Makonnen Sheran is a whimsical self-made rapper, singer, and producer who goes by iLoveMakonnen. Born and (initially) raised in Los Angeles, California, he moved outside of Atlanta, Georgia following a custody battle. In Georgia, his mother helped him get into making and producing music. Unfortunate circumstances -- a two-year period in which he was under house arrest following the accidental shooting death of a friend -- made him focus more on music, as well as on blogging and interviewing artists, which enabled him to hone his craft and network. From 2011 through 2013, Makonnen released several albums and EPs, including the first volumes in his Drink More Water series. He gradually built a reputation for his surreal and seemingly lackadaisical approach to singing and rapping. In 2014, Miley Cyrus boosted his profile by posting an image of the I Love Makonnen EP to Instagram. Later in the year, Drake remixed and inserted himself into Makonnen's "Club Goin' Up on a Tuesday" and released the result on his Warner-supported OVO Sound label. Retitled "Tuesday," the track reached number 12 on the Hot 100 in November. A second EP, I Love Makonnen 2, arrived on OVO in late 2015. A year later, Drink More Water 6 became the first mixtape in the series to be released through a major label. Parting ways with OVO in 2016, he released the single "Side to Side." The next year, he collaborated with HUNTAR on "4AM," Rae Sremmurd on "Love," and P.S. 211 on "I Got Work." 2019 brought the Gucci Mane collaboration "Spendin'." ~ Andy Kellman
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released March 18, 2016 | Warner Records
When Drake discovered, then hired, L.A.-based MC and singer iLoveMakonnen, it was like he brought forth an exaggerated version of himself. On Drink More Water 6, a mixtape distributed by a major label, this has never been more evident, as heartache tunes over indie production bump next to swaggering singalongs like "Big Gucci" and "Solo" (the latter track laying out Makonnen's release schedule for 2016 within its lyrics). It's the kind of stuff that made Drake a superstar, and yet "Sellin'" is a reminder that this MC came up the ski-mask way, even when the song sounds like an endearing and clumsy G-Unit track and Biz Markie just joined the crew. It's weird, but wonderful, as is the closing "Where I'm At" ("We be hangin with Jamaicans and takin' all their jerk") where the dreamy music builds crystal cathedrals before it all tumbles into a screwed and chopped outro. Shroomers in love will undoubtedly drop "I Only Trip with U" at their wedding, but don't think this is the daisy age, as De La Soul never talked so tough and street. When it comes to heartache, this MC/singer is a wallower, making "Want You" and "Back Again" both hard goes for casual fans, although fan club members will want to throw the man a hug. Complaints are tempered by the fact that this is a mixtape, where casual segues and half-finished cuts are the thing, and with so many compelling moments, Drink More Water 6 offers much wider appeal than the usual sideline release. ~ David Jeffries
Rap/Hip-Hop - Released October 7, 2016 | OVO Sound - Warner Records
Atlanta-based hip-hop producer I Love Makonnen originally self-released his self-titled debut online in July of 2014, eventually grabbing the attention of pop stars for his easygoing delivery and murky, drugged-out beats. Miley Cyrus raved about Makonnen on social media and Drake contacted the producer about reworking his tune "Club Goin' Up on a Tuesday," turning in a remixed collaborative version (with the title shortened to just "Tuesday") days later. "Tuesday" rose to the top of the charts, eventually being nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 2014 Grammy Awards. This wide-scale re-release of Makonnen's debut EP includes seven tracks, the updated Drake-collaborative version of "Tuesday," the drug-dealing anthem "I Don't Sell Molly No More," and the trap-flavored tunes "Look at Wrist" and "Doubted," both featuring cameos from Key! ~ Fred Thomas
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