A blog about hip-hop, rap music, its trends, and an overall thought about the music an culture, without indulging in gossip. A real set of opinions and discussions, not based on the popular sentiment, but examining and challenging it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Independent Wednesday

So looking at this video at first glance I was ready to trash this dude because he seemed like he was going to be too silly but I gave it a chance and I can say I was pleasantly surprised. Dylan Phillip has a nice flow and some decent lyrics. The flow is real smooth and a throwback. I took it to his website and the originality isn't always there as far as topics I mean "You Got Swag I Got Soul" is a typical attacking the 'popular' mainstream rap type of track but he overcomes some of that with solid rap skills and a cool beat. It does remind me of the late 90's and has some jazz to it.

"Brand New" is a decent album track and it's funny these days some things feel like they are meant to kind of fit the formula of the 90's where you have tracks for the ladies and songs that are outside of a core skill set but it really doesn't translate in this new market where online is where you're going to gain ground unless it is exceptional.

Okay so next up is Kato Dox. Kato is a Dallas rapper who isn't Southern or Trill in his style. From what I have heard he is alright. I mean I'm not going to kill myself when I hear him but I'm not going to fight you over his music myself. I know no rapper wants to hear they just don't stand out and exist but for me, that's where Kato falls into. There are times his flow isn't as smooth or unique as it could be, his voice isn't particularly standout and the lyrics I heard are just average. He has a decent resume of being in some good performance spots with other industry acts so he must work hard but musically, I'm not moved.

Third this week I'm going to drop something slightly different, as Maryann the "BaeGod" who is a rap/r&b hybrid female artist. Yet another person from Cali (the West Coast indie scene is still thriving people) she has some energetic songs and great production behind them as well as engineering. There are songs she has I could see gathering a sort of following that might possibly push her into the mainstream consciousness, but she has to be careful. I mean some of the hooks are solid but going back and forth rapping and singing can be tricky, especially when a lot of extra things are thrown into the mix like auto-tune and EDM songs. You kind of have to get a lane and work through it first so the audience doesn't get confused.

Now I think she can spit a bit. Not counting on her to drop a bunch of deepness but she is solid. I do not like the "BaeGod" though. It is way too trendy and won't last even as a little catch phrase. I also may be old though so there is that. She might ahve been the best new artist I just listened to so live it up.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Album Review- Nicki Minaj - The Pinkprint

So of course other than Drake, Nicki is one of the biggest things going in rap right now. Men love looking at her and women want to be her. Her single Anaconda wasn't the greatest but it did what it was supposed to do and brun up the airwaves. Pills and Potions as well. Sure her 'Barbs' will support anything at this point, but the one thing Nicki seeks is the validation from the hip-hop crowd she grew up idolizing in New York. Will this be the album that silences her critics for good? let's find out with my album review of "The Pinkprint".

The album starts off strong with "All Things Go" which is an introspective track over some strong drums and a minimal melody. This is the direction of the emotional Nicki we want to hear. She sort of continues on "I Lied" which is another simple backing beat and has the feel that today's young girls will automatically like as she starts to talk about her relationship issues.

Now if you don't like the heartbroken Nicki, she brings the sexual power she is known for with Ariana Grande on "Get On Your Knees" which for some women they will play as their empowerment anthem. I wonder if they will try to turn this into a single tough its a bit raunchy, the big hook and feature seem like it will get some sort of push. "Only" which has been blowing up urban radio features Drake and Lil Wayne as they take turns talking about sexual relations with Ms. Minaj. Chris Brown also handles the hook which might be the best part of the song. Jeremih, who produces a couple of joints, sings on "Favorite" which is an alright track but nothing spectacular.

Beyonce returns the favor Nicki bestowed upon her for the 'Flawless Remix' on "Feeling Myself" which is going to have the Beyhive and Barbies going crazy again with an unorthodox song (which has become one of Bey's trademarks as far as arrangements) and heavy 808 feel by Hit Boi. "Four Door Aventador" is decent and the most we get at an attempt to really have the east coast flair. "Want Some More" is her best 'Wayne' imitation and she has moments when she goes off spitting but the hook is a little lazy yet catchy. This one will be a club banger.

"Buy a Heart" features Meek Mill but it is aimed at the pop market which could be good for the Philly native. We know about "Anaconda" by now and "Pills N Potions". In another bid to ensure the Top 40 spins, "The Night is Still Young" exists just to cross over and is nothing special. "Bed of Lies" with Skylar Grey is aimed at Nicki's recent ex-boyfriend and is an above average song that will resonate with her fans. I'm not a fan of "Trni Dem Girls" or "Grand Piano" which ends the 'regular' edition of the album.

Bonus tracks include Meek Mill on a second feature on "Big Daddy" which has an atrocious and lazy hook that's trying to be clever but isn't. The bars aren't bad though. "Shanghai" which is the bastard child of Chiraq made just for Nicki. "Win Again" is cool but I don't like the Target exclusive 'Mona Lisa'. The other Target exclusive "Put You in a Room" also doesn't seem like a finished song, it should have been left in the unreleased folder. The final bonus track is "Truffle Butter" with Drake and Lil Wayne and the only problem is they are always on the same tempo with a lot of songs so they aren't interesting at all.

Knowing that Nicki went through a major break up this year gives clues to the direction of the overall album. It is very depressed and while the few songs that kind of touch on that feeling seem to work, the rest of them don't. I mean she has some success with the sexually aggressive records but she doesn't develop as a full person on an album where she had a real chance to expand upon who 'Nicki minaj' actually is. She instead just becomes a hurt young girl who doesn't believe herself when she is trying to brag and spit. Even her more introspective songs are just so simple they don't add depth to the feelings she must have had while trying to create this. The Nicki that was on "Champion" next to some of the best in the game isn't present on this album and that's a disappointment. Production is decent but there are no risks like before and everything just seems to be too over produced. This must be Nicki's mulligan of an album.

Rating: 2/5

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Album review - PRhyme

So Royceda 5'9 might be the king of highly anticipated collaborations for the lyrical underground fan. First was his unification with the other members of Slaughterhouse, then the reunification with Eminem which gave us Bad Meets evil and now he has partnered with the iconic DJ Premier for a 'full' length project or EP called PRhyme. A lot of hip-hop heads and aficionados were waiting eagerly for this and I have the feeling a lot of them are extra happy.

First thing let me say I admit Premier is one of the most important people to ever be part of hip hop. He has made so many classics it is impossible to say you're not a fan, yet for me I don't do back flips when his name is mentioned. I just don't get that caught up in what he is doing himself to really pinpoint anything other than he is known for the 'scratches' but that would be badly downplaying his skill and prowess.

With that said, the album starts with a title track where Royce spits with his usual vigor and aggressiveness to let everyone know where he is at mentally, one he is in his Prime and lyrically he goes in and proves it over a heavy beat talking about the critics and social media stalkers etc. "Dat Sound Good" has the 'signature' Primo sound which includes a comment from Joell Ortiz scratched as the hook.It also features Ab Soul who gets at weak rappers out there with some decent wordplay in what feels like a short verse before Mac Miller kind of does his version of an 'eminem' style verse. "Courtesy" is an alright track but the beat is a little old sounding honestly.

"Wishin" featuring Common is some straight up late 90's hip-hop funk from the mixtape circuit rap. Thats the only way to describe it. "To Me, To you" has Royce spitting some fire lyrics but it's dragged down by the over rated Jay electronica who features and doesn't do anything particularly memorable. "Underground Kings" with Schoolboy Q and Killer Mike is fire however. Schoolboy goes in over a riotous track."Microphone Pheen" with Slaughterhouse is one of the weaker contributions, a throwback snare and drum are cool but the melody is kind of weak and the lyrics are cool but can't overcome the blandness of the track.

"U Looz" is a chance for Primo to show off with his production skills but the highlight of this collection is "You Should Know" with Dwele. This track has some signatures from primo and some added production from Dwele with Royce going all in with some serious bars.

At the end this collection seems too short and Royce needed a couple of more songs and strong concepts to keep him on target with what his bars were about. Yes, Premier has good production chops but there are times it all seems like the same old thing, which i get it, some people want, but we need to stretch out a bit. With only 9 songs there needed to be something more hard and edgy definitely to balance some of the smoother moments. That's probably the biggest thing, it isn't long enough.

Rating: 2.5/5

Monday, December 8, 2014

Album review - J.Cole - 2014 Forest Hills Drive

So it's been a long time since I last posted anything up here and truth is I am beyond jaded with this thing called hip-hop. I see the independent submissions and they can be good but a lot of the time it's not exciting enough to give me that need to write something. Now hip-hop is getting somewhat interesting right now between beefs and label strife but what brings me back is NC-17 who asked my feelings on the guy i'm calling the new Lupe, J. Cole. See much like Lupe, Cole has a ridiculous hardcore following who loves him and a bunch of other people who shrug at the mention of his name. This time Cole seems to be going back to underground type roots with his new album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive.

The album actually starts off pretty strong but let me speak on "Wet Dreamz" which is that first time for a teenage boy trying to get into some cheeks for the first time. It seems like the perfect kind of single for Cole much better than the joint he dropped with Trey off of the Sideline Story. "03 Adolesence" is kind of the same aiming to speak directly to a younger generation about what is going on and through their minds at that age. It gets into a deeper conversation about the street dude Cole was cool with letting a young Jermaine know that his future was the one they should all be striving for and not to fall victim to small quick money.

"Fire Squad" and "A Tale of Two Citiez" are actually throwbacks to the gritty NY feel of production and rap of the late 90's. The refrain in "Tale" is catchy and perfect for the whip and Fire Squad is the older school prove you can spit track. Now, the chorus is kind of wack though. This track is getting all of it's talk about the 'call out' of white rappers which is overblown like Kendrick's control verse being called a diss.

Now "No role Modelz" is to those chicks who are superficial and caught up in the image game. It's alright but not as good as some of the other tracks. "G.O.M.D." is also another generic misstep that is extra skippable for me. Some folks will like the smooth laid back "St. Tropez" but I'm not going to be searching for that one. "Hello" confuses me but I have a feeling the young hipsters will love it.

"Love Yourz" is about self love and is a message to the people to embrace what they have more than they do and find the beauty in it and not get caught up in trying to chase the newest and greatest thing. January 28th is a solid track with a soul backing as well.

Overall Cole has solidified himself as the new Lupe to me. He has talent and skills and the ability to come at things from a different perspective at times, but the most you're going to get from him is 3 really good songs and the others he is going to let his arrogance feed him and the music isn't going to be it's very best. The album  has a good sound, the production is straight but he is too in love with it at times and the song construction can sometimes limit what the potential of the song is like "Hello". The songs that are the best are the ones which include some sort of emotional component which is why anything about his teenage years works well but much like a CW show you can sort of feel that they are superficial on one hand, but truly real on the other. Much like anything from Cole, I end up overly bored at some point and I can't pinpoint what he could do to fix that.

Rating: 2.5/5

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Independent Wednesdays

This week starting off with a song I think is kind of simple in both the topic and the production but that is effective as
a song that lets people know that things happen. It's not extra aggressive but Scotty Flippen's "Get it Off Ya Chest" is an effective song that should be able to find a place on college radio somewhere. It's enough to intrigue but not to "sell" me on him Per se.

Now I'm not normally the type who wants to hear some New York dudes going in about their city cause I'm not from there and it annoying in a lot of ways. It's generally alienating for everyone else, but Req cartier, Wordsmiff, and Frank Ramz come through with a banger titled "New York".

Listening to Req's music, it's the type of lyrics and tracks that could actually bring the big apple back unlike Troy Ave. He has a good voice, flow and lyrical ability with a knack to pick successful tracks to go along with it. While he has a lot of ability and talent Req could use a little bit of direction to help manipulate and channel his potential star power.

Also from NY Cash Bilz is alright but not on the level of Req Cartier. He could develop some more lyricism and originality in lyrics, he's more straight forward but he isn't bad. He could use some better production overall some of his tracks lack energy and he doesn't attack them the way I would think would make them interesting. However, Other than his submission which was a 'No Flex Zone' freestyle, he has a joint called "Murder, Murder" which I like as well as "Back to Basics".

Overall he has some skills and is worth a listen or two. As usual if you hear something you like - drop a comment below so these artists can see what they're doing right.