrets is its fourth release. Her guitar chops have always been undeniable, but Dobson’s growth as a songwriter is most apparent here.
Mavis Staples – Livin’ On A High Note (February 19, ANTI-)
The indie Staples Singer is back with a new joint, and a documentary on HBO, to boot. Mavis Staples, the legendary soul and R&B singer that came up with her family’s band The Staples Singers, signed to ANTI- almost a decade ago, and has made records with the likes of Ry Cooder and Jeff Tweedy. Her latest, Livin’ On A High Note, features production from M. Ward and contributions from Bon Iver, Neko Case, Nick Cave, and Merrill Garbus (tUnE-yArds), among others. The first single, “High Note,” has a pleasing enough tele tone and Staples aching croon, but we’re hoping her 79-year-old pipes are still strong enough to flex a little harder on the rest of the record. Look for Mavis!, an upcoming HBO documentary on her life, premiering February 29.