Kiana Fitzgerald

At this point, it feels borderline-disrespectful to discuss the rocky road that Dawn Richard has journeyed to the present. But the hype around her isn't nearly lofty enough just yet, so it only makes sense to start at the beginning.

Chance the Rapper is determined.

On Saturday night, Beyoncé shook the music world with an hourlong feature on HBO, and then a surprise album — Lemonade.

Beyoncé couldn't have produced a body of work this defiant, or blunt, two years ago. Lemonade has been made possible by the cultural, social and political upheaval we're in the midst of, triggered by the deaths of boys and fathers and women, who will never be forgotten.

Without a doubt, Anderson .Paak is the new "it" guy of that place where R&B and hip-hop overlap. It sort of happened overnight, and we can kind of credit Dr. Dre, who gave .Paak permission to leave his fingerprints all over Dre's long-awaited return to music, 2015's Compton.

On paper, Vince Staples headlining an NPR showcase doesn't make a lick of sense. He's a young, black rapper, with production that veers toward the dissonant and gritty, and aggressive, colorful lyrics that speak pointedly to the systemic issues that plague his hometown of Long Beach, Calif. But in action, Staples closing out a night that also featured soul, Chicano punk, indie rock and country made all the sense in the world.

Late Thursday evening, Kendrick Lamar crept back into our lives like a thief in the night. With his new album untitled unmastered., Lamar and his label Top Dawg Entertainment offer us a look at the steps it took to get to his fully formed magnum opus — 2015's To Pimp A Butterfly — and show us that they can stop the world when they feel like it.