Wu-Tang Clan – Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) Review

Before I get to this review, two things;

  1. THIS ALBUM IS A CLASSIC / NO ARGUMENT
  2. I had the pleasure of seeing Wu-Tang for my first gig (Method Man unfortunately wasn’t there ūüė¶ )

So, to Shaolin we (metaphorically) go. ’36 Chambers’, the debut Hip-Hop album from Rap group and collective, Wu-Tang Clan. Consisting of charismatic, gritty-spat lyrics and speaking up against black-on-black crime and remembering the days where they’d have to commit crimes to live. All members of the group, from the loud, tongue-and-cheek lyricist, Ol’ Dirty Bastard (RIP), smokey and lazy flow of Method Man, or the above-and-beyond lyrical genius that is GZA. I’m not saying these members are the best, each member brings a different sound and atmosphere to their tracks. However, I do believe, due to the size of the group (9), that some members performance, throughout, the album, sets more of a tone and captures an image in the listeners head more than another.

Starting with a sample of a Kung-Fu movie, Lo-Fi drums, psychedelic synths and Horror-film worthy keys menacingly playing behind each MC’s distinctive voice, flow, lyrics and energy. “Bring Da Ruckus” is definitely one of the most defining opening tracks on Hip-Hop record at the time. While there are classic-cuts on this album, such as ‘C.R.E.A.M’, an incredible ‘rags-to-riches’ story written and directed by RZA, Method Man, Raekwon and Inspectah Deck. “Da Mystery of Chessboxin'” featuring 7/9 members annihilate this beat. The creepy strings, Bluesy drums and dynamic shared creativity between the members is flawless. “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta F’Wit” as well as “Protect Ya Neck” and “Tearz” are other examples of the amazing storytelling that is fossilised from this album.

In all; this album is a classic, too an old Hip-Hop Head or young one. They defined and brought forward a whole new sound and energy to the East-Coast and are still to this day one of the many influences of modern Rappers.

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Anticipation for Young Thug’s ‘E.B.B.T.G.’

Well, is today not a pleasant surprise for fans of Thugger Thugger. Today, via Twitter, he announced a new project that would be primarily composed of songs by Thug “singing”. While this, doesn’t surprise me much as Thugger has never been shy of being himself and experimenting with his voice on a record, the more interesting aspect of this album is that the Executive Producer is..Drake.

Now, while this is in no way a bad move, it shows an obvious direction that the albums sonic sound will be following. Drake hasn’t been shy to get involved in other peoples projects, singles or (steal)¬†take inspiration from their musical soundscape. He has even been an E.P. on all of his studio albums apart from his debut ‘Thank Me Later’.

So, what will Thug fans, as well as myself, be expecting from the ATLien? Last Friday, he dropped his new single “All The Time” along with its official video. In traditional Thug fashion, the instrumental is psychedelic, dreamy and encompasses the Trap sound that he is known for. His vocals, as always are slurred and his lyrics are banal and braggadocios. While this is nothing new to his discography, how will the rest of the album sound? Who are the primary producers? Will there be features?

If anything, Thug should enlist his regular go to producers for melodic Trap bangers; Metro Boomin’, London On Da Track, Wheezy and TM88. However, I’d love too see more Mike Dean production with Thugger, maybe a hypnotic but still heavy Trap instrumental provided by Southside and a Lex Luger credit. Feature-wise, Thug couldn’t go wrong with getting his “Pick Up The Phone” collaborators, Quavo and Travis Scott, to accompany him together or on separate tracks. Seeing Drake on a record, wouldn’t really impress me that much as the two previously worked on ‘More Life’ cuts “Sacrifices” and “Ice Melts”, however, the Drake-Stans will probably milk the track to death before it even has a week to sit. If anything, I’m hoping one of the many Future/Young Thug tracks recorded will end up on here.

In all; I’m excited for Thugger’s album. His previous efforts, ‘JEFFERY’ and ‘Slime Season 3’ are both great projects and give an insight into the creative process that Thug has when making music. While I’m worried that Drake’s executive power on the album may influence Thug in the Sing-Song-Rap direction, it’s nothing he hasn’t projected before. If anything, I’m anticipating how this will sit with die-hard Thug fans as well as the Hip-Hop community.

Action Bronson – Mr. Wonderful Review

Come 2015, Action Bronson was already a household name in Hip-Hop. The Rap-Child vocally of Wu-Tang legend Ghostface Killah, the comical approach of a ‘Delirious’ Eddie Murphy and the food comparisons that only could match Atlanta MC 2 Chainz. His debut album title, simply and rightfully matching his abrasive flow and luxurious comparisons of women to weed, food to violence and just spitting genuine golden bars. ‘Mr. Wonderful’ is a great title for the first major album by the Queens MC and follow-up to his collaborative EP with Harry Fraud.

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From the opening Mark Ronson produced “Brand New Car”, filled with skipping keys, 90s Rock drumming and wicked bars from Bronson, bragging of his fashion sense, having “mad kids overseas” and remembering a time of smoking joints on benches, the song is more of a celebratory-ode to the success Bronson has achieved not just through Rap but his other endeavours as well. ¬†The following track, “The Rising” featuring none other than Big Body Bes. One of the best spoken-word ad-libbers to ever bless a track. However, “Terry”, produced by the always dreamy The Alchemist. Over guitar loops, smooth synths and keys that are too chill too describe.

While the album, for the majority, is in typical Action style, it doesn’t reel me in as much as his previous efforts like his ‘Blue Chips’ series. Yes, he does incorporate more influences and experiments with how he delivers his verses like on “Only in America” and “A Light in the Attic”.

However, there are tracks on here that would entertain any Action fan or critic. “Falconry” featuring Meyhem Lauren and Bes is a high-pitched horn led Boom-Bap record. Bronsons flow jumps over the loop of the beat and brags about his hash smoking and listening to “German guitar riffs” while growing up. However, Lauren’s verse is one of the only features on the album that stands out more than Action. His rough cool-paced and alike to Action, luxurious bars paint, images of a lavish lifestyle that only they can make visuals for through lyrics. Chance the Rapper’s verse on the second Ronson-produced “Baby Blue” filled with a beautiful piano melody and Jazz-influence. It also contains another verse on the album that compared to Bronson, is difficult. While Bronson kills it in his own way, Chance’s schizophrenic flow and just bluntly vengeful bars triumph over AB. The horns at the end of this track just make it that much better and make your scrunch your face up with pleasure.

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Compared to Bronson’s previous releases to his debut, it’s not bad..yet, it’s not to the high quality and refute to skip tracks on ‘Blue Chips 2’. Action still kills this album and is most definitely one of the better Rappers around today; however, his debut, in my eyes, didn’t live up to the hype, in a sonic sense, that could capture the music previously released by him.

Frank Ocean – Lens Single Review

Since Franks’ departure from Def Jam and his critically acclaimed LP ‘Blond’, Frank has been releasing¬†new music at an alarming rate. In the time between ‘Channel ORANGE’ and ‘Blond’, Frank released loosies but never anything as official as “Biking” or “Chanel”.

On Sunday, the ever-mysterious creative released his latest single (as well as a Travis Scott version), “Lens”. Starting off with slow melodic keys, Frank comes in, his voice, interestingly, auto-tuned and speaks up about how he’s being watched through a ‘Lens’. He also speaks out about his homosexuality and how the person he is now has made him someone that everyone has to be keeping eyes on. As the instrumental progresses, Electronic synths and snares appear and add more depth to another insight of Frank.

To be honest; while it doesn’t have the striped-back or minimal production that any of the tracks on ‘Blond’ did, I really do enjoy it. It reminds me of his ‘Nostalgia, ULTRA’ days and that now he’s a ‘free agent’ he can happily experiment with other sounds and genres. With all this new Frank music rolling out through his Beats 1 radio, which he used to premiere ‘Blond’, it wouldn’t be surprising if a new Frank project dropped sooner than expected.

Snoop Dogg – Mount Kushmore Single Review

On Monday, Long Beach MC and the only rapper/person¬†TO DATE,¬†to ever smoke in The White House, Snoop Dogg, announced the release date and album cover for his upcoming LP ‘Neva Left’. In support of the promotion on Monday, Snoop dropped the first single “Mount Kushmore” featuring some of the biggest OG stoners in Hip-Hop. Method Man, Redman and B-Real all appear for the stacked feature track.

Beginning with a gunshot, the beat drops and has an immediate G-Funk/1990s vibe. Redman gives the first verse over the West-Coast flavoured instrumental. Second verse is handled by B-Real, and in typical “Dr. Greenthumb” fashion, Real’s nasally high-pitched vocals contradict the beat well as he flows slow and smoothly over it. Method Man takes the third verse of the track. The Wu-Tang MC supplies his regular raspy and jumpy flow and brags about his smoking capabilities and how him and the other three on the track are 4 of the reasons weed has inspired a cult of weed enthusiasts. Lastly, Snoop provides his verse. Sounding like himself in his 1990s day, his flow is thick and hazy. He speaks up about the amount (unsurprisingly) of his smoking and how he is an OG in the Rap Game yet still a force to recognise for their cultural and musical impact on Hip-Hop, G-Funk and R&B.

Da$h – SkrewFace Review

New Jersey MC and close collaborator of Retch, Da$h, has had a fruitful career since he began his rapping. After joint projects with Retch, tracks with Maxo Kream and featured spots on the debut A$AP Mob tape, Da$h had a cult following of fans watching and hearing out for anything from him.

Before the release of his last known full-project ’17 More Minutes’ in ode to the late great A$AP Yams, Da$h released the ‘SkrewFace’ EP. consisting of 7 tracks to build up the momentum for his earlier mentioned project.

Before I move onto the music (sorry), I just want to shoutout whoever designed the album cover! It captures the mood and soundscape that Da$h projects and raps about in his songs.

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Starting off with the follow up to his 2013 ‘V.I.C.E.S’-cut, “RicHie K” with “RicHie K II”. Produced by Antwon Carrera, demonic keys and threatening hi-hats allow Da$h to lay down two vigorous verses, bragging about his lean and OG Kush. However, on the second half of the record, the BPM is a tad slower and is still frantic yet captures the lifestyle that Da$h lives. The second track “Figgaz / Hopscoth” has a laid back instrumental with a DANK saxophone sample. Da$h reflects on crooked police, yet on “Hopscotch”, speaks up about his ability as a more honest MC than some more mainstream Hip-Hop artists. The third track, an ode to the late actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman, appropriately titled “Seymour”. Da$h spits luxurious lyrics of the amounts of drugs he takes, how he’s not afraid to physically confront his competitors and how the majority of labels and their artists are “puppets”.

Feature wise, Maxo Kream and RetcH both appear on separate tracks, however both kill their contributed verses. While Maxo tackles a dreamy instrumental with summer synths and lo-fi snares and hi-hats, he reminisces of a less public-eye persona of excessive drug use, losing friends to gang violence and living a life filled with destruction. Lastly, the final track on the EP, produced unexpectedly by Metro Boomin’ is probably the most turnt track on this project. Over thunderous keys, ear-rattling bass and aggressive drums, Da$h provides one of his most enthusiastic flows to date. Titled “Mudd Walk”, he raps about the success he’s gained from being the MC he is today and “eliminating” any of the fake rappers.

To conclude; while the EP clocks in just under half-an-hour, it is captivating throughout. Da$h’s style vocally and his ear for beats is similar to that of Wu-Tang as he depicts rough neighbourhoods, drug dealings and an assertion that he’s of greater quality than those more successful than him.

Offset – Monday Single Review

2017 has, undeniably, been the biggest year for the ATLien trio Migos. As their success from their latest LP ‘CULTURE’ and infectious single ‘Bad & Boujee’ control the sound waves and are inspiring a new generation of ‘mumble rappers’.

And, as of yesterday, Offset, one of the three, released a solo track, simply titled “Monday”.

Produced by OG Parker and Deko, they provide a soft piano and heavy Trap drums to start off the inevitable season of Summer. Offset (WOO,WOO,WOO,WOO) provides his usual Migos flow and tongue-twisting syllables, similar to Lord Infamous.  His bars are hungry and luxurious as he depicts his sudden success and earnings.

In all; it’s a great solo track from the Migos’ member. While Quavo may be the member of the Migos that would most likely succeed from a solo career, Offset’s capability as a solo artist only improves with this latest release.

Jay Rock – Follow Me Home Review

Back in 2011, Jay Rock was signed to TDE as well as Kansas City’s Strange Music label, headed by Tech N9ne. Since then, Rock has come a long way. He’s worked extensively with the TDE roster as well as other artists such as Trae the Truth.

On his debut album, Rock provides a dark, violent and repeated story told by many gangster-rappers. However, the thing that separates Rock from other rappers of that sub-genre is for his cinematic stories told on some of the records (“Just Like Me”) as well as his ear for gritty California beats.

Starting the album off alike to the influential gangsta-rap album; ‘2001’, Rock begins the album with what can only be described as a news report of a murder then transitions into the piano and synth-led “Code Red”. Sounding like a page ripped straight out of 1990s West-Coast Hip-Hop; Rock depicts a world filled with drugs, violence, gangs and the injustice of the African-American communities. While a lot of the album sees Rock exploiting the struggles of living in the hood, there are some relaxed and party-orientated tracks. “No Joke” is another one of the more conscious tracks. A smooth piano loop and funky bass line allow Rock and fellow TDE signee Ab-Soul to speak up about the commercialism of living in the hood and that what people see on films and music videos isn’t real and that living in those areas and environments “ain’t no motherfucking joke”. Another standout for Rock’s ear for beats as well as being able to diverse his sonic soundscape is the Chris Brown-featured “Westside”. Over glorious trumpets, summer-esque drums and fun-party-to-go lyrics, Rock shows off the talent that is embodied in him. Two of the funkier and less-radio-friendly records “Boomerang” and “I’m Thuggin” are solo stands out as Rock holds down each individual track without losing the interest of the listener.JR2K11

The last final track that really stands out more across the album is the Tech N9ne and Krizz Kaliko assisted “Kill or Be Killed”. Focusing on the internal destruction of the black community as gangs fed young African-Americans with lust for drugs, violence and money. While Rock kills both his verses with ease and Kaliko provides a soulful chorus, Tech’s verse is the real standout as he spits vigorous bars of living in dysfunctional areas.

In all, for a debut album and the amount of time it’s been out; it’s a solid solo and opener for Rock. While he hasn’t garnered the same success as his peers (Kendrick, ScHoolboy Q), I have little doubt that Rock will not disappoint his fans as he continues to grow as a solo artist.

Lil Yachty – Lil Boat Review

For over the last year or so, Atlanta has brought a terrific amount of Trap-Rappers to the forefront of commercial Hip-Hop. From the electric trio of Migos to the animal ad-libber Young Thug. Now, it’s the time of the youngest ATLien to dominate the Trap/Hip-Hop scene.

Before I go into this review, I will say this: I am not a fan of Yachty. While I do enjoy his peers’ music and his influences, Yachty’s sound and general guest verses I hear from him do nothing for me sonically or indicate any lasting influence on the culture or sub-genre of Hip-Hop.

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From the “Intro – Just Keep Swimming” it begins with some quick-paced hyped up bars with relentless energy. However, the second half of the track is just auto-tune to the max and makes it way past unenjoyable to listen to Yachty’s exploration of his influences such as T-Pain, Lil Wayne and R. Kelly. The second track featuring and produced by The Good Perry is a bass thumping, synth heavy, hi-hat lovers dream. The beat is melodic while simple and a psychedelic boom-bap instrumental. Unfortunately, Boat nor Perry’s energy or delivery on this record is…dull. Although the twos chemistry works, they don’t captivate as much as Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan or Famous Dex and Rich the Kid. The first track that stands out for it’s instrumental and guest features is the remix to “Minnesota”. While Yachty opens the record with switch ups of flows and pitch of his voice, the real standout on this record is Skippa Da Flippa. His rough quick-paced flow contradicts the instrumental and although his verse is one of the shortest, he stands out more than the more successful artists. Surprisingly, Yachty’s solo track “Interlude” is another standout for me. The instrumental, as most are throughout this tape, simple yet interesting enough to keep you listening to the entire tape. Although his lyrics aren’t captivating on this track, it’s still a good filler track to past the time.

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While the majority of the tape doesn’t do much for me, it’s really the instrumentals that are the selling point of this project. They are, at first-listen, all banging. They capture a less-violent and more positive themes than his affiliates. However, Yachty is not that much interest to me. His flows sound uninspired and his lyrics themselves aren’t that great.

 

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