Calvin Harris – Heatstroke Single Review

Following up the unlikely but worked-together-like-fuck collaboration of Migos and Frank Ocean, British DJ and producer, Calvin Harris, releases his latest single “Heatstroke” featuring Pharrell, Ariana Grande and Young Thug.

Young Thug opens up the track with his distinctive weird animal-inspired fucked up vocals until the beat drops and HE GOES IN. Over festival-esque synths, soft jingles and thunderous bass, Thug provides another great featured verse for the beginning of 2017 as well as the impending summer. The second Ariana’s vocals came in….I just zoned out. Her voice is dull, unenergetic and has no effect on the weight of the track. Thug provides a second verse though so it’s cool. While Pharrell is listed as a featured artist on the track, his contribution is disappointing and sadly, an anti-climax. As much as I was expecting some wicked Pharrell vocals to feel happy about myself, instead, he only gives minimal ad-libs during Thugger and Grande’s vocals.

Like “Slide”, Calvin enlisted some of the biggest names in the music industry for his recent track, however, it doesn’t live up to the hype and juxtaposition of artists’ sound found on the Migos and Frank assited record. While Thug is the primary guest on this track, Calvin, Ariana and Pharrell are all dismissed for their inadequate contributions.

Ludacris – Vitamin D Single Review

Acclaimed ATL veteran MC, Ludacris returns to the scene today with a new single featuring Taylor Gangs own Ty$ for “Vitamin D”.

While the title of the track is just straight up CRINGE, the actual song…is banging. Over a beautiful loop of violin strings, creepy hi-hats and minimal but sensual keys, Ludacris shows that he is still very much an extremely talented vocalist and has his very own style that rubbed off and popularised a sound for the ATL scene.

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As usual, Luda goes in with his classic tongue-and-cheek bars, making multiple innuendos to sex and other physical bedtime acts. While Ty$ doesn’t provide a verse (which he would’ve killed on this beat), his contribution for the chorus still works.

While Luda has surpassed his time of fame, this track is definitely not a let down. The beat and both Ludacris and Ty$ all work perfectly on the track and if this is a teaser for an upcoming Ludacris album, I can’t wait.

Freddie Gibbs – You Only Live 2wice Review

Its been a while since Freddie Gibbs released a full-length LP. His last release was November 2015 with his ‘Shadow of a Doubt’ album. However, after that, Freddie got mixed up in an overseas court case which left his fans restless and craving more from the Gary MC.

Today, Gibbs returns onto the scene with his latest album; ‘You Only Live 2wice’. At a length of 8 tracks equalling just over half-an-hour, it’s a perfect way to get himself back into the Hip-Hop community with an album that only leaves a taste for more.

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Over the eight tracks, Freddie Gibbs connects with a large group of producers to create an extremely luxurious, violent, reminiscent and reflective project. Kaytranada, BadBadNotGood, Sidney Miller, Blair Norf and Pops provide are the craftsman of this project.

While “20 Karat Jesus” and “Alexys” open up the project and see Gibbs giving history lessons on cooking cocaine, seeing friends turn to enemies and how he would live in a community run by gangs, the first song that sticks out, lyrically is “Crushed Glass”. Over melancholy but enlightening strings, Gibbs reflects on religion, drug abuse, police brutality and his recent rape case. Brittany B. supplies a short but sweet chorus as well as additional background vocals that add that little bit more density to the overall theme of the track.

While there isn’t a single song on this album that weighs the album down or any production that ins’t passed impressive, there is a clear direction Freddie is aiming. Using the cover art as an ‘impression’ Freddie provided his followers with a short but wickedly beginning to end satisfying album. While his collaborative album ‘Bandana’ with Madlib is still (hopefully) in the works, ‘You Only Live 2wice’ was a perfect project to precede more music from Gangster Gibbs.

Kendrick Lamar – HUMBLE. Single Review

HOLY FUCKING SHIT. So, not only last week did we receive Part 4 to Kendrick’s “The Heart” series, as well as a guest feature on Mike WiLL Made-It’s debut studio album alongside Rae Sremmurd and Gucci Mane.

Last night, Kendrick and Mike WiLL teased that a single would be dropping and “HUMBLE.” is what we got.  And it’s fucking amazing. Over extremely hyped up manic keys, minimal bass and typical Mike sounding synths, he provides a raunchy instrumental, juxtaposing the whole sonic sound Kung Fu Kenny displayed and projected on his previous releases ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ and ‘Untitled Unmastered’.

However, Kendrick speaks about his rise to success from nothing to something, reiterating the upcoming album he is due to release (7/4/17) and separating the “natural” and “photo-shopped”.

Once again, Kendrick has surpassed what I expected to hear from him. His flows and lyrics reminds me of ‘Slim Shady LP’ Eminem as well as ‘E.L.E’ Busta Rhymes. There’s no doubt the Compton MC is coming again to claim his rightful place at the top of the Hip-Hop food chain.

KiD CuDi – Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager Review

The previous GOOD MUSIC signee released the second part of his ‘Man on the Moon’ album series back in the Winter of 2010. ‘Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager’, is one of the weirdest yet compelling sounding projects of his discography. Infusing a variety of genres and influences from Alternative Rock, Hip-Hop and Punk, Cudder created an album that explores all the nooks and crannies of his personal life; depression, drug addiction and relationships.

The majority of the albums production is handled by Grammy award-winning producer Emile Haynie, as well as Dot da Genius, one half of CuDi’s indie-Rock group WZRD, Plain Pat, Blended Babies, Jim Jonsin and others. CuDi also split the album into its five following areas to explore a deeper and more stripped back idea of the artist. They are, ‘The World I Am Ruling’, ‘A Stronger Trip’, ‘Party On’, ‘The Transformation’ and ‘You Live & You Learn’.

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From the opening track “Scott Mescudi Vs. The World” featuring the OG CeeLo Green for some of the best high pitched vocals I could ever listen to. CuDi also displays extreme dark thoughts and ‘facts’ about his life, with drugs becoming more of a weight on his regular life, although he’s battling the addiction. The production on this track is purely phenomenal as well. Greens’ ad-libs, strings and breakdown of the beat from the 3:00 mark just do things to me.

While, the album does contain highly influenced Rock tracks, “REVOFEV”, “Ashin’ Kusher”, “Mr. Rager” and “All Along”, CuDi also delves into darker, psychedelically fucked up vocal arrangements and instrumentals for him to release the pain he was obviously feeling and expressing over the album. “These Worries” featuring the Soul legend, Mary J. Blige, is one of the latter songs on the album, however, the eerie guitar loop, monotone drum kick and CuDi’s taunted lyrics and vocals portrayed on this, makes it nearly not impossible for me to relate to the emotions sounding off of the track. Another track that stands out for its drugged-up dullness is “Mojo So Dope”, which has great vocal samples and the simpleness of the instrumental make CuDi sound motivated.

However, the track that stands out the most instrumentally is “MANIAC”. The weird synths, quick pump of bass and striking guitar strings create a beat that is as terrifying as it is captivating to the ear. Although my favourite track, in all off the album is “Marijuana” for its mellow simplistic keys make it easy to be a competitor for the theme song to starting ‘The Sesh’.

In all, this is one of the most revolutionary Hip-Hop/Rap albums that has come out within the 2010s. The clear passion, darkness, creativity and devotion that CuDi put in this album proves no doubt. While he does enlist some big names, as previously mentioned, their contribution to their featured tracks don’t overshadow CuDi’s talent as a vocalist and songwriter.

 

Retch – Lean and Neck Review

New Jersey MC, A$AP Mob associate and close collaborator of Da$h, Retch unleashed his latest project, ‘Lean & Neck‘ back in January of last year. I know, its been ‘a while’ since the tape dropped, however, today, I am reviewing the dark, druggy, Trap-inspired and new-sounding Retch that we didn’t hear on his previous releases.

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The majority of producers on this tape I hadn’t heard of before until I listened to this tape. Grams Kafka, J Breez and others appear for production credits. All of their individual contributions go a long way for Retch to show off his aggressive, West-Coast flow and patchy and un-easy lyrics. From the title and artwork of the tape, it should be made immediately clear the themes and content that Retch will be rapping about. Although it’s nothing ‘out of the ordinary’ or towards the levels of superior MCs’, Retch still provides vibes over the project for a chill (drugged-up) night, to get turnt up in a club too or just for your own ear-pleasure.

One of the first songs that stood out on the tape was the ridiculously mellow stoner tune, “All Night”. Over minimal bass, trippy drums and West-Coast sounding synths, Retch provides a track bragging about his consumption of a lot of rappers favourite drink…LEAN. Retchs’ voice is also a lot more smooth and not as difficult to understand what he’s saying, which was on an issue on ‘Finesse the World‘.

“Shoout-Outs” produced by J Breez is one of the best tracks on the tape. The edgy instrumental paints a picture of the life Retch had to live before becoming an underdog in the Rap game. His energy on the track and the undoubtedly LiT and hyped chorus of Retch repeating the title of the track is a perfect throwback for the style Retch became popular from, although his lyrics and overall sonic sound on this tape is a great improvement.

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Other tracks, spread over the tracklist that also show off Retchs’ ability as a force in the New Jersey Rap scene and community are “Not to Mention”, “Another Seal”, which is one of the craziest Retch tracks ever, “Couple Straps” and a track dedicated to a lot of rappers’ favourite purple drank; LEAN. However, the song that stands out the most amongst the the short listing is the heavy string and heavy hi-hat “Codeine Gangsta Party”. This tracks instrumental, Retchs’ energy, incredibly quick but easy and listenable flow provide the opening soundtrack to anyone’s night.

Although Retch has supplied solo and collaborative projects in the past, this project sounds like a more promising and focused Retch. While I felt bored or un-moved by his work on previous projects, this tape is the sonic sound he was aiming for all that time by the sounds of it.

 

Kendrick Lamar – The Heart (Part 4) Review

Not even a week ago, the king of Compton, holder to the key of the city, the self-said “Kung Fu Kenny”, came through on Friday, blessing his fans, critics, haters and (little-to-none) competition with a follow up to his last known entry of “The Heart”.

Too be blunt, Kendrick is number one; no doubt. The progression of the tracks instrumentals, how clear each instrument; chord, key, drum kick,  everything sounds fitted to a particular part of the song for Kendrick to lay down some of the illest bars as well as nab the number one Hip-Hop song of 2017 for me…so far.

Throughout the track, Kendrick displays his change of voice to captivate the listener into each area of his ‘Heart’ that he will be telling-all about. He gives insight into how he receives himself as a return of the lost Rap prophet, Tupac Shakur, exposing those who “tell a lie on” him and…DISSING THE FUCKING SHIT OUT OF BIG SEAN AND DRAKE. Yeah he gives Trump a shout but knowing that Kenny has gone for the one man in Hip-Hop who needs to be put in his place, satisfies me.

Too quote a friend on his reaction to the track, “The subject matter he’s talking about, it’s so impressive. His rapping is above and beyond anyone in the ‘Rap Game’ right now”. And I completely agree. Not even Drake or any of the ‘Lil’ rappers can go against the “The Five Foot Giant”. Only MC’s like Tech N9ne, Meechy Darko, Eminem, Royce Da 5″9 and fellow TDE signee, Ab-Soul could go bar-for-bar with the Compton MC.

So, yeah. Kendrick’s’ latest single and hopeful promotional single for his sophomore LP, I’m praying, is to arrive on April 7th and “The Heart Part 4” was a perfect track to gain the worlds attention again.

Mike WiLL Made-It – Ransom 2 Review

Its been a while since acclaimed Trap producer, Mike WiLL Made-It released his debut project, ‘Est. In 1989‘ back in 2011. Since then, hes gone on to work with other acts; such as RiFF RaFF, Young Dolph, Kanye West, Miley Cyrus, ScHoolBoy Q and Zaytoven.

On his debut album, a follow up to his mixtape of the same name, Mike Willy (Thugger voice), provides instrumentals perfectly crafted for his star-studded album. Mike provides his guests with hardcore Trap records, late night smoke session jams and some instrumentals that sound completely out of his comfort zone…with absolute finesse.

The first guest to appear on the producers album is previous ‘Ransom’ collaborator Big Sean. Mike provides a haunting instrumental with a loop of a daunting vocal sample and an aggressive drum kit. Big Sean’s performance “On The Come Up” is monotone, however, Sean doesn’t sound like he’s bored. He’s asserting his weight for his competition and making sure that Sean is known today as one of the best rappers.

Another highlight off the album is the Lil Yachty assisted “Hasselhoff”. The instrumental in one word: monstrous. The keys are heavy and sound like they’ve been sipping as well as some minimal drum work. However, Yachty provides non-auto-tuned vocals and his energy on the track mixes perfectly for the vibe they were trying to catch. Quick disclaimer, I don’t rate Yachtys’ lyrics on this. They’re boring and repetitive as shit, but I do like the track…and it makes me want to wild out to the FUCKING MAX.

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Collaboration wise, the track that stands out the most is the Rae Sremmurd, Gucci Mane and Kendrick Lamar “Perfect Pint”. Over the most minimal production of drum kicks, psychedelic keys and an 808 bass, all four artists provide great contributions to the track. Gucci’s reflective verse of his addiction lean adds a more transparent look at the ATL spitter, but obviously, the West Coast sauced-up verse from Kendrick, steals the show.

Other songs that stand out on the tracklist as well as Mikes’ production is “Burnin” featuring Andrea, “Y’all Ain’t Ready” with 2 Chainz and a great re-introduction to Chiraq rapper Chief Keef on “Come Down”.

In overall, Mikes’ production on ‘Ransom 2’ is insane. It shows how much he’s developed as a producer and how he wants to bring together artists to create an album, with the intention to create the vibes directly from them instead of the album as a whole. Although this may be risky, as it leaves a lot of the songs in an empty space, Mike still provided an album loaded with great guest verses and irresistible melodic beats.

Maxo Kream – The Persona Tape Review

Maxo Kream, the Houston-Rapper released his latest project, ‘The Persona Tape‘ back in June of last year. The mixtape/album is a vividly dark, violent yet catchy. The instrumentals on the album all give Maxo air to lay down some of the most aggressive and lyrically diverse Trap projects.

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While the majority of tracks see Maxo reminiscing of a life that doesn’t sound too far in the past; he depicts the gang-led community he grew up in, coming up as a drug dealer (“Karo”), his excessive use of Xanax and Codeine (LEAN) and being of a superior emcee of today.

My last sentence, I fully stand behind. One of the songs that prove that Maxo is one of greater lyrical skill of a lot of…’Mumble Rappers’ today is the instrumentally terrifying “Hit Mane”. Filled with a loop of a sample of a scream, drive-by synths, gunshot hi-hats and a ridiculous flow from the Kreme Clicc leader. The song depicts in graphic detail the gangbanging that Maxo would take part in and how he’s a “walking crisis, one man ISIS”. What’s evident on this track is the similarities in organising lyrics and how his flows work over the beats to West-Coast emcee Kendrick Lamar.

“Smash” featuring Paul Wall is a definite banger on this project. Maxo and Paul go in on both their verses, flexing about their whips and how they’re “smoked out, but never out of smoke.” That bar in particular (shoutout Paul Wall) is just ILL.

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Other songs that stand out on the project is the depressing “G3”. Maxo opens up about his abuse of prescription pills while also setting the scene for the effects of the pills and life of crime he was involved in. “Out the Front Door”, “Talkin’ Shit” and “Shop” are three other tracks that show off Maxos’ incredibly dark world, filled with drug abuse, drug dealing, gangbanging and rise to fame.

In all, not only is this album one of the most lyrical Trap projects to drop in 2016, but also shows off the talent that is Houstons’ Maxo Kream.

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