It’s been a big year for hip-hop. Cardi B is blowing up. J. Cole hosted a couple free events and surprised everyone with a new album. Kendrick Lamar created a song for Black Panther. Drake took a million dollars worth of music video money and gave it away. And well, Bruno Mars always makes music that’s catchy as hell, but this year he brought the 90s back.
And now you can go see all of them live this summer. Here are our picks for hip-hop artists and tours to catch this summer. Take your pick, grab your tickets, and go see some hip-hop.
Kendrick Lamar – The Championship Tour
Performing with SZA and Schoolboy Q on The Championship Tour, Kendrick Lamar has already started traveling the country but you can still catch him throughout May and June in cities all over the US. His album DAMN. was one of the biggest of 2017, with seven Grammy nominations and collaborations with the likes of Rihanna and U2. The guy just won six Billboard Awards and he’s the first rapper to ever win a Pulitzer prize for his music – so that’s crazy impressive. They say he’s “captured the complexity of modern African-American life” with his lyrics. His songs are fun, upbeat, and insightful, yet filled with social commentary.
Lamar’s latest big streaming hit “All The Stars” with SZA is from the Black Panther soundtrack so you can expect a live performance of that during this tour for sure. And of course, everybody’s favorite (including President Obama’s) “HUMBLE.”
Lamar is also showing his face at several music festivals this summer, like Firefly and Hangout, and doing crazy awkward things like letting white girls on stage to rap. So really, you never know what you’ll get at one of his concerts. Plus you’ve got SZA with her soulful R&B sounds and Schoolboy Q whose platinum raps range from playful to thoughtful.
Drake & Migos – Aubrey & the Three Migos Tour
Everybody’s favorite Canadian rapper with a sensitive side, Drake is touring this summer with hip hop trio Migos. They’ve just added more dates to their North American tour, cleverly called Aubrey & the Three Migos Tour (because Drake’s first name is actually Aubrey). Word on the street is that Drake is releasing his new album Scorpion in June before kicking off the tour in July, so that’s pretty exciting. A few singles have already been released this year, like “God’s Plan” (the one where he gave away $1 million to people in Miami instead of making an elaborate music video – what a guy!). “Nice for What” came out next and shot to number one in its place. And Drake just recently appeared on “Yes Indeed” with Lil Baby.
Migos has also had a HUGE couple of years. They’ve appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone, released two albums – including their latest, Culture II – and played their hit “Bad and Boujee” with its trap vibes all over the world.
Drake appeared on their hit “Walk It Talk It” so you know there will be at least a few collabs on stage. Migos has shot to international fame just recently and this tour is their biggest yet, so fans will be lining up to see Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff (their stage names, of course) in action.
Bruno Mars & Cardi B – 24K Magic Tour
There’s the question of whether Bruno Mars is hip-hop or pop, but we’ll let him have both. Bruno Mars is first and foremost a performer, always showing off his great style and dance moves alongside his incredibly catchy tunes. His 24K Magic Tour is sure to be just as cool as he is. You’ll be able to catch Bruno Mars solo in several cities earlier in the summer before he joins up with Cardi B to travel North America on tour together (she’s pregnant at the moment, FYI).
Seems like recently everything Cardi B touches turns to gold too. The Bronx rapper and “Bodak Yellow” singer has gone from stripper to superstar in a couple of years, with stints as an Instagram personality in between. She’s got bold lyrics and personality, and all of her recent songs have gone straight to the top of the charts, including her latest “I Like It.”
Bruno and Cardi B are culminating things with four nights in the Staples Center in LA. We’d get tickets just to see them perform “Finesse” together. Those amazing outfits and dance moves just take you back to the days of Fresh Prince.
This humble North Carolina rapper is super involved in the community and into helping out the less fortunate. But lucky for us, he’s making time to travel the country this summer with Young Thug on the heels of his new album KOD. Beginning in Miami in August, they’ll be breezing through New Orleans, Texas, California, Vegas, Canada, and nearly everywhere else before heading back to the east coast. KOD just set streaming records after J.Cole held a free listening session in NYC and London a couple of days before releasing it – sort of as a surprise for fans. All of those tracks have now made the Hot 100. All of them.
Cole has been referred to as rap’s moral compass, shaking his head at the obsession with money, drugs, and partying in his lyrics, while admitting he’s fallen victim to it himself. He almost never features other artists on his albums. In fact, KOD has one song which features an artist known as kiLL edward… which turns out to be Cole with his voice slowed down. TBD how they’ll handle that one live.
Oh, and PS: Young Thug is another rapper who has collaborated with artists like Nicki Minaj and Future. He’s sure to get the crowd hyped.