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Friday, February 28, 2014

Album Review - Rick Ross- Mastermind

Ricky Rozay seemed to suffer a bit of a loss of momentum it seemed when the album got pushed back from it's original 4th quarter date in December. However, Ross hasn't et much stop him and his fans were still salivating and waiting for the album after seeing Ross and Keezy pose for promotional photos for their song and hearing the single which featured Jay-z. So it's easy to say that Ross isn't done by any means. Most people know, I'm not a fan, Ross' albums are often the same thing and don't have or make any real statements. With that said, let's dig into the latest album release from Rick Ross, Mastermind .



The first song on the album is classic Ross, "Rich is Gangsta" where he spits his luxurious vision bars to let us know how he is a boss and having money makes him this guy. It's solid what you expect from Ross from the voice inflections to the cascading beat. This then goes into "Drug Dealer's Dream" which is less of what I was expecting in terms of how Ross goes into his descriptions on this particular song. Same thing in "Supreme" and "Black & White" is just the hustler's tale.

The third part in the Mafia Music series features Sizzla and Mavado and it doesn't really have any striking moments. Ross' bragging just seems to be redundant and lack his normal arrogance and aggressiveness. "In The Vein" drags along as Rick decides to be the latest rapper to let The Weekend croon through over half of the song before showing up. Kanye brings Big Sean along on "Sanctified" and the song is alright, though Ye makes sure to cop out and force some bars on his verse pretty much 'just because he can'. Best thing is they minimize Sean. French Montana gets two appearances, one of which is on "What A Shame" which is some throwback NYC hip-hop shit. Ross gets into the track which is powered by the drums more than the samples which Ross normally goes to.



The other French feature is "Nobody" which also includes Puff channeling his inner 90's and talking shit before the choruses as Ross remakes the Biggie classic "You're nobody til somebody kills you". This is a bittersweet moment. On one hand this song was just important to me hip-hop wise, and if anyone could remake it successfully, it's Ross. However, there are a couple of things wrong to me, one the singer they have added is annoying and French's version of the hook isn't the best version to me. Ross also tries to hard in his first verse and doesn't really pull it off what the song is although he does redeem himself in verse two.

"Walkin on Air" seems like it should be the perfect Maybach Music song with Meek Mill but it doesn't ever bring the energy at all. A lot of people were bullish on the latest collaboration with Jay-Z, "Devil is a Lie" but this song was extra disappointing. Hov's lyrics were lazy and the beat wasn't conducive to Ross carrying the track. The other big news collab, featuring Jeezy is "War Ready" which has one of the worst hooks ever. Jeezy does his thing and outshines Ross mightily. There are also three bonus tracks most people will be getting but this is the album everyone is guaranteed to get.

I have said it before that there is nothing more to expect from Ross. If you just like things to be straightforward and you like his style and what he raps about every single time then you should like this. However it seems like Ross is in for a slight dip even to those fans, I mean you often like music because of what it is at that moment, if you're still doing the same thing 8 years later the stagnation becomes even more apparent. The few things I normally find to like in an album from Rozay are lacking a bit here. There aren't many of those energetic moments like the last album's "Hold Me Back" where the track and energy matched perfectly. The entire I'm special because I have money aspect is old and the pictures don't seem this vivid in this album. Mastermind was slightly underwhelming and even a star like Ross can sometimes seem to be searching for something that isn't there.


Rating: 3/5

Monday, February 24, 2014

50 Cent is Independent

The biggest news this week was that finally 50 Cent might just get to release an album after being put on the shelf for about three years. By now we should all know that it isn't going to be through Interscope which has has been his home, but through an independent venture that eventually filters through Universal. This is pretty significant for a couple of reasons, one of which is that we still care about what Curtis Jackson does musically.

Let's be honest, 50 isn't the most relevant musically. There are some people who are fans like myself, who can find something on most of his projects that takes us back to when he was first hitting us with the G-unit music of the early 2000's. He has struggled to get the formula that would allow Interscope to put something out, although that seems to me that there were other issues because if it's one thing 50 can do it is create singles that can move something. In a way he is kind of victim to the same thing that befell Nelly, expectations get placed so high that anything that moves into the realm of normal sales for a rap artist who has been out that long in today's climate feels like a loss. Reality is, only Jay, Em and Ye have even sort of the track record of 50 can still can move major units and headline major tours.





In light of this, the move to independent is  a good move for Fif. He has a huge social media presence with Thisis50 being still relevant and he is constantly putting out music videos and content for the website as well as being heavily involved with the Shady channel on Sirius Xm. He does a lot of traveling and still gets a lot of love overseas and has his SMS brand which while not as popular as anything that Jay or Puffy put their hands on must have some type of sales behind it.





What it also does is remove the pressure to put up huge numbers and when they don't happen, find reasons or excuses for low or middling sales. His most recent mixtapes have been alright but nothing really huge so finding that as the happy medium and being able to get up to about 100k will be a success now. The other thing is being able to control just how much, now 50 can put out ep's of 6-8 songs (I guess a full album is over 10) and be able to have some success with those and see what works without so much pressure for promotion and profitability. The constant videos have made the costs for them a lot less than it used to be. These days now you just have someone whom you pay a salary instead of some huge name guy for just one single. The entire project can be done in short order and cross promoted by being on the website as a source of content.

Overall it's a good deal for 50 which is what I think he has been angling for over the last couple of years.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Independent Wednesday

This week the first drop is from a West Coast MC who goes by The Capitol. The West is blowing up with a thriving underground scene that has a lot of gems like this guy. With a voice that sounds like Chris Kelly of Kriss Kross and Q Tip (don't laugh) he comes with a nice clean flow and style. The production on his datpiff mixtape which is called "The Great Unknown" is very crisp and he comes with solid lyrics and song concepts. It feels like a weekend in Cali for real. He is a throwback in a few ways beyond just the sound he has.




Hit that link above with the mixtape title and grab it datpiff. The only thing is that the way hip-hop is set up now, you have to have some serious 808 and Southern sounds somewhere on a project to make it viable nationally and The Capital doesn't have that right now.


Second up is a Southern rapper who doesn't sound like he's from the trap, J. Nolan is about to release a project with Reese Jones called "Humble Legends". In the meantime, they sent over "Real Fellas" these two dudes are flowing over this joint. This is some vintage NY good shit right here. I mean the J. Cole fans could probably get with it but I actually liked these dudes. They were kind of going in on this one. I also listened to some of the other joints that J. Nolan had on his soundcloud, and dude can really spit. He has a variety of flows and content with decent similes and metaphors. I have to listen more closely to see just how lyrical he is but I was very impressed by what I heard.





 I guess i wouldn't be doing my duty if I didn't bring the trap to my people who are fans of Jeezy and Ross. KA-Flame is a rapper from the South who has a couple of different sides. On one hand he has the every day trap shit that is popular and he has some serious mixtapes- of which he has loaded the entire joints on youtube for you to peruse. He also has songs about being doubted by his family and trying to make it. He can rap a little bit, I'm not going to front, he isn't just a style over substance rapper. Take some time and give Ka-Flame a listen or two.


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