Tech N9ne – The Forgotten GOAT?

If you don’t know who Tech N9ne is…you do now. Aaron Yates, a Kansas City native, is one of the most overlooked, underrated and versatile Hip-Hop artists/rappers to have ever stepped on the scene.

While his comeuppance to fame was rigid with distaste for major music labels as well as creating an image that only Yates could understand and that his fan base would get, it became near to impossible for Tech to promote himself to commercial markets without having to give some of his authenticity up.

However, Tech never went mainstream and back in 2011 with his 11th studio album ‘All 6’s and 7’s‘, it was clear that, quote Tech, “The mainstream went Tech”. Before the albums release, all his previous albums had no ‘major’ Hip-Hop features or any from other genres of music. Although he has recorded music with 2Pac, D12 (minus Eminem), Hopsin, E-40 and Three 6 Mafia.

The real point of this feature though is this; is Tech N9ne the GOAT? He is most definitely overlooked by the popularity of other less lyrical and thought-provoking rappers due to their ease to create easy-to-listen-to Trap and other sub-genres of Hip-Hop.

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Points that need to be made for this argument to stand –

  1. He’s an OG. He released his first album in 1999 and had already been rapping five or so years before. Since then, he’s gone on to release 17 albums, 6 Extended Plays (EP) and one mixtape. In all, that’s 24 projects over an 18 year career, more projects than todays rappers will ever release in their career! If you think that’s not impressive; then I don’t know what to tell you.
  2. He lives up to his stage name. You probably noticed that his name is near to the same of that of the semiautomatic pistol Tec-9. This is because in school, he would rap and use his chest and tables for a beat and displayed  his quick-paced, bullets-flying flow. This originated the term “Chopper-Flow” due to his tongue-twisting verses that take a couple listens to just catch what he’s saying and how he uses syllables and other rhyming techniques to demonstrate his overwhelming talent.
  3. Is the number one independent Hip-Hop artist in the world. Yes, you read that right. It’s not Young Thug, Migos, Lil Yachty or any of the other Lil rappers. He created his own record label [Strange Music] inspired by The Doors, has sold over 2 million records worldwide  and has multiple independent Hip-Hop artists on the rooster. TDE-signee Jay Rock was originally signed to the label.
  4. One word that can totally relate to Tech is ‘diverse’. While he is able to create typical Hip-Hop songs, he can also create Horror-Core themed projects, collaborate with Corey Taylor, Boys II Men, Lil Wayne, B.o.B and oversea ‘Choppers‘ to create music only he would be able to while incorporating the genre that the featured artists are predominantly on.

Those four main points are what (I feel) solidify Tech as forgotten GOAT. He has impeccable rhyming skills as well as a great ear for beats. While his main producer is his label’s in-house producer Seven, he’s also worked with Drumma Boy, Young Fyre and J.U.S.T.I.C.E League. He’s also mentioned multiple times his interest to work with the likes of Jay-Z, NaS and Rick Ross.

To sum up, Tech N9ne is the forgotten one of Hip-Hop. He has a discography big enough to take up a weekend to digest and once you notice the flows and better-than-average lyrics, you may end up liking him more than your favourite rappers favourite rapper.

 

Justin Timberlake – FutureSex/Lovesounds Review

Justin Timberlake’s 2nd major studio album, ‘FutureSex/Lovesounds‘ doesn’t necessarily follow the same boyish charm as his breakout album, ‘Justified’ or even to the extent that the short-lived NSYNC did. However, his follow-up album, primarily produced by Timbaland, Rick Rubin and Danja, was a success.

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While following the formula of the creation of his previous album and using the Timbo-produced “Cry Me a River” as an influence for the sound of the album, it was apparent that JT’s creative juices came back to him after a studio session that resulted with, possibly, one of the best solo Justin Timberlake songs to date.

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Anyway, finally moving officially onto the review. While the production and writing credits are more or less the same, the overall sound of the album is a drastic change. Instead of singing over regular Pop-like instrumentals and getting loads of different producers and other writers, features included on the album, this album purely shows off Justin’s vocals and lyrical development. From the self-titled intro track, that has a creepy drum pattern, Rick James-esque bassline, Sci-Fi movie synths and sexy vocals from Justin; it’s a perfect start to the album as well as the sound he’ll be exploring.

One of the standouts on the album would have to be the second single, “My Love” featuring Atlanta legend, T.I. Not only is the instrumental pure gold for JT’s and Timbo’s beatboxing at 0:48-0:50 seconds and throughout the rest of the song, but the drum pattern that turns up at 0:08-0:10 that also makes an appearance add to the emotion of the song as well as adding more of a Hip-Hop/Boom-Bap sound.

Another song that is a great solo-cut from the album as well as in Justin’s discography is the follow-up track, “Lovestoned / I Think She Knows (Interlude)”. A seven-and-a-half minute orchestra of quick paced beatboxing, Dancehall drum patter and melancholic strings at the end that never stop me crying. ALSO, there’s an incredible selection of piano keys on the second half of the song ( 5:38, 6:16, 6:22,6:53)  which adds to the heartbreak of Justin’s situation, which only develops more as a concept in “What Goes Around…/…Comes Around (Interlude)“.

The most ratchet and turnt song on the album has to be the Timbaland and Three 6 Mafia collaboration on “Chop Me Up”. The beat for Justin and Timbo is Poppy and melodic, yet still follows the creepy-like textures explored earlier on in the album on other instrumentals. However, the switch-up of the beat for DJ Paul and Juicy J to flow over suits them perfectly. It has a Chopped & Screwed vibe but in all; works.

Other songs that stand out is the amazingly smooth and crisp “Medley : Summer Love / Set the Mood (Interlude)” and melancholic “Losing My Way”.

The album is darker, moodier and grittier than his first major solo album, however, it develops and explores a sound Justin didn’t have the chance to play with in his run-up days to worldwide solo fame. It is a clear indication of an artists growth, maturity and how Contemporary-Pop/R&B artists can still find a sound without following a pack.

 

2 Chainz – Hibachi For Lunch Review

2 Chainz, A.K.A, Tity Boi, an original member of the Rap-duo Playaz Circle alongside Dolla Boy, had an extremely busy 2016. Not only did he release a collaborative project with New Orleans OG, Lil Wayne, he also released two EPs and a mixtape.

So, lets’ get to the review. ‘Hibachi for Lunch‘, a 7 track EP, boasting features from some of today’s most sort out rappers, R&B crooners and a glistening line-up of producers was a triumphant end for Tity’s 2016.

While it is nothing, lyrically contextual different to a lot of commercial Trap/Hip-Hop, codeine-obsessed, bragging about wealth, clothes, VVS diamonds and women, 2 Chainz supplies a short, sharp and entertaining EP. Tracks such as “Diamonds Talkin Back” has a dark subtle piano loop, trippy bass line and sporadic synths throughout.

It’s one of the better solo Tity tracks on the project as well as from his 2016 run. A definite highlight would be the Quavo and Gucci Mane featured “Good Drank” produced by legendary Mike Dean. Dean provides a piano loop reminiscent of his work on ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy‘ as well as synths that vibrate nostalgia of the days that these (t)rappers use to sell drugs and the wealth they’ve gained since those days.

The FKi-cut “Lil Baby” with TY$ is the smoothest track on the EP. Chainz has a cool flow over the beat with distorted vocal samples, dreamy synths and wicked programming of the hi-hats and snares. However, the most interesting song on the tape would be the DJ Paul produced “Doors Open” featuring fellow ATLien Future. The beat is monstrous and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the beat was initially meant for one of the two “Year of the Six” albums Paul recently dropped. Future’s feature is also the most turnt on the EP. Sounding perked and leaned out, it’s one of the only vocal performances which I struggle to understand what he’s rapping.

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Overall, it’s a strong tape and displays 2 Chainz as a strong and focused rapper who is always looking to please his fan base. While the projects released these year aren’t as commercialised as his Def Jam studio albums, ‘B.O.A.T.S’, there is still the influence of Pop and radio-esque beats and features that make him a demanded artist.

 

 

Matching audio to visuals – The Synergy of Music

Do you ever generally, just listen to music and in your head can imagine how a music video for that song you know all the words to would look like when it’s out there? In all genres of music, I believe it’s important for the artists’ who release visuals to their music regularly, or when they do, that the audio and visuals match. The majority of times, I have nothing but praises for them. However, factors like the environment they’re in for the shoot, the audio-to-visual representation of certain lyrics or a bar, or even just the general vibe of the song can play a big part of how an artist and their creative team connect their fans to their music and what they represent.

A recent example of this would be Young Thug’s music video for his ‘JEFFERY’-cut, “Wyclef Jean”.

The video, directed by Pomp&Clout and narrated by Ryan Staake throughout in a slideshow fashion, shows how the video shoot for one of Thugger’s simplistic and craziest music videos…shows him for only about 10 seconds…eating cheetos…from another set. The video displays how quickly the shoot went from ‘fucked’ to ‘fucked-up’ for everyone there, while, still making the visuals a fun and colourful representation of Jeffery’s imagination.

There’s also no doubt, that the first major concept and one of the best videos of all time will be Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. Although the video is a lengthy thirteen and a half minutes, it was the subtle introduction that creating the ‘normal’ music video no longer existed.

The idea for this video alone is the reason Kanye West’s visual interpretation of his album ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ titled “Runaway” was able to allow him to craft a 35 minute video. In typical Kanye fashion, it is extremely artsy, flamboyant and singles Kanye out amongst the majority of his peers when it comes to visualising his music.

In all, I think it’s safe to say that music audio transgressing into visual form is important. It has to represent the ideas of the song, capture the emotions of the lyrics and be portrayed in a way that fans and critics will be able to see ‘eye-to-eye’ with the artists’ creativity.

Maxo Kream – The next Rapper to blow up in 2017?

In today’s Hip-Hop and well over the entire music industry, that the only way an artist can stay relevant today is by producing large amounts of music; whether it be in the form of visuals, audio, touring or merch. 2016 saw the Houston native, Maxo Kream, suddenly rise and gain attention for his dense, horror-core, Trap tape, ‘The Persona Tape‘, which featured Houston legend Paul Wall, Key! and Playboi Carti.

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Since the release of the mixtape in the summer, Maxo has stayed relatively quiet; until yesterday with the release of his newest single, ‘Grannies‘. A bass thumping instrumental which sees Maxo reminiscing   of the time he was kicked out of his house by his parents and had to live with his ‘Grannie’. The overall sound of the single isn’t anything new to Maxo, however, his bars are deep and his style, which sounds inspired by A$AP Mob, Paul Wall, DJ Screw (R.I.P) and Atlanta’s forever buzzing Trap scene, is something he’s evidently improved. When the track finished, I was disappointed…being that there isn’t any more new Maxo out yet.

So, the question is, is Maxo Kream the next rapper to blow up in 2017? The single is a strong start for Maxo’s year and he’s already confirmed he’s working on an album for a release this year. Let alone the features on ‘The Persona Tape’, he’s also collaborated with the Glory Boyz/Savage Squad/Drill rapper Fredo Santana for three songs (all which B.A.N.G.), Awful Records head Father, and spotted with Travis Scott, A$AP Ferg, ScHoolBoy Q and  New Jersey representative Retch.retchymaxo

It would be smart for Maxo to have the majority of tracks on the album to be solo to show off his grizzly and realism lyrics and stories, however, a featured artist is never bad, unless the featured artists input is bad.

In all, Maxo is a rapper to keep all eyes on and until his debut studio album drops, the hype will only get bigger.

Rick James – Street Songs Review

The 1981 LP, ‘Street Songs‘, from Funk/R&B/Soul vocalist, producer and composer Rick James is a wild trip with progressive bass lines, saxophone solos, melancholic melodies and living within a community that had ties to crime and sexual identity. ALSO, THE ALBUM COVER IS JUST TOO FUCKING SWAGGY. NO ONE CAN BEAT RICK JAMES WEARING THOSE LEATHER RED BOOTS.

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Give It To Me Baby” has a dancehall feel to it with the free-flow of James’ singing, a keyboard-like-synth of the sort that reminds me of George Clinton and guitar chords that you can’t help but sway your body to. As well as this, with only a few instruments present on the track and James’ vocals, it is simplistic, yet gets the goal done.

The third track on the LP, the seductive “Make Love To Me” has an incredible string arrangement and introductory of a trumpet and bass line. James boasts to the woman in the song of how beautiful and magnificent she is for her physical and mental personality that…the track speaks for itself, honestly.

A definite highlight would have to be relevant “Mr. Policeman” which he details the racial intimidation POC have to deal with and how they always seem on edge in a Black community. It only proves that these racial issues aren’t outdated or not happening still in America. And to quote James – “It’s a shame, it’s a disgrace, why every time you show your face, somebody dies!”

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Lastly, the duo with Teena Marie, “Fire & Desire” is one of the most heartfelt songs I’ve ever listened to. A simple backing of the drums, glossy keys, and an impeccable vocal performance from Rick. However, Marie does steal the track with her boisterous vocals and how she just sings so calmly over the instrumentals with such tense emotions.

In overall, it’s a wicked album filled with Funk, Soul and energy. If you haven’t heard this album yet, you’re missing out on great music.

 

A$AP Mob – Cozy Tapes: Vol.1 Friends Review

I’ll start off on a positive note for this review; because this album/mixtape/compilation, is straight up (shoutout Travis) B.A.D. I was, at first, excited for the release of the album. Before and after the untimely death of A$AB Mob founder, A$AP Yams, the idea of the album was already there. Originally titled “L.O.R.D.S.” and penultimately changed closer to the release, it is an ode to Yambo. Although the guest features and overall look of the album glistens with potential, upon hearing it, the correct word would be disappointment.

wavyboneThe first track on the album, “Yamborghini High” featuring the never-not-entertaining ad-libs by Juicy J, is the only track to feature all the Mob members on the project. However, unlike the single version, the album version has an introduction where the members waffle on for a good 2 or so minutes..about Backwoods and being cozy. However, the track itself, produced by Delgado, has thumping bass kicks, samples of cars screeching, a simple hi-hat pattern and DJ scratches. All the mob members provide great verses, although A$AP Ferg‘s by far the most dynamic as he rhymes while using a melody to flow like water over the beat. Another track that stands out, features wise, is “Way Hii”. What sold this song to me was BJ the Chicago Kid. He sings smoothly over the Trap-but R&B beat yet a verse from the Kid would’ve been appreciated. What ruined this song was the switch-up of Rocky’s and Wiz Khalifa‘s verses as they both sound exactly the same on this track. As well as this, the raps and concept of the song has been done before and sadly, the great features on this track is what lets it sadly down.
ar“Young N*gga Living” is a chill but turnt track and sees only A$AP Mob members, Ant, Twelvvy & Ferg rapping over it. While Ant’s verse is nothing special or tops his “Bath Salts” verse, Ferg, undoubtedly steals the show. Its only unfortunate that the sound he explored on “Lord$ Never Worry” on this tape and other solo and featured tracks.ferggg

 

Finally, the last highlight from the album is the UK-represented track “Put That On My Set” featuring Skepta. The beat sounds like something off of ‘Live.Love.A$AP‘ and the cool summer trumpet sound in the background adds a nostalgic but gangster-esque vibe to it. Not being a fan of Skepta, I really enjoyed his verse as well. He mixes perfectly with the British sound on top of the New York beat.

Overall, it’s a weak project. While it’s dubbed an A$AP Mob tape, A$AP Rocky, the head of the crew, is on 8/12 tracks while the other four are only dubbed an A$AP Ant or Nast song. Simply put, instead of this album/mixtape, whatever it is, trying to show off the talents of the new York rap collective, it is more of a crowded and overhyped effort. There are wasteful features (Buddy, Key! & Tyler, the Creator) and it feels more of a solo album by Rocky and where he can’t fit in on the track, a forgettable one takes it place.

 

Migos – YRN2 Review

The ATL trio; Quavo, Takeoff and Offset, commonly known as Migos, are one of the most eccentric and exciting Trap groups to come out.

Their rise to fame, through legal incidents, a Drake remix of “Versace“, a meme epidemic, cameo in a TV show and great guest verses and projects over the last years has all come to where they are now.

However, let’s go back (to the bando) for a few minutes and revisit their 2016 mixtape ‘Y.R.N 2‘.

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The self-titled opening track is a clear indication of their relevance to Trap music today, their place in Hip-Hop as well as what they have done for the ‘C U L T U R E’ – making the ‘dab’ universal, created their own slang, developed the Three 6 Mafia flow and being a Hip-Hop group that all individuals allow to shine.

The first track that standouts on the track-listing is “WOA“. Dun Deal produces a piano-driven beat with heavy trap hi-hats and a pretty fucking LiT sample of an Egyptian like synth. All three Migo’ verses are great as well but the underdog of the group (at the time) Offset steals the show with the final verse as he always has to use extravagant rhyme patterns and always fierce tones.

osAnother highlight would be “Chances“. It reflects on the drug dealings, robberies and other issues they’ve had to withstand to come to where they are now. The best verse on this Stackboy Twan produced track has to be from Takeoff who “skrrrts” into his verse and claims to be one of the most influential individuals in today’s Hip-Hop culture.

toWhile the majority of the tracks on this album are all great, the one that stands out the most is the 30 Roc “MuhFuckn Tired“, inspired by an Instagram post by Young Thug’s daughter. The track is hard, with a wicked synthesiser that gives it a darker and more ratchet sound, while the three Migos’ rap about how today’s competition to them is not enough and coincidentally, quote offset, “I’M TIRED!”.

While the opening track, “You Wanna See” and other songs on the album don’t live up to the aggressiveness of the tracks already mentioned, it still shows their ability to rap over chill or hype Trap instrumentals as well as how they’ve developed their lyrical abilities since their debut ‘Jugg Season‘ as well as the album that popularised them into the music industry. I’m only hoping that with the imminent release of ‘CULTURE’ on Friday we will see more from the three Migos members as well as a solo Takeoff or Offset song…or just a Migos song without Quavo.

 

That one time I saw Young Thug live

Yes, you are probably aware that I’m a fan of Young Thug. The first time I started listening to Thugger (don’t get confused with Slim Thug), it was around the release of Gucci Mane‘s ‘Trap House 3‘ album. Coincidentally, Thug appeared on two of the tracks.

Since then, I’ve had to keep an eye on him. Not only was he the most intriguing rapper to come out at the time with all the piercings, grills, radical style of raps and singing and opinions of gender.

Anyway, going all the way back to the summer of 2015, I went to Reading Festival where I was blessed to see Kendrick Lamar, Run the Jewels, Vince Staples, FLATBUSH ZOMBiES, Limp Bizkit…and Young Thug. ytr15

He opened up his set with the ‘1017 Thug‘ opening track “2 Cups Stuffed”. He was dripping with jewels, wearing a Billionaire Boys Club t-shirt and a illuminative orange jacket.

How I saw Thug on videos and heard him through my headphones was exactly how I pictured how he’d be live. He was dull, hardly interested at times in rapping along to his songs, yet energetic. He went through a run of his more known hits, “About the Money“, “Lifestyle“, “Check” was especially LiT and “With That“. However, it was when he performed songs like “730” and “Best Friend” that he showed off his love performance skills and how hype he can get a crowd.

While his discography since then has wildly improved and progressed, I feel fortunate I’ve been able to stand at the front of a bannister and watch one of todays and Hip-Hops most exciting artists perform.

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