Bartier Bounty | Sada Baby

Bartier Bounty | Sada Baby

“Skuba 2020”

In January, Sada Baby kicked 2019 off with a certified banger with his mixtape Bartier Bounty. After sitting with this album for two months, I found that it is inevitable to show respect to this body of work. This Detroit artist put everything he had into this mixtape and it shows from track one. Twenty tracks of high energy slappers show what type of energy Sada Baby is bringing all 2019.

The album is a hybrid of hype songs and raw street content. This combination creates the perfect formula for classic grind music. Amidst the songs that are made for getting thru the trenches, he made sure to tap into his party bag too. This project is loaded with tracks that would make any Detroit club go crazy. He already has this momentum from songs like “Bloxk Party” (feat. Drego) and “Cheat Code”, which was released in 2018. This mixtape is so dope that those songs seem like bonuses to the project. New songs like “Skuba Says” and “Skuba Dolph” also have potential to grow into club bangers for the summer. 

It’s safe to say that Sada Baby has found his lane and is sticking to it. By flooding the market with his street sound, he has been able to pave a way in rap music that can only work for him. To take his music to another level, it would be a match made in heaven for him to work with producers like Metro Boomin, Southside, Tay Keith or even 808 Mafia.

Overall, this will be the project that his fans will say is “the one”. This mixtape really hits like an album being that it is kinda sequenced like one. The tracks on here hit back to back all the way to the end. The impressive part again is that this is a 20-track album. 

My favorites on Bartier Bounty are: ‘Hood Rich Skuba’, ‘LLYG Mista’, ‘Skuba Says’, ‘Skuba Dolph’, and ‘Unkle Drew’. 

written by Drey Taylor

Everything's for Sale | Boogie

Everything's for Sale | Boogie

A New Boogie to Groove To

On January 25th, Compton artist Boogie released his debut album Everything’s for Sale. This album comes off the momentum from his first three mixtapes, Thirst 48, The Reach, and Thirst 48 Pt. II. After a three year break from releasing a body of work, he hit us over the head with this amazing debut studio album. With Shady Records being the home label for him, this album is in veteran hands when it comes to quality control. It also helps being from a cloth in the west coast (Compton) that has been transcending hip-hop for the last decade plus. Artist like The Game, Kendrick Lamar, YG, and Dr. Dre are all of this same cloth, which gives him enormous shoes to fill.

The features on this album also puts this project in another bracket upon first listen. For a debut album, there are some heavy hitting features that appear on this body of work. In the first half of the album, Dreamville’s J.I.D gave us a hurricane of rhymes on “Soho”, one of the more universal bops on the album. On the second half of this album is where the features really picked up. With an official co-sign from Eminem on “Rainy Days”, and added vibes by 6lack on “Skydive II”, this project hits all pockets. This speaks to how his peers view the quality of his music, even before having an official album.

Having said that, the solo performances on this album are really what drive the impressiveness of this project. From the intro, you can tell that this isn’t your typical Hip-Hop/Rap album (as it’s listed). From the jump, this instantly opens up with R&B vibes, but you quickly find out that there are also no shortage of bars. The versatility on here is through the roof as just about every song houses a new vibe, yet staying within the same emotions that brew with the growing pains of life. The sound is enhanced even more by Boogie’s unique rap voice, which gives his music even more so it’s own fingerprint in today’s climate.

The content and creativity put into Everything’s for Sale is another element that makes this project special. The main talk on the album are around the struggles that come with the journey of growing up in life. Being centered around relationship issues, financial security, and the turmoil that comes with being highly ambitious. All valid struggles in my opinion. The creativity behind this all came full circle on his 20-minute short film. Here he added visuals to his words, painting the perfect picture behind the meaning of his music. View below.

Ultimately, I am looking to see more from Boogie and watch what other element he brings to music, more specifically to the West Coast. His versatility, content selection and creativity will take him far if he continues to produce with this energy.

My favorites on this album are: Swap Meet, Lolsmh (Interlude), Skydive, Live 95, and Skydive II.

Championships | Meek Mill

Championships | Meek Mill

“Still Behind Bars“

On November 30th, Meek Mill dropped his long awaited album, Championships. This is the first album from Meek Mill since being released from prison in November off his initial-said four year sentence. Here, Meek takes off in a new direction in his rollercoaster career and sounds as authentic and polished as ever. After his life taking a dive from dealing with the law, this album was a resurrection for him in a sense. By giving us both raw and cognizant content, Meek delivered to us his most diverse album to date.

The album starts with an electrifying intro over the sample of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” and kicks this project off in the right way. Meek made sure he kept that same energy from his album intros in the past; hence “Dreams & Nightmares” being arguably one of the best album introductions ever. From the start of the album, you can hear Meek’s new approach on life through his bars.

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From here, Meek begins to unravel the true depths of what he wanted to achieve with this album. With an undeniable club banger in “On Me” feat. Cardi B, and a monster trio of verses on “What’s Free” amongst Rick Ross & Jay-Z, the first half of the album is almost flawless. The album continues to grow in appeal as Meek tapped into his conscious bag during the heart of the album.

On songs like “Respect the Game”, “Championships”, and “Oodles O’ Noodles Babies” Meek spoke about what is really on his mind outside of Rollies and Pateks. You can tell quickly that his most recent run-in with the law has affected his life in a major way. The meat of the bars on these songs are about the systematic oppression and another side of the brutality in America. However, these bars are paralleled with talk about overcoming these obstacles, as Meek speaks on in “Championships”.

One of the major pluses for this album is that it covers almost all bases for rap music fans. On songs like “24/7”, “Almost Slipped” and the undeniable banger in “Dangerous”, Meek gave us a few records to cater to his lady fans. These, next to the club slappers + trap music + his own traditional sound make this album his most well-rounded album. Honestly, this is one of the better Rap albums of 2018.

Ultimately this is my favorite Meek Mill album thus far. By him bouncing back from a tragic situation and coming back stronger than ever, this album showed us what Meek is really made of. Thankful that he’s out, I hope he continues to keep his foot on the pedal with this special music.

My favorites on the album are: What’s Free, Respect the Game, Championships, Going Bad, Pay You Back, and Dangerous.

 
 
 

Noir | Smino

Noir | Smino

“A New Genre Called Smino”

On November 8th, upcoming rapper Smino released his latest album, Noir. This unique artist from St. Louis, Missouri gave us a hour of real undeniable vibes. Now based in Chicago, Smino was able to create one of the most dynamic albums of the year.

Through using his one-of-one delivery and connecting with some of the dopest upcoming artist from the Chicago area, he gave us the album that we didn’t know we needed. The main feel of the project comes from songs like “SPINZ”, “HOOPTI”, and “VERIZON”. On songs like this, this rapper tapped into his R&B bag and created a new sound by blending his raps and pitchy voice. Most of the songs on the album are super melodic and steer away from any traditional rap album we’ve heard all year. Mainly consisting of slow bpms, perfectly placed bass and clever bars, this album catches you in a nod off the energy alone. On other songs like “KLINK”, “TEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD”, and “BAM 2x”, Smino focuses on more of a dance sound. Here, it sounds like a whole different artist coming thru the speakers, but this is exactly what makes this album special.

Between the amount of beat switches and his different voices on the album, there’s a lot of life on this album. Using this creative combination as his musical template immediately places him in the same song performance box as artists like Kendrick Lamar, in my mind. This versatility can only take him far as we watch his career unfold. As far as lyrical content on Noir, it’s all about his journey in becoming who he is today and relationship talk. You can tell that Smino has been through some trenches in his life. But like one of my favorite rappers once said, “the worst struggle makes for the best content”. That shows here.

Overall, this is a dope project to end the year with, and enter 2019 with. I’m looking forward to hear his work in the future. I’d like to see him make future music with Noname, Chance the Rapper, H.E.R., Bryson Tiller, Joyner Lucas and/or SZA. My favorite tracks on the album are SPINZ, SUMMER SALT, WE GOT THE BISCUITS, HOOPTI, FENTY SEX & VERIZON.

Oxnard | Anderson .Paak

Oxnard | Anderson .Paak

“New Paakage”

On November 16th, Anderson .Paak dropped his official second album, Oxnard. On here, this Californian artist stayed in his bag of tricks and gave us a deeper look into who he really is as an artist.

After his first album, Malibu, (released in 2016) he showed us that he was here to bring a new element to today’s music. Listed as a hip-hop act, his music is probably the furthest thing from the grit that originally defined hip-hop. By toggling through singing, rapping and pure instrumentation, .Paak gives us a rare combination of music that shows us the true depths of his talent. However, this gumbo-est approach in his music has catapulted him into a new realm of recognition. Ultimately, this has helped Anderson .Paak lead us into a new genre. A genre that extends much further than hip hop and has the game bubblin’.

With Dr. Dre as the executive producer for the album, the sounds on here can really do no wrong. Over time I have found that Dre brings a different level of quality and authenticity to his signature music and sound. Since his debut in the 80’s, he has kept his music’s sound quality above any producer I can think of. Doggystyle, DAMN., Get Rich or Die Tryin’, Good Kid, MAAD City, The Chronic, To Pimp a Butterfly, and It Was Written are just a few albums produced by him that can speak to this level of quality. The thing is, Oxnard does too.

Throughout every song you can feel that this texture of music is just different. Almost every track holds two separate beats that .Paak effortlessly bounce over. His talk about fame, women, being the greatest, and coming from nothing are mainly the bars given on this album.

With help from some of the best veterans in the rap game, this album definitely doesn’t lack any bars either. Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, Q-Tip, J. Cole, and Pusha T are some major names that feature the album. Every one of these featured songs are a staple in the album, yet .Paak had no problem holding his own.

Overall, Anderson .Paak leveled up from his last album Malibu, which really wasn’t easy to do. By having a legend producer in Dr. Dre, and polishing a genre of his own, .Paak might have the best album of the year on his hands. But only time will tell.

My favorite tracks off this album are: Tints (feat. Kendrick Lamar), 6 Summers, Anywhere (feat. Snoop Dogg, The Last Artful & Dodgr), and Trippy (feat. J. Cole).

Tha Carter V | Lil Wayne

Tha Carter V | Lil Wayne

“Hey Mr. Carter, Tell Me Where Have You Been?”

On September 28, Lil Wayne finally dropped his most anticipated album, Tha Carter V. After years of thinking that we would never see this day, Wayne finally delivered and extended his Carter series in good fashion.

Almost 7 years since Tha Carter IV dropped, Wayne came back like he never missed a step with a high energy album. This album has all types of contemporary music features on it and it shows how much Wayne still has his hands in the game. Major features are from Travis Scott, Kendrick Lamar, Swizz Beatz, Trippie Redd, Ashanti and a posthumous feature from XXXTentacion. Alongside keeping up with modern times, he made sure to include a classic Wayne sound for us.

The album is 23 tracks of Wayne coming from a his most polished standpoint in a while. With there being so many songs on the album, I believe that this album was created two-sided. Thinking of the album in that way, the second half of the album is my favorite. This is where Wayne got back into his late 2000’s bag, giving us a glimpse of the past with unlimited wildly connected metaphors and similes. From track 13 down, the album switches gears and goes on a run that shows us why Wayne is still in the Mt. Rushmore of Rap. This album holds some of the best rapping by Mr. Carter that we’ve seen in the last 5 years. This say a lot. Mainly that he is in a very healthy state, and may have more in the tank for his fans. You can tell that he’s in a different headspace in 2018, and pivoting into a new direction. After years of going through lawsuits with his right hand man, Birdman, it is good to see him come out on the positive end.

Said that, this may be the most transparent we’ve seen Wayne on an album. The album begins with a recording from his mother expressing her love for Lil Wayne, and ends with a story about him attempting suicide when he was 12 years old. For as long as Wayne has been putting out music, he has never broken this story down as much as he did in “Let It All Work Out”. Other songs like “Open Letter” and “Demon” is where Wayne explains how he has seen himself recently. He’s basically acknowledging the depths of his lows in the past and living with the cards he’s been dealt.

Ultimately, this is merely a gift that I wasn’t expecting but am extremely grateful for. Wayne could have never came out with another album and I would have been content with everything he gave us in his career. However, I am glad that I lived to see Lil Wayne complete his Carter series and extend his catalog. From this point on, in a perfect world, I’d want Wayne to just do features and bless the rap game by continuously killing other people’s music. His discography is already cemented and his legacy will live forever. He may as well begin to co-sign other artists to success. After all, his last major co-sign is one of the biggest rappers of our generation, Drake.

My favorite songs on the album are: Hittas, Took His Time, Start This S**t Off Right, and Let It All Work Out.

 

East Atlanta Love Letter | 6lack

East Atlanta Love Letter | 6lack

“6lack R&B”

On September 14, 6lack dropped his second album, East Atlanta Love Letter. On this time around, 6lack kept the same energy from his first album, FREE 6LACK, in almost every way. EALL was a dope complement to his first album by keeping the same sound, along with consistent content. Somehow, 6lack was able to take his new issues and turn them into another standout project in this new wave of R&B. This proves to fans that he’s no one hit wonder and will be here for a good minute.

The album starts off with the exact same vein as before. However, this time things are different for 6lack as he highlights the fact that he now has a daughter with the very first impression of this project. Here, 6lack takes the time to explain the complexity of his new love life quickly in the first 4 songs. Wasting no time really, he jumped right into explaining his bad luck with women on “Loaded Gun” and his potential regret on “Let Her Go”. As the album builds, we go through a rollercoaster of sounds and he hints at his real range musically. On the album titled track “East Atlanta Love Letter” he teamed up with Future to create the most emo R&B song on the album. Surprising that Future would be the one to give this to him; but it undeniably goes as a slapper on the album. Deeper into the album he made sure to touch other angles as well. With “Switch” and “Nonchalant”, he stepped into a radio pocket that he’s unfamiliar with, but he definitely bodied it. On “Switch” he explained how his life basically changed and went from 0-100 after going through break ups and having a child. After changing his image and going ghost for a while last year, this record was basically inevitable for him to make.

The features on the album are limited, but not to get confused with poor. J. Cole, Future, Offset, and Khalid are the only features on here but all of them killed their moment on the album. J. Cole and Future add to the relation of situationship struggles, while Offset added a standout party starter with “Balenciaga Challenge”. Young Khalid blessed the album with an extra radio song with “Seasons” if they decide to use it. Genius thinking.

Overall the highly anticipated second album did not disappoint. With R&B spiking crazy again, it’s important to stay ahead and he made sure he avoided the sophomore curse. Looking forward to hearing what 6lack releases next.

My favorite songs on the album are: Loaded Gun, East Atlanta Love Letter, Scripture, Nonchalant & Balenciaga Challenge.

PRETTY LITTLE LIARS VIDEO

 

Swimming | Mac Miller

Swimming | Mac Miller

“Thank You, Mac”

On August 3rd, Mac Miller released his fifth studio album, Swimming. This album was another dope project to add to his already stapled discography. On this album Mac instantly caught my attention with the nostalgic-vibe bag he gets into. One thing that no one can take from Mac Miller is his ability to create an authentic vibe for his music. His euphoric sounding music standing next to smooth yet poetic flow, has made him stand out in the game over the years. Swimming sounds a lot like his album Watching Movies with the Sound Off in terms of beats and production, but the content on this album may be the most important in his career.

Most of the talk on this album is about his mental and relationship struggles that he’s gone through lately. He took an honest approach in his writing and told us his latest life story through his music. Compared to The Divine Feminine, where he focused on love and positive relationships, this is a complete different direction. Here he is focused on living his truth and give us the rest of who he truly is. Who knew that this would be the last truth he gives?

Mac was always one of my favorite artist, from the first time I’ve heard him. He was always an underdog in this industry and never settled by always making undeniable music. For years Mac Miller has earned a name in hip-hop by working consistently at his craft and never settling in making mediocre music for his fans. He was a true artist ahead of his time and made classic music that will live forever.

My favorite Mac Miller albums are: Watching Movies With The Sound Off, GO:OD am, Faces, The Devine Feminine, and Live From Space.

My favorites on Swimming are: Hurt Feelings, Perfecto and Self Care.

Rest easy Mac Miller, you left a legacy behind.

 

Astroworld | Travis Scott

Astroworld | Travis Scott

"Musical Playground"

On August 3rd, Travis Scott dropped his long anticipated album, ASTROWORLD. After a couple years of creating this album, Travis always planned to hit us over the head with this banger - and that’s exactly what he did. Very similar to his last project Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight, he treated ASTROWORLD like a capsule where the album holds a theme. This go ‘round Trav chose an amusement park theme to base this album around. With his high level flows and music going in different directions, it fits that persona of a musical playground. 

The names that touched this album are almost endless. Frank Ocean, Thundercat, Pharrell, Mike Dean, The Weeknd, Drake, John Mayer, Hit-Boy, Tay Kieth, Gunna, Murda Beatz, and Cyhi the Prynce are just a few names that touched this album. Although all the features are hidden on the tracklist, this album is loaded with sounds from the whole industry. From big name producers to your favorite artists, a lot of creativity graced this project. This explains the cohesiveness of the album as well. Each track follows each other like it’s destined to. Every song flows into the next, and the entire album makes it feel as if you are stuck in a current of music until it goes off. 

With just about every song having switch ups and layers of different vibes, Travis showed us how deep his imagination really goes. At this point, Travis has created his own lane in hip-hop. With his trademark voice combined with his sonic range, multiplied by his top-tier production skills, he’s proved that he’s a different creature in the game. ASTROWORLD was just another platform for Travis to show us what he can do. 

His approach is a little unorthodox I must admit. Being a hip-hop rockstar would seem to come with some misunderstandings. This wild-life mentality has been of the essence of Travis Scott since day one, coming out of Houston - which he still pays homage to. On RIP SCREW he acknowledged DJ Screw who was known for his hand in the ‘Chopped and Screwed’ movement that is still big in Houston today. On HOUSTONFORNICATION he talked about how Houston is where he goes from being stressed on the road. 

Overall, this album can potentially be the best Travis Scott project to date depending on how it grows. This is a bundle of all of our favorite rappers and producers painting on a canvas. My favorite records on the album are: SICKO MODE, R.I.P. SCREW, STOP TRYING TO BE GOD, SKELETONSASTROTHUNDER, HOUSTONFORNICATION, & COFFEE BEAN.

 

Approaching That All-Time List

Approaching That All-Time List

The Boy x The Sound

On June 29th, Drake finally released his highly anticipated album Scorpion since his hiatus from More Life. Although we are normalized to giving Drake his high praises after a great album, let’s talk about the true reason behind his greatness for once. 

Since Drake's younger days, he has always kept a gem in the tuck. This gem for years has been Noah “40” Shebib - his go-to producer and engineer. 40 has been making the majority of Drake’s music since the classics of So Far Gone and Thank Me Later. Since then he has paved his way in the game through consistently molding his own sound, and successfully using Drake a muse of his own. Most of 40’s music consists of hybrid beats that make it easy for Drake to effortlessly rap and sing on. This formula has skyrocketed his artists to another level of success. 

Over the last decade, 40 was nominated for multiple Grammy’s and stacked a mountain pile of awards by using this style in today’s rap game. Now, after the release of Scorpion, it’s proven even more so that Noah may be the most consistent producer in contemporary hip-hop right now. On this album, he was essentially able to create two different albums though Rap production and R&B vibes. This is proof alone that Shebib is of a different breed, and approaching a rare group of producers that we have heard over time. 

Furthermore, it shows how important he is to the success of Drake and OVO. Without 40, The Boy wouldn’t be here. 

My favorites from Scorpion are: (Side A) Nonstop, Emotionless, 8 Out of 10, Is There More. (Side B) Peak, Jaded, Blue Tint & After Dark.

 

 

EVERYTHING IS LOVE | The Carters

EVERYTHING IS LOVE | The Carters

"Billion Dollar Collab"

On June 16, JAY-Z and Beyoncé dropped their first ever collaboration album called EVERYTHING IS LOVE. After years of sporadic song collaborations, this world-known couple decided to level things up a bit. Though this idea has been passed around before, it was never something that the masses thought they would get. Many people thought that they would not be able to pull together a full body of work that sounds as good as their solo work. On here they proved the exact opposite. 

They had plenty of hands on this album to help them make this a standout in both their discographies. The first single they dropped, “APESHIT”, was inspired by Migos and even features Offset and Quavo performing the ad-libs throughout the song. Ty Dolla $ign was a hidden feature on “BOSS”, and NAV co-produced on “FRIENDS”. This is all proof that no matter how seasoned these two get in the game, they will always keep up with the times in music. 

Check out the original demo from the Migos, and watch the Carter's video to the final version below. 

Deeper than that, the production is from heavy hitters in the game as well. Some major names that touched this album are Pharrell, !ll Mind, Mike Dean and Boi-1da just to make a few. They all came together to give us a range of bangers on this project. The album starts off with the club-destined slapper, ‘APESHIT’ and eases into a undeniable off-beat bop on ‘NICE’ (both songs produced by Pharrell). Aside from the party music they tapped into, they fed their maturer fans as well. On songs like ‘BOSS’, ‘FRIENDS’ and ‘LOVEHAPPY’ they talked about deeper content over more relaxed beats. This makes this project seasonal and creates perfect the balance to this short album. 

One standout thing about the album is Beyoncé’s music direction. Throughout this album we heard a version of Beyonce that we haven’t quite heard before. On this album, she pretty much rapped everything she said. After being known for her vocals and performances for years, on here she’s recognized for a whole new thing - the bars. Throughout the whole album, she gave us hella flows that no one would expect her to go for. From flow to content, she kinda proved that she can keep up with some of the most popular rappers right now based off her monster delivery. This begs the question: Is she evolving her music to another level? After having a rap verse on ‘Top Off’ with DJ Khaled and Future, it seems as if she’s done with singing at this point. Either way, it’s smart because it breeds curiosity for any future projects. 

Overall the album was a dope surprise. It will be interesting to see if they continue to mold a discography together. If so, it will be the next level of their music careers. My favorites on the album are BOSS, APESHIT, NICE & FRIENDS.

Kanye West: The Artist vs. The Person

Kanye West: The Artist vs. The Person

"Ye Acts"

About a month ago, Kanye West had his name on the streets for all of the wrong reasons. From his outlandish tweets and shenanigans on Twitter to his wild interview on TMZ where he told us “slavery was a choice”.

As of late, Kanye’s name has been in circulation for the MUSIC again. Over the last two months, Kanye have had a heavy hand in 5 albums (ye, KIDS SEE GHOST, DAYTONA, NASIR, and K.T.S.E. [Keep That Same Energy]). All of these albums are released under his music group G.O.O.D. Music and are entirely produced by him. After the midst of his wild antics on the internet, he was able to show us at least one good sign about him: he can still make solid music.

All of these albums are relatively short projects, but are a handful in terms of the production and sound. As always, Ye gave us another spread of ridiculously hard samples and classic chops for his music fans to chew on. The versatility behind this group of albums is incredible. From his own experimental album, to a collaboration album with Kid Cudi, to rough/rugged sounding Pusha-T & Nas albums, to a sensual sounding Teyana Taylor album, Kanye really showed us why he is still a living GOAT.

My favorite projects from this collection are DAYTONA, KIDS SEE GHOST, and KTSE. These stand out to me for the production alone. On DAYTONA, Kanye was able to take the simplest piano chops and turn them into the perfect murky-type beat for Pusha-T to bar to death. KIDS SEE GHOST objectively is a match made in heaven for 'beat-based' music fans. Kid Cudi and Kanye West are two trailblazers for a lot of the production we hear today, which makes this automatically exciting. KTSE was a great example of what Kanye is capable of doing in the R&B lane. With him taking the same classic sample approach and adding soft drums under Teyana's voice, it is hard to miss the mark with that one.

Check out the album covers from this five-album series below. Click through to see every sample that was used in each album. 

1. DAYTONA - Pusha-T

 
 

2. ye - Kanye West

 
 

3. KIDS SEE GHOST - Kanye West + Kid Cudi

 
 

4. NASIR - Nas

 
 

5. K.T.S.E. - Teyana Taylor

 
 

TDE's Newest Star

TDE's Newest Star

Meet SiR.

Top Dawg Entertainment has grown into one of the most exquisite music groups to date. After killing the game in rap and hip-hop for years with artists like Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolBoy Q, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul and Isaiah Rashad, they finally tapped into the male R&B realm. 

In 2016, TDE signed new artist SiR to add to their powerhouse roster. Since then SiR has added more of a versatile feel by incorporating a R&B sound to their range as a label. This works incredibly because it helps them prove a high rank amongst their competitors. 

Through three projects over the last two years (with TDE), SiR has been slowly paving his way in R&B with his roughly smooth sound. On every song SiR challenges himself creatively while keeping the foundation that he know he’s great at - which happens to be his tone. On songs like New LA feat. Anderson .Paak, he tackled a fast paced pop sound. While on songs like Something New feat. Etta Bond he rocked the slow vibe for us. Throughout his entire discography he roller-coastered his sonic range for us and is only growing to get better. His last project November (released earlier this year) was only an extension of his growth and proven ability. Be on the lookout for him in the future. 

Looking at Top Dawg now, it is easily one of the best labels in the game right now. By adding a male R&B act in SiR, and a female R&B act in SZA on an originally HIP-HOP label, it’s huge. Hopefully in the future we will get the SZA & SiR collaboration project 👀 

Some of my favorite songs from SiR are War, Something New, W$ Boi, and D’Evils.

Listen to November album below.

 
 

KOD | J. Cole

KOD | J. Cole

"King Overdosed"

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On April 20th, J. Cole dropped his fifth album KOD. On Twitter Cole confirmed this to mean three things: King Overdosed, Kids on Drugs & Kill Our Demons. On this go around you can tell that Cole took his time to carve a well rounded album. 

Off top, the songs that stand out as rare J. Cole songs are ATM, Motiv8, and even Kevin’s Heart. These are the radio spinners on the album, something that Cole has never really concentrated on before. This automatically puts this album in a different lane than his previous album 4 Your Eyez Only. On KOD, he took a more universal route by making songs for the club crowd. In the midst of this switch up, he was able to keep his bars relevant and heavy. 

Most of the bars on the album come from Cole taking the old head approach and dropping knowledge to the younger rappers. Mostly about the trend of drug use, social media antics, and playing in this industry the right way. At this point in the game, Cole realizes his seniority in the rap game and flexes the throne by schooling everyone. On 1985 he took the time to directly chew into young rappers and their faulty perspectives. While most people believe this is directly aimed towards Lil Pump, it could apply to Pump’s peers as well. Either way, somehow Cole was able to lay out the most respectful diss of all time. After beginning the verse with real acknowledgement and ending it with a lane check through passive aggressive bars, Cole definitely got his point across. 

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It’s no real surprise that the features on this album are limited. The only features listed on the track list are from kiLL edward, which turns out to be J. Cole’s alter ego. This ultimately means that this album has no features for the third straight album.. I think it’s safe to say that J. Cole isn’t missing any meals. He has proven that the only person he needs on his albums is himself, which works out for him financially. With that being said, Cole made the kiLL edward features very melodic throughout the album which brings out a new side in J. Cole’s game. On this project he’s shown he’s more versatile than ever before and can make different types of records. 

Cole should continue to work with larger producers to help him to embrace the radio and club even more. However, this may be one of J. Cole’s best albums because of how well rounded it is. With that in mind, J. Cole is still not letting up. Shortly after the release of this album, Cole stated that he’s working on his next project “The Fall Off” already. Cole is in Lock-in Mode.

My favorites on the album are ATM, Motiv8, Kevin’s Heart and 1985 (Intro to “The Fall Off”)

Watch the video to Kevin's Heart below... Starring Kevin Hart.

Jorja Smith Paving Her Way Internationally

Jorja Smith Paving Her Way Internationally

"Oh, Jorja.."

Jorja Smith first popped up on the music scene in 2017 on Drake’s album More Life. From having her own interlude to being a primary feature on “Get It Together”, Jorja began to get her name out and her music in subliminal rotation. Since the Drake co-sign, she took off in the female R&B vein of music and continued to make consistent fire. 

Originally being from England, it’s huge for Jorja Smith to takeoff in the American music market this way. This dominoes into being big for the international music industry, period. International music has always been relevant in terms of talent but it’s impressive to see it cut into the competitive American market. Just over the last year, Jorja Smith has been a contemporary trailblazer in international R&B. 

Through using her unique style and texture she has painted her own lane in our sound today. With different styles she gave us a taste of her range in this game. From the upbeat, and euphoric sound on “On My Mind”, to the emotional feel on “I Am” from the Black Panther Soundtrack, she showed what she is capable of. With no album in sight she has been making her mark in the game with her work so far. I would suspect for an album to come by the end the year but for now she should just kill features and singles as she has been. Listen to a playlist of her songs here —> J. Smith.

Impulz | Phzd

Impulz | Phzd

"Dirty Water but the Bars Clean"

On March 16, the upcoming duo Phzd released their newest project called Impulz. This album is the nest of so many different genres. The variety in this project is so wide but ironically that’s what makes this album a distinct project.

Throughout the course of the album, the artist Phill gave so many different sounds and melodies. Hopping from genre to genre; from rapping to singing - undoubtedly proved his talent on the music level. The deliveries throughout the album gave essence of a Kid Cudi or Anderson .Paak (in terms of how his voice sounds against the music). Given that the music game is all about labels right now, (i.e. pop, mumble rap, conscious rap, trap music) this project is unique because it’s give us a little bit of everything. This brings me to the production on the album.

Although Phill does a lot by switching flows, the producer, Ben, was right there step-for-step with him making fire of his own. At the album release party, the producer broke down how the album is a four-part play concept that resembles the feels of each season. With that in mind it explains why the album is so versatile and feels like it’s covering all bases. The chemistry and musical understanding between this producer/artist combo is very special and reminds me of what the Toronto R&B duo dvsn was able to accomplish over time. The cohesiveness of the content, tone, and beats would be impressive on every level of music.

Overall this is a project about a growing artist who had found himself in a broken city, Flint, Michigan - profound expression at its finest. My favorites on the album are “Nxworries”, “Mind$et” and “Why You Leave”. Listen to whole album here.

Black Panther Soundtrack | TDE

Black Panther Soundtrack | TDE

"I'm Rooting for Everybody Black"

On February 9th, the Black Panther Soundtrack was released and became a part of history. The album was exclusively produced by major label Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE). With that being said, there is a TDE artist on just about every song. Kendrick Lamar was a huge part in this album by being featured on just about every song (sometimes only in the background vocals). 

Outside of the heavy TDE presence, there was a nice range of features on the album. A lot of the features were combinations that we never thought we would hear. Ab-Soul, Anderson .Paak and James Blake came together for “Bloody Waters”.. while Khalid and Swae Lee hopped on “The Ways” for a dope summer sound. The main runaway in the feature category was with Kendrick and SOB x RBE on “Paramedic!”. Both of these Cali artists brought the inevitable west coast bounce along with their own flare. Somehow they came together to make potentially one of the hottest songs of the year. 

The production on the album is kinda ridiculous in itself. The producers tried to stay within the theme of Black Panther and the location ‘Wakanda’ by incorporating African sounds throughout the soundtrack. This made this album so much more cohesive with the movie and was able to blend so well between the scenes. In a Rap Radar interview with MixedbyAli (music engineer for TDE), he explained how producers spent time in Africa gaining first hand inspiration from the sounds, instruments and melodies that the African culture use in music. This only helped the soundtrack tremendously by giving it a more authentic feel. Even if you have not seen Black Panther movie, the soundtrack will remind you a lot of African culture based off the instruments they decided to use. This was a perfect touch for the album and added a lot of detail to the movie. 

Now the movie is officially the highest selling superhero movie of all time. Meaning that the soundtrack is gaining more and more traction by the minute. This is huge for hip-hop, and specifically TDE in the grand scheme of everything. For hip-hop to be the leading genre in a Marvel movie’s soundtrack is crazy because Marvel is known to be a movie juggernaut for the last 10+ years. Now hopefully we can keep this trend going. 

My favorite songs on the album are "King’s Dead", "I Am", "Paramedic!", and "The Ways".

Watch the video to "All The Stars" below.

Culture II | Migos

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Culture II | Migos

"Cheat Code"

On January 26, Migos gave us Culture II, the follow up album to their multi-platinum album Culture that was released last year. This time around, the album is almost twice as long as the original Culture album. This means more inevitable club bangers and hype music. On this album they made sure to darken their mark in the game by giving us truly authentic music that only they can make. This album is filled with perfect ad-libs and crazy energy.

This past summer, Migos began their roll out with their single “Motorsport” with Nicki Minaj and a hot Cardi B. Shortly after that release they gave us “Stir Fry” with the first original emoji music video. The marketing of these songs were genius leaving these singles to age well and find their way to consistent radio spins.

The beats on the album consists of hard trap music coming from over ten different producers (including Pharrell, Murda Beatz, Metro Boomin, Kanye West and Zaytoven to name a few). This kept the album fresh and unpredictable throughout the first listen. Alongside the crazy beat selection, all of the features on the album are popular acts which adds even more life to the album. Somehow Migos was able to finesse the hottest artists on this album. Some of the main features are 21 Savage, Drake, Post Malone, 2 Chainz, Gucci Mane, Travis Scott and Ty Dolla $ign. All of these artists are on a run in their own way and add their essence to this album. That being said, this album is almost like a cheat code and will for sure prosper in today’s music world.

But, to be honest, the most impressive bars on the album came from Takeoff. A lot of people joke around about him being left out in some of their work, but this group would not succeed without him and he proved that on here. Songs like “Made Men” and “Movin’ Too Fast” showed he can hold the torch whenever needed.

Overall the album is not Culture but it’s a dope rendition of sticking with that concept. This album will age well and be a solid addition to their catalog. Good ish Migos! My favorite songs on the album are “Flooded”, “Movin’ Too Fast”, “Stir Fry”, “Made Men”, “Top Down on the NAWF”, and “Too Playa”.

Check dope interview with Migos below.

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Victory Lap | Nipsey Hussle

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Victory Lap | Nipsey Hussle

"Hidden Gems"

On February 16, Nipsey Hussle added to this dope Black History Month with his new album Victory Lap. This is a continuation of his race themed albums (The Marathon, The Marathon Continues [TMC], X-Tra Laps). This theme comes from a metaphor Nipsey uses for life being that the road to success is a marathon, not a sprint. This mentality definitely reflects in his music and what he talks about.

The gist of Nipsey’s essence is boss music. Throughout this album he gave us constant gems on how to expand our business minds and grow as self made people. Hearing Nipsey talk about the the different levels of the game and giving us advice on how to move kind of reminds me of Hov’s 4:44. On “Last Time That I Checc’d”, Nip talked about how he’s been doing big stuff since he came out. Brags about being independent and playing his cards right constantly threads thru this song and create a clear validation of Nips legacy. On “Dedication”, he took it one step further to talk about the sacrifices he made to be great. Topped off with a real verse from Kendrick Lamar giving his story of being locked into his lifestyle and working with Nipsey.

Along with working with Kendrick, a lot of other well-known artists touched this album. Other features on this album included YG, Dom Kennedy, Diddy, The Dream, CeeLo Green, and Marsha Ambrosius to name a few. Most of the features on the album stem from west coast artists, which is dope because you can tell that they are paying homage to Nipsey and who he is to their culture.

This takes me to the production of the album. For the most part, the album holds the sounds of classic west coast music. Crazy bounce, with hard bass, and smooth hooks. A lot of the beats can easily remind you of old west coast rappers like Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, or Ice Cube to name a few. Check out this album if you are looking for any level of motivation along with some nice bounce. My favorite tracks on the album are “Dedication”, “Loaded Bases”, and “Victory Lap”.

Check out Nipsey's interview with the Breakfast Club where he talks about the album, his relationship with Diddy, and stories about him coming up.

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The Summary?

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The Summary?

Around 3am on January 19th, Drake released another two song series called Scary Hours. Almost a year after the release of More Life, he gives us two new solo bops with “God’s Plan” and “Diplomatic Immunity”.

Even with ‘throw-out’ records Drake seems to shake up the game. Just days after the Scary Hours drop, Drake broke the record for most plays in a day on Spotify with the song “God’s Plan” (4.3 Million streams). Just weeks after that Drake kept gaining accolades with dethroning Jay-Z for having the most Top 10 songs in Hip-Hop (22 songs).

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Although this success seems random to the untrained eye, it is pretty clear to see his strategy for growth in today’s music world. Drake made sure to feed both vessels of the hip hop fanbase with this release. “God’s Plan” is the epitome of party music that slaps thanks to timed 808s and a crazy bounce...but doesn’t require too much thought. On the other hand, Drake barred us to death on “Diplomatic Immunity” and told us exactly what was on his mind. From dissing Joe Budden and Akademiks on Everyday Struggle, to talking about women trying to pin a baby on him, he laid it all out. This was well calculated for both songs to grow in two different lanes, and was nicely executed.

Drake on "Diplomatic Immunity"

Drake on "Diplomatic Immunity"

Recently Drake was spotted at Miami Senior High School shooting the video for “God’s Plan”. This could start a conspiracy that Drake actually wants to do something serious with these songs. Only time will tell, but right now we know he’s back in 2018 to give us the summary.

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