When I kept seeing Chance The Rapper’s name around the internet, I always wondered “What the hell is supposed to be so good about this guy”. I never truly gave him an honest listen. Yet, there has been a clamor over the release of Acid Rap. So, being the inquisitive reviewer I am, I decided to download his music and give him an honest spin. I am happy to say that this is the most surprisingly dope music I have heard this year.
Keyword: surprisingly. I wasn’t expecting anything.
It is hard to pinpoint Chance The Rapper as an emcee. He is serious, ad-lib heavy, and nonsensical in one fell swoop. This is the same young emcee that will make inspirational jams like “Interlude (That’s Love)” and then come with something as irreverently foolish as the Action Bronson assisted “NaNa”. Showing great appreciation for hip hop, he brings the Slum Village sampled “Everybody’s Something”. Even the overtly serious “Acid Rap” works within the mixture of this album. Quizzically, Chance The Rapper brings a miscellaneous mixture of ideas, tracks, inspirations, and approaches to make a gumbo of an album.
The production on this album tends to work with whatever Chance The Rapper is feeling like at the time. For example, Ceej of Two-9 brought up some old school R&B sampled for the madness that Chance got to relay on “Pusha Man”. Another example is when Nate Fox brings classical Jamaican riddims on “Favorite Song”. Even further is the moody boom bap that Jake One brings on “Acid Rap”. It is safe to say that “monotony” won’t be used in reference to the production on this mixtape.
Chance The Rapper has made himself seem distinguished on Acid Rap. Although many won’t take to his rhyme style or ad-libs, there is a chance that they will respect his charisma and lyrical ability. He also has an ear for diversity in the production he selects. Just making it out of high school, Chance The Rapper looks to be in a prime position to make hip hop a lifelong career move. As long as he keeps making music from the heart, he will be just fine.
Spree Wilson is both inspired and inspirational. Being the Atlanta-by-way-of-Nashville artsy musician (of sorts), he has strong roots in the Atlanta sound. Yet, it took a precise time partying in LA for him to be inspired to make a modernized version of the same Atlanta Bass music that he grew up on. Inspirationally, he completed an EP to give the world a proper taste. Life In Technicolor Vol. 1 is the proper appetizer for people to understand part of what inspires Spree to be musically stimulating.
Instead of coming off as a half-cocked mockery of a time long gone, Life In Technicolor Vol. 1 is actually a new take on music that should be still made. Playing like a DJ Jelly hosted WATN, the party starts with “Right One, Wrong Time” with its ode to meeting something under shaky circumstances. With that same WATN radio hosting, the EP drifts into the slow dance worthy “My Boo” sampled “All I Need”. Finishing off the EP is the Big K.R.I.T. assisted “All Night Long” and “Starships”. As short as the EP is, Spree covers a lot of musical bases.
What is even more intriguing is the fact that the production would work in 2013 and back in 1995-1996. The slow grind inducing “All I Need” would manipulate anybody to hit the dance floor for a slow dance. In contrast, “All Night Long” would get the skaters moving at the Cascade. “Right One, Wrong Time” would make the house party jump. It can be easily said that The Flush made sure to cover their source material with an updated twist.
Spree Wilson took a great risk with concocting such a “retro-future” album in Life In Technicolor Vol. 1. What he offered in knowledge and effort more than doubled in execution. The rhymes on here are both dense and digestible. The production by The Flush is easily ATL party worthy. Spree Wilson, along with his production cohorts, have easily crafted an EP that can fit into any summertime play list.
Ghostface Killah is always good for putting out some music. The only problem is that his last albums either wasn’t up to snuff or were ignored. However, liking up with Adrian Younge is part of Ghostface’s efforts to keep making greatness. With that comes 12 Reasons To Die, his concept album. Following a gangster that is murdered and resurrected to raise hell on his enemies, listeners find Ghostface doing what he does best: make great music.
On this particular project, Ghostface turns down his highly abstract lyricism to tell a story of hood lore. “Rise Of The Black Suits” brings light to the main character’s rise into prominence. But, the DeLucas wasn’t trying to have that, which leads to tracks like “I Declare War” and “Enemies All Around Me”. Eventually, he is set up to be killed on “An Unexpected Call (The Set Up)” just to be resurrected on “Rise of the Ghostface Killah”. By the time the album makes it to the title track, listeners know why there are “12 Reasons to Die”.
What is even more compelling than the story is the production provided by Adrian Younge. The clever breakdown on “The Sure Shot (Part 1 and 2)” allows the drum rhythm to morph into something more sinister once the drums drag out and slow down. Meanwhile, the production on songs like “Blood On The Cobblestones” gets freaked by scratches, a drum break, and great sampling. Adrian made sure that the songs had ample production filled with breaks, live instrumentation, and nicely laced vocal samples. This is even more evident on tracks like “Center of Attention” and the resurrection based “The Rise of the Ghostface Killah”. Thus, it is easy to hear that Adrian Younge brought his “A” game in production.
In the end, 12 Reasons to Die is a crafty possession for any fan of Ghostface Killah and Adrian Younge. Instead of the regular stream of conscious flow, Ghostface tells a consistent tome about a drug dealer getting revenge for his double cross. Seemingly, Adrian Younge comes with a soundtrack that only adds to the story and constructs musical environments. Many were excited to hear that they both were responsible. Nevertheless, Ghostface and Adrian did what they set out to do: create a completely cohesive unit of music that could easily serve as a movie within itself.
Add-2 is tired of wack rappers. Trust me, I know: we have had numerous Facebook conversations about this particular subject. So, instead of continuously talking about it, he decided to do something about it. He plans on putting out music that people SHOULD gravitate to. Call it a healthy alternative or call it “making real music”. However, More Missed Calls is pretty immaculate in its own right.
If anything, Add-2 is such an impressive and immaculate lyricist. For example, on “Almighty Add-2”, he notes “If It ain’t a run on sentence, your period ain’t late”. On “Reset”, he notes that “When you acting like a pussy, your regrets will always eat ya”. In addition, the track “Eulogy” allows him to say things like “Run in different directions like Trinidad James’ teeth”. In short, Add-2 has lyrics to marinate over.
Don’t be fooled by the lyrical gymnastics that Add-2 is good for: he has some conceptual tracks that make More Missed Calls an even more solidified composition. “Paper” provides a personification of money and how it goes through some transactions in the hood. “Couples Therapy” looks at issues of loves from both sides of the relationship. The aforementioned “Reset” deals with people wanting to seriously change their lives. So, there is plenty of learning experiences to go along with the rewind-worth lyrics.
With interludes sewing it all together, More Missed Calls is another top notch mix tape for Add-2. The lyrics are memorable, relevant, and meaningful. Yet, he can make a concept track with the best of them. Time will tell if he comes with a retail album that will support his movement. Until that day comes, this new mixtape is a welcome addition to this year’s best releases.
Verbal Kent is a mainstay in the Chicago underground hip hop scene. From formulating a freestyle group to even coming close to death (neck slashing) in 2003, Verbal Kent has his fair share of stories. Remaining a productive emcee in Chicago is no easy feat. Yet, he has been putting out music for the past decade. Now, he has linked up with MelloMusicGroup. His first release, Deer Guts, is a sampling platter of what the man known as Dan Weiss has to offer.
This short composition of music never finds a chance to become verbally boring. “Joe Shmoses” allows Verbal Kent to be the “one man Rambo” while he watch peeps “do the Lambeau Leap” with a regular and double time rhyme pattern. Meanwhile, the scratched in chorus of “Run The Gamut” lets him, Lance Ambu, and Alltruisms get loose over the track. “Deer Guts” and “Blink Then It’s Over” lets Verbal Kent get loose with more rhymes and declarations of his dopeness. Thus, you get nothing but practical battle rhymes and presentations from Verbal Kent on this EP.
Production wise, Verbal Kent is batting 1.000 with the production he selected. “Blink Then Its Over” has Illmind! providing some bleeps, boom bap, and hard bass lines for Verbal to do his thing over. “Deer Guts” is another head banger provided by Apollo Brown, while the Khrysis produced “Joe Shmoses”, you get even more of that boom bap that was previously mentioned. With “Run The Gamut”, the best production on the entire EP shines through the speakers with a soul vocal sample and matching bass lines and scratched chorus. If anything, the production works great with the lyrics.
If anything, this EP serves as a feature presentation demonstrating that Verbal Kent can rhyme. He doesn’t get into any true concepts. He is basically showing that he can rhyme. Thus, whether someone will enjoy this depends on if they want to hear a man spit self-consuming declarations of one’s greatness. Regardless, Deer Guts is another solid addition to Verbal Kent’s catalog.
I can rest assured that Sound FX will make music that I’m trying to hear. The Riverside, California duo has been at it for a few years now. When they started out, they seemed so mature in their musical process. Instead of focusing on shallow subjects, they remained steadfast in their song of complexity over simple-yet-effective rhythms. Thus, after releasing quite a few freebie singles, Empathy is just another chapter in the life of two musicians trying to live the dream.
Lyrically, the Sound FX duo remains potent albeit monotone. There aren’t any rapid fire flows and usage of extreme verbiage. Instead, their lyrics induce a mellow vibe that allows one to meditate their minds into the music. In songs like the “all’s well that ends well” repeating “Apathy”, the Sade sampled “Dying to Survive”, and the ambient sounds of “Golden” follow the soothing atmosphere that is consistently carried throughout. Thus, the lyrics remain truthful to life and easy on the ears.
The production on the album, being the eternal highlight of the album, rarely disappoints. Not taking anything away from the lyrics; those remained pretty effective. However, with tracks like “Eternal” (which is nearly an instrumental all in itself), “Last Chapter”, and “Now and Forever”, the sound doesn’t waver from being mellow and, at times, warped and synthesized instrumentals for Dupree and Maddy McFly’s to paint pictures over. This sound isn’t for those trying to beat down subwoofers through the hood. This sound is for consummate riding while thinking and relaxing.
Outside of a few misplaced sampled choruses on “Road Less Traveled” and “Slumber Party”, Empathy is pretty good for the type of music that it is. Sound FX relies on lyrics that are meant for listening and production that enhances those words. The words are effective enough without being overly nimble. The production is engaging and consistent. From here, Sound FX can hopefully garner enough attention to carve a niche in the rap game.
So, many of you considered Live From The Underground a flop. I disagree. However, let me explain where the issue lies.
Big K.R.I.T., like too many of these artists nowadays, allow their mixtapes to promote their best work. It has happened with Wiz Khalifa. It happens on a regular with Big Sean. Hell, it even happened with Yelawolf. Yet, many of us never it would EVER happen with Big Krizzle. We just KNEW his album would be a glossier form of his mixtapes.
Still, when Live From The Underground dropped, we noticed that his best material was given to us for free. Don’t get me wrong: his major label album was pretty dope. Yet, it wasn’t as fulfilling as his other material. Plus, his album was much more condensed and lacked to balance that his mixtapes mastered at august levels. In the end, Live From The Underground led many to be disappointed.
Now, we have a response to all that was his first major album: another mixtape by the name of King Remembered In Time. With many listens within a time period that equals less than 24 hours, it must be said that Krizzle hasn’t lost a step.
If one expects Big K.R.I.T. to lose his lyrical diversity, do know that he has been pushing his pen over his pad. On “King Without A Crown”, he lets us know that he “makes his own beats, writes his own rhymes, grit his on grind, grip his own grain”. The realness continues on tracks like “REM”, “Meditate”, “Banana Clip Theory”, “Life Is A Gamble”, and the open mic influenced “WTF”. Yet, tracks like “How You Love That”, “My Trunk”, “Good 2getha”, and “Only One” allow him to pop his collar and grip grain through the streets as his trunk rattles the foundation. This mixtape, unlike his major album, demonstrates that balance between the carnal and the spiritual that K.R.I.T. had established.
The production seemed to have done nothing but improved. Although he included 9th Wonder to produce the beautifully sampled “Life is a Gamble”, all the other tracks are produced by K.R.I.T. exclusively. What we are served with is his version of countrified funk with hip hop samples and jazz influences. The live guitar and 808 bass on “My Trunk” was made to be loud. In contrast, “Banana Clip Theory” is pure jazz that harkens to days of Ramsey Lewis. Equally, Big K.R.I.T. made sure his production engulfed his lyrics to bring about different auras and ambiances.
By the time the mixtape ends with “Multi Til the Sun Die”, any listener will rest assured that Justin Scott is still musically on point. He has reclaimed his throne as the southern gentleman that will feed his community while he shines in his old school Cadillac. Never mind the misstep that was considered his first major album. What matters is the “here and now”. Within that “here and now”, listeners need to understand that Big K.R.I.T. will be remembered as a musical king from this era.
Everybody has been raving about Harry Fraud on the production. Producing for the likes of Rick Ross, French Montana, and even underground/independent stalwarts like Action Bronson and Curren$y has helped him build a name for himself. His production runs the gamut from trunk rattlers to heavily sampled joints reminiscent to 1995. Such a diverse catalog has kept him in demand. Unequivocally, Mr. “La Musica de Harry Fraud” has made a name for himself by being dope.
But, Harry Fraud doesn’t come alone. In fact, he has been affiliated with a crew (SRF SCHL) that includes the every lyrical Eddie B. Eddie B, not someone new on the underground scene, had a previous released an EP called The Lucky 7. Chocked filled with features, dope rhymes and production, it would have seemed that Eddie B was going to make bigger waves. Yet, many haven’t caught on. With Horsepower, Eddie B plans on changing all of this.
Masterfully, Eddie B knows how to ride the wave of any rhythm that he lyrically surfs on top of. With “Courage” (on the original and remix), he gives a mixture of slow flow and rapid fire wordplay. In contrast, “Peer Pressure” allows him to flex harder than the slow flow that “Courage” mainly exhibited. “Dope Spoons” allows him to go on cruise control with a straight-to-the-jugular flow. Eddie B easily switches styles depending on the production that Harry Fraud brings to the table.
Meanwhile, Harry Fraud brings his A game to the table. If a listener wants something slow to ride to, they always have “Courage”. Meanwhile, if the desire is for something more ethereal and soothing, then listeners can always press play on “Beach Patrol” and “Palm Trees”. For some old school R&B flavor, “Marvelous” exists. In summary, Harry Fraud doesn’t bring any throwaway tracks; instead, he comes with memorable palettes for the ear canal to devour.
Horsepower demonstrates a highly above average rapper over great production. After this, however, needs to be a higher plane of existence. Eddie B needs to find a way to raise his level of presentation and overall buzz. He is much too agile of an emcee to remain a secondary footnote in a great producer’s career. This time around, people need to be singing his praises. Only then will Harry Fraud’s crew truly shine.
ANTHM is one of the bigger anomalies in hip hop. Unapologetically human, yet spiritual, ANTHM always makes music that connects with listeners. However, his approach can confuse many. His last EP, Joy & Pain, was clearly lyrically supple. Yet, it was sonically dance friendly. It threw so many off that they didn’t truly understand what his purpose was.
Then, I realized his goal all along: to make “music”. Nothing more, nothing less.
Now, we have Handful of Dust. This EP matches him with the production of Blu (under GODleeBarnes). What we end up with is an EP that quickly makes those that missed the efforts of Joy & Pain become fans.
ANTHM will always make music with meaning. From the beginning with “Freefall” to the sing songy chorus of “Low Class”, there will always be jewels given to the listener. “Low Class notes the struggle of poverty and racial considerations while “Freefall” allows him to “play safe”. Even the lovely “Debbie”, dedicated to his little sister, stays infused with lessons learned. ANTHM can easily be considered a scribe of life.
What is just as enchanting is the production brought to the table by Blu. GODleeBarnes makes the most use of dusty samples, breaks, and smooth grooves. Take “Imagine Nation” for example. On the track, the samples he uses only make the lyrics even more mystic and meaningful. The same can be said for the lovely sounding “Nina” and even the album’s epilogue “Outro (Still Dreaming)”. Concisely, Blu found the perfect lyrical compatriot for his jazzy production.
With Handful of Dust, ANTHM adds another uncompromising and lyrically astounding project to his catalog. Instead of going for the dance rhythms of Joy & Pain, he opts for GODleeBarnes sampled grooves. What comes about is a great EP with plenty of promise. Now all we need is a full project with a full theme to demonstrate ANTHM’s complete capabilities. Until then, Handful of Dust serves as a nice sampling of sampled goodness.
Yelawolf was on the verge of lyricist superstardom. He had already built such a following around his Trunk Muzik series. People were prematurely crowning him another great after Eminem. Then, out of pure irony, Eminem signs him to Shady/Aftermath. We all knew that Yelawolf was going to explode into stardom. Catfish Billy was going to become a household name representing the seedier side of Caucasian life.
Then the unexpected happen: his premier Shady/Aftermath album, Radioactive, virtually flopped. Too much filler and not enough killer. Now, it seems he has taken it personally. So, after much touring, side projects, and reflecting, we have Trunk Muzik Returns. From the gate, I must say that Yelawolf is back if he ever left at all.
Because of its short playlist, there is very little room for error. Luckily, Yelawolf keeps it lyrically dynamic and entertaining throughout. Take “F.A.S.T Ride”, for example. Catfish takes it to the asphalt with the chorus and flips on that rapid fire flow with intertwined bars about Steve Urkel, being perforated by the rings like Mead, and making mummies jealous. It is safe to assume that Yelawolf wanted people to remember that he can still spit with the best of them.
The rest of this album doesn’t let up too much. “Gangsta”, as “run of the mill” as the beat evolved, still came off pretty hard. “Rhyme Room” features Raekwon doing his thing and Killer Mike showing why he is the South’s most slept on. Yela even adds another chapter to the Box Chevy series (number 4) for good measure. Thus, this album simultaneously keeps things fresh and habitual in one fell swoop.
Is Trunk Muzik Returns a classic? Not in my eyes (at least). It is dope to listen to? Absolutely. Does it have replay value? Way more replay value than Radioactive (and I liked Radioactive). Yelawolf recognized his mistakes and is working to make up for them. I wish other artists would do what he did: realized their failures and worked to make up for them.
Some artists make music to entertain, while others make music to reflect on life. Usually, we appreciate those that do a mixture of both. Many listeners want their emotions to be moved and bodies grooved. In other instances, we want the music to just match our emotions or take us to another place. Yet, there are those albums that do whatever the artist wants regardless of what listeners are looking for.
I would put Swerve and SYG in the “making music for them” category. The best part about it is that Cold Winters and Warm Whiskey 2 is some of the best hip hop to come out this year.
I think what makes the music compelling is that both of these emcees rap about being regular guys in a realm where most try to come off as superhuman. “Don’t Judge” allows both of them to do what they do best: wax poetic about who they are and their wins/losses. It continues with tracks like the sing songy chorus of “Paradise”, the staccato flow infused “Gotta Be More Than”, and the mellow-yet-intense “LifeGoes(Cycles)”.
Hell, even their intermissions (like the playfully groovy-yet-serious “(i)nEquality”) are great to listen to.
What deserves equal attention is that, with a sound that stays jazzy and consistent, this project involves a multitude of producers. There are over 10 producers involved in the 20 tracks comprised of this album. Nonetheless, whether it is the Grant P produced “Know It All” to the Gloam produced “Above The Water”, everything sounds sonically complimentary. Even with familiars and unfamiliar names like D-Rock, Insightful, DJ Mitsu, ODP, Rav. P, DJ Mentos, Roku, Heikki Hoo, Rise Sovereign, and Evolve One, everything works. Thus, much applause is necessary for what all these producers achieved: to help create a sonically cohesive album.
With all “jazzy killer and no filler”, Cold Weather and Warm Whiskey 2 makes the use of human emotion and experience over impressive production from a bevy of producers. Swerve and SYG do what they do best with the rhymes. The producers do what they do best with their musical concoctions. What we have is something both familiar yet attractively inspired. In the end, an album that references frigid climates and lukewarm libations may be the sleeper hit of 2013.
It is amazing to see what Phonte and Nicolay have built for themselves. Working off of a whim and musical kinship, they collaborated for the first Foreign Exchange album Connected. However, that was more of a compilation album. Breaking things down into a dynamic duo, they dropped Leave It All Behind in 2008. After that came the accolades, tours, Grammy nominations, and a strong cult following. Years later (with another album in the form of Authenticity), they have cemented themselves as mainstays in the R&B genre.
Reworks works as a precursor to their upcoming album Love In Flying Colors. What is really is, nonetheless, is a sheer demonstration of how damn good they are at creating great music.
Let’s keep it frank: this may be one of the better R&B releases this year. Oh, and it’s a bunch of remixes (for the most part). That says a lot.
What the Foreign Exchange wasn’t afraid to do was try to experiment with their sound. The dubstep interlude on “The Last Fall” takes the song to new heights and experiences. Ahmed Sirour makes “All The Kisses” an easily danceable groove. Additionally, the Sheldon Williams remix to “Ball and Chain” gives the song a more robust synthesized feel. Avoiding the trite and redundant, each remix makes the song anew again.
Even when they step away from their own group music, they make worthy concoctions for someone’s earbuds. Nicolay’s remix of RJD2’s Kenna featured “Games You Can Win” changes it from a synth heavy ditty to a soulful piano driven melody of serenity. Vikter Duplaix gets the remix treatment for his electronic “Electric Love” with an almost groovy 80’s feel. Deborah Bond’s “Say It” gets a drum and bass remix that fully detracts from its original R&B form. In turn, just because the artists aren’t their usual collaborators doesn’t keep Nicolay and company from making great use of their talents.
Rarely hit and miss and never boring, The Reworks is just that: an album of R&B reworking. Instead of keeping it typical, the Foreign Exchange pushes the margins of their sound. Some songs are the usual fare. However, many of the remixes change the entire feel and expectation of the track. Eventually, what listeners are given is a rededication with old stuff made fresh again.
Don’t miss out on this album or you may regret it later.
Justin Timberlake has a new album coming out and everyone is excited. Including me.
But to hell with all of that: there are plenty of artists that have been ignored over the past couple of months. I know a FEW people that are paying attention. However, most are not aware. In fact, most probably don’t care. They are probably too busy doing their own versions of those Harlem Shake videos. It seems to be that a lot of great stuff just isn’t catching the attention of the masses.
Well, I’m here to change all of that. Let me break down my list of songs that deserve your attention (no matter how dated):
1.) Phil Beaudreau – Anyway
This guy blew me away with this song. This song was lush and essential enough for Casey Veggies to sample it and Phil hasn’t even blown up yet. But I give him some time before people start clamoring for more. Trust in that.
2.) Tweet – Enough
This should be a theme song for those women out there that is fed up. If you know you have put in enough effort and he STILL acts up, this song is for you. If not, then you can at least feel the emotive movements within her words and the music. Damn, I’m glad Tweet is back at it.
3.) Chrisette Michele – A Couple of Forevers
Hey, she is known for towing the line every now and then. Still, she is capable of making something that warrants repeats and constant spins. A Couple of Forevers is one of those songs. It is all about loving someone for as long as you can. Once you love them that long, you go longer than that. I love it!
4.) Stacy Barthe – Flawed Beautiful Creatures
This song is the epitome of meaningful music. It is so raw and refreshingly human that anyone that listens to it should become a better person just because. It actually teaches a lesson about life: we all do things that can, and should, be questioned. No one is perfect. So, act accordingly and save judgment for those situations you fully understand. This song should be a classic.
5.) Raheem Devaughn – Fire We Make (Remix)
For those that know and understand Raheem Devaughn, he has a knack for remaking songs. This Alicia Keys and Maxwell cut is no different. Every time he adds his own emotions and lyrical depth to the situation. Personally, he should have made this song. But who am I to say that Alicia and Max didn’t deserve this track. Whatever. You all know I may have a point.
Stacy Barthe has been on a tear lately. I know I say that a lot. Bear with me.
Barthe has been building up momentum for her musical career. Hitting up the internets with songs and videos, she has garnered a following. Also, she is a song writer that has accomplished much with her skills. Adding her association with her crew, Surf Club, only broadens her horizons. Now, she needs to make sure people know what she is up to. Thus, with the release of P.S. I Love You, listeners get to relish within the realm that is Stacy Barthe.
It must be said that this realm is filled with nothing but strong R&B music with lush production and top notch song writing.
Making an analysis of her lyrics, a listener can’t help but connect to the humanity within her music. “Flawed Beautiful Creatures”, the magnum opus of this collection, brings nothing short of social understanding of our faults and inconsistencies. “Stingy” pretty much explains how many people are when it comes to love and their mates: stingy. “Silent Screams” talks of the problems people (including herself) never let out. If anything, Stacy reached deep down to make music with meaning.
The fun doesn’t stop there, I am glad to note. “Hell Yeah” speaks on the living conditions of many struggling people with Rick Ross in tow. “Lonely Disco Ball” acknowledges people’s feelings of loneliness once someone leaves their presence. “Before I Knew Me” pretty much tells the truth about self-reflection and learning. At the end, the listener will feel good knowing that there is another artist that speaks to their own feelings and emotions.
With feelings of somberness, amore, seclusion, and even solace, P.S. I Love You is not a free release for the inattentive listener. This project is for those that relish in their own humanity. Bubble gums songs made with EDM production and Skrillex remixes won’t happen on this project. This is an album for those want more rhythm and blues and less rap and bull. In short, Stacy Barthe made a project for those that want meaningful music.
The time had finally arrived: the highly touted A$AP Rocky album was ready in Itunes. I must say that I have been a fan since “Peso”. Hell, I was even more of a fan with his small feature on “4Loko” with Smoke Dza. His mixtape made my head spin. With no true penchant for overly meaningful lyrics, his style and beat selection won me over. With his new album, Long.Live.A$AP, he has done everything as expected with a commercial twist.
The one thing that hit me about this album is the pure diversity on it. On one instance you have a song like “Wild For The Night”, a Skrillex produced future-club-banger (maybe). On the other hand you will get a song like “1Train”, a posse cut of underground rap dreams. The styles of the songs consistently switch up throughout the album. Thus, this composition became nothing short of unpredictable.
For many listeners, they will either love it or hate it.
They will eventually love the fact that Rocky kept his flow intact. What he lacks in substance he garners back in bravura and lyrical flow. On songs like “Suddenly” and “Long Live A$AP”, you get to feel his range. He can even get sing songy with Overdoz on the punk-smooth-ish known as “Pain”. For anything, Pretty Flacko never gets boring.
However, many will not get with his more experimental excursions. “Wild For The Night”, as energetic and loud as it is, will be bashed for being a dub step knock off. “Fashion Killa” will be knocked for being musically annoying. A$AP wanted to cover all of his bases and influences. Still, there will be some thumbs down due to not everybody appealing to his choices.
All in all, we have a considerably superior premier album from a variably new artist. While keeping it true to what he started, Rocky wasn’t afraid to experiment. This brings about great results and questionable choices. Still, there is enough for everyone without alienating all of his listeners. With enough consistent music and undying fan support, A$AP just may live long.
The word “rejuvenation” comes to mind when one thinks of Roc Marciano. The monotone street orator was once signed with Busta Rhymes. After that didn’t work out, he reclaimed his career by dropping the underground gem “Marcberg”. Instead of going for admiration through trend following, he chose to sound like he has been stuck in ’95. With the new album, it is more of the same: throwback sensibilities masterfully done over dusty samples.
Marciano has the knack for the “simple, yet lyrical” tactics that made NY rap so worthwhile to listen to. “Not Told” is a pure street gem reminds us the game “is to be sold, not told”. The lyrics rarely waver from the usual subject matter. Yet, it shouldn’t have to. It is safe to say that Roc Marciano brings high grade street parables.
The lyrical street jewels given to us are only made greater by the soundtrack that supports them. The evolving and sample heavy “Thug’s Prayer 2” only gets better as it continues through its phases. The feminine croons on “We Ill” only add to the ominous feeling given by Marci’s lyrics. “Death Parade” does the same thing: enhance the lyrics of “wounds and bandages, food and cannabis”. What occurs is this: there is a beautifully conceived holy matrimony between words and sounds.
In summary, Reloaded is an extremely dope album that could have possibly been a classic if it was released years prior. However, many hard rocks and “Golden Era Holdovers” will revel in an album like this. Simplistic in flow, yet engagingly verbose, Roc Marci paints pictures over a (mostly) self-produced sound bed that attaches to the listener’s brain. Reloaded is just another chapter from an emcee bringing that “old school NY rap” back to the forefront.
Sometimes, you need to listen to hip-hop that gives you straight entertainment. No, not too many stories or themes. You need that music that brings nothing but banging beats and lyrics. No dance-moves, tu-tu’s or tennis shoes will exist in these raps. If anything, the lyricism is so raw and uncut that many would consider it offensive. If this is what you desire, than Mic Tyson presents the worthy remedy.
Sean Price becomes so relentless in his violent vernacular and attacking approach that it begs for the listener to pay attention. When you have songs like “STFU Pt. 2” on your album, you know you plan on being disrespectful. The amount of “niggas” used in the chorus of “BBQ Sauce” is nowhere near as off-brand as how one would use the “bbq sauce” and “blue cheese” Price mentions in the rhymes. Price didn’t write lyrics to win “the most diverse lyricist of the year”. He spit his bars to go hard.
The beats were pretty much made to match the lyrics. For the most part, the production bangs just as hard as the semantics and jargon. “The Hardest N***a Out” is the perfect example of the type of beats to expect. Mostly sample heavy with enormous boom bap and drum patterns, the song only enhances the madness that comes from Sean Price’s mouth. The only song that doesn’t match is “Hush”. Regardless of that minor blemish, the production is just as rough and rugged as Sean’s beard.
Mic Tyson is an album for those that want to hear someone beat them over the head with a microphone. All those looking forward to happy tunes you can pop on the radio need to go listen to “Starships” by Nicki Minaj. You aren’t finding that hear. If you like that NY rap and fiend for a forty and blunt, then this might be one of the best albums you have heard in a while. When it comes to concrete jungle commencements, Mic Tyson is that album and Sean Price is your artist.
When a project brings together thematic influences, the music must reflect that. If someone drops a project about love, for example, their songs and production should reflect that. Otherwise, the project will be ill received. It will have missed its target. Action Bronson and The Alchemist, on Rare Chandeliers, thematically hit a slam dunk.
From the album cover, it looks like Bronson and ALC were going for a B-movie, exploitation type of sound. After listening, it seems as if they got what they wanted (and them some).
Action Bronson does what he does on this project: spit visuals, non sequiturs, and food references that only he can. On the Schoolboy Q featured “Demolition Man”, he weaves lyrics that references spaghetti, making lesbians cry, and how he “like his girls with African bodies and Asian face”. As he references “your mom butt naked cooking eggs like Ving Rhames on Baby Boy” on “Eggs On The Third Floor”, he even takes time to talk about getting bathed and wearing Polo robes on “Modern Day Revelations”. If one was expecting Action Bronson to waver from his regular lyrical lunacy, they can think again.
The Alchemist, as usual, brings his A Game to the forefront. Let me keep it real: there are no weak productions on here. From the funky guitar licks of “Dennis Haskins” and “The Symbol”, to the greatness that the vocal samples bring on “Bitch I Deserve You”, ALC doesn’t let the ears down. Even the highlight “Randy The Musical”, the title holds true: there are a few beats put together to make this happen. It is as if The Alchemist wanted to prove a point with this mixtape.
If there is anything we can gain from this, it is this: Action Bronson and The Alchemist can make great music together. If you were expecting mind blowing stuff, you can go elsewhere. However, if you looked at the album cover and expected some color lyrics over dusty and vibrant production, this album overachieved. I say to hell with breaking new ground. Rare Chandeliers proves that “sticking to what works” can bring some of the greatest results.
Collaborative albums are looked at as ways for an emcee and a producer to form a musical alliance. In hip hop, these collaborations usually warrant excitement. Apollo Brown has been making a name for himself as of late. With plenty of instrumental albums and a thoroughly impressive collab album with O.C., Brown impresses the masses. Now, with his Detroit brethren Guilty Simpson, we have Dice Game: an album that is both lyrically focused and musically captivating.
If anyone is paying attention, Guilty Simpson weaves words of wisdom and worth in the simplest forms. As “Reputation” lets us know that Guilty has “been through more s**t than catfish”, “One Man” explains that he is just that: one man. “Dear Jane” deals with the “woman” that he has to leave alone for the sake of productivity. However, it is “Change” that can be the most endearing with its message of struggle, dependency, and hope. Keeping it copasetic, Guilty Simpson wastes very few words.
As expected, Apollo Brown’s production is just as potent as the lyrics. With Dice Game, Brown wanted to bring production that hearkens on a heavily urban nature. Whether he is flipping familiar samples to elevated headnods (the Jay-Z engulfed “Reputation” and the C.R.E.A.M. interpolated “Let’s Play”), the soul sampled goodness of “Lose You”, or the strings on “Ink Blotches”, Apollo takes no musical mercy. The serious issue with this album is that the production stays consistently relentless. Not for nothing, Apollo Brown uses this album to show out.
Thematically, Dice Game deals with the gamble of life. Yet, the bigger gamble was the infusion of Guilty’s grit with Apollo’s gift. The concoction works because both do what they do best. Guilty spits with simplistic conviction while Apollo just wants to make banging instrumentals. They both succeed because they don’t deviate. In short, Dice Game is one of 2012’s gems because their musical gamble was more of a sure shot.
If there should be one word for Chuuwee, it should be “prolific”. I’m not sure if people have been paying attention. However, this is probably his 5th-6th project in the span of a year. That means he has been releasing enough music to garner more attention. Wild Style, the throwback influenced record with the 90’s flavor, will gather even more positive feedback.
Let us just face the facts, here: Chuuwee can rhyme. “40 Oz’s and 40 Sac’s” bring back the old school boom bap and The Black Sheep interpolated chorus to boot. “Put It On”, with a shout out to Big L, lets Chuuwee get “slicker than that Bugatti, pull up like a Maserati/I’m Kamikaze, we bomb sucka ni***z/Nagasaki”. That example of wordplay represents the alliteration and rhyming schemes that were heavily prevalent in the 1990’s. It is easy to say that his rhymes are thematically focused.
The beats are consistently pretty good. Chuuwee gets laced by Large Professor on “Pissin Me Off”. “Honey Struck”, an ode to a materialistic female, is driven by production that accents the storytelling mood. “The Wha!?” has Ohbliv bring the dusty chopped loops to serenade Chuuwee’s throwback rhyme patterns. Easily, the beats match the rhymes.
If anything, Chuuwee succeeds in formulating a sound that ventures back into the “golden era” of hip hop. However, some may want to write him off. I say “let them do what they do”. Chuuwee has already succeeded in making cohesive projects. Now, he just needs to formulate a plan to drop an unwavering classic. Until then, put Wild Style in and reminisce on an era where it was all about phat beats and rhymes.
I haven’t heard from these clods in so long that I thought they retired. Then again, I don’t have an explanation for their absence. I do remember Ryu dropping the “Christmas inspired” “I Did It To Myself” song almost two years ago. Looking at what the wind blew in, Reseda Beach was supposed to be their major label debut. Since the label isn’t backing them, fans get a chance to hear what they were up to.
For the most part, their album is concocted of pretty good hip hop music. “Take That” lets Ryu do his double time flow part time with a nice Celph Titled feature. “Dumb It Down” is a representation of them “lowering their musical expectations” by using the obvious sample and making something catchy. While poking fun at commercialized music, they still create something catchy. So it is safe to say that they can still craft songs worthy of a spin or two.
As good as the album gets, there are some missteps. Some people may not take to “The Pirate Song”, as bouncy and fun as it can be. The “Bumble Bee Skit” could be considered type corny to many listeners (including yours truly). Even further is “Live From Ibiza Skit”, something that will guarantee to generate shrugs and question marks. As cool as the album is, there are some unnecessary skits and songs included.
The verdict on Reseda Beach: it’s good. However, something tells me that it could have been better. If you are familiar with Styles of Beyond, you know exactly what I am talking about. Their previous work eclipses this album. Still, their rhyme patterns and ability to craft songs are still intact. In the end, their music settled for “good” when they are capable of “great”.
Dreams tend to be the driving force for many people and their aspirations. For Skyzoo, it has been the driving force for his “Frisbee” type of lyricism. Yet, it is that same type of lyrical flow that hasn’t caught the many ears that need to be captivated. Regardless, Skyzoo has kept it so consistent that he is making it to many people’s present top emcee lists (arguably). A Dream Deferred, in all its glory, doesn’t let up off of his rep as being a rewind worthy wordsmith.
From the title of the album, you gain an understanding that dreams, goals, and aspirations are the themes of this album. “Jansport Strings”, an ode to growing up, allows Skyzoo to get into a lyrical lashing about Chi Ali’s inspiration to the rhyme. “Pockets Full” is that cut made “…for the desire of everything they denying us.” “Glass Ceiling” makes reference to limited availability of progress by making sure we knew the ceiling was “high enough to let up, low enough to feel it”. Thus, the ambition for something better is the stimulation of Skyzoo’s declarations.
All the motivation for upward movement continues as the album goes along. “Range Rover Rhythm” makes references to being driven and how to “95 Hardaway penetrate/ open up a lane if they don’t give a lane”. For the ladies, he gets to flex his poetics on “The Knowing” and “Drew and Derwin”. The ever visual “Spike Lee Was My Hero” lets us all know how Sheldon Lee influenced his desire for a better life, be it his personal intentions or the wearing of the Jordans. Apparently, Skyzoo stays consistent with his thematic conversation.
Throughout all of this consistency comes a palette of production that is quite diverse. “Give It Up” brings in the newer sounds of dubstep with some boom bap added to the mix. Yet, tracks like “Realization” and the aforementioned “Drew and Derwin” come with colossal synths and smoothness reminiscent to R&B tracks. In fact, many of the tracks are very melodic, instrumental, and (surprisingly) lacking samples that needed immediate clearance. Musically, Skyzoo took a step in a new direction and came with positive results.
Skyzoo leaves his fans wanting very little after this album. A Dream Deferred is just that: the deferment of one’s true desires. However, just because they become deferred doesn’t mean they have to stay that way. With that said, Skyzoo has reached back to regain the passion to keep getting his. Hopefully, listeners can gain that same drive from his music. Who knows, maybe all the JJ’s out there can reach that Theo status. Only time will tell and dreams will reveal.
We all know of that situation where the “sidekick” has to step up and shine on their own. Well, that is what is happening to Big Sant. Known as Big Krit’s right hand man, Sant had to eventually strike out on his own. This independent thinking has led to the development of MF x OG, his mixtape after many feature based accolades. With thorough listens, MF x OG is a pretty solid composition of auditory treats.
For the lack of better terminology, Big Sant is an artist that constructs “country rap tunes”. If one took the time to listen to tracks like “Late Pass” and “Cadillac Music” (or the first eight tracks), this is the apparent situation of his music. Even in later tracks like “Everythangs Workin’”, you can hear Sant channel all of his southern influences in his flows and approach. Therefore, if you don’t like country rap tunes then you won’t really get Big Sant or his movement.
However, don’t be confused by the “swangin’ and bangin’ that may dominate his ethos: Big Sant does have some things to say. “Rap Niggaz” gives the perfect reply to those that consistently say the South makes wack hip hop. The biggest surprise, and the last track, is “Live”. “Live” focuses on the issues that run around through Sant’s mind. The track allowed him to tap into his “deeper” and more “human” side. In turn, Big Sant isn’t all street with his approach.
MF x OG proves that Big Sant can hold down a solo project by himself. What happens after this is important. MF x OG could be seen as pretty monotonous. However, the stringent of “country rap tunes” that was constructed demonstrated a lot of impressive grooves and focused themes. From this point on, Big Sant should just take his music to the next, more personal level. Only then will people truly recognize the true “MF x OG”.
Robert Glasper has to be the biggest musical surprise for 2012. Not to be taken lightly, the jazz musician may have put together arguably the best R&B album of 2012. Those in the know understand the lush beauty that Black Radio offers. Not to let the iron cool, Glasper came back with more offerings. Black Radio Recovered: The Remix EP, in all its glory, celebrates what was great about the album with new offerings and changed mixes of previously released jams.
The good thing about this EP is the fact that it keeps the attention of the listener. “Afro Blue (9th Wonder’s Blue Light Basement Remix)” keeps the same mentality as the original with added instruments and boom bap. Georgia Anne Muldrow remixes Meshell Ndegeocello’s “Consequences of Jealousy” to make it more cosmically upbeat. Furthermore, “ Letter to Hermione” gets a remix from Robert Glasper and Jewels that adds a break beat piano loop (of sorts) to add to the moodiness of the song’s aura. In turn, the remixes hold onto the ears by taking turns at changing the musical course of previous offerings.
The bad thing (if it can be considered that) is that the EP only made the true fan salivate for more. The remix to “Twice” by ?uestlove and the Roots has Solange Knowles singing so melodically that one’s soul floats through the heavens through her words. The sendoff song, “Dillatude #2”, only plays with the emotions of the hip hop/jazz fan by making them reminisce of the days James Yancey was alive. Also, let it be noted that both songs are over 9 minutes long. In short, this EP easily made Glasper fans want more than what was given.
Black Radio Recovered: The Remix EP did what it set out to do: keep Robert Glasper’s name alive on the tongues of ADHD listeners. All the remix added elements to elevate the songs into different, yet familiar, directions. In contrast, the feeling of “wanting more” probably came over those that did get to listen. Regardless, this effort is just another chapter in Glasper’s catalog. To put it bluntly, commercial music could be recovered if the radio actually “turned Black” again.
This present moment serves as the moment of truth. Kendrick Lamar has his official Aftermath/Interscope release out for mass consumption. Many worried that Kendrick would waver too far left for his fan base. Others, putting it plainly, felt that he would sell out. With Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City, Kendrick Lamar tells a highly compelling story of a kid caught up in the wrong situation.
I must attest to the quality of this album: it is a high quality album. I would say that it has the potential of being a classic if it is well received enough.
The most captivating part of this album is the story being told. From the informatively hilarious “Sherane (Master Splinter’s Daughter)” to the many different aspects of the day (spitting rhymes in the car on “Backstreet Freestyle” and the following propaganda pushing “Art of Peer Pressure”), the storyline develops. What happens is this: each song gives explanation or enhancement to a moment in the story. There is even a moment of lust (“Poetic Justice”) that is done aesthetically accurate. So, this album’s focus on the central tome makes every song worth listening to.
The production, albeit different, gives Kendrick the proper asphalt to run rap circles on his album. “Swimming Pools” is obviously the ominous choice for carrying ideas of alcoholic struggle. “Poetic Justice” pushes for irony in the Janet Jackson sample and screwed choruses and bridges. “Sing About Me/I’m Dying of Thirst” keeps it honest and mortal with the approach towards production. In all honesty, there were no productions that didn’t enhance the lyrics.
Kendrick Lamar has done it again. Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City is just as good as it needs to be. No beats, or rhymes and words, were wasted in the construction of this album. However, many of the people out there will probably disagree. What they don’t understand (fully) is that this piece tells a complete story. Regardless, I am thrilled to see the completion of such an enthralling and descriptively impressive piece of music.
People could never let Blu and Exile rest after the creation of Below The Heavens. Instead of giving in, they both went to do their own separate things. Blu just kept creating at the praise, and chagrin, of his fans. Exile chose to produce his own long player and one for Fashawn. Yet, after releasing this album unmixed and unmastered, Exile had to make sure it sounded right. Meanwhile, Blu had to show that he wasn’t exactly the same person from Below The Heavens. Give Me My Flowers While I can Still Smell Them is the lesser equivalent to ATCQ’s Low End Theory: the second album that truly shows their first album was no fluke.
In many circles, Blu has to be the most puzzlingly accessible emcee out there. A man as complex as Blu lays it all out on the line through songs like his love influenced “O Heaven”, the affectionately created “Don’t Be Jelly”, and the impressively mature religion questioning on “A Man”. “The Only One” lets him explain his growth as a man and human being. He even takes the time to rips mics with Homeboy Sandman and ADAD on “The Great Escape”. Let it be known: the Blu we all loved then is still the Blu we love now.
Exile, at this moment, has proven to be prolific; nothing changes about his legacy as a producer with this album. With the familiarity clause, he samples Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood with notable results on “Good Morning Neighbor”. The overly jazzy concoctions never get boring on tracks like “I Am Jean”, “Mask Your Soul”, and “Money”. While this album isn’t as “happy” as Below the Heavens, the production is still intricate and ear-worthy. Duly noted, the production on this album still remains high quality and audibly addictive.
It is safe to say that there is no sophomore slump for Blu and Exile. They have proven that they can repeat their magic with growth. Blu becomes more reflective and amazingly more mature. Exile finds more jazzy samples and intricate rhythms to construct. Many will say that Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them isn’t as good as Below The Heavens. I would reply with this; it doesn’t have to be. This album is another chapter in the world of Blu and Exile. My advice is to keep reading along. This audible tome is a classic in its own right.
Mikkey Halsted is one of those artists that is better than people let on. Once affiliated with Cash Money Records, he did plenty of behind the scenes work. However, it never materialized in him becoming the artists he SHOULD have been. So, like many artists from crews led by high profile luminaries, he broke free to do his own thing. Ever since, he has been hard at work spitting reality with lyrical responsibility and intellectual flagrance. With Castro, there is nothing different: he spits asphalt infused lyrics encrusted with jewels and gems.
What makes Mikkey’s music work the best is that he doesn’t mince words. “PTSD (Voices)” is so beautifully melodic with a mix of Mikkey’s haunting lyrics that deal with death and hood despair. On the same token, we have tracks like the Pusha T assisted “Momma In My Ear”. What we can see from this mixtape is a pure mix of both reflective/informative songs and the hard hitting hood music that could easily make any hard rock smile.
The production, at best and at worst, works seamlessly with the theme of the songs and the mixtape. “Fly Nigga Shit” has the right amount of thump and instrumental fluctuation to make the song work around Mikkey’s flagrant words. “Love Games” uses a sped up vocal sample and piano keys to accent the feeling of love and foolery mixed up into one. To be honest, the production wavers between “good” and “great”. Then again, what can you expect when you have production by Don Cannon, Young Chop, and No ID? You get the picture, then: the production does what it is supposed to do.
What do we get from this mixtape if the epitome of Castro: a man that legacy is riddled with doing as much “right” as he did “wrong”. Mikkey can see himself in the same light. As much of the positive situations he introduces, he will probably always have that dark side. Then again, that is the plight of humanity itself. Regardless, this will probably be one of the best slept on mixtapes this year next to Mickey Factz’s Mickey Mau$e.
Talib Kweli is probably known for his prolific nature. Instead of waiting on his career to restart or mess around with major labels (as of late), he opted to be independent. Is he moving a whole bunch of units? Not really sure. Does he have mastery over his own career? Absolutely. With that mastery, he took the time to release the Z-Trip assisted Attack The Block mixtape. Influenced by the title and thematics of the same London based based tongue in cheek horror flick, Kweli and Z-Trip make a mixtape that is more mix than tape.
Meaning: there is actual mixing of great music on this album.
The great thing about this mixtape is that Talib doesn’t try to do anything so experimental that people start questioning his sanity. Not to say that the mixtape isn’t diverse; the mixtape is actually “variety packed”. For example, Kweli is spitting lyrics about government fuckery on “Letter To the Government”. Then, one can hear him flow over club happy tracks on “Make It Classy”. He even takes it back to the borough on “NY Shining”. If anything can be said about Kweli is that he doesn’t want to be pigeon holed.
The only thing one could complain about is the inclusion of so many guests. But that won’t make sense because the majority of them don’t come lame. Look at the Killa Mike/Cory Mo assisted “Gettin’ To the Money” or the Black Thought/Ab-Soul assisted “Congregation”. The former has Cory on the hook (mainly) while Talib and Killa spit their brand of reality rap. The latter has all three men going in hard on the track. Both feature guests. All those guests don’t take away from the cohesion of the song. So, even with a plethora of guests, the quality of the music doesn’t suffer.
Hell, even Lil Wayne took time to spit a respectable verse free of gibberish on “Celebrate”. Mack Maine goes harder than BOTH of them on the track. Imagine that.
With an album coming very soon, Attack The Block has actually set the bar high for Kweli. Prisoner of Consciousness will have to be pretty good to say the least. What this mixtape has done is the same as many dope musical compositions: it has given the listener a taste of the artist’s ability. Now, all he has to do is not squander it. Nevertheless, Attack The Block is the perfect set up for something magical.
Freddie Gibbs has established himself as his own entity. Just because he is signed to Young Jeezy doesn’t mean he has rested on his laurels. He has his own clique (Str8 Slammin’) and is also making sure he does as many features as possible. Rounding out all of his increased work and visibility is the addition of his new mixtape, Baby Face Killa. With this mixtape, he proves that he hasn’t fell off one bit.
The music, as usual, comes off efficiently lyrical and gangsta at the same time. On the obvious standout track “The Hard”, Gibbs relinquishes himself into words shedding light on the illegal hustle that many partake in. He even takes time to make a simplistic, yet catchy as hell, sing songy type of feel on “Money, Clothes, Hoes”. Even with the heavy features from Jadakiss and Jay Rock on “Krazy” doesn’t damper his flow. In short, Freddie stays equip with the intricate hooligan lyrics.
The beats, as usual, are as gangsta as they need to be. The sample riding on “Diet” and “The Hard” makes for the sound of the mixtape to reach a necessary sophistication. The old-school-rolling-through-Houston-with-Sprite-and-syrup influences of “Boxframe Cadillac” brings nothing but the funk. Even the synths and bass that is frequently used nowadays on “Still Livin’” works on this mixtape. If anything, Freddie Gibbs can surely pick complimentary production.
Outside of people not liking the more lady friendly songs (“Middle of the Night”, which is still a strong cut), there is nothing to truly complain about on this. Freddie Gibbs has not lost a step. His lyrics don’t stray from being dynamically granite in a time of simplicity. His ear for production stays impeccable. It may be safe to say that this mixtape is just as potent as his last affair. Whether or not his USDA signing will pan out is not my call. However, Freddie Gibbs is making it work for himself right now.
After Conversational Lush, I was pretty much hooked on Elle Varner. It would make sense if you heard the powerful voice behind such songs as “Only Wanna Give It To You” and “Refill”. However, some don’t like her sound. That is fine. Everything isn’t for everybody. Still, Perfectly Imperfect is the perfect title for this album because it surely describes her sound.
If anything, this woman knows how to express herself. Anybody that has had an “interesting” friendship with the opposite sex can only nod in approval to “Damn Good Friends”. “So Fly”, a mixtape holdover, is a song full of emotive self-esteem boosting and reassurance. “Leaf” lets her get into her undying dedication and love for someone. More than most, she has the voice and wordplay to paint a descriptive scene in one’s mind.
Yet, just like the title, this album does have its imperfections. The main thing: the first two songs. While they are “good” for what they do, they aren’t even the most moving or catchy songs. The album version of “Refill” should have been replaced/redone with the mixtape version. “Only Wanna Give It To You” is a cool song. However, putting it out there as a single didn’t reign in the attention she deserved. It seemed as it her singles were the least powerful, and catchy, songs on the album.
Remarkably enough, Perfectly Imperfect is an impressive debut. Elle has the singing chops to set her career off. She can make songs powerful and emotional enough that many women can feel her emotions. Her only problem is that her singles didn’t make it happen for her. Even still, this album is musically profound enough to get her some fans. Perfectly Imperfect proves that Elle has what it takes to make inspiring music.