Kanye West – Yeezus Review 

Going back to 2013, Hip-Hop was blessed with a gift, by the always evolving “genius that ain’t crazy”, Kanye West. Mr. West released his 6th studio album, named one of the most narcissistic records of that year; ‘Yeezus’.

Following his break up with Amber Rose and moving into a relationship with Kim Kardashian, the overall sonic sound, tone of Kanye’s vocals, samples, producers and guest features opened a creative door for Kanye that saw him being praised, as well as criticised by both dedicated fans, critics and the regular radio listen. The album doesn’t play as elegantly or smoothly as his previous albums, ‘The College Dropout’ or ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’. However, the frantic Daft Punk synths, chaotic melodies from Mike Dean manic Electronic/House vibes provided by Evian Christ all adds a certain element of Kanye’s creative process.

From the beginning song, “On Sight” with crazy synthesized out and over the top drums, Kanye addresses “Yeezy Season” and shows that this album would be his most career-changing and debated in his discography for a while. Immediately after, it rolls into the African-drum, trippy vocal loop and gritty guitar string, “Black Skinhead”. Kanye addresses his critics and how Kanye is one of Hip-Hop’s acts one doesn’t want to go up against. At ten tracks length, at the time of its release, it was a disappointment, however, the density of each track and how they flow into the next one and the one previous into that, it feels like a Science-Fiction movie that was entirely done by West, and over time, the shortness of the album finally makes sense.

One of the first songs that stood out to me was the transparency of Kanye West, Justin Vernon and Chief Keef collaborating on one of the more ‘intimate’ tracks, especially for Keef and Ye, for opening up about love and lust as well as the block between Keef and “handling liquor, controlling [his] niggas” as well as them “controlling” Keef with his past addiction to drugs. Yet, Kanye raps about multiple topics on the album.

“I Am A God” is one of the most experimental tracks on the record. The odd synths that float about like asteroids, thumping of heavy House drums and Kanye’s aggressive stance on what makes someone a god. “Blood On The Leaves”, which samples the extremely depressing “Strange Fruit” by Nina Simone. While it doesn’t follow the melancholy of the sample, Kanye relives a time of love, abusing drugs and fame. The horns, hi-hats and overall production throughout this track is phenomenal and is a must-listen too when listening to this album.

Other highlights include the Hip-Rock-House “Guilt Trip” featuring classic KiD CuDi hums and ad-libs, as well as the King Louie assisted “Send It Up” and the OG sounding Kanye on the ending track “Bound 2”. In All, Kanye’s sixth studio album is a specific listen. It’s perfect for when you’re pissed off and shows a side of Kanye that not only we hadn’t seen in public, but also one who, over all the confusing production and harsh vocals, there is much too be related to on this album.

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21 Savage – ISSA Album Review 

21 Savage’s 2016-17 run has seen the “Issa Knife” rapper become one of the most talked , memed and conflicting artists in contemporary Hip-Hop/Trap. Following the independent success of his official debut project, ‘Savage Mode’, complimented entirely by Metro Boomin production, 21 has delivered a similar project. Laced with gangster-records like “Bank Account”, “Dead People” and the final track “7 Min Freestyle”. Yet, there are also experimental records as well as reflective tracks that see the 21 as a much more complex individual.

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Starting off with the Metro Boomin and Zaytoven produced “Famous”, 21 spits over glittering Ziggy keys and stoned hi-hats, reliving his comeuppance to the rap game as well as the struggles he has been through to get where he has ended up in a penultimate situation. As the album reveals a savage we’ve already heard on previous solo efforts and guest features (Brodinski – “No Target”, Mike WiLL Made It – “Gucci On My”), 21 also provides melodic and friendlier records on the album, that according to 21 on The Breakfast Club, he’ll “put any song [he] wanted on the album”. That itself, for an artist like 21, is career risking, however, his sound compliments the West-Coast infused Afrobeat “FaceTime”, produced by DJ Mustard and the 90s Hip-Hop/Trap “Thug Life”, produced by Metro.

Throughout the album, 21 spits his well known factual-telling, savagery vocals into horror-film inspired imagery. “Numb”, seeing him tackling depression, coming up in the hood, adapting to a celebrity lifestyle and numbing his pain “with the money”. Other standouts include “Bad Business”, “Money Convo” for it’s trippy piano loop and the “in the feelings” Wheezy produced “Special”.

In all, 21’s official studio album is an interesting and experimental start to his career with this project. Not only does it contain the same gritty, street-life records that were on ‘Savage Mode’, but it also shows how much he’s grown and looking to develop as a solo artist. While it’s not necessarily the greatest Hip-Hop album that’s come out recently, it’s definitely one of the more interesting Trap albums to drop.

Frank Ocean – Channel ORANGE Review

Before the release of his debut album, Frank Ocean had sprinkled audio gems over the Internet for fans and critics. Whether it be his contributions to the fan-favourite ‘The OF Tape 2’ or his solo mixtape ‘Nostalgia, ULTRA’, Frank’s debut album ‘Channel ORANGE’ is a masterpiece. Released just over 5 years ago, Franks’ storytelling of being in love with another man, drug addiction, fame and depression is played cinematic form throughout.

From the computerized “Start” leading into “Thinkin Bout You”, Frank begins the album with a mellow start, describing a relationship that found himself obsessed with a potential lover. As the album continues, short yet dense R&B records exploring Frank’s sexuality through revealing lyrics and glorious instrumentals provided by Frank himself, Pharrell, Tyler, The Creator, John Mayer and an incredible guitar solo, courtesy of the never-disappointing André 3000.

While there are immediate standouts, “Super Rich Kids” featuring a nocturnal but fitting verse contrast on the record by Earl Sweatshirt, a theatrical instrumental on “Pilot Jones” that sees Frank unloading his feelings of someone who he helped guide through rough times. As well as the impeccable and amazing “Pyramids” laced with thunderous claps, drug-enhanced keys, ominous drums and a haunting choir sample, perfectly looped behind Franks’ pained lyrics. While both parts of the song are of *amazing*, the second half is my preferred for the cloudy instrumental with gritty synths, jazzy but gloomy horns added throughout.

In my honest opinion, there’s not a single moment on the album that is bland or left to blunt. Even on the Pop-esque, “Lost”, Frank incorporates live instruments, a doomed voice of a woman looking for happiness yet weighed down by “cooking dope”. As well as on closing tracks and unmissable too anyone who listens to the album, “Pink Matter” and “Forrest Gump”  both show sides of Frank they portray a very intimate but relatively hurt and someone who is pouring countless amounts of emotion through every line.

To conclude, ‘Channel ORANGE’ is a very important album too myself, but also modern R&B and how it shifted over the period that Frank’s follow-up album impacted the release of an album, context of lyrics in a still very judging community of sexuality and most importantly, Frank’s ability as a songwriter, vocalist, musician and as a body of work.

Big Boi – Boomiverse Review

One of the most significant Southern rappers for his contributions to the legendary group and forever timeless discography alongside André 3000 in Outkast; Big Boi returns to the scene with a devilishly addictive album. Not only do we hear ‘Daddy Fat Saxxx’ over Organized Noize production once again, but we also have Mannie Fresh, Scott Storch, TM88 and DJ Dahi instrumentals throughout. As well as production notes being exciting, guest appearances also add undeniable dope flavour of dopeness to the album. Whether it’s a killer Killer Mike verse or late Pimp C vocals, the album oozes out great music.

Beginning with the Big Rube outro-assisted “Da Next Day” is filled with gritty drums, bouncy horns and a reflective verse from Big Boi to start the album off. He looks back on his influence of the rap game. Comparing himself too “a broad” for working so hard and keeps “soul searching” for his rightful place in the elite MC’s.

As the album progresses, seeing immediate highlights like “Kill Jill” and “Order of Operations”, Big Boi’s development as a solo artist is unfathomable. Not only does the legendary MC incorporate and bring to the table his normal Southern sound, but also experiment with Nu-Jazz and R&B. While tracks like “All Night”, “Mic Jack” and “Chocolate” are all radio friendly and use elements of the genres previously mentioned, these tracks in particular add no weight or interest to the overall sound of the project.

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“Made Man”, “Freakanomics” and “Follow Deez”, the final three tracks of the album, are the most gripping instrumentally, guest features and Big Boi’s timeless flows and charismatic bars.

In all, it’s a great LP and only proves that the Big Boi as a solo artist has as much potential to receive acclaim and keep the sound that Outkast started as relevant as it was when they first appeared on the scene. While not all the songs intrigue me, it is definitely one of my favourite Hip-Hop projects to drop this year.

2 Chainz – PGLTM Review

The ever evolving artist, originally named Tity Boi, now, is one of the most in=demand featured Hip-Hop artists, enthusiast of some of “the mooryst expensive shit” and is now the charismatic MC, 2 Chainz. Since his debut ‘Based On A T.R.U. Story’ LP, Chainz has continuously through the years reinvented himself over his solo-effort projects, as well as a collaborative project with “the best rapper alive”. ‘Pretty Girls 👍 Trap Music’ is filled with various influences of past and present Hip-Hop/Trap and R&B. Whether it be Travis Scott’s excessive auto-tuned vocals on the hyped-up Murda Beatz produced “4AM” or the odd Asian-inspired Pharrell assisted “Bailan”, in-between the smoked out Chainz verses, smooth guest verses and out of the ordinary instrumentals, the sound and direction of the album is an interesting one too listen to.

The opening record, “Saturday Night” is a smooth and reliable instrumental filled with heavy Rock guitar strings and light but aggressive snare claps produced by Mike WiLL Made-It and Ducko McFli. Chainz ‘s flow is slow but motivated and hungry too let his competition and peers to know that although he’s boxed into the ‘mumble rappers’  and how he was unfairly “charged by Luda to dip”. Although it doesn’t necessarily relate to the dark yet enlightening title name of the album, it shows off the aggression and passion that he has for the industry as well as his motivation for Hip-Hop’s ‘C U L T U R E’. While the subject matters, rhyme schemes, lyrics and flows aren’t in anyway evolutional for the genre or change the soundscape for Trap, there are some lowkey entertaining Chainz verses, amazing production and standout moments on the project. Production wise, the first beat that stands out is “Riverdale Rd”. Chainz relives the Trap and how he came from “getting bands” to “grams to Grammys”.

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The highlights of this project come from the occasional guest verse or the influence Trap now has on the mainstream music industry. One of the songs that cement this is the raunchy collaboration between TY$, Trey Songz and Jhene Aiko on the finger-clicking and jumpy guitar-led “It’s A Vibe”. Not only do the featured artists provide smooth melodic verses of sexual desires, but 2 Chainz verse is a swaggy and fun as hell verse to listen and rap along too. Aiko’s contribution to the track is the sexiest and most unexpected feature on the album as well.  However, Chainz’s solo efforts, “OG Kush Diet”, “Sleep When U Die” and “Rolls Royce Bitch” are all standouts for their aggressive production styles as well as the energy that allows Chainz to push out this content.

In all, not only is the album a LP primarily for those who are die-hard fans of the sub-genre of ‘Trap’, but also, an ode to ‘The Trap’. Whether it be the production handled by The Honorable C-Note or un-credited OJ Da Juiceman vocals, 2 Chainz created the album with the purpose to expose, commercially, a friendlier Trap sound.

SZA – Ctrl Review

Since hitting the Hip-Hop/R&B and Neo-Soul scene; collaborating with major industry names like Chance the Rapper, contributing additional un-credited vocals to her label mate, Kendrick Lamar’s ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ LP and struggling pushing out her debut album under TDE. However, on 9/6/17, the talented vocalist finally dropped ‘Ctrl’.

Filled with heart-broken vocals and lyrics on past and previous relationships, as well as interludes from the singer’s mum, the album projects a intimate and overwhelming pouring of emotions that have bubbled under the surface; something everyone can relate to. Beginning with the Scum produced and Pharrell songwriting assisted “Supermodel”, SZA airs out her grievance of an ex-boyfriend where she’s “been secretly banging” his homeboy and not letting anything un-surprise first listeners and fans.

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Another immediate standout is the solo slow trippy synthesized “The Weekend”. It’s one of her more opening records, and the instrumental, produced by ThankGod4Cody is blissful to listen too as well as the underlying background vocals SZA provides. As well as those, “Anything” and Isaiah Rashad’s verse on “Pretty Little Birds” adds another male voice to the album, giving it that extra contribution from someone who can add more than just vocals but emotion onto a track.

Not only does the album explicitly explore her sexuality, relationships and the overall desire to not have the anxiety of not being in ‘Ctrl’ of ones life and what entails it. One thing is for certain throughout the album is how gripping it is; whether it’s the psychedelic guitar solo towards the end of the Kendrick Lamar featured “Doves In The Wind” and mellow stripped back keys on “Go Gina”. “Garden (Say It Like Dat)”, a personal vent of how she sees herself as a woman is also a standout from the album for its Trap and R&B interlace of sound, similar to Bryson Tiller.

Although the album is filled with hefty emotions, bitterness and anger resonating through her pained vocals or smooth but airy production, tracks like”Broken Clocks”, “Normal Girl”  and “20 Something” don’t add much to the album. In all, it’s a boastful debut album. SZA adds more diversity to the ever-growing TDE rooster but also shows off her ability as a solo artist and gives first-time listeners a side of her that hadn’t be seen before on a wider audience level.

Young Dolph – Bulletproof

Young Dolph, one of the least known Trap-rappers, has had an exciting and promising first months of 2017. In the years that have preceded too now, Dolph has collaborated with a handful of well-known Hip-Hop figures; from being featured on Gucci Mane’s ‘Trap House 3’-cut “Muddy”, working with Juicy J, Peewee Longway, Migos and Young Thug, Dolph has a fanbase and following that shouldn’t surprise anyone. Although Dolph, in the least harshest way, isn’t a diamond in the rough, his loud and aggressive voice, punctual pronunciation of his favourite weed strains or bragging, specifically on this project, of how untouchable he is. Without any further slack, here goes the review.

Starting off the album with the DJ Squeeky produced “100 Shots”, Dolph brags about “fucking in traffic like Chris Tucker”, his ruthless spending sprees and influencing his listeners and followers to get whatever they want. Alike too Gucci, Dolphs’ album is only 10-tracks long and contains easy to listen too but violent and abrasive topics. “In Charlotte” is one of these examples as ominous keys and late night church bells give Dolph enough time to give props to Biggie, “shutting down parties” and how he can’t respect a “lying ass bitch”.

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However, it doesn’t take long for the project to get slow or unmemorable at times. The only song with a featured artist, “That’s How I Feel” has an enthusiastic verse from Dolph and while Guwop handles the chorus and the last verse, it can easily be forgotten amongst other better collaborations between the two. However, one of the catchier and club-friendly records is the quick-paced Zaytoven-produced “All Of Them”. Zay’s glitchy and monumental production is just an instant highlight. “I’m So Real” is also another catchy and better quality song on the short but eventful project.

While there are other standout tracks, “SMH” and “But I’m Bulletproof”, Dolph still sounds like he’s trying to create his own sound while using major influences from Atlanta (Young Jeezy), Memphis (Project Pat) and Texas (Paul Wall). However, while he does lack lyrically engaging an audience, his energy and connections within Hip-Hop is evident and there’s still time for him to put out a greater quality project.

Gucci Mane & Metro Boomin-DropTopWop Review

Gucci Mane’s return to the Trap and Hip-Hop scene has been one hell of a show to keep an eye on. On the year anniversary of his release last year (26/5), Guwop and close-collaborator, Metro Boomin’, released the latest onslaught of Trap music; ‘DropTopWop’. Gucci had been teasing the release of the album shortly after releasing ‘The Return of the East Atlanta Santa’. Shorter than his previous studio-releases’ last year, this album clocks in with 10 songs and just over 35 minutes. Metro handles all production as well as co-production from 808 Mafia’s boss Southside, London On Da Track and DJ Spinz.

Over the ten songs, there is no difference in the subject matter or themes that Gucci Mane is known for. However, his aggression, confidence, songwriting and progression as an artist is evident on this most recent LP. As well as that, as Metro Boomin’ is credited as a primary artist, his production contributions to this album are grateful as he keeps producing low-key Trap bangers as well as more friendly records (“Low Life”). Although two of the songs on the album lose my interest (“Bucket List” and “Dance With The Devil”), the majority of the album keeps me entertained. The solo effort “Helpless” has a nostalgic feeling too it as it reminds me of Gucci’s pre-prison career. The instrumental is mellow yet intense with deviant keys, slurred synths and edgy vocals from Gucci who details his “Helpless” addiction for women, even admitting “a pussy rehab” good help him.

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The first song that stands out for both Metro and Gucci is “Tho”. Over looped leaned-out keys, crisp cymbals and geeked-up synths, Gucci raps effortlessly of moving dope, being a living legend, performing “magic with a draco” and keeping his haters shut up. There are also great guest verses laced throughout the album. Offset of Migos provides gripping bars of his comeuppance over the gritty Metro beat as well as Rick Ross’ verse on the final song “Loss 4 Wrdz”. The Miami rapper has one of the most intriguing verses on the album, as well as Young Dolph on the the 2 Chainz assisted “Both Eyes Closed”.

In total, Gucci’s seventh project in a year is impressive; it’s one of his best post-prison projects, lyrically and production wise. While his content is repetitive, his music since his federal release has been above par and only proves that the Gucci is Atlanta’s King and forever the Trap God.

Lil Yachty – Teenage Emotions Review

Lil Yachty has come from nothing too being one of the most in-demand featured artists, face for the younger (un-caring for Hip-Hop) generation of fans of the culture. On Boats debut album, he stays true to the concept of ‘Teenage Emotions’. The 19 year-old explores sexuality, his place in Hip-Hop, working for “Better” situations and the extravagant advantages of the lifestyle he lives.

Starting off with the weird, Pop-psychedelic-Trap “Like A Star”, Yachty brags about “fucking six different whores”, which I’m sure he should get checked out for, as well as living a luxurious position, asking why people hate on him for being a young role model. Yachty’s attempt of taking on Auto-Tune doesn’t help him his presumptuous lyrics that are as memorable as a goldfish’s memory. Another solo song that stands out on the album is “Dirty Mouth”. Over murderous keys, machine-gun clapping hi-hats and rattling bass, Yachty goes in over how his chick “sucks dick like a baby bottle” (HOW) and how he doesn’t care what he says or how he affects the culture, all he wants is “his check”. Another song that turns up that I was interested by was the Wondagurl-produced “Lady In Yellow”, which has dark drums, mysterious synths and cloudy vocals from Yachty asking for a girl too finally “chill with” him.

There are a selection of interesting songs that ended up on the album. “Harley” produced by K Swisha, “Say My Name”, which I was surprised too enjoy briefly until he the last verse where his vocals are so distorted that it’s irritating, yet for Yachty’s aesthetic, he gets away with it.

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His collaboration with Diplo, “Forever Young”, containing some of Yachty’s most…painful lyrics to listen too, yet, the production is top notch and hearing this play in clubs, bars over the summer is expected. By the last 5-6 songs, the album starts too become heavy with wasted tracks and songs that could’ve easily stayed in a vault. However, of the last few songs, the one that caught me was “X Men”. However, it’s similar in rap-style too previous tracks on the album (“DN Freestyle”, “Peek A Boo”).

Too my surprise, I’m not a fan of the album, but I can understand the traction the album will get. It’s lyrics are easy too remember and don’t require much breakdown of what he is trying to get across on tracks, but Yachty’s enthusiasm of incorporating different genres and having the majority of the album with solo tracks. Although, out of the 21 tracks on this album, the majority of them don’t have much replay value in the long-run.

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