You knew it was coming, you had to know it was coming. I’m sure you’ve read tons of reviews praising the Compton Kid whose come to resurrect the slowly dying genre we call Hip-Hop, well I’m here to tell you…they’re absolutely right. Compton’s Kendrick Lamar has finally dropped his debut album to critical acclaim and I mean critical (Pitchfork gave this one a 9.5…not that I read Pitchfork or anything) and I have to say this is one of the best albums I’ve ever heard in my life, in any genre. I don’t want to sound like a fanboy but Kendrick is one of if not the best young rapper in the industry right now and he showed it on his debut Good Kid M.A.A.D City. It’s usually pretty uncharacteristic for an artist to make his debut album a concept album, but Kendrick isn’t just an ordinary rapper. The album starts out with a 17 year old Kendrick chasing after what most 17 year old men chase after, promiscuous women, trying to impress while driving his mother’s car. This provides a jump off point for the rest of the album where we get to see Kendrick grow up on the what I can only imagine as the tough streets of Compton making mistakes and engulfing himself in the sins of the city and peer pressure of his friends. The only thing that holds Kendrick from falling into the oblivion of gangbanging lifestyle is his family, who we hear from often throughout the album as voice recordings. Their appearances range from his mother asking Kendrick to bring her car back on the songs entrance song Sherane to his father teaching him that being a killer won’t make him a real man and teaching him that being real is responsibility. These voice recordings are arguably as important as the lyrics themselves to the progression of the album as each lead into each other and provide a skeleton for which Kendrick can pour his soul out on. The flow is so good on this album it becomes secondary, the lyricism tells a tale so vivid you can almost put yourself in his position which is a feat in itself for any artists much less a newcomer to the industry. There are a million and one things you can say about this album that are positive but at the end of the day every song on the album holds it own and even the bonus tracks on the album are good enough to be another artists headline track. Kendrick is really something to behold and this album promises to be a classic. Yeah I said it and I stand by it, this one is going to be a classic a lot sooner than later, that’s for sure. Check out Backseat Freestyle, Swimming Pools and Money Trees from Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid M.A.A.D City but PLEASE check out the whole album you won’t regret it if you love hip-hop music.
The hip-hop industry is filled with youngsters. They bring a fresh, cool and original approach to an industry that is all about originality and style, but sometimes it takes a veteran to provide hip-hop heads with the fix they need. This is the case with Seattle’s Macklemore and producer Ryan Lewis. Macklemore is no stranger to the game and has been around for over a decade but with his name being called upon much more frequently lately it was about time the 29 year old dropped his long awaited debut album. The Heist is an amazing collection of music for a variety of reasons. The lyricism and flow is the first thing that stands out. Macklemore flows so prolifically on this album that it makes it hard to believe that this is is first album (mind you definitely not his first body of work). He never misses a beat and manages to even raise the bar for the people that are featured on the album, which is no easy feat considering the album features artists like Ben Bridwell from Band of Horses fame and two of Kendrick Lamar’s label mates in ScHoolboy Q and Ab-Soul. The thing that got me more than anything though was it’s content. Macklemore tackles a variety of heavy subjects, such as Homosexuality, Racism, Sobriety and Gun Violence without the album feeling heavy handed. This isn’t a PSA this is an album and the duo manage to keep it balanced with a bevvy of danceable and light hearted tracks dispersed throughout so as to not bog the album down in various drawn out messages. This album is uplifting to say the least and a must have for any hip-hop head oh and I forgot to mention it was all made independent…You have to respect that. Check out Victory Lap, Same Love and Can’t Hold Us from Macklemore Ryan Lewis’The Heist
In the vain of my trap related posts we have the OG’s of this recent surge in the genre, Fools Gold and Mad Decent signees Flosstradamus. Hold on can we take that in for a second? They’re signed to the youngest DMC (Worldwide DJ contest) winner ever in A-Trak AND they’re signed to one of the biggest most well decorated DJs in the world Diplo…these guys must be something special right? Right. They take on a legend in another genre, Drum and Bass pioneer Sub Focus and his uplifting track Tidal Wave. Floss’ is known for trunk rattlers primarily but what gets lost in the shuffle is their crazy attention to detail, they cross over genres seamlessly and this track is no different. They give you a taste of the original at the start, murky and moody, it’s a slow build but it’s well worth the wait. The tracks pumps and flows into a drum roll, and no surprise here DnB break before it finally takes off but when those 808’s hit you they’re no joke. We see Floss in top form on this remix and their classic hi-hat rolls don’t get lost in the hodge podge of synths and pads (one of which is the female vocalists voice being used as an instrument, fun fact eh?). The subtlety in this track is delicious and they capture the emotion of the original perfectly while also adding some bump to it, I can see why so many industry heads have faith in these guys. Check out Flosstradamus’ remix of Tidal Wave below.
If you don’t know Lil Jon shame on you. That’s like me saying I don’t know Star Slinger (oh you don’t know him? nevermind then). Ok so maybe it’s not the same thing but a massive remix of a Lil Jon’s dirty south classic. Santa Barbara trap duo Candyland have blessed us with a trunk rattling remix to Snap Ya Fingers. The track starts off clean and smooth, bright synths, a shuffling, full bassline right into a full arrangement drop…and then the fun starts. The bass starts rumbling, the synths start bouncing, hell we even get a break shuffle, they spared no expense on this one. As an upcoming group in a fairly new scene this is a great way to show people that you’re not playing around and they do it with the all the aggression and fun that is customary of many trap artists. This is a can’t miss so you know…don’t miss it.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say this could be one of the most anticipated mixtapes of the year. While it would have probably made sense to instantly throw this one up on the blog I found it pertinent to take some time out to dissect it as much as I could. Royalty, Atlanta Rapper Childish Gambino’s, latest mixtape could be described a variety of different ways, however I would describe Royalty as evolution. An evolution of Childish Gambino as a rapper and an evolution of his style creatively. On Royalty we hear every side of Gambino that we’ve seen before but with that little bit extra to push him over the edge. He brags, he boasts, he name drops, he talks about his past both bad and good and let’s us into his head as per usual Gambino style but the difference is the way in which it’s presented and that is what makes all the difference on this tape. From the obviously elevated level of confidence with which he raps to the production to the expanded repertoire of features the quality of this mixtape is at an all-time high for Gambino’s music. Looking at the production we get to see a lot of self produced beats in a variety of styles. From trap, to piano driven ballad like beats Gambino dabbles in it all without sacrificing any quality for the sake of simply having his own beats on the tape. What’s truly impressive is how he adapts to each beat, switching his flow, rhyme scheme, and attitude to approach each individually. The features are also a serious contributor to the mixtape which is not only a big change to Gambino’s style (with his tapes often having little to no features) but also a testament to Glover’s increasing popularity and reputation in the Hip-Hop sphere. With the likes of Danny Brown, up-and-comer Kilo Kish, Schoolboy Q and even the legendary RZA, Donald Glover really shows that’s he’s grown as an artist and is to be taken seriously in the rap game. With 18 tracks, this mixtape is even longer than his debut album and an absolute must have for hip-hop fans looking for some new music. Check out Royalty featured here.
Been months since I did a video review but this one is just fun enough to post. Everybody’s favorite Princess Kitty Pryde, the rapper behind OkCupid has teamed up with what is probably the strangest rapper out right now (and yes Lil B was counted in this list) Riff Raff for a cool as ever summer smash. Orion’s Belt sees Kitty and Riff at a fair with Kitty looking as cute and awkward as Liz Lee mixed with Ellie Goulding and Riff Raff looking well…like Riff Raff. Kitty spits with a more well put together flow than she had on OkCupid and though she’s not saying much lyrically, she gets away with it based on an Uffie style high pitched delivery and a simple yet infectious hook saying “Eee I Can Rap, I’m not mean but your whack” repeated many times. Riff is at top form, well for him at least, delivering some strange and vulgar lines Ala Danny Brown and keeping the groove of the track consistent. This isn’t a song that’s gonna blow you away but for a song to just chill to, this will definitely do the trick.
Yup Yup I’m back, with a ton of good content just waiting for review! To start off I recently got my hands on mash-up maestro’s the Hood Internet’s new mixtape entitled simply enough Mixtape Volume Six, yeah they’ve been doing this that long. The Chicago duo take a large variety of influences on this one and make it into pretty much, well pretty much everything. What I mean is they grab hip-hop, indie, EDM and whatever else they could get their hands on to make some of the most electric remixes I’ve heard since, well since Party Supplies, these guys take it a step further though. Kanye West vs Snap!, Ace Hood vs The Black Keys, hell even Taio Cruz vs Foster the People this mixtape is no holds barred. If you want to hear Wiz Khalifa vs SBTRKT they got you covered. Everything on this mixtape feels clean, it feels as if this is how the song should sound, there’s no mix that seems out of place on this tape and each subsequent drops feels even more epic than the last. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that these guys could be the best mash-up artists out right now and with the frequency at which they’ve been releasing (6+ full length mixtapes since 2007) we shouldn’t be too starved for this kind of juicy content. PS the tape is 27 tracks…Yeah these guys don’t joke around. Check out Mixtape Volume Six by The Hood Internet.
With my recent absence it’s only right I come back with something dope. This one has been out a couple weeks and is still as good as the first day. Today I just happen to be talking about the bearded savant Victor Vasquez aka Kool A.D. Name not ringing a bell? Think one third of Das Racist, that just spells ill. Kool’s second solo effort after the Palm Wine Drinkard EP sees him going in a different direction. Not so much with the wordplay or nonesensical content but with the production. 51, his new EP sees Kool going with a lot more Bay area influenced production even seeing production from the likes of Trakademicks, Amaze 88 and the Pack’s relative robot in disguise Young L. This works a lot better than many would think and Kool manages to embrace and adapt his style to the even the hyphier beats on the tape. While Heems hit the solo scene with a hodgepodge of strange rhymes, nonesense syllables and offbeat production we see Kool AD with a bit more of an accessible album in 51. Now when I say accessible I don’t mean you’re going to hear this on your local radio anytime soon( unless they’re in to Indie Rap), but the album on many of the songs provides easier listening than Heems’ Nehru Jackets. We even get to see some production from Kool himself, which while it may not be Amaze 88 quality is surprisingly solid. Kool isn’t afraid to be himself on this one (not that he ever really is) and it’s nice to see AD doing his thing the way he wants to without the rest of the Das Racist camp. Check out the tracks Manny Pacquiao and No from Kool AD.