Illmatic. Ready to die. Reasonable Doubt.
No, good kid, m.A.A.d. city is neither one of these albums, but Kendrick Lamar used his major label debut to tell his story in a similar fashion.
While his previous release Section.80 was socially conscious, it was mostly on a macro scale. Good Kid, m.a.a.d. City puts a magnifying glass over Compton, and specifically a 17 year old Kendrick Lamar Duckworth.
As the cover says, good kid, m.A.A.d. city is truly an audio biopic. It’s a coming of age tale of a teenager who is truly good at heart, but must fight off external influences. What makes this album work, besides his great story telling, is texture. Yes, texture. Just like any great movie, a great score is needed to carry the story along. Great thought was put into hand picking instrumentals and sequencing them in a way to make a sonically sound project.
For example, the album opens with “Sherane AKA Master Splinter’s Daughter”, which features a very dark instrumental. This helps paint the picture of Kendrick driving down Rosecrans Avenue is search of Sherane, his current love interest.
As Kendrick tells his story, the major theme unfolds: fantasy vs. reality . In “Backseat Freestyle”, Kendrick is arrogantly rapping in the backseat of his friends’ car, possibly to escape the reality of what lies ahead-”The Art of Peer Pressure”. After the robbery in the song before, he snaps back into the fantasy realm with “Money Trees”. Surely his heist didn’t produce the wealth he speaks of in the previous song, but this song explains why he did it. “Poetic Justice” is an almost foolish love (lust) song about his main interest Sherane, but judging from the title of the first track, he doesn’t think too highly of her now (Master Splinter’s Daughter = Hoodrat).
Kendrick departs from his personal anecdotes to describe Compton as he sees it. “Good Kid” and “maad city” contrasts each other but are important to the story. “Good Kid” is Compton as he sees it and “maad city” what Compton will make him if he allows it. Kendrick is often criticized for his inflection when he raps, but it is used well on “maad city”. His high pitch voice on this shows youth and ,once again, adds textute to his content. On “Sing About Me” he actually talks about how his songs affect those around him. This song connects to “Dying of Thirst”, where he seeks salvation for the sins he previously commited. Although the themes previosly mention includes lots of different issues, it never becomes too heavy for the listener.
Enough of singing this album’s praises, let’s talk the negatives. Like past Kendrick albums/mixtapes, the hooks aren’t the best. Anna Wise is sure to get on your nerves singing “I’m real, I’m real, I’m really really real” but you won’t even care by the end of the song because of the message. “Backseat Freestyle” will get REALLY annoying towards the end, but this song still fits well into the album’s context. Another weak point is the production. If banging beats are your prequisite for an album, then this one won’t blow you away. But once again, texture applies. The production on this album fits well sonically, even though there’s few amazing instrumentals here. As you can tell, any real negative criticism of this album is just nitpicking.
Final Grade: 4.8-5
Even though this album is great in every way possible, it’s still far too early to call it a classic. If this album can stand the test of time then it deserves to be in that conversation. For now, we can just admire the effort that Kendrick and crew put into this great project. There’s no filler here. Each song is significant. Each verse serves a purpose. Every word matters. Kendrick skillfully resurrects the lost art of storytelling to give you his biography. It’s personal…sometimes even too personal, but it is truly appreciated. As his mother states at the end of “Real”, this album is truly an inspiration to anyone who has ever had to overcome hardships. This album is a phenomenal beginning to the legacy of Kendrick Lamar.
After releasing album quality free projects starting with Krit Wuz Here in 2010, Big K.R.I.T. has quickly ascended to the elite class of new hip hop artists. As expected, the bar was raised high (unfairly, even) in anticipation for his debut. If you go into this album with expectations, you’ll undoubtedly be disappointed and miss out on a good album.
Live from the Underground tells a story and may even be far more personal than its predecessors. Although there’s still songs like “I Got This” and “Yea Dats Me”, K.R.I.T tells the story through the music itself. The album and cover itself, shows K.R.I.T crash landing into the mainstream from the underground (The South). Although southern hip-hop has been a force for years, K.R.I.T. still feels that it is unappreciated and uses this album as a bold reintroduction.
K.R.I.T uses samples and instrumentation to form the landscape for this album. There’s elements of blues, gospel, along with hip-hop influences ranging from Memphis to Atlanta. This is immediately heard with “LFU300MA”, the soulful, spoken word intro that blends right into the title track. “Live from the Underground” is a formulatic “let me tell you what this album is about” track that will be an instant highlight. At the end, there’s a skit where K.R.I.T. crash lands into the “mainstream” from the south.
This album offers everything you expect from previous projects with “Money on the Floor”, “What U Mean” and “My Sub Part 2″ but it was quite evident that he wanted to take his debut in a different direction. This album still has his normal formula: Intro-bass heavy tracks- decrescendo to socially conscious tracks, but the order is more reversed. This project seems to be more as a statement album where he’s saying “The South has something to say”. Songs such as “If I Fall”, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, and “Praying Man” featuring the legendary B.B. King fill the latter portion of the album. This journey comes to an end with “Live from the Underground (Reprise)” where he uses an audio clip of his late grandmother singing.
While K.R.I.T. is a talented MC, this album isn’t a showcase of stunning lyricism but he uses effective verse construction. The conversational flow on the majority of the songs to get his point across. This is backed by the well developed instrumentals to bring out the southern essence of the album.
Although a classic outing was expected by many on this debut run, this album still provides a strong message and adds to his legacy.
Final Score: 3.75-5
B.o.B. has been known for his versatility as an artist. He plays both the guitar and piano, sings, produces, and oh yea, he raps.
Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock for the last two years, there’s no way you could ignore Top Dawg Entertainment’s transition from underground to mainstream. After earning a distribution deal through Interscope/Aftermath, the future is bright for them.
The members are Jay Rock and Schoolboy Q, who serve as the street presence. Kendrick Lamar is the glue that holds the “Black Hippy” collective together. And last, Ab-Soul…basically the anomaly. Unlike the other 3 members of this posse, he is from Carson, California, not LA. And if you asked anyone about his music prior to this, they would surely tell you “yea, he’s cool” . That’s it.
After previously checking out two mixtapes and an album, I still felt like I didn’t know the guy. Well after pressing play on controlsystem, this soon change. Not only is this album a realization of self, but it is also a formal introduction to the listener of who Ab-Soul REALLY is. And that’s what we’ve been waiting for.
Killer Mike has been one of the South’s most heralded underground artists for years. He wisely fuses his “grind-time” motto with gritty street talk and social awareness.
After the conclusion of his “Pledge Allegiance to the Grind” trilogy, he decided to take on a new challenge that will surely leave many scratching their heads (while bobbing it of course).
This new challenge is his fifth album, R.A.P. Music, which returns to the foundation of early hip hop by only having one producer the entire album. Here’s where some people may get thrown off: This one producer is El-P (Jaime Maline) of Company Flow and Def Jux fame. If you aren’t familiar with his work, expect the unexpected from R.A.P. Music.
Habits & Contradictions is a fitting title for this sophomore album from Schoolboy Q.
Habits because it could be classified as a “smoker’s” album. The overall pace is slow, with repetitive and catch hooks.
Contradictions because unlike most “smoker’s albums”, he still finds a way to sneak in real topics and themes not typically associated with this type of album.
The album opens on the slowly drawn out “Sacrilegious” and pretty much follows this same vibe the entire album. Although the content changes throughout the album, I think this was important to get the listener in a certain “zone” while listening.
The Habits of this album can be divided into tracks such as “2 Raw”, “Oxy Music”, “Hands on the Wheel” featuring ASAP Rocky (and a very clever use of a Kid Cudi hook as a sample).
The Contradictions are “Grooveline Pt. 1″, “Blessed featuring Kendrick Lamar” and the antithesis of Drake’s “Marvin Room”, “My Hatin’ Joint”.
What’s impressive about this album though is how Schoolboy weaves in and out of these topics while maintaining the constant vibe in the album. The songs all flow well, and although he speaks on several issues there is nothing worth leaving out. He does this with his slowly drawn out choruses, changing of flows and deceptive lyricism. Deceptive as in he knows when to be lyrical and when to just flow over the beat, a skill that most rappers don’t possess. Production on this album was key also. Outside of his usual TDE in-house producers, he gets assistance from DJ Dahi, Best Kept Secret, The Alchemist, ASAP Ty Beats, and southern up and comer Mike Will. Using several producers when the concept is already set in mind may usually be difficult, but Schoolboy Q found the right combination for this album.
If Kendrick Lamar’s Section.80 was too heavy for you, then I definitely think you would enjoy this album. It’s easy going, entertaining, but still carries a message.
Overall grade: 4.0-5.0
Lyrical juggernaut Skyzoo released one of the most polished albums of this year. And for free. I know you haven’t heard it yet, so download here.
This album was often delayed, but worth the wait. Common drops his most solid album since Be.
This is a story that we all know too well. It may be a friend or family member. The story of a young man, fighting to make something of his life when the odds of against him. That’s the story of semi-fictitious Redford Stephens (1975-1999), the focal point of the concept album UnDun. Although this is a story that is known all too well, it is still a story worth telling. And The Roots tell the story like no one else could.
Many times, I have to put my own bias aside to review an album. I have to pack all my preconceived notions away and accept reality. Realize that what i’m listening to is not what’s really in my head.
I had to do this with RadioActive. I want YelaWolf to win so bad that I was prepared to be blown away by a great southern album. Well not so fast…
The sophomore slump is real. There’s been many artists who try to answer the question “how can I top my debut” and end up leaving their formula which made them successful in the first place.
First off, I know what you’re thinking. I think Mac Miller is dope. He gets the “corny white rapper” label just like Machine Gun Kelly, Asher Roth, and Chris Webby but Mac can actually spit.
He proved this on the mixtape K.I.D.S. which made me a fan. Unfortunately, being able to spit doesn’t necessarily equal a great album.
If you’re 19 and under, this album is right up your alley. Maybe?
I can’t even review this album fairly. 19 year old Ron, you do the honors. You here?
19 year old Ron: I got it from here. Blue Slide Park isn’t going to shake your top 10 list dramatically, but there are some good songs here. And bad. Think of this as a “party album” if you will.
The majority of production of this album is handled by by I.D. Labs, Ritz Reynolds, and Clams Casino which would usually ensure a pretty dope album. Not the case here. While listening to this album, you’ll spend most of your time searching for its identity. Or why this is even an album in the first place. It jumps around and once it’s off track it never hops back on.
For instance: The album opens with “English Park” which leads into “Blue Slide Park”. These songs are ok but then you hit a few bumps in the road which almost makes you want to turn the album off. This doesn’t pick back up until the party anthem “My Team”.
Mac Miller often gets the label of “corny rapper ” and songs like “Frick Park Market” and “Up All Night” won’t help his case. But, let’s not forget the intended audience for this album: 13-19 years olds. This age group will more than likely find something here for them to enjoy. The album isn’t bad at all but I dont’ know the degree of seriousness which can be applied.
Over to you present-day Ron.
As 19 year old Ron said above, this album has no identity. I think Mac Miller falls in the long line of rappers in the digital age who are put on the scene way too early and are underdeveloped. Don’t get me wrong, he has skills and can REALLY spit but lacks direction as a rapper.
He showed promise with the K.I.D.S. mixtape but it seems as Mac still has a lot to learn. Although tracks such as “My Team” are his current niche, maybe he could make more songs like “Of the Soul”.
Final Grade: 3-5
cmon Mac, I know you can do this again:
P.S. congrats to Mac for selling 180,ooo units as an indepedent artist. Whether you like this album or not, you have to respect him debuting #1 after putting in this work himself
ASAP’s buzz came from literally nowhere. Besides “Purple Swag” and an EP, little was known about his music. However, after signing a contract for “a few million dollars” his LiveLoveASAP project quickly became one of the most anticipated of the year.
Did it live up to the hype?
I must admit, when I heard comedian Donald Glover’s rap alter ego Childish Gambino I didn’t think much of it. He was just a guilty pleasure and an alternative for Lil Wayne (you can hear the similarities). After listening to Camp, I must change my mind about Donald and begin taking his music career seriously.
Let’s forget about Wale’s debut Attention Deficit. While I think it was one of the best kept secrets of 2009, you could hear the label’s influence and overuse of ideas/concepts which coincidentally caused attention deficit. The average listener complained that the album hopped from one place to another leaving them confused. Also, there’s that horrible first single “Chillin”, but enough of that. Now we’re here, with a new deal and hopefully more creative control.
So a changing record labels in pursuit of artistic freedom would only be a plus right? Well maybe not if that change is to Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group Imprint.
Was this a good move? I say yes. And no. Let’s focus on the yes though.
Ambition sounds like a debut, but in a good way. The album opens with “Don’t Hold Your Applause” which sounds like the go-go material that you usually expect from previous Wale releases. This go-go sound is continued through the tracks “Double M Genius”, “Miami Nights”, and “Legendary”. THEN comes the abrupt switch.
This album sounds like two seperate albums, Wale before MMG and Wale after MMG. This is the “bad” part of the Maybach Music move. Not even saying that the latter portion of the album is bad, but I can see him not wanting to lose his newfound fanbase. The first song in the change of pace is “Lotus Flower Bomb” featuring Miguel. While this second half of the album has tracks that you could really care less for (i.e. “Chain Music” and the club track “Slight Work”) the best track of the album is in this here. “Ambition” featuring Rick Ross and Meek Mill is produced by T-Minus who coincidentally produced another hit single you may have heard this year (and they sound just alike).
The album closes strong with “No Days Off”, “DC or nothing” or “That Way” which is recycled off the Self Made, Vol. 1 album.
As a whole, this album is a very enjoyable listen. The only problem I have is continuity. At times, this album sounds like a collection of songs. With Attention Deficit, nearly every song had a particular theme whereas this album sacrifices themes and concepts for an overall improved listening experience. Both production wise and lyrically this album is notch above his debut. If you’re a fan of Wale, new or old, there should be something on this album to keep you interested. It may be incentive to check out his previous projects also, which may have been his intentions.
All in all, this makes for a pretty solid album and one of the best releases this year.
Final Grade: 3.75-5
Throughout the course of Coldplay’s career, “music snobs” everywhere have attacked Coldplay for regurgitating ideas from their influences and not having their own sound. I, for one, supported Coldplay by saying that they take ideas and make them better. So with Mylo Xyloto, this is Coldplay’s first real attempt at shutting those music snobs up with a creation of their own.
Well music snobs, I think you may have been right.
Mylo Xyloto sounds…lifeless. It doesn’t have nearly as half as much of the theatrical sound that its predecessor Viva La Viva does. It actually sounds flat.
Mylo Xyloto is a concept album with a love narrative but the problem is fighting through it to get the whole picture.
The album opens with the instrumental title track which leads into “Hurts Like Heaven”. You can instantly hear the new folkish, acoustic sound which is pretty much the base of this album. The stand out track on this album is the lead single “Paradise”.
The problem with this album is having the only standout of the entire album at track number three. After “Paradise”, if you stripped all these songs of their name, then you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. They all sound alike.
The album does rise again at “Major Minus” but quickly falls again.
With that said, if you’re one of those “music snobs” forcing yourself to have Coldplay prove you wrong, PLEASE go listen to Viva La Vida again, this one wont do it. Not saying that this album is worthy of throwing out your window in high speed traffic but not hearing it won’t make or break your opinion of the band.
Final Grade: 3-5
After not being too impressed with his “Politics As Usual” freestyle, he came back with this one. Way Better. Download ReasonableMatic below.
Let’s face it–Phonte can probably outrap your favorite rapper, but he really doesn’t care to. You can tell by the simple mononym, “Phonte” (his first name), that he’s just a plain ol’ every man’s rapper. This is the reason why I love Charity Starts at Home.
If you’re familiar with Phonte’s work with Little Brother or even Foreign Exchange, then you know that the content of most of his music is simply life experiences. And no not popping bottles, spending money on expensive cars, and other things the average rappers make music about but REAL life experiences.
While that general synopsis of the album may seem boring, the album’s opening track “Dancing in the Reign” shows you that Phonte can be the everyman’s rapper but still charismatic enough on the mic to hold your attention. In this song he tells you why he’s better than your favorite rapper, why he doesn’t really care he’s better than your favorite rapper, and even a Lil B cooking reference if you’re paying attention.
Just like the Little Brother albums of past, you can expect stellar production on this album from 9th Wonder, Khrysis, Nicolay, and Nottz. To compliment the production, the guest features are mapped out well. There’s not one feature that sounds out of place and he only gets outshined once on the entire album. That verse comes from Big K.R.I.T on “Life of Kings”.
While Phonte is better known as a “rapper” this album is very diverse due to his recent ventures in R&B/soul. Towards the end of the album, he switches up the flow on “Ball and Chain”, “To Be Yours”, and “Gonna Be a Beautiful Night”. This may not work with any other artist but with Phonte it probably makes you respect the album even more. Actually, “Gonna Be a Beautiful Night” is the album’s standout track.
Now let’s move on to the negative…there is none. Given what the album is, it’s nearly flawless. It may bore a younger audience but then again, this album isn’t for you anyway. For example, “Sending My Love” speaks on fighting infidelity, which is really not “cool” according to most pop artists and youth that listen to that music. This album is everything you expect from a Phonte solo album, incorporating all the things you loved from Little Brother and Foreign Exchange. Although I’m still in my 20′s, I can really appreciate this album for it’s mature content. If you want an album that’s unlike anything else out right now, definitely purchase this one.
Final Grade: 4.25/5
After numerous delays, searching for a “hit”, and waiting on an imaginary Jay-Z verse, Cole World is finally here.
The initial buzz of this album has died down due to being pushed back and the number of lackluster songs that were released, however, I assure you that this album shows the same passion and hunger of The Warm-Up.
The album intro starts off at the beginning of a conversation that tells the story of J. getting signed as the first rapper to Roc Nation. “Dollar and a Dream III” is probably the best produced track on the album due to it’s several beat changes.
Coincidentally, the album shines where the story is being told and lags when it veers off and try to be something it’s not. After the album’s interlude, comes “Sideline Story”, which uses the same sample as Consequence’s “Disperse”. This is the song that describes his process of trying to “get on”. In the center of the album’s climax, which is the middle, are songs like “Nobody’s Perfect”, “Never Told”, “Rise & Shine”, and the the track Jay-Z should have put his verse on, “God’s Gift”. “Rise and Shine” is probably my favorite song on the album because of the classic Jay-Z soundbite at the beginning.
Now let’s move on to where this album falls off. In my opinion “Can’t Get Enough” would be a hit if it was anyone else’s song but it sounds forced with J. Cole. The same goes with “In the Morning”, which makes me wonder why it’s on the album due to it’s age. “Mr. Nice Watch” is undoubtedly the album’s worst track and not even a Jay-Z verse could save it.
With all this said, I still love this album. It’s far from classic but really solid. There was a time, a long long time ago, where rappers used their first album as an introduction. Cole World really shows his struggles of getting signed and dealing with the pressure of being a Roc Nation artist. But like most debuts, this album has his kinks. I think the sophomore effort will be much more stronger once rookie mistakes are ironed out and he realizes that these painfully forced singles aren’t needed. Either way, J. Cole’s future is still as bright as it was the day The Warm Up dropped.
Final grade: 4(very strong 4)/5
Ps thanks for not including “Work Out”
As you can tell from this cover, this album is filled with weirdness. However, much like Danny Brown’s XXX (he also put me on Mr. eXquire via twitter) it works.
While this album has it’s darker content, it’s really a fun album. Mr. eXquire really wanted to focus on the things most important in his life: drinking, porn, drinking, chicken, and did I mention drinking?
If you really wanna know what this album is about, “Huzzah!” describes it all. The beat made me look twice to make sure that it wasn’t a RZA production but instead of a grimy crime song, it’s simply about drinking.
Also there’s songs like “Chicken Spot Rock” which is literally about what the title says. This song is credited to El-P but old school Def Jux heads are bout to recognize it. On “Maltese Falcon pt. 1 and 2″ he shows off his “storytelling” skills, and it really is a story. You’ll just have to listen.
This album isn’t entirely fun and games though. One of my favorite songs is “Weight of Water” where he channels his inner Ol Dirty Bastard on the hook. This song is just about the hardships of life. On “I should be sleepin” he’s telling stories from his childhood. Another favorite is “Lovesponge”.
My only problem with this album is that sometimes it’s a little too far out there, and probably won’t be a favorite to the casual hip hop listener. However, this is Mr. eXquire’s first release with quality producers (especially El-P) and he definitely has a great formula in place. Lyrically he sounds like the 10th member of Wu-Tang but his music probably sounds nothing like anything else you’ll hear today. This album is definitely worth a listen.
Check it out here.
Final Grade: 3.5/5
Guest review from @ebony_smiles. Enjoy.
I’m no A&R, and I ain’t never said I have an ear for music either but here’s my take on HaLo’s project: The Blind Poet, a tribute to blind African-American musicians. Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles are the only ones who come to mind here, so I’m not sure where he was going with the title. I came across this mixtape after going to Birmingham’s Sidewalk Film Fest (good shit) to view 9thWonder’s Documentary; The Wonder Years (more good shit) where I saw he was an artist on 9th’s Jamla/IWWMG label. Subsequently I see he had a mixtape dropping for free download.
In all honesty, it’s a good sound. But far from great, or the shit, or this sign: > But I do like it. For one, I thought this was his 1st mixtape, only to find out that it’s actually his 2nd (Heat Writer II is the first). While I didn’t listen to HWII, I didn’t have to, to know that Blind Poet doesn’t sound sophomoric, which I feel it should have. Next, the brother has a lot of features on this one, 12 to be exact, with a total of 15 songs. That doesn’t sit well with me if you’ve done this before. You know what I mean? To make matters worse, I only like the tracks with features on them. He’s got a lot of his Zulu fam on there like: Rhapsody, Sundown of Actualproof, Skyzoo, etc and I liked there flows better. It also seems like he rhymed better with someone than with solo tracks. Also it seems like the tracks were short and not just production-wise but lyrically. I’m not good in math but it sounded as if he only spit 8-10 bars per track. I felt like he could have said more, I needed for him to say more for me to love him but I guess sometimes you just don’t have shit to say. In this instance though, less wasn’t more.
Speaking of production; flawless. Of course 9thWonder is always awesome, and I like Khrysis, and AMP’s sound also. I think this is what makes it a good sound for me. Perfect for this rainy Birmingham Labor Day actually. If I had to describe it, I would file it under 1970’s blaxploitation themed. Not sure if that was what he was going for, but I hear funk and soul all throughout this. I also hear slivers of poetry in his delivery. Here’s my opportunity to use iambic pentameter and I’m going to use it dammnit. *clears throat* Yeah so, HaLo is using mad iambic pentameter on quite a few of these tracks and I like it.
Overall, I wouldn’t really recommend it to anyone. Not saying it’s bad, but he ain’t ready yet, buddy has a lot more growing to do, before I personally tell the world about him. But it’s still a good mixtape. My favs would be, Night Riders, Birth of a Suck and Somebody. All that to say, I need to hear more from him to be sold.
First off, this review is tricky. Honestly, I don’t even know if this is the real album after Blu threw out copies during his performance at Rock the Bells. May I add that this is his major label debut?
This album has been placed under the microscope nonetheless.
Initially I had no clue what to expect with this album No York! which is his slang for “west coast state of mind”. And if you’re a Blu fan, I’m also telling you to erase whatever expect, because this sounds NOTHING like the classic, Below the Heavens, in both a good and bad way.
This album is very experimental. Think Electric Circus, The Ecstatic, and even The Love Below. I would go as far as to say maybe TOO experimental. There’s a majority of this album that sounds like well…noise. The reason for this is his use of unconventional production from producers such as Dela!, samiyam, and Flying Lotus.
Also, Blu is well known for the depth of his lyricism and content. And a lot of his verse on this album sounds like…noise. Ex: “porn on a Tuesday, porn on a Thursday, woody on my birthday”. Yes, many verses are filled with meaningless phrases such as this. The only way I can rationalize this is that he was using the electric feel of the album to evoke emotions rather than having the focus be his lyrics as usual. Either way, the fact that I have no clue what his motive was isn’t a good.
Another head-scratcher about this album is the features. The opener of the album features U-God of Wu-Tang. Yes, U-God. Many other guest features are very forgettable.
This album does have glimpses of brilliance though. The second song “Everything’s OK” sets the tone for the album with it’s electric instrumental and Jack Davey handling the chorus. “Down to Earth” is also the Blu you’re used to and the single “My Sunshine” is undoubtedly the best song of the album.
While it may seem like I’m totally bashing this album, I really do appreciate it. This album is the manifestation of everything Blu is, and who knows exactly who he is? This project has high replay value for an inquisitive mind. I know it really made me dig below the surface and ask myself “wtf is he trying to do?”. Honestly, every time I’ve listened I’ve heard something new, which is why I keep revisiting.
Curious? Listen here.
With that said, Final Grade: 3.25/5
When he’s not beefing with every household name in the industry, The Game is actually a decent rapper with a very sound catalogue. RED, would be no different.
After jumping from label to label, Game finally reunites with his mentor Dr. Dre, who handles the Intro/Skits. The album starts off on a great note with “The City” featuring Compton’s prodigal son Kendrick Lamar (he really shines on his last verse, just see”.
The theme of this album: Guest appearances. Some make songs and others hurt them. Martians vs. Goblins featuring Tyler the Creator and Lil Wayne, who handles the hook, is a great track. The Game and Tyler actually feed off each other and mesh well. Then there’s tracks like “Heavy Artillery” and “Speakers on Blast’ where two rappers aren’t even needed, just one guest verse maybe.
The highlights of this album come from “Ricky” and “Born in the Trap” produced by DJ Premier, which is an honor within itself. The game has shown growth with his songwriting skills and these songs are prime examples.
Only negative thing about this album is those two songs for the ladies that sound forced. Other than this, this album is actually great.
What I REALLY respect about the game is that he’s grown as a lyricist and has decreased the name dropping. While this album isn’t a classic, it’ll hold your attention for a few spins.
Final Grade: 3.85/5 (would have been a 4, but replay value decreased it slightly)
I’m pretty sure no one knows who Danny Brown is so I’ll catch you up to speed. He’s a Detroit mc who…um…actually there is no way to describe Danny Brown, one adjective isn’t enough. Well this is his follow up to his underground classic, The Hybrid, and I assure you it’s unlike anything you’ve ever heard.
On this title track he exhibits his unorthodox flow. Most who don’t get it may want to press the stop button here, but I assure you it gets better. Keep listening.
2. Die Like a Rockstar
This track reminds me of an old school Def Jux track with El-P production. This song is a prime example of his witty wordplay “I got a Kurt Cobain mindframe…”.
3. Pac Blood
This track is produced by the very underrated BrandUn Deshay and will intstantly become a standout track on the album. The hook of this song is definitely the highlight of the album.
Probably my least favorite track on the album but still clever enough to hold your attention. The instrumental is just one snare and the beat comes in at the hook.
Just when you think you’ve typecasted Danny Brown’s style here comes Lie4 where he makes a reference to “Make It Rain” and the Euro-genre grime all in one song. Dizzee Rascal influence is evident on this song
6. I Will
This is possibly the most vulgar song you’ve heard in awhile but it represents a very important element of Danny’s style and content. I’m sure you’ve heard a dozen “sex songs” but Danny raps about it cleverly in a semi-serious matter.
7. Bruiser Brigade
This track is also heavily euro-rap influenced but incorporates the american crunk sub-genre. Expect lots of yelling…and maybe the strong urge to fight.
8. Detroit 187
If you’ve been up on Danny Brown this is probably the type of song you’re accustomed to. He spits one of my favorite lines “other rappers got lines, dog I got encroachments”
Danny kicks off this song with possibly his best verse on the entire album. There’s no hook on this song, just a display of his lyrical prowess.
10. Blunt after Blunt
Use your context clues to figure out what this one is about. With Danny Brown you have to expect a drug ballad, and this one serve its purpose.
Another standout track on the album. He goes absolutely crazy on this track.
12. Adderall Admiral
This is one of my favorite tracks on the album because of the absurd punchlines. Danny showcases his wittiness before the album takes its shift.
This is the first serious song of the album. If you listen his voice isn’t altered on this song and he sounds more like the Hot Soup Danny Brown.
Danny proves he’s a well-rounded MC with his storytelling skills on this song. It tells the story of a troubled young lady.
15. Party All the Time
Going off the title alone, I was expecting something totally different with this song. Again, his voice isn’t altered and this song is similar to “Nosebleeds” content-wise. Another standout track.
Just in case you were wondering, the song’s title means eastside-westside-northend-southwest. This song tells the tale of his Detroit upbringing.
This is another song that chronicles his experiences in Detroit. The sample may sound familiar if you’re a fan of classic animé.
18. Scrap or Die
Initially you may think scrap = fight but that’s not true. The hook may sound familiar also. Think Thug Motivation 101.
If I had to make a list and rank Danny Brown songs this would make top 3. This is the song that needs to be played when someone asks “who is Danny Brown?”. He passionate raps about his struggles to get where he is today. This song serves as the perfect closing for the album.
After listening to XXX I literally asked myself “what the hell did I just listen to?”. This album breaks all the rules of hip hop today and is unlike anything I’ve ever heard. He cleverly meshes every aspect of this style without making the album sound like it’s jumping all over the place. Last time I felt like this after listening to an album was Hell Hath No Fury by the Clipse.
Final Grade: 4.5/5
Yes…that is correct.
Also, this album is a free download. So check it out here and let me know what you think.